On our second date, we went out for drinks and spent the night together. I awoke the next day with smudgy eyeliner, knotted hair and clothes that overnight transformed from sexual glamour to trampy and creased. This was an early sign of relaxation that I swore not to get used to. But it is easy to get use to; it’s very easy to let go of effort and beauty when you’re in a loving relationship. As time goes on, how do you know if it’s love or comfort?
I was at a couple’s party listening to partners’ shame one another with embarrassing stories. From sex acts gone wrong to drunk nights where bodily fluid left little to desire. It was clear these couples felt comfortable and at ease in their relationships.
This is a type of comfort many of us crave. The ability to go an extra day not plucking our eyebrows, shaving our legs and getting all dressed up just for a date down our local. I love looking glamourous and overdressed but the goddess mask is exhausting.
As a young twenty-something, I used to wake up first and creep into the bathroom to pull myself together. I was terrified my racoon under eyes and bad morning breath would prove that I’m not attractive or worth dating. How freeing it is to be in a relationship now where I can walk around in tracksuits without brushing my hair and still manage to look good enough for my partner to want sex.
While this is a nice form of comfort, we take for granted, the other type is more difficult to piece.
Am I falling out of love or just comfortable?
Writing about love for several years, I have learnt not to tell people what to do but rather impose questions that can help them reach an answer. This was the case when a friend had fallen out of love and wondered if it was normal for passion to subside.
She was in a comfortable relationship where nothing was particularly wrong. In fact, people would call her situation lucky. Her boyfriend had the financial means to support her, he believed her entire silhouette perfect and had eyes for no one else. They went for dinners, drinks, long frequent holidays and enjoyed double dates where he dutifully made conversation with her friends.
But nothing was particularly right either. Attraction and intimacy were low, and predictability kicked in. This was not just about excitement; she stopped caring about trying. The relationship was in a such a rut that no amount of dates could salvage a sexual desire.
If you’re feeling too comfortable in your relationship and you’re not sure if it’s okay, consider these two differences. This will help to differentiate between love or comfort.
You fully trust your partner and in turn, know that they can come to you with anything. You feel you can be your full self around them without having to hide or edit yourself. Although you cuddle for many nights in your pjs, you still desire to go out and explore the world with them. Together, you view life as open and filled with endless possibility.
You and your partner both trust and care about each other. But you spent endless nights in your pjs because you have little desire to experience life with them. You feel nonchalant and disengaged, often doing things out of habit and routine. You no longer find your partner interesting and as a result, do not bother to make quality time together. The thought of being alone scares you and you worry you won’t find anyone better.
I asked my friend to describe how her life would look if she stayed in her current situation. The thought of spending years with no excitement or passion in her love life was a driving factor for finally ending the relationship.
Do I love him or am I just attached?
We’re led to believe that sexual desire and longing is what true love is all about. Many romantic films base themselves on a ‘can’t live without you’ fixation. I watched a series on Sky Arts about the greatest love stories of creatives in Hollywood. Each couple seemed to display worrying and unhealthy behaviour.
Frida Kahlo, for instance, frequently ran back to her husband even when she discovered he was having an affair with her sister which remained hidden for numerous years. His continual cheating was shown as proof that Frida was madly in love and addicted to him – two lovers unable to live separately.
So many of us worry that a drop in sex is a sign we’re out of love and possibly with the wrong person. And equally, many of us give up on passion because we believe it’s normal and okay for that part of our relationship to end.
Back in January, my partner injured his ankle which led to lots of weekends resting at home. We enjoyed the slower pace but were excited to get back out and have dates. This is a key sign we have not become too comfortable.
How do you know if it’s love or comfort?
If you worry comfort is an issue, add some intimate habits. Maybe you take it in turns to schedule spontaneous and unique dates, or you make it habit to wear at least one pair of sexy nightwear and in turn, ensure your partner is not wearing boxers with holes in.
On a deeper level, your comfort could be due to a lack of development. This is likely a personal issue with you feeling stuck. You may need to go out and experience more risk-taking.
If you picture fun and desire away from your partner, think about when these feelings first started and what has happened in-between.
A big sign you’re out of love and just comfortable is if your happiness and future doesn’t include them. You’re continually more excited about spending time with friends than with the ‘love of your life’.
Sex and routine can change but an overriding longing to not make effort or to connect suggests love has dwindled.
If you’re still wondering if it’s love or comfort, visit my Ask Laura column for personal advice.
Leave a Reply