It's not inevitable, but it does happen — your relationship can gradually start to feel boring. You can try to figure out what is different about your partner that has caused this change: Have they been less attentive than usual, or less receptive, or less engaged with you? But it may not be your partner who's caused this rift (if there even is a rift). There are potentially many reasons you're bored in your relationship, and though you might be tempted to blame your SO, the boredom you feel may have nothing to do with your partner. If you can't put your finger on what has changed in your relationship, then perhaps it's time to try looking within yourself.
I spoke to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles, and relationship psychiatrist Dr. Laura Dabney to ask what exactly causes boredom in a relationship. "One of the primary reasons [for boredom] is that, the longer the relationship is, the more likely we are to settle into fixed patterns," Dr. Brown points out. So what are those fixed patterns that may disrupt your relationship satisfaction? Relationship boredom that has nothing to do with your SO may just be the result of one of these destructive tendencies.
You Over-Idealized Your SO
When you start seeing someone new, it's normal to only see the attractive parts of that person. If you want this relationship to succeed, you're going to ignore or dismiss the less savory qualities and focus on the ones you like, creating an idealized version of your SO in your mind. Spoiler: That illusion is probably going to fade when you see them clip their toenails or hear them snore at night. When it happens, you'll be left wondering where that near-perfect person you used to see has gone.
"In my experience, one does not 'suddenly' lose interest in their relationship," Dr. Dabney says. "Typically, changes in the relationship takes a course similar to starting a relationship. It takes time and many events for it to change." Just as you built up this rose-tinted fantasy of your partner in your mind, that façade will gradually erode, leaving you bored when — as Dr. Brown explains it — "the initial luster has gone."
You Lack Gratitude
Once you settle into a long-term relationship, it's easy to lose sight of why you fell in love with your SO to begin with. That doesn't mean they've lost those qualities you fell for — it could just mean that you fail to appreciate them as much as you used to because you've grown accustomed to them.
"Forgetting why we love [a partner] may be the result of taking their presence in our lives for granted," explains Dr. Brown. "In other words, lack of gratitude is a key reason why some people get bored in even the best of relationships." Thanking and appreciating your partner is a key part of a relationship's success. Though you may believe your SO has done nothing to deserve your thanks, it could be the case that you're just not seeing all of the reasons you have to be grateful for them.
You Aren't Willing To Make Yourself Vulnerable
Just like gratitude, vulnerability is an important part of every relationship. If you fail to connect with your partner, it's likely that you're going to feel unfulfilled, even if you're the one that's holding back, not your partner. By keeping things bottled up, you're preventing your SO from engaging with you, and that lack of engagement can naturally lead to boredom.
"When [relationship boredom] seems sudden, it’s typically because somebody has not voiced any problems until they are ready to leave or to try and fix the problem," says Dr. Dabney. "The problems and their following negative emotions can build silently until a boiling point."
Dr. Brown adds, "Lack of true emotional honesty can lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness." Partners who only have surface-level conversations might find themselves wishing for a deeper connection, but of course, that can only happen if you're willing to open up.
You're Skeptical About Long-Term Relationships
Though it may not be your partner's fault that you're feeling unfulfilled in your relationship, it may not be entirely your own fault, either. A person whose parents have split up or who has had failed relationships themselves may assume that it is "the norm" for all couples to eventually break up. That cynicism can then lead to a feeling of boredom whenever a relationship has lasted beyond a certain point.
"This inner narrative pretty much sets the person up to experience a lack of connection with their partner," Dr. Brown says. "In the end, they simply give up, often blaming their partner for their unhappiness rather than looking inside and realizing that they are the victim of their own self-fulfilling prophecy, which says 'relationships can't last.'"
For those who are skeptical about lasting love, boredom can be a defense mechanism. If you believe something isn't going to last, why get yourself too invested? The best way to overcome that defense mechanism is to learn to trust your partner, and if you find the right person, trusting them should feel good, not scary.
You're In Love With Falling In Love
A new relationship is exciting, but it's possible that — instead of falling in love with a person — you're enamored with the idea of falling in love. If you're already feeling restless a few months or even a few weeks into a new relationship, it could be the case that you've been consumed by a concept rather than a person.
That doesn't mean that your partner isn't a good fit or that your relationship isn't valid. "Their partner may still be a good match for them," Dr. Brown points out, "but for some reason they have lost interest because they no longer feel the excitement of being in love." At that point, you have to ask yourself what you find more exciting: The idea of a future with your partner, or the idea of meeting someone new?
Even if your partner hasn't changed, it's possible that you have. As Dr. Dabney explains, it can be the case that "if a person is finally taking care of their emotional needs, they may realize they are unhappy with their partner." Rather than ignoring feelings of boredom, hoping they'll go away, face them head on. It's possible to fall more in love with your partner, but only if you figure out why that love has faded in the first place.