Ask most couples about the early stages of their relationship, and they’ll remember the ease they experienced around sex and intimacy. They’ll stare off into space with memories of testosterone-driven lust and estrogen flooding seduction.
Confirmation bias. We all have it. We experience it every day in the news, in our politics, in our workplace, and most directly in our relationships, where partners can suffer the consequences of confirmation bias on a daily basis. When it comes to our relationship it makes sense then that our brains are far more skilled at noticing what’s wrong with our partner, than what’s right.
There’s no getting away from the fact that couples in long-term relationships impact each other profoundly, in small and large ways. If you’re a couple who live together there are moments throughout each day that bring you together to discuss something, to work on a task, to accomplish an errand, to share a story, or listen to one. Partners flow in and around each other with such symbiosis, that we can sometimes feel like we’re one mechanism with a shared mind.
When two people get together to form a relationship, there are two sets of wounds merging and intertwining, our partner’s and our own. We know when our old wounds are being dragged into a conflict because our pain and defensiveness will suddenly spike. If our partner is speaking the same words as our inner abuser, the armor will go up, and disagreements will escalate into shouting, tearful battles.
It's hard to believe we've only had iPhones in our lives since 2007. Prior to that if couples wanted to ignore each other they hid behind newspapers. The cliché of the man, sitting at the dinner table with a newspaper up to his face has been replaced with the couple sitting in a restaurant scrolling their cell phones. If you’re using your phone as a way to avoid human intimacy, connection and conversation, then it doesn’t matter what you’re hiding behind, you’re still hiding.
My first invaluable lesson in romantic self-confidence came from a long-standing infatuation with a 5th grader named Paul. From grades 2-5, I prayed Paul would be in my homeroom class, and maybe, just maybe, he’d notice me. I’d coyly walk by him in the playground, stealing glances of him from across the monkey bars. I’d stand near him in gym class and, of course, I wrote about him in my diary.
We’re together with our partner day in and day out. Each week looks the same as the last. The passing scenery isn’t changing. We’re not even sure of our destination anymore. We’re just going along, without having much impact on how the trip is progressing. We’ve become passive passengers in our relationship, cruising in automatic.
How many people have you been naughty with over the past week? We don’t have a whole lot of people we can be naughty with. Being naughty is reserved for a very limited few. For most of us it probably boils down to one. Your intimate partner is the one person you have the freedom to be naughty with.
The feelings of betrayal that come from an affair being discovered or revealed can be overwhelming. Our world that felt safe in one minute, now feels dangerous and threatening. We can’t think straight, adrenaline is coursing through our bodies, and we shift from a calm, logical mind into fight, flight or freeze. When we feel triggered, or threatened, our amygdala brain is running the show. It’s purpose is solely to protect us from a perceived threat and keep us alive.
You may think that having a threesome would be exciting, but the truth is, you’re already in a threesome. There’s you, your partner, and your relationship. When we begin to view our relationship as the 3rd in our threesome, it’s easier to see how we are either feeding it with attention and nurturing care, or we’re literally ignoring it to death.