Are Love Slumps Normal In Long-Term Relationships? Experts Say They're Inevitable
It's common knowledge that all relationships have their ups and downs. No matter how much you love your partner, there may be times when some of their previously adorable quirks become inexplicably irritating, you start bickering more often about silly things, and your sex life is seriously lacking in excitement. But are love slumps normal in long-term relationships? And how can you tell if the slump is something that your relationship can survive (and ultimately conquer)?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, there are several definitions for the word slump, which include "a downward slide," and "to fall or sink suddenly." In keeping with those definitions, experts say that when you're referring to relationships, a slump marks a discernible negative change.
“It’s a time when a couple feels less connected in their relationship — and generally less excited about and fulfilled by your life together," says Dr. Sarah Schewitz, licensed clinical psychologist and couple's therapist.
Sound familiar? Then this should be reassuring: Experts agree that an occasional slump is almost an inevitability when two people are dating for an extended period of time.
"There are going to be slumps in even the very best of relationships," explains prominent L.A.-based couples' therapist Dr. Gary Brown.
Phew, right? Not only that, but Dr. Brown insists that a slump can actually be good for your relationship in the long run. Shocking, I know.
"These slumps can reveal vulnerabilities," he tells Elite Daily. "They can also present as opportunities to challenge yourselves to devote more of your time and energies to each other."
In other words, a slump can serve as a subtle alarm for you and your SO to step it up, and it can also highlight the specific areas that you need to focus on improving.
“Life gets busy and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important to us and stop investing in your relationship," adds Dr. Schewitz. "When people say relationships take work, this is what they mean. It’s easy to let your relationship fall by the wayside and get into a slump if you’re not putting in the effort to keep things fresh and interesting."
There are many reasons why you might find yourself in a slump. Aside from having children, Dr. Schewitz reveals that some of the most common factors that contribute to slumps include hectic work schedules, mismanaged conflict, long-term physical or mental illness, and simply getting bored with routines. But according to both Dr. Schewitz and Dr. Brown, one of the top causes of a slump is taking each other for granted.
"Lack of felt and expressed gratitude is like rust," says Dr. Brown. "It is silently corrosive and can eat away at a relationship."
With that in mind, if you're in a slump and eager to get out of it, a good place to start would be focusing on showing appreciation for your partner. When was the last time you thanked them for leaving a smoothie for you in the fridge, did a favor for them to ease their stress during a tough week, or set your alarm a little earlier just to squeeze in some snuggle time before work? These little things truly do add up. And if you're feeling unappreciated, don't hesitate to bring it to your partner's attention and let them know what makes you feel valued. Just remember to frame it in a positive way ("I love when you do [ZYX]") rather than a negative way ("You never do [XYZ] and it's pissing me off.")
Aside from those efforts, Dr. Schewitz advises taking some time to assess the other possible reasons for your slump. If you've gotten so busy with work that you've stopped making room in your schedule for quality time with each other, make it a point to plan a weekly or bi-weekly date night (ideally trying something new and fun together). If you've been feeling generally disconnected or fighting more frequently, Dr. Schewitz recommends finding a local couple's therapist who can help you get to the root of your disagreements and manage conflict in a healthy way.
One of Dr. Brown's go-to solutions for a slump is writing a list of all the reasons why you first fell in love with your partner (and perhaps encouraging them to do the same). This activity can draw attention to what's missing in your relationship, while simultaneously reminding you of what you have to be thankful for. He also suggests spending a period of time together every day that's totally device-free. By putting your phone, laptop, and other distractions away, you can focus on reconnecting with each other far more easily. Another one of his top tips is to ask your partner, “What can I do to make your day a little easier today?” This simple act shows that you care, thus preventing them from feeling that aforementioned lack of appreciation (which can be so deadly in relationships).
"Very often, making an intention to be more involved and grateful, as well as acting in a loving way can help bust you out of a slump," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily.
A love slump may be normal in long-term partnerships, but that doesn't mean you have to accept it. The sooner you recognize you've hit a rough patch, the sooner you can be proactive in making positive changes that infuse more affection, excitement, connection, and understanding into your relationship. And remember — a slump isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, the highs you experience with your boo feel that much more heavenly after you've survived the lows.
Dr. Sarah Schewitz, couple’s therapist
Dr. Gary Brown, couple’s therapist