The first flush of romantic attraction is a powerful tonic. It makes our hearts beat faster, our hands shake and our waking moments rife with excitement and anticipation. But once we’ve consummated our desires – over and over and over again – well, things get less exhilarating. Our hearts resume normal palpitation in the presence of our beloved.
Passion fades, but love remains. This is a fact of human life that both troubles and comforts us, suggests Daniel Jones, editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column in a recent Op-Ed. That’s because the nature of any long-term commitment includes a surfeit of monotony and an abundance of those curiously intimate moments of familiarity in which you notice that your one true love appears to have one very long black hair growing out of his ear.
“No one doubts the enduring benefits of long-term relationships. But marriage can also get boring, punctuated with deadening routines, cyclical arguments and repetitive conversations,” writes Jones.
To combat the boredom, many people try to reignite the fires of first attraction, says Jones. They go on date nights and make a concerted effort to be more affectionate.
Other people decide to reclaim the thrill of sexual novelty outside their unions. These people, whom Jones calls “sneakers,” make hay out of the opportunities that social media affords for online flirtations and offline dalliances. Sneakers may reclaim their passion, but at great cost to other virtues such as love, fidelity and decency, for example.
Ultimately, Jones concludes that when the going gets tough passion-wise, the tough get grateful. They “will realize that passion does not equal love, and that the loss of one doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of the other,” says Jones.
Now that’s a phrase worth memorizing.