Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Relationship Comfort Zone

"What should we do tonight?"

At some point in a couple's relationship, it could be after 5 months or even 5 years, this question begins to carry a sense of dread.  It's weighted by the knowledge of endless possibilities, yet confined by time, energy, and pure comfortable laziness.  

"I don't know... Let's see what's on TV."  
You may rationalize with yourself, It's not like we stay in all the time.  We're both tired after work and want to relax.  Yeah, that's it.  We're relaxing; we're still spending time together...especially if we're watching old re-runs of Friends.  
It starts off with a night in every now and then.  That soon grows to once a week, then every other night.  My dear friends, before you realize it, your relationship slides snugly into The Relationship Comfort Zone.  While being comfortable can be a good thing and is the natural part of a long-term relationship, you don't want to get too comfortable to the point of laziness.  The relationship becomes stagnant, neither of you are really benefiting much from spending time together, and it's boring.  A relationship goes through several stages, but it should never ever be boring!

For those of you fans who watched Sex and the City 2, recall the poignant scene where Carrie throws a fit when Big orders in Chinese take-out for the umpteenth time in a row.  His feet are propped up on the couch and he's ready for a night of mindless TV.  Newlyweds and already resorting to Chinese take-out?!  What happened to the New York City glitzy parties and red carpet events?  What happened to the days early on in a romance when being "tired" was never thrown out as an excuse?  Needless to say, Big was too tired and too comfortable to care at that moment.

If you couldn't guess, in real life, I am Carrie and J is Big.  

Throughout our past 7 years of courtship, dating, and living together, we've hit our fair share of "the relationship comfort zone."  After the fireworks of the first year, we've constantly gone up and down in our comfort level.  In college, J would be so used to coming over my apartment after his basketball games nearly every night.  It got to the point where I felt pressured to have dinner ready, versus us going out.  I exploded at him one night "I'm not about to be your housewife!"  (Little did I know that I would eat my words seven years later).

Living in Los Angeles, we didn't venture out much together.  Most of the time, I was cajoling him to leave his grad schoolwork behind to have a nice night out.  It's LA!  We should be partying on Sunset Blvd every week!  Back home in the Bay Area, before moving in together, we only saw each other a couple of times a week.  Usually for dinner, though some of those instances would be the movies or bowling with a group - hardly romantic.  

P: I feel like we're not even trying.  We've gotten way too comfortable.  It's like we're stagnant... 
J: Why do you make being comfortable sound like a bad thing?  It means I'm happy in the relationship and that we have something good.

That was our dilemma.  We both had two completely different perspectives on what made the relationship thrive.  I live for the challenge and novelty.  J likes feeling comfortable.  

We were both wary of that dangerous combination.  If I submitted more to J's preference, I'd grow restless.  If J indulged in my constant need for fun activity, he'd become tired and irritable.  And it's not that I don't enjoy a cozy night in, or that J doesn't like to try new things - we just had to find the right balance based on our needs.  

How can we keep the excitement fresh in our relationship - so that we're still growing together as a couple and so that J doesn't feel completely drained by it?

Like Carrie, I grew panicked at the thought of living together with J; imagining endless nights of movie rentals, Internet surfing, and home cooked dinners.  Now that we've lived together for over a year, I notice some of those behaviors (from both us) starting to creep in.  I am fearful that 10 years will go by with us in the exact same siutation.  I decide that it's time to take preventative measures.  


  1. Love your insightful post... Relationship Comfort Zone.

    I think one solution to that is to make sure you have to make an effort to have your own personal hobbies and also a good circle of friends, so you will always bounce ideas around with your friends and bring and share fresh inspiration back to your own relationship. Otherwise one will become lazy. I believe humans are naturally lazy creatures and also creatures of habit... sometimes of bad habits... lol

    Sometimes when one is around their SO too long, one blends into their SO's personality and become too much like another... I think it would be boring to date someone exactly like myself... I want the different insights sometime and try different things as a couple!

  2. Preventative measures? will that be in "The Relationship Comfort Zone Part II?"

    Very nice read that I'm sure many can relate to.

  3. Thank you for you insight Dieselbird! J & I are definitely trying to strike the right balance between doing things together as a couple, but also maintaining our separate interests and individualism. It's tough when you want to share everything with that special person.

    And yes, "Long Silent" Twin, I will certainly elaborate more on those points with the follow up to this post. Stay tuned :) Hope all is well with you and your new relationship!


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