What is needed to transition into a long-term relationship when NRE is fading?

Tinwen

Active member
So, obviously, none of my past relationships lasted :) What I see as a repeating pattern now is, that after the first two years (NRE?) I want to do more and more things of my own never mind the partner, the relationship becomes dull, I gradually loose interest in the partner, I start feeling the relationship more as a burden.

I had a boyfriend of four years in high school, and a second one of three years in college. I was the one ending the relationship in both cases. The first breakup was really easy, since I didn't want much contact with the boy any more, and he was moving further away. Within two weeks I fell in love again. The second brakup one was really tough, since we were living together, I still cared very much, and Idealist was in the picture already (however, I believe the relationship got uninteresting after the in love/NRE phase). The deal breaker question was in both cases something like "do I really want to spend the whole life with this man?", which is somewhat mono paradigm, but still, I think it shows a difficulty to commit.

I had been really really in love, excited and even emotionaly dependant with Idealist, but since it is nearly two years now, I increesingly see the excitement declining. I don't want it to end because I repeat the same mistake over and over.
My question is,
What is needed to sucessfuly transition from "in love" to a long term relationship?
Do others find it difficult handling the transition? What are your tips?
What should I focus on to build a joyful longterm relationship?​
 

Nadya

Member
My first thought: what if the partners you have had just have not been that good matches with you? The relationship is exciting while things are still new, but there just has not been long-term compatibility with these people from your past. Maybe the break-ups have been a good thing?

I have two long-term relationships, both still going strong. In both of these relationships the transition from NRE has been gradual and I can't really even say when it happened. Every day I am just so happy to have exactly these two people as my chosen family. We match well in so many practical ways - living together is easy and enjoyable.

My advice is: trust your gut feeling. If the relationship starts to feel more like a burden at about two years, let it go. No need to try and force something that naturally is not there.
 

Perrey

New member
What is needed to successfully transition from "in love" to a long term relationship?

Love comes in many forms. NRE, to me, typically describes infatuation, and passion. Hormones are surging and the reaction is more addiction based inherent to obession. Craving happens. As humans we enjoy novelty. But as the novelty wears off and the hormones reach a equilibrium, the infatuation and passion dissipates.

In my experience, you can have NRE that transitions into a deep committed bond. As I have with my husband. I had NRE with him for years. Slowly it dissipated. What created the bond was that he is my best friend. He is the one person I want with me and around me. I never tire of him. We can talk for hours without stopping. We go on adventures together. We are highly compatible in that we want the same things, we like the same things and we are dedicated to each other.

With our former partner, I didn't experience NRE at all. No butterflies. No weak knees. No craving. Yet, I loved him. I still love him. He was our best friend. We, again, were highly compatible. The love I felt for him was one of commitment and loyalty. Our relationship lasted 5 years. Then, due to life circumstances, it ended. The ending was devastating.

I don't think love occurs on a specific pattern all the time. Love comes in different forms. Compatibility that's what keeps things flowing, moving along.

Do others find it difficult handling the transition? What are your tips?

I didn't notice a transition. What I feel for my husband is this strong affinity, bond and requirement. Its like after a long day at work, he is the one I want to see. I want to walk in the door and have him there. He is the one I want to cuddle up with. He is the one I want to go backpacking with. He is the one I was to go shopping and cook with.

Our former was the same in many respects.

What should I focus on to build a joyful long term relationship?

Most couples I know who have been together for a long time have commonalities. They have things they share. Things that they do together. They also have a lot of trust and honesty. Mostly they keep being new to each other. They do different things together. They don't let the relationship stagnate. They keep it going and work at it.

Relationships are work. They don't just happen. To me, relationships end when one of the people don't want to work on the problems anymore and don't want the other partner(s). That's when I see relationships end.

P.
 

GirlFromTexlahoma

New member
Do others find it difficult handling the transition? What are your tips?

I didn't have any trouble in my relationship with my husband... Like others have said, I didn't really notice. But holy hell do I have trouble in non escalator relationships!

What keeps my marriage exciting and new and joyful is all the things we do together - all the plans, the projects, the dreams, the goals. I've never felt bored or stuck. Quite the opposite - there's so much I can do *with* Andy that I couldn't (or wouldn't want to) do alone, or with anyone else.

But with every guy I've dated since opening our marriage, I have started to lose interest or get frustrated somewhere between 6 months-1 year. It's like we get as far up the escalator as we can go - and now what :confused: There's no excitement about what the relationship will become, because it's already everything it can be.

