How do perfectly good relationships become stale? Where did the passion go?
Gentlemen – after years of therapy, hundreds of self-help books, and many long conversations with the girlfriends over wine, this is my brilliant conclusion:
It is really important to notice.
Noticing is a simple idea with tremendous impact.
This is an easy, low-risk, do-it-today action you can take which will make your life better – even if your kindness is never reciprocated.
If you want more passion in your relationship, you have to work on creating connection. That’s how we gals roll. Passion and intimacy come from the feeling of connection which we get when we feel seen, understood and appreciated.
To connect, people need to be seen – especially women.
A Cautionary Tale
Many, many years ago, a special fella gave me a silver necklace for Valentine’s day – a chubby little cupid holding a harp. Very life-like.
I still have it. It has been tucked away in my jewelry box for decades – and I have never, ever worn it.
At the time, I said thank you and privately felt deep shame for not liking the gift. The thought was appreciated, but cutesy holiday jewelry has never been my thing. I am more of a classic, pearl-wearing kind of girl and it felt really, really bad that my fella didn’t know this about me.
I felt like a terrible person at the time, but I can see now that my anguish was not about getting a gift I didn’t like – it was about a need to be seen accurately.
Even the most expensive gift can feel bad if it does not show a woman that you know her well.
We feel most connected to the people who notice the things that are unique and special about us. A sense of being seen, understood and appreciated for who we are makes us more willing to expose our less-than-perfect selves. Being loved, in spite of weaknesses and foibles, makes us feel luxurious and safe and free.
Freedom is a place where passion can grow.
If you want to get closer to someone, take a minute to tell them what you notice.
“I noticed you got a haircut.”
“I noticed how happy you look.”
“I noticed that you seem a little distracted.”
“I noticed that you sort of shut down just now.”
I know that women can be especially puzzling at times and men cannot possibly be expected to know what is running through our heads at every given moment. If you find yourself in relationship gridlock, where you don’t know what your partner needs, noticing takes you off the hook for reading her mind. Just notice.
“I noticed that you are upset. Can you tell me about it?” is a great way to let your partner know that you want to understand…even when you don’t have a clue.
You don’t have to know all the answers. No solution is needed at this time. (Please, please, please don’t offer a solution.)
We just want you to notice.
In long-term relationships, it is easy to settle into being “together” and forget to notice special things about each other as individuals. Or maybe it has gotten to the point where all you can see is your partner’s sour-puss expression and the little habits that used to be be cute, but are now grating on your nerves.
We’ve all been there.
The longer you have been together, the more effort it takes to look at your partner with fresh eyes. You may have to dig deep. After years of disconnect, it might be hard to make changes, but noticing is a simple way to start if you hope to hold things together. Remember that no matter how resigned or disengaged your partner might be, her need to be seen as a unique individual is innate.
The need to be seen never goes away.
Being seen makes us feel alive and passionate. Sane people do reckless things to get that feeling. Infidelity is very complicated, but I bet it has a whole lot to do with the powerful drive to be seen. Everyone needs that.
The challenge: be the person who sees, understands, and appreciates all that is special and unique about your partner better than anyone else. This is the way to build more connection and rekindle the passion in your relationship.
You can start by simply noticing.
For the record, I am working on noticing all of the time – with the beau, as well as with my kids. When I remember to express what I see, it does make us feel closer. Noticing gives me a way to engage when I am distracted.
Do you find it easy to express what you notice or do you hold back?
If you liked this post, please feel free to pass it on to a friend via email or share it on Twitter or Facebook!
All my best,