Does your partner or lover seem less interested? Distracted? Maybe even bored? What do you do? How can you revitalize the relationship and bring back the passion you used to feel?
Cathy: Reid, what do you do if it feels like your lover is losing interest?
Reid: (pause) I’m sorry – what?
(loudly) You smack him! “What are you doing? Hey, pay attention to me!”
Cathy: That doesn’t always work, and there’s a lot of folk tale out there about how you’re supposed to do it. You’re supposed to get fancy lingerie, you’re supposed to ignore them.
Reid: Mmm hmm.
Cathy: I’ve tried those things in relationships before.
Reid: You haven’t tried them with me.
Cathy: No! (laughing) I haven’t tried the smacking thing either, but that’s coming up there!
Reid: Just ignore them in fancy lingerie while you smack them. (laughing) I know people who are into that.
Cathy: (laughing) I’m sure you do. So can you answer the question?
Reid: No! What do you do if your partner is a jackass? Um…
What I think you should do is sit down and have a real conversation with them. “This is what I’m feeling.” If you want to use the Difficult Conversations Formula from my website…
Cathy: I’ll put the link to that below the video…
Reid: That would be great. You know, “Here’s what I’m afraid of. Here’s what I’d like to create. Here’s what I want to talk about.” To have those conversations, to be real with each other, to figure out what’s up, rather than “I’m going to use these tactics to try to get your interest.”
Cathy: It’s kind of manipulative, in a way.
Reid: Well, yeah, I mean, there’s strategies. I mean, we can debate whether they’re truly manipulative. But I think, really, what’s needed is a conversation about “What interests you now?” And where do you guys share things in common? Or co-create something that excites both of you. Like, create something that is interesting to the two of you. And that, often, I think, will help jump-start something. The adage around “once people who have been together for a while who have kids, once the kids leave for college…”
Cathy: They have no interest.
Reid: They have no interest in each other because the group project of raising the family and getting them out of the nest is now complete. So the idea of creating a new team project… And again, you don’t have to have kids for that. You know, you could just be…
Cathy: You don’t have to have another round of kids.
Reid: Yeah. You don’t have to do that. But then, I think that’s one of the reasons why, with some couples, grandchildren are so important. It’s like the second wave of the project that they had rallied around, and there’s a lot of social context and support for those projects. But it can be whatever you guys want to create. And I think what needs to happen is you sit down and be like, “What interests you these days? I want to create something collaborative with each other that gets us excited. What is that for you? Do you have any ideas?” And you guys can start sketching it out.
In having a really real conversation like that, don’t be surprised if old emotional bullshit starts coming up to the surface. You know? It’s kind of like cleaning your pool. You have to dredge up all the crap that’s on the bottom since the fall. And so the water will get murky – understand that that can happen, and that nothing’s wrong. You guys are basically shaking up the Etch-A-Sketch to create a new drawing. And if you guys can get excited about the creating of a new drawing, often that will generate interest.
Other little things that can be useful: you taking an interest in your partner’s hobbies, the things that are already interesting to them. And it doesn’t mean, like, if I am into golf, you have to get into golf. But it can be you acknowledging me and approving of my interest in this area, and then asking, “Will you give me some approval and some accolades for this thing that I’m into?” And trying to share a certain amount of interest in things that you each find exciting. That might work too, if collaborating on a whole project seems like too much.
Cathy: Right. I know that, sometimes when I’m feeling really depleted, it’s hard to be appreciative to someone else. So it can help to go get some of those needs met with a friend. Go to a friend and say, “I’m feeling kind of down today. I’m feeling unappreciated. Can you tell me three things you really value about me?”
Cathy: Go get those needs met someplace else, in addition. If you just have one resource, you’re going to want to grab on, and you may not be giving room for your partner to just have space to appreciate.
Reid: And beware if you’re trapped in this trap of “my partner is just not interesting.” That often means you’re not looking hard enough, and you really want to look for the gold that you see in people, whether it’s that little nugget of “they’re just often really kind to animals” – whatever that is. Again, I think that a lot of our passive-aggressiveness is coming from needs not being met, from being depleted, and we’re taking it out on our partners rather than trying to take responsibility for that and see them with new eyes.
Reid: So give that a try. Good luck! Leave some comments. Let us know what you think. Ask questions. See you later! Bye!
Cathy: Thanks, Reid.
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