With my current boyfriend, I've tried to think less about traditional escalator stuff (meeting families, moving in, growing old together) and more on the stuff we *can* have. Instead of planning a wedding, I plan vacations. Instead of working to buy a house together, we work on our geeky hobbies. For me, those common goals and adventures are soooo important.

I noticed that the previous replies also focused on "nesting relationships" and how wonderful it is to come home to the person you love... And absolutely, +1 to all that!!! But if anyone has ideas on how to make it long term when you won't ever have that, I'm all ears :)
 

Leetah

Member
My first thought, from my limited experience, is to do what you do when a fun new friend transitions somehow into a best friend. You just keep doing what you have been doing. In my case that means laughing, playing, having long discussions about whatever, helping each other out as needed, taking an interest in their other friends and relations etc.

Leetah
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
In addition to the good advice given, I just want to add that it's normal and even advisable to experience several relationships in your younger years before you settle in longer term with one or more. Your 20s, especially, are a time of intense discovery and that usually means having relationships that are full of growth and learning, but not forever oriented. Having a four-year boyfriend in high school and a three-year boyfriend in college sound like very long term (among those in my experience) for those ages. I wouldn't at all be concerned about your interest or ability to maintain relationships - just allow yourself to continue to mature and grow as you have been. Honestly, Tinwen, I don't see a "mistake" or an issue with you at all. You're right on track. :)
 
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FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I noticed that the previous replies also focused on "nesting relationships" and how wonderful it is to come home to the person you love... And absolutely, +1 to all that!!! But if anyone has ideas on how to make it long term when you won't ever have that, I'm all ears :)

I'm into non-nesting relationships and I'd say that you've answered your own question. You focus on what you do share rather than on what you don't share. You focus on the joy of another person and building intimacy more than you focus on the "steps" that have this or that implied intimacy. It's more of a Zen approach (be here now) rather than an Acquisitions & Securities approach. To me, having non-escalator relationships is incredibly liberating and I feel seen and appreciated purely for being me. There's nothing to get or achieve or have other than the joy of the other's company. That is the beauty of a relationship that is "going nowhere" - when the focus is on just enjoying each other, you can have an awful lot of adventures together.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
So, obviously, none of my past relationships lasted.

See, that's where I differ in my outlook. Your past relationships DID last. They lasted as long as that particular relationship lasted.

To me? All relationships come with a clock attached. They just don't all have the same expiration date. And there's nothing wrong with that.

What I see as a repeating pattern now is, that after the first two years (NRE?) I want to do more and more things of my own never mind the partner, the relationship becomes dull, I gradually loose interest in the partner, I start feeling the relationship more as a burden.

I think that pretty much answers your questions. To me feelings ensue AFTER behavior. Rewritten in that format it looks something like this.

  • Behavior: I stop including my partner/doing things with partner.
  • Resulting feeling: I lose interest in the partner.

If you want to keep going with a particular person, you find ways to keep participating with the partner and keep investing in the relationship. Def take time to do things on your own too. Just that some of your time you spend with your partner relating.

If you want to play the field and enjoy NRE? You play the field and enjoy NRE.

Both approaches to dating are valid. You just decide approach you want right now.

I had been really really in love, excited and even emotionaly dependant with Idealist, but since it is nearly two years now, I increesingly see the excitement declining.

I think it is fair to end the relationship if you are not interested in it any more and don't want to keep investing.

I don't want it to end because I repeat the same mistake over and over.

I think it is foolish to continue the relationship you are "meh" about just to "prove" something to yourself.

Quality of relationship is more important to me than duration. For example, my parents have been together 50+ years. Fighting every step of the way. So yay, their relationships is measure in decades.

But like THAT? Poor quality of relating. All it shows is that they are stubborn, habitual, get off on fighting, or are too fearful to move on to something else. That's a waste of a life to me when they could have ended it before having children and hopefully moved on to better relationships!

Life is not a dress rehearsal. You only get the one.

What is needed to sucessfuly transition from "in love" to a long term relationship?

Only you can answer that for yourself.

Me? I view NRE as "brain dumping chemistry that fogs my view." Pleasantly intense to feel, but it's lala clouds, not real. Eventually the cloud lifts, and the behaviors that are left is what is real.

From http://marriage.about.com/od/loveandromance/g/maturelove.htm

"Signs of mature love include acceptance, emotional support, commitment, calmness, respect, caring, kindness, friendship, and consideration."

