Dear Asking for a Friend,
I love my partner, but lately, I find myself flirting with random strangers, and yearning for the delivery guy who showed up at my doorstep twice in recent weeks. I don’t think I’d ever cross the line beyond flirting, but I can’t help but wonder why I’m suddenly crushing on other people.
Just because you’re in a partnership, it doesn’t mean that you’ve somehow lost your ability to notice other people, especially those with characteristics that you find desirable. Flirting with others is usually harmless, but in a perfect storm, the playful exchange can escalate quickly and lead to something more.
Sandra Langeslag, a neuroscientist who studies emotion and motivation, says we’re losing our inhibitions, flirting more and having one-sided crushes because our heightened feelings of fear, worry and anxiety brought on by the pandemic are making other people seem more attractive than they really are. She also believes that people who are stuck at home in a lockdown are more likely to act on their romantic impulses.
But does flirting count as cheating?
According to relationship coach Natalia Juarez, the answer is yes. Plus, the insatiable need for constant attention that can make one partner step outside of the relationship is actually masking a deep-seated insecurity. But whether it’s the pandemic, the stress of raising a young family, financial woes or problems in the bedroom, she suggests that couples can overcome whatever life throws their way if there’s a strong connection, good communication and if both people are willing to make an effort to fall in love with each other all over again.
“Work is bleeding into our evenings and weekends,” says Juarez, but going for a walk or changing into another outfit at the end of a long day can help establish transitions in the day and help couples switch gears from work to romance. Similarly, good communication skills can be developed over time and can help partners openly discuss if they’re feeling stuck in a rut.
And while it’s normal to get comfortable in a long-term relationship, changing up your daily routine or thinking up of a fun way to spend date night can also help put the spark back in your love life. Couples who are willing to engage in new experiences and keep the novelty alive in their relationship have more fun and stay connected to one another, according to Juarez.
“Couples should never stop dating one another, otherwise they’re going to become roommates,” she says.
Paying attention to your partner’s needs, making an effort to do something special for them even when you don’t feel like it, showing appreciation instead of taking them for granted, and taking time away from each other to explore your own interest and needs, are just some of the ways partners can rekindle romance and fall back into love, she says.
There is no magic formula for how to make it as a couple, but experts advise that whatever you put into your relationship is what you’ll get out of it. If you make the effort, you’ll keep the flame burning bright, but if you stop trying, sooner or later, that love will fizzle.
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