Rachel Paige
September 23, 2014 4:00 am

You’d rather sleep than spend the night awake talking. You’d rather go for a run, then spend another lazy Sunday morning in bed. You haven’t bothered getting dressed up in a while and your idea of a double date involves your two closest friends—Netflix and pizza.

These are all signs that you’re past the obsessive, love-crazed phase of your relationship, and moving into the comfortable stage. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, it’s really easy to fall down that comfortable relationship hole and never get out of it. Suddenly every single night is spent in the same old pajama bottoms with the same TV episodes and before you know it, you’re in the thick of an awful rut.

Don’t freak out. It’s totally fixable. You just need to take a step back, and examine what kind of things you two are doing on a daily basis, and stop doing them. Anything spontaneous can break the pattern, and the sooner you get out of the same old routine, the better. But first, you need to spot the signs of a stalled relationship. Here are some flashing red warning signals:

1. You learn more about their day from their Twitter than you do talking to them across the table.

Yes, Twitter is great to learn exactly what joke was just told at the board meeting, and then what was eaten for lunch. But that doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t ask one another about your day, even though social media has already done a play-by-play of the highlights. If you’re getting most of your information about each other from NOT talking then maybe you need to put down your phones and give each other some face time—not the iPhone kind.

2. You no longer laugh at their ‘just okay’ jokes.

There was a time when their humor was adorable, even when they weren’t exactly nailing it. Now, your standards have gotten rigidly high, your tolerance is low, and their meh jokes are much more likely to annoy you than make you laugh. It’s ok, you don’t have to laugh, but maybe a chuckle? No?

3. You’d rather cuddle with the dog.

When you’re deep in a rut, fuzzy animals are your dopamine delivery drivers of choice. Your partner? Not so much. One second they’re holding you too tight, the next all you can feel is their elbow digging into your side. If maximum comfort is your main goal, there is no way it’s being achieved. Then, as soon as you’re comfortable, they do something like sneeze, or cough, or worse yet, burp. It’d be adorable if a puppy did that sort of thing. Not when a human does it.

4. You dread going to dinner with them, because you’re worried you’ll having nothing to say.

Not that comfortable silence between long-term partners, but that terrifying absence of conversation when you’re not even trying to engage with the human sitting across from you. If you know you’re in this kind of situation, the last thing you should attempt is a double date. You started dating for a reason, and you’ve kept dating for even more reasons. There’s most certainly something to be discussed, even if it’s the most mundane topic to cover. Besides, who knows what kind of profound conversation will spring out of a simple comment about the weather? Don’t let the fear of boring conversation keep you from going out to your favorite restaurant.

5. You’re repeating the same old stories.

Hey, have we come to a general consensus regarding our views on Judd Apatow’s movies? Do you wanna rehash our discussion about the third act of Funny People? When you’re really struggling for conversation, it’s a sign you’re not doing enough new stuff together. You’ve forgotten your observational funny bone, and you’re calling on past moments hoping they’ll spark some memory of how awesome things were. It’s time to move on, not from your partner, but from your same old schtick. Go to a new movie, visit a museum, sit in a Starbucks together and compare notes on the people who walk by. Basically just put new things in front of both of your eyes, and then rehash those new things. I promise, new things are conversation aphrodisiacs.

6. Your feelings about their clothing has changed.

Instead of relishing in the fact that they left their shirt at your house, you see it as just another thing to weigh down the laundry bag. Or instead of wearing their shirts for the novelty of it, you wear it exclusively because all your clothes are dirty. Remember back to when you couldn’t get enough of their signature scent? You hung onto a shirt of theirs long after they had gone, pretending you hadn’t the faintest idea where it had been left. Now their favorite college shirt smells like it’s been through one too many tailgates and is in desperate need of a spin cycle. Maybe it’s time you take a break from doing each other’s laundry. The intention is nice, but it may be sinking you into a pit of unromantic quicksand.

7. You don’t want to share food.

It’s not that you don’t want to do a joint order, it’s that you don’t want to offer even a bite of your meal. Sharing something delicious together has lost its luster, and now all you care about is maximizing sandwich intake. After that, your thoughts drift to leftovers for lunch tomorrow, ignoring your partner’s question of “are you going to finish that?” Break this non-sharing cycle by eating some food you’ve never had together. Order in from some exotic restaurant, or go to a tapas restaurant where you’re forced to share plates. Then, indulge in some shared taste-bud sensations.

8. You no longer love the way they smell when they don’t shower.

You used to be the only person in the world who savored the raw odors from your unwashed partner. Now you’ve joined the masses in recognizing when smells are particularly pungent. They return back from the gym, and you establish a ten foot radius around them until they’ve showered. And morning breath? You’re not psyched about that either, anymore. Sorry, there’s no easy solution for this dilemma, aside from Listerine.

9. You’re willing to accept you’re in a relationship rut.

You start thinking this is how it’ll always be, so why bother dealing with it? You’ve forgotten what it was like to have that relationship high, so you no longer strive to get it back. Uh-oh. Don’t let this rut win. Your relationship deserves a shot, or a shot in the arm, so kick things up with a little spontaneity—take a weekend road trip, go see some live music, break out the outfit you wore on date two, cook a special meal and get into the idea of surprising your partner. The more unexpected things you do together, the more you’ll have to talk about, and the more you’ll remember why you fell for them in the first place.

(Images via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

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