Those are some of the things I find joyful in my marriage. That's what I would be seeking in other partners.

What should I focus on to build a joyful longterm relationship?

First, make sure this is the partner you want to invest in and they you. If it's meh, it's meh. If it's not deeply compatible, it's not deeply compatible. If you want different things in Life, you want different things and it won't work. Like if one wants to be a homebody and one wants to have travel adventures each month.

Could accept this is not the right person to long term invest in and not be like my parents -- just "investing to invest" and say they have long marriage. If the quality of the relationship is just drama and fighting and whatever? It's just SAD that they don't have the sense to STOP.

If it IS a partner you want to make a long term investment in? You ARE deeply compatible and want the same things in life? Do things with the partner. Def do things on your own too, but find a balance between time on your own and time with the partner.

You have to make the time/space for the relationship to happen IN. That won't happen if you are no longer spending time together.

Galagirl
 
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Tinwen

Active member
Hello everyone,
thank you for your answers. I have been reading through them carefully, and I will take time to comment later.

Now I just want to say I ran into a layer of thinking which is related. I thought about the pressure I feel in this relationship, which is kind of similar to what I felt before, and I found out it is the layer of expectations.
(Not) surprisingly, I discovered that most of what I feel doesn't really come from the partner, but is internalized or self-imposed (like the "pressure" to please the partner, and to keep us as close as we were), or it is indeed a wish of mine which I unnecessarily perceive as coming from outside (like the imperative to "make something out of the relatioship" really matches my wish for a committed nesting partner).
I am not surprised perceived pressure spoils the joy of the relationship. So part of the work might be making a list and determining what is mine, and what is important.
Now, this doesn't say anything about if my partner(s) is/were compatible, just what I carry with me and might not have quite grasped in my past relationships.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
If you are saying you try to keep the NRE intensity going even when it is past and start feeling kinda frantic keeping that going artificially? (pressure)

Then yeah. You could stop doing that. Enjoy it while it is there, but don't keep it going artificially. NRE intensity is a place to visit. It's not a place to live forever. Balanced living includes resting times too. Not always "go go go."

And coming down from the NRE clouds doesn't mean you are falling out of love.

Falling out of love means you are falling out of love.

Coming off NRE clouds is coming off NRE clouds.

Are you able to tell the difference? Could that be the crux of the matter? :confused:

Not being able to tell when it is

"It's just coming off the NRE clouds. I can see more clearly now: We are in love and we are deeply compatible. Just changing gears here. "​

or

"The NRE clouds have lifted. I can see more clearly now: I'm not actually in love with this person and we're not actually deeply compatible"​

for yourself?

Galagirl
 
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Tinwen

Active member
Falling out of love means you are falling out of love.

Coming off NRE clouds is coming off NRE clouds.

Are you able to tell the difference? Could that be the crux of the matter? :confused:

Galagirl, I am not sure. I'll think about that.

You wrote before
"Signs of mature love include acceptance, emotional support, commitment, calmness, respect, caring, kindness, friendship, and consideration."
So yes, I think I fell out of love with my first bf, but not the second one. So at least in retrospect I can tell.

I'll think about it more, but I won't go too deep into the whole "what is love" question, because that's a dead end.
Thank you.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Tinwen,

If you can ask yourself, "Do I want to be with this man for the rest of my life," and sincerely answer, "Yes," then you have found a keeper and should transition into a long-term relationship. But if you can ask yourself, "Do I want to be with this man at least for now," and sincerely answer, "Yes," then you have still found a good partner and should keep seeing that man. Success in a relationship isn't always determined by longevity, sometimes it's just a question of, did you have a joyful time together, or even, did you learn valuable lessons from that relationship. And who knows, if you don't have a lifelong partner, maybe you have a lifelong friend.

My experience has been that a relationship doesn't have to be exciting to be enjoyable. So, if you feel the excitement wearing off, don't panic. You can still have a happy relationship with the person as long as they're right for you at least in the short term.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I don't see that this is an issue for a 26 year old unless you're itching to have children. You have several longer term relationships under your belt and as you mature into your mid to late 30s and you focus more on being settled, so will your relationships. Having a very long term relationship isn't something you have to learn, it's something you feel when you're ready. It's totally normal (and very helpful in the long run) for people in their 20s to tire of relationships that go a few years. I wouldn't recommend that anyone under 30 shoot for "forever" but instead focus on enjoyment and experience. I guess I don't quite understand the problem here.
 
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Perrey

New member
Is it lust or is it love?

