We crave long-term relationships but we also want to re-experience that first wave of passion. Here’s how to crush on the one you love.
When real life sets in and the initial thrill melts away and the image of seductive perfection that your love once projected is replaced by the burps, farts, and hiccups of the daily grind—that’s the place where you can find genuine freedom, intimacy, and excitement.
I’m a firm believer in the old saying: Love is a choice, not an emotion. But if love is a choice, so is everything else—meaning you have a choice to retrain your emotions.
We choose to be in LTRs for many reasons (hopefully, love is at the top of the list), but that doesn’t always mean smooth sailing into a perfect sunset. I’ve definitely been in that dark, lonely place where my relationship has felt about as flat as a bottle of soda that’s been left out for a week. But at some point, as I was staring at my lover with glazed-over eyes, wondering whether I left something on the stove as he prattled on about something or other, I realized this: There are no boring relationships—only people who settle for boring lives.
If you’ve ever found yourself in the LTR doldrums, you’ve probably had moments of longing for the passion you once felt. Most of us wish to prolong the experience of a crush—that heady, intoxicating feeling we get when we are completely magnetized by someone shiny and new, which can be inflated to gross proportions by the unattainability factor. I fondly recall the experience of crushing on distant heartthrobs and new paramours. I loved my heightened emotions—the way they could make me pull back my shoulders and straighten my posture one moment, and be sent into fits of giddy giggles the next.
When you’re crushing hard, everything feels unfamiliar and fresh. So it might seem odd to suggest that you can simply learn to crush on the one you’re with, right? After all, that kind of emotion is hard to induce, much less force. Right?
I think not.
Many of us consign ourselves to lives of passionless love, where we have no intention of leaving but have pretty much given up on having the hots for our partner ever again. However, I have found that the slow burn sustained by ongoing desire can be just as exciting, if not more, than the blazing, out-of-control fire that eventually gets doused by a bucket of cold reality, anyway.
Here are some simple ways you can reinfuse your relationship with the sweet thrill of a crush.
Ever notice how we’re usually on our best behavior when it comes to landing the guy or gal, but things tend to slowly fall apart over time? Sweatpants replace lingerie, flirtatious texts are supplanted by domestic demands, and seductive date nights are shoved aside in favor of cuddling and a DVD.
When something becomes familiar to us, we not only take it for granted—we also come to depend on it to fill all the emotional holes in our lives. But when we’re living for and from desire, we’re setting out on a full tank, such that we never lag in our energy and our sense of adventure when we’ve finally “gotten” the guy or gal—that just serves to whet our appetites.
In order to continue to court your partner, it’s a good idea to deliver effective flirtation. To do this, you should probably actually know what makes your lover tick. I recommend that you both figure out your respective love languages, then talk to each other about them.
Some women say that a man who washes the dishes does it for her. Personally, a man who sends me gorgeous poems, remembers something I told him years ago, and notices the small stuff, like the subtle aroma of my perfume are my favorite panty-droppers. To each her (or his) own.
Of course, flirting is an art that craves novelty and doesn’t play well within the lines or abide by formulas. Try getting below the surface of your partner’s desires—don’t merely always give them what you think they want. Instead, from time to time, try something unpredictable and eyebrow-raising. Extra points if it’s something you’d normally never do.
- Turn up the knob on your attention.
Attention is our greatest resource in life, and our capacity to focus it can determine the quality of a relationship.
Most of us believe that in order to warrant our attention, something must be objectively interesting. But nothing is objectively interesting—it is solely our attention that makes anything worthy of note.
Think about the times you’ve been turned on—that was all you. Sure, what they were doing with their hands or tongue might have figured into the equation, but you chose to attune yourself to the moment. You chose to recognize pleasure when it was available. And although it may not seem like it, pleasure is always available when we’re at attention.
Our cause and effect is totally off. We think that something or someone in the external world causes us to feel desire. But the truth is, that desire always exists within us and magnetizes an equivalent object of desire. We then infer that the hot guy at the bar was the catalyst for our lust, but in truth, all he did was sniff out our desire and respond accordingly. He was merely drawn into the gravitational pull of our desire. And most likely, because mutual desire is so goddamn awesome, we were drawn into his.
Your attention is the currency of desire. And attention is what makes something, or someone, compelling. So keep paying attention to the one who shares your bed. And watch what happens.
- Get some perspective.
Radical honesty changes our relationship to relationships. Hopefully, if this is part of your agreement with your partner, both of you can blurt out what’s going on, even subjecting each other to regular bulletins on the status of your feelings.
When you continue saying and hearing things you aren’t necessarily prepared for, something interesting begins to happen. You stop being enraged at your partner for not seeing the “real” you. And your partner becomes a mysterious stranger, with unfathomable quirks and desires you didn’t even realize.
We usually come into relationships with a clear agenda and many preconceived notions. Eventually, this seeps into our perception of who our partner is.
Ever notice how, when you visit your parents, you suddenly feel like you’re 12 years old again? It’s almost as if your family forgot that you grew into an adult with distinct new sets of needs, desires, and personality traits. Well, we’re often guilty of doing the same thing with our partners. We think we know everything about them, and then we end up resenting them for proving us right.
You honestly think you know everything about this person? Think again. Instead of making assumptions, try this: Pay close attention to your lover. Stand back and discover them on their turf and terms—not yours.
Get acquainted with who they are, independent of their relationship to you. Notice what sparks their interest, and how it transforms them, physically and emotionally, when they are engaged with it. Watch them shine. Check them out as they work a room at a party and interact with others.
Curiosity and astonishment are definite libido enhancers. So let yourself be surprised.
- Let your love die (and be reborn).
In the realm of relationships, our openness to uncertainty and the changing mood is equivalent to our degree of attraction to our partner—which is the vital ingredient that keeps a connection grounded even as everything around us ebbs and flows.
Uncertainty simultaneously enlivens and scares us. But in order to be juiced by it, we have to get over our fear.
One of the things that keeps us in dead-end relationships is that we fail to understand relationship cycles. Often, at the first sign that something is changing and we’re turning the page to a brand-new chapter, we tighten around that change so as to experience the comfort of familiarity rather than allowing ourselves to be swept in a new direction. When we encounter change in our relationship, many of us instinctively respond by seeking familiarity or falling into despair.
Some people despair over the fact that once upon a time, they used to be soooooo turned on by their partner, and it’s just not happening anymore.
Some people might say: “You fell in love with this person, right? That means you can do it again. Just remind yourself of what you used to find so awesome.”
But such futile emergency procedures do not often work. Poring over old photographs and love letters, or kissing your partner and trying to imagine you’re kissing the guy you married 20 years ago, is a fruitless task. You think you’re supposed to feel what you felt way back when, but it simply isn’t true.
Don’t even bother using the past as a reference point. Reviving what once was is like administering hapless CPR. The ultimate effect is that it deadens both you and your relationship, because you are responding to a formula that no longer works.
There is great freedom in letting go. If we go into relationships expecting security, we eventually realize that this expectation has painted us into a corner. Deep down, we know that true love is dynamic, and thus, it is always in a state of dying and being reborn.
When the old formula fails, you have a fresh opportunity. You can make a decision here and now: Do you want to use your past relationship as a model, or do you want to tear down the decrepit known structures and create a new castle altogether?
Let fear give way to trust—in yourself, your partner, and love itself. Open yourself up to the magic of the moment. When the shell of that old relationship cracks, you’ll find infinity itself. In such a place, there is truly no shortage of things to entice and fascinate us about the one we love.
Nirmala Nataraj is an award-winning writer, editor, desire coach, and self-described taboo slayer living in New York.