How do long-term relationships have to change in order for them to work?


How do long-term relationships have to change in order for them to work?

“When you’ve been together for a long time, it’s like having several relationships with the same person. We were children when we met. Today we’re completely different people who luckily still get along. You go through different phases through, experiences different dynamics, has different processes,” says Simone . She has been with her boyfriend for seven years. At first they each lived with their parents, then at some point they moved into an apartment together, restored a property together and acquired joint property. Their problems, issues and challenges have changed over time, as have they as individuals.

constant change
Couple psychologist Esther Perel sees the beauty of relationships, but also of life: “Every relationship, every person and every living organism moves in the field of tension between stability and change. If our relationship does not change, it petrifies and dies. However, if it changes Changed too much and too quickly, it becomes unbalanced and chaotic. This back and forth between old and new, order and surprise, roots and buds is the key to adaptability in relationships.”

New relationship rules
In today’s world, this shift in relationships is happening much faster than it has ever happened in history. The rules for relationships used to be pretty clear: you met, the man proposed, you got married, moved in together, built a house, had a child. The woman took care of this child. There were rules. Everything had to happen in that exact order. It’s different today.

Strict gender roles are gradually saying goodbye, everyone can live relationships in the way that feels right for them. That means more freedom, but it also means that more change is possible and necessary. And the more change happens, the more adjustment and flexibility is necessary. This can result in more points in the course of a relationship where you realize that you are no longer compatible or that you need to work on the relationship.

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Open Conversations
This change can show that the planner loves the man at her side, who is a mess and decides everything at the moment, but cannot plan a future with him. It can mean that the minimalist and the collector fail to move in together. Or the couple with a person with a lot of wanderlust and a person with deep roots ends up being incompatible when it comes to where they spend their lives.

In order to recognize in which direction both people in a relationship are developing, it is necessary, not too much, to cling to the past. Because even if it worked perfectly years ago – it’s about the now and tomorrow. Therefore, it makes sense to have regular check-ups and to answer a few questions:

Does this arrangement still work for both of you?
What can we take from the last phase of our relationship into the next, what do we leave behind?
What do we want to try that we’ve never done before?
Do we want to embark on a new phase, even if it means changing?
What conversations do we need to have?
What do we do when we realize that change is difficult for us?
How do we remind each other that we are both in this new phase.
The unknown
That sounds exhausting. Change is exhausting. But it’s also unavoidable if you want to have a long-term, successful relationship. And it keeps the relationship interesting. Esther Perel compares these changes to a tree: “Switching to a new phase in the relationship also means that you grow together with the change, keep the roots stable and give the leaves space to dance. Being adaptable means constantly adapting to the unknown – but also with the possibilities.”

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