The Dangers of Comfort Zone in Relationships
Nina, 23, an executive at a multinational bank, couldn’t believe that she had to dig her wardrobe that deep to find a set of lingerie. How long has it been sitting there? A year? It had also been a while since the last time she and her partner were intimate. So, as you could imagine (or not), she was getting quite antsy. To make things worse, after all the effort to find the lingerie, the stupid things were much too tight. She slumped into her bean bag chair, feeling helpless. So much for taking matters into her own hands.
The other day I had Chinese food with Nina and Daniel, 31, a trader. Our Sze Chuan chicken just arrived when Nina started to confess about her problematic sex life.
“The problem is that my boyfriend is not responsive anymore. Every day he comes home from work to sit in front of his computer for hours. And when he finally comes to bed, he’ll be ‘tired’ and sleep right away. Obviously I had to do something about it. Wearing that lingerie was probably my last resort. But, guys, I was in such a bad shape. Maybe that’s why he’s no longer interested,” Nina said, trying so hard to laugh.
“Well, that’s weird,” Daniel replied. “Guys usually are not that fussy when it comes to getting down with the business. Of course, we’d rather have our partners look smoking hot. But otherwise, once we’re in the mood, we won’t really mind if you’re sporting a muffin top.
“Girls, on the other hand, have to meet all these different prerequisites to want to have sex, or to actually like it. They have to feel good about their body, get their legs shaved, and wear the right underwear, yada yada.”
“I suppose that might be true,” I added. “But, isn’t the question then about getting the guy ‘in the mood’, as you mentioned?”
By the time we finished our mango pudding, we agreed that Nina’s extra kilograms were not the cause of the problem, but merely a symptom to a bigger problem. Her boyfriend’s apathetic attitude, though, was a huge alarm to this danger. It all boils down to comfort.
Comfort is a natural part of the evolution of your relationship. According to David J. Linden, a neuroscience professor and the author of “Pleasure,” the intense, initial phase of romantic love typically lasts from nine months to two years, to be replaced by a less intense form of loving companionship. I believe that once this companionship phase kicks in, a lot of couples are up for a big challenge. Some couples manage to appreciate the beauty of a mature relationship, and maintain a balance of pleasure, fun and comfort. Others just become lazy – and smelly.
Now, let’s be honest. Many of us who are married or in serious relationships have gone through this phase. We gain a little too much weight, we don’t spend as much time picking out the perfect outfit, we stay in bed all day while munching fast food meals for the third weekend in a row, or maybe we stop shaving (this applies to both men and women alike, if you know what I mean).
Unfortunately for us, society has created many beautiful mantras to justify this kind of behavior: Love is not only skin deep. You and your partner should be so comfortable with each other that you no longer need to do foolish things like going out on an expensive date, dressing up, smelling nice, or trying out a new kamasutra position just to impress each other.
Now, I agree that comfort is an important indicator that your relationship actually works. But taken too far, comfort can actually lead to things going wrong. Too much comfort leads to taking your partner for granted. Too much comfort leads to not making an effort to preserve the chemistry that brought you together in the first place. Too much comfort leads to letting your arm hair run wild, and, at its extreme, a relationship completely devoid of physical intimacy.
Quoting a father of three, “Appreciation for physical appearance goes a long way transcending time limitations, although reasons for such appreciation differ from time to time.”
I guess what I’m leading up to is a simple conclusion: don’t get too comfortable with your situation, even if things are currently still going well.
The dangerous thing about comfort is that it has a way of sneaking up unnoticed. Before you know it, a relationship full of caring, cuddling and fun can turn into one of mutual acceptance and routine.