Author: Ann Schiebert
- Base your decision-making about potential romantic relationships (PRR) on values, not just on chemistry. Research shows overwhelmingly that if you find someone with whom you share values you will have a strong foundation for a long-term romantic relationship. Have the “values conversation” before committing to a romantic relationship.
- Remember, initial attraction is based on the “love cocktail.” The love cocktail is made up of oxytocin (this induces the desire to cuddle), dopamine (the “lust,” adultery, motivation, and addiction neurotransmitter), norepinephrine (produces the racing heart and feelings of excitement), and a chemical called PEA (phenylethylamine), which delivers that feeling of being on top of the world – the euphoric high. This love cocktail lasts about six months. It will never provide one with a good foundation for a lasting romantic relationship.
- Do not minimize characteristics of your potential romantic relationship that irritate you. So often we make up excuses about why a PRR’s unacceptable behavior “wasn’t really so bad.” My favorite saying is, “When people show you who they are, believe them—the first time.” Ask yourself how you would feel about living with that behavior for the next five years. Don’t forget, when the dating mask comes off, there you are with the actual person who you may or may not like. Giving a pass to behavior that is unacceptable to you does not provide stability for a lasting romantic relationship.
- Long-term relationship satisfaction is highly influenced by sensitivity to your partner’s positive emotions. If you are enthusiastic about an accomplishment or a fun event you participated in, of course you want to share it with your romantic relationship (RR). If the response is that your RR briefly looks up says, “great,” then continues to look at the computer, this is not being sensitive to your partner’s positive emotions. In fact, this type of response can seed resentments.
- As a relationship grows, and the love cocktail and limerence begin to wane, it is important to keep up romance. Most of the research concludes that having sex at least once a week increases relationship satisfaction substantially. Many couples use sex as a problem solver or a way to “erase” any issues that are challenging the RR. Sex is a way of being close, physically and emotionally, whereas problem solving is a cognitive exercise.