If You're Feeling Unfulfilled In Your Relationship, Fret Not, Here's What Experts Suggest
The first few months of a new relationship (affectionately known as "the honeymoon phase") are blissful and exciting. It's normal to feel that excitement start to calm as time goes by, once you get comfortable together and establish a routine. So if you're feeling unfulfilled in your relationship, or not as "excited" as you used to, don't fret just yet. I spoke with several relationship experts and psychologists, and they agreed that just because you're experiencing a lull, doesn't mean you and your partner can't work things out.
"Lack of fulfillment comes from complacency, habituation, and the loss of novelty as a relationship settles in," Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Elite Daily. "In the early stages of a relationship, we look to our partner to provide a sense of fulfillment. They are novel in our lives, and they consume us. However, what we realize as time goes by [is] that expecting our partner to provide our life fulfillment is not only inadequate, it's unfair. As soon as we place the responsibility for total fulfillment on our partner, we will lose. Our lives are our lives."
To understand why you're feeling unfulfilled and what you can do about it, Klapow says it's important to accept that there are likely going to be aspects of your relationship that aren't totally perfect, and that's OK. But in order to move past those things, talking to your partner is essential. "Can you make compromises? Can your partner?" he recommends asking yourself. "Can you change things in the relationship so that the relationship is more fulfilling? More novelty, more honesty, more support?" Once you and bae have talked those things over, Klapow suggests you look outside of your relationship and at yourselves individually next.
"Very often the neglect of our own personal needs is what causes us to feel unfulfilled in general, and we attribute that to feeling unfulfilled in the relationship," he says. Basically, your dynamic together could be fine, but individually, you or your partner (or both!) may be struggling to sort through aspects of your personal life. This may be the underlying cause of a lack of fulfillment. Klapow advises you ask yourself what you can do to feel individually fulfilled, and how you can support your partner in their search for fulfillment. Oftentimes, the feeling that something is missing could be a sign you're looking for a change, he explains. "That change could be in the relationship itself or it could be in the broader context of your life."
Licensed psychologist Jennifer B. Rhodes agrees with Klapow about looking within yourself to understand if there's something else that's causing you to feel unfulfilled. It's "often a sign that there is something within you that you are not paying attention to," she tells Elite Daily. "So many of us look to our relationships to fulfill our dreams, but sometimes, we have to fulfill our dreams ourselves."
In order to get over this uneasy feeling, Rhodes has a suggestion. She says to start an exercise routine, spiritual practice, therapy, or anything that "will help you figure out if the unhappiness is really a call to end the relationship or a call to expand your own horizons."
If you're feeling unfulfilled in your relationship, that doesn't automatically mean you and your partner have to break up. It could just be a result of one or both of you feeling like something is missing in your own lives, and not necessarily in your life together. Also, don't confuse feeling unfulfilled for the feeling of settling into your relationship. The honeymoon phase doesn't last forever, but the stability that comes after can be just as delicious and exciting if you let it.