Sign #3 of a Healthy Relationship: Partners Pay Less Attention to Attractive Others

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Couples Therapy in Austin, TX

Couples Therapy in Austin, TX

            The first two signs of a healthy relationship are: partners support each other’s opportunities for growth and partners share their emotions. The third sign is partners pay less attention to attractive others. Relationships and keeping the attraction alive within the relationship can take energy and continued focus- especially in long term relationships. With this sign of a healthy relationship, my mind continued to go back to considering the amount of energy one invests into his or her relationship versus out of it.

            In the beginning stage of relationships, the honeymoon phase, attraction within the relationship is what brings each person together. The relationship is shiny and new- and so is the other person. As time goes on, relationships naturally transition away from the honeymoon phase into more of a power struggle phase where the attractive partner first appears to have flaws. These flaws can create conflict and conflict can create disconnection. When disconnection rises, the thought “the grass is greener on the other side” can pop into one’s mind. One may ask, where did all the attraction go? The attraction was so great in the beginning and now it may feel as if it is fading (or has faded) away. The thought “the grass is greener on the other side” reminds me of a quote I heard once, “the grass is greener where you water it.”

            So how does this translate into a relationship? I think when things get tough (attraction fades/conflict builds) partners can begin to look outside of their relationship to get their needs met. It may be that they begin to notice other people and start wondering if the grass is greener with this attractive other. Attractive others may remind the person of what he or she first had in the relationship and now it feels as if it is missing. If you catch yourself paying attention to attractive others, I think it is important to consider if you are putting the amount of energy into your relationship. Essentially...

Are you watering the grass of your relationship?

            If your needs are not being met, it is helpful to start evaluating where your energy is going- into the relationship or out. A common struggle for couples is when their needs are not being met sexually. Partners may start putting more of their energy into others around them (grass is greener on the other side) versus communicating the issue with their partner. Maybe the spark has faded from the beginning of the relationship, but how do you work to reignite it? There may be changes that have to occur for this to happen- big and/or small.

            If couples are feeling disconnected or withdrawn from one another and are starting to think the grass may be greener on the other side, I like to share a tip I happened upon many years ago. This tip can help put the energy back into the relationship versus on attractive others. I’ll title this technique the “Seven Things I Love About You” technique. Each partner will write down seven qualities about his or her partner they love. Each day they will focus on one of the qualities, then the next day another quality. For example, with my husband I may have Monday be the day I focus on his silliness. Then on Tuesday, I will focus on his intellectual side, and so on and so forth through the rest of the week. As the day goes on I will look for these positive qualities about him, and as I like to say- you will often find what you are looking for. If you are looking for something positive, you will find it. If you are looking for something negative, you will find it. Putting the energy into your relationship will help you find the positive qualities that made you fall in love with your partner in the first place. 

*DiDonato, T.E. (July/August 2015). Article Adjustment Bureau. Psychology Today, 93.