To me, NRE is lust. Its hormones and obsession mixed with craving. Its intense and lots of sex. Can't get enough of each other. You overlook faults and see only the good.

To me, Love is more. Its the person knowing you. At your core.

There is a fabulous TED Talk about it. https://youtu.be/Siru3n3zIbM

That's pretty much what I came to realize. What it boils down too is what do you want? What is meaningful to you?
 

Tinwen

Active member
FallenAngelina:
Thank you very much for reassuring me that there is no problem :) that's always good to hear.
I guess I still cary some guilt for ending my previous relationship, and you reminded me that no guilt is needed.

I don't see that this is an issue for a 26 year old unless you're itching to have children.
You have several longer term relationships under your belt and as you mature into your mid to late 30s and you focus more on being settled, so will your relationships.
Well... children are of course part of the issue.
I don't think I am ready for any, but at the very least I am still getting used to the idea that having children in mid-thirties is ok. (My part of Europe is a little "behind", in my parents generation it was usual to have kids in early twenties. I must have been infected by this idea.)

Having a very long term relationship isn't something you have to learn, it's something you feel when you're ready.
...
I guess I don't quite understand the problem here.
Here is the difference in assumptions. I do think a long happy relationship is something to learn. We talk about relationship and interpersonal skills a lot on this forum, don't we? :)

However seeing what all people here write about how the transition is no problem and no really special skills needed, I think I will adopt your point of view. A time will come when I am in the right relationship and want to stay, I cannot quite force the time, and that's ok.
Also, I am quite convinced that my previous relationship ended not because of bad will of falling out of love, because we didn't have the skills to keep it alive and strong. Having said that, I would never ever find out what skills we lacked, if I haven't moved on. So +1 on relationship experiments.


KDT:
If you can ask yourself, "Do I want to be with this man for the rest of my life," and sincerely answer, "Yes," then you have found a keeper and should transition into a long-term relationship. But if you can ask yourself, "Do I want to be with this man at least for now," and sincerely answer, "Yes," then you have still found a good partner and should keep seeing that man.
That sounds like a simple test :)

Perrey: I did watch the TED talk.

Thank you all.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Ah. Your last post seemed to clarify the question a lot more to me. You were actually talking about skills. So then your original questions got a little more focused to me.

I do think a long happy relationship is something to learn. We talk about relationship and interpersonal skills a lot on this forum, don't we?

I think "long happy relationship" is an OUTCOME. You don't have to learn it. It happens as a result of partners investing in the quality of the relating and having the skills to manage the relationship issues so needs are balanced and it's joy to be together.

But good interpersonal skills and good intrapersonal skills sometimes do have to be learned or further developed. The skills you need to relate to other people and the skills to manage your own emotions/behaviors.


I am quite convinced that my previous relationship ended not because of bad will of falling out of love, because we didn't have the skills to keep it alive and strong. Having said that, I would never ever find out what skills we lacked, if I haven't moved on. So +1 on relationship experiments.

I just want to lift up that the "sore spots" differ with different people. The "sore spots" with your ex might not be the same ones with a future partner.

It will be different for every dyad because their particular "mix" or personalities will have a different dynamic. Ages ago when DH was BF1? He an I rarely were in conflict because he has an accommodating conflict resolution style. He goes along with most things and he's happy to. Most of the time that worked out, but there are times where he needed to be assertive, not accommodating. So our problems were in that area. "Stop being so laid back all the time! Sometimes you have to tell me NO, not a good idea. Because I cannot see it for myself!"

BF2 and I were both assertive. And we'd clash a lot more. Our problems were NOT in "be more assertive" areas. Our problems where in the area of "Take fair turns being the leader. Be a good follower when it is NOT your turn to lead. Give feedback but don't be a backseat driver! Sometimes I know and can see things you cannot yet!"

So yeah -- keep on with relationship experiments and take notice of sore spots. If you are after improving your skills maybe asking yourself a more focused set of questions when you are at that place in the new relationship could help?

  • What interpersonal and interpersonal skills are needed to sucessfuly transition this particular relationship from "NRE" to a long term relationship?

    • Do I find it difficult handling the transition in this dyad?
      • What skills are especially helpful here in this situation?
      • What skills are weak and need strengthening here?
    • Who owns what?
      • What skills could I focus on to build toward a joyful long term relationship?
      • What skills could my partner?
      • What skills do BOTH people need to cultivate?

