On this unique occasion, I’ve chosen to write about romance, a topic change that’s somewhat perilous due to its highly subjective nature. Nevertheless, I’m addressing it now because I’ve recently found a meaningful answer to a question that has long troubled me.
Can excitement in love last forever?
For those who’ve navigated the dating world, it’s likely you’ve noticed the cyclical pattern of excitement. At the beginning of a new relationship, your life is awash with hope, mutual chemistry, curiosity, and positivity. Their messages bring a subconscious smile to your face. Thoughts of shared memories and musings about their activities fill your mind. Daily conversations, whether through text or call, become the norm. Anticipation for the next meeting and future possibilities abound. Yet, when the honeymoon phase concludes, there’s a shift. After spending considerable time together or officially entering a relationship, those initial “butterflies” might begin to wane. Such moments can induce panic, leading you to question: If the excitement has faded, what remains of love?
Like many, I’m a believer in true love. Also, like many, I’ve occasionally feared the diminishing of that early excitement, considering it a sign of waning romance—the antithesis of the true love I had envisaged. There was a time when I believed in the existence of one perfect match for me. Being with him would mean eternal excitement, stemming from our mirrored understanding and harmony—like two strings vibrating at the same frequency. However, my perspective shifted when someone responded to my fears with a profound insight: “The excitement isn’t lost; it simply changes forms.” This made me question some of my earlier, more naive, beliefs.
In my younger days, I overlooked my grandmother’s wisdom when she said, “Your life partner is your best friend with benefits.” (Yes, my grandmother is refreshingly open-minded!) Her words ring true. Cultivating love requires as much effort and attention as nurturing a friendship. Excitement can be everlasting, but one must recognize its evolving nature, adapting as swiftly as the relationship itself. My experiences have taught me that true love is built, not simply discovered. In a moment of doubt, questioning the essence of love without that initial excitement, I took a moment to introspect and define love for myself. My definition? Unconditional love is when you prioritize someone else’s interests over your own, both in intention and action. This is how my parents and siblings love me, and how I love myself. I’d hope for a life partner—someone initially a stranger—to love me similarly. Once I solidified this definition, I realized that excitement is a byproduct of love rather than its primary goal. It emerges from genuine care and affection.
This viewpoint was echoed when I chanced upon an enlightening Q&A on Quora:
How do people maintain long-term relationships when familiarity can breed contempt?
Franklin Veaux, the author of “More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory,” explains that if a long-term relationship feels mundane, it’s not due to its inherent nature, but the choices we make. Early in a relationship, we actively choose excitement. As the relationship matures, these choices can evolve, sometimes leading to complacency. The magic fades not due to time but from our own actions. To keep long-term relationships vibrant, one should actively engage with their partner and continue to make choices that nourish the bond.
Taking inspiration from this, the real question about sustaining excitement boils down to, “How can I continuously love this person?”. Through observation and personal experience, I’ve identified three key pillars for a lasting relationship:
Appreciation, Connection, Comfort
Recognize and value your partner for who they are at their core and for their actions. Cherish the time and memories shared, acknowledging the mutual respect and admiration. Consistent gratitude, as supported by studies like the one by Harvard University, enhances happiness.
The early stages of dating are marked by a deep desire to connect. As time goes on, this effort can slacken, leading to a static understanding of one another. Yet, people change and evolve. Much like friendships that can suffer from periods of disconnection, romantic relationships too require ongoing effort to maintain that bond.
In a stable relationship, comfort becomes a new form of excitement. It represents acceptance and understanding. At the onset, there’s a quest for acceptance, which can be exhilarating. Ironically, once this comfort is achieved, it can lead to unfounded panic about dwindling excitement. The truth is, as relationships progress, they reach a deeper level where excitement morphs into something more profound. True love and its continual nurturing are the secret to everlasting excitement.
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Illustration by my friend Karl. I’m also on Instagram! Follow me @official.mai.le