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Rose-colored glasses come off two years into a relationship

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Rose-colored glasses come off two years into a relationship

Anonymous: A disagreement broke out Friday about your position of what the two-year mark in a relationship means. Would you mind clarifying?

Some said you believe that after two years, love dies due to repetition and monotony, and others said that's nothing like what you said.

Carolyn: The butterflies of initial attraction rarely survive past the two-year mark of a relationship.

Those butterflies can cover up areas of fundamental incompatibility. So, people swept up in the floaty in-love feeling often dismiss problems as minor, only to find — when the adrenaline/pheromones clear — that they're tied to someone who isn't scintillating to talk to, doesn't help much, and isn't even that great in bed.

So I advise people who feel passionately in love to save any big decisions for after they've been together a couple of years. That's when familiarity takes over and their relationship's natural, sustainable pace becomes apparent.

Real love doesn't die at this point, it strengthens — so that's actually a better, more accessible measure: If after you spend the third year wanting more of each other's company, that's a promising sign. If you spend it wanting less, then that might say not to build your future on this one.

Channel nervous energy in a useful way and ponder a Plan B

Charlottesville: I applied to an uber-competitive graduate program and got a call yesterday to tell me I've made one cut, but they need one more week to make the final cut. I am completely obsessing over it. It's my whole future and I'm so close, but it could be so easily pulled away. How do I stay CALM these next six days and get out of my own head?!

Carolyn: It's only six days, but I realize that means nothing to you now.

And, it's not your "whole future," it's merely one possible future. If you want to find people whose great futures were launched by the collapse of their dream futures, then you won't have to look far: I'm not just a proponent of the Post-Collapse Recovery Club, I'm also a client.

Finally: You've got six days of nervous energy at your disposal. Start cleaning our your junk drawer(s), closets, wardrobe, files, address books . . . and imagine other compelling shapes your "whole future" could take. There's never just one.

Re: Next six days

Anonymous: During a suspenseful time in my life, I walked for hours to and through all sorts of neighborhoods.

The exercise helped me sleep and dilute the nervous energy; the time and privacy let me consider lots of thoughts, feelings and outcomes. The different neighborhoods gave me glimpses into others' lives, often helpful in refining perspectives.

Plan something special for the seventh day, regardless of what the outcome will be.

Carolyn: Thanks. For those who have the time, walking is a powerful ally in sorting things out. If walking doesn't appeal, then I suggest productive distraction — something to occupy the mind, help someone, shorten the to-do (or bucket) list.

Rose-colored glasses come off two years into a relationship 05/20/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 4:30am]
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