Galagirl
 
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FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I do think a long happy relationship is something to learn. We talk about relationship and interpersonal skills a lot on this forum, don't we? :)

We do. And talking about skills can be very helpful. But the most helpful teacher is EXPERIENCE. Most people who find themselves in happy long term relationships do so after having had a good bit of experience, for better or worse, and that's why in this day and age it's good to think of your 20s as a time of experience and data gathering rather than worry that you're not "doing it right." Most of us learn how to do it right by doing quite a few of it "wrong." Also, no matter how wonderful your skills, if you're not ready to settle in with that person, you're not ready. It doesn't matter how good you are at communication or whatever if you're still not ready to settle in and nest - and although people obviously do nest at your age, many do not until they really and truly feel that they are ready for that. Nesting really isn't something that you have to make yourself do, it's a shift you feel in yourself no matter how many skills you may or may not have. That's what I meant when I said that having a very long term relationship isn't something you have to learn, it's something you feel when you're ready.

You're likely to live a long, long time. Living into one's 90s and 100s will be common by the time you get there. Do you really want to meet the core person you'll be with for the rest of your life when you're 26? Really? 73 years with one central person? That's an awfully long time to be hitched, especially in this world where we are so mobile and have access to so much variety. You really don't need to be worrying now about your ability to sustain a long term relationship, especially since you have already had a few. A four year relationship during high school is very long term!

Sure, working on a few relationship skills will be good. Getting to know yourself and finding your inner security is even better and will be great for any relationship that comes along. You can't help but have a good relationship when you come from a secure place in yourself. I wouldn't worry about your ability here. I really wouldn't. :)
 
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AlwaysGrowing

Well-known member
I have to say, I think long happy relationships are more person-dependent than skill/experience dependent. I'm 26. I've been with Hubby for over a decade (almost 12 years), which means we started dating in high school. I'd never dated a boy for more than a month before him. When it was right, it was right. We've worked through issues and learned together, while charting the unknown territory of what we expect to be a lifelong relationship.

Fast forward 9 years and I'd been dating again for about a year. Fell right back into the pattern of short, intense relationships until I met Boy. We struggled more at first but have settled into a reliable, long term, happy relationship. It was right again, so we're making it work. The skills I learned with Hubby? Half not applicable since this is a totally different kind of relationship (no financial/household merging -yet, in theory this could change - no long term plans other than to just be together).

My communication skills sucked for a while, so yes. That has made it easier. But the willingness was always there, though, and I think that was what was most important. The willingness to be open and loving and learn what works for us (because every relationship and person is different).
 

Tinwen

Active member
Hello people,
thank you. Though I have been less responding to this thread, I did learn useful things. Also, thinking about expectations set loose some emotions last week, but the processing has thankfully come to a break now.

Ah. Your last post seemed to clarify the question a lot more to me. You were actually talking about skills. So then your original questions got a little more focused to me.
Galagirl, I guess I lumped prerequisites, skills, behaviour, willingness and mindsets all together. Sorry about being so vague. I think my only barely conscious train of thoughts, which was recurring at least over the last two years, goes something like:

The relationship was so great and effortless, I was so in love, until it got bad. I/We are guilty of not making the relationship work (, because there were no obvious external circumstances to prevent it working out). I think it just went down the slippery slope after NRE. I must have made a mistake there. (I overlooked the point where I am supposed to put more work in, I am too indecisive to commit, I .. [insert a bundle of fictive problems]). Or maybe I just lack a (skill, mindset). What should I have done to keep the relationship strong?
Nice to have in one's head, hence the question :rolleyes:

So, I have learned that all this is kind of artificial. Not all relationships can be "worked out", even if there is no obvious constraint. AND, it is OK not to want to settle (huge one, not there yet).
Besides, for most people, there is no struggle when moving out of NRE, no special "transition skills" emphasized. So in fact, I am not even sure any longer that was what mattered.

So actually, the order to ask questions when moving out of NRE, or actually at any suitable point:
1) Reevaluate, if I want to be in a relationship.
2) Evaluate, if I want to be in a relationship with this partner now. (Coming out of NRE would be a good point here, if I can notice.)
3) Evaluate if I want to make long-term plans with this partner or not. (And check in with the partner and our circumstances ;))
4) Ask specifically, which skills do we need to improve for the relationship to work better.
No skipping steps 1-3 :)
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Sounds like you wanted help developing an evaluation tool for yourself. And you sound like you have one now with this set of questions.

Glad things got clearer for you!

Galagirl
 
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