Call for an appointment 020 7248 2975

Love springs eternal ~ Long lasting relationships

Some relationships last a lifetime, where others are intense but short-lived. Psychology research is revealing the types of love unique to each kind of union, and the elements that may re-ignite a fading spark of attraction.

What elements of love make some relationships last a lifetime?

For a long time, psychologists and therapists have tried to pin down, describe, categorise and predict the course of true love. There’s been widespread agreement that love tends to start off as a romantic and intense longing to be with the other person, with feelings of pain when apart. Then as the months and years go by, if love lasts, its nature changes, and the relationship becomes more of a companionable warmth, without much excitement or allure, and with far less romance than there used to be.

According to this idea of love, relationships that last, and which bring satisfaction to both parties, inevitably see the decline of romance over time. This is not a wholly bad thing, because the intimacy that exists between partners increases as if to compensate, and there may be a strength of commitment to each other. The day to day irritations of living together produce conflicts, and we become ‘habituated’ to a stable, and low, level of romance, says much of the psychological literature. It’s by no means the whole story, though, and it may not be the right one.

Obsession and Romance

Other researchers point to the way romance can reignite, for instance after a period of being apart. And couples who embark together on new experiences are often seen to rediscover their romantic sides. A number of studies show high levels of romantic love among couples who have been together for decades — and a pair of US psychologists decided to take a closer look at a large number of papers to investigate. They distinguished between obsession and romance as separate components of a loving relationship.

Why do some relationships last a lifetime?

Obsession — which can be part of love — tends to be present in shorter-length relationships. Obsessive lovers are the ones who say they find it hard to concentrate at work because of thoughts about their partner, or they describe feelings of jealousy at the idea the partner may be with someone else. Obsession and romance can co-exist, even so, but successful relationships – defined as bringing satisfaction and pleasure to both partners — of whatever length, have a strong element of romance from the start. The longer relationships were less likely to have obsessive aspects, and more likely to retain romance.

Romance can be intense, it can involve sexual allure, and it is involving and committed. This analysis shows it has a strong role to play in long-lasting marriage — and happy marriages predict all-round happiness in individuals, plus feelings of well-being, and resistance to stressful life events.

Without the obsessive element that could undermine all these positives, romance is an enhancement to life — and settling for friendly companionship, as maybe the best that can be expected from long-term coupling, could be to sell ourselves short. Working for a re-birth of romance is possibly a challenge — but it’s one that’s worth working at https://247carlocksmiths.com.

The House Partnership, 25th October 2014

RELATED CONTENT

Counselling for Relationship Problems
Article

Our close relationships can bring us much joy and fulfilment. However, at some point we will all experience difficulties in our interactions with family, friends, or lovers. Relationship counselling provides a safe space in which to work through difficulties together.

MORE
Intimate like porcupines
Video

Elizabeth Gilbert-author of Eat, Pray, Love-talks about Schopenhauer's theory about intimacy and relationships and why people are like porcupines. Relationship counselling provides a safe space in which to work through difficulties together.

MORE
Are the smiley more lucky in love?
Article

It has long been known that people's varying levels of emotionality lead to different responses in behaviour, but a group of psychologists in America have found an intriguing relationship between smile intensity in yearbook photos and subsequent marital harmony.

MORE
What's love got to do with it?
Article

Is it possible to predict which marriages are likely to succeed by looking at the love present in courtship at the start? Leading US social psychologist and relationship researcher Professor Ted Huston has spent much of his professional life on this question.

MORE