Our attention spans are getting shorter in every regard, including romantically. A study released last month made the observation that the one-time seven year itch has inched it’s way closer to three years. Granted this study came as an effort to promote Hall Pass, so it should be taken with a grain of salt (as any study should), but it’s still disconcerting. The article speaks more to the staling that naturally occurs rather than directly about the cheating that has become a symptom of the itch. This I understand. Relationships will ultimately become familiar and it will take a concerted effort to (for lack of a less cheesy phrase) maintain the spark. But I feel like it’s at this point where that real love stuff everyone is always babbling about comes in.
I am far from an authority on this matter (obviously), but I’ve been lucky enough to witness it in my parents. There have been times when their relationship strays from perfect, but they come back around to that strange phenomenon of a love truer than that flutter that occurs in those first month, two months or three years. They’ve struggled sure, but they push through to the other side of imperfection to something more. So I guess what I’m saying is I refuse to believe that the itch has to be scratched by someone outside of the relationship.
I know plenty of people understand that this is the worst possible idea for anyone who wishes to actually stay in the relationship they’ve been committed to for the past seven (or three) years. Hell, the 3-year Glitch study itself listed a number of perfectly legitimate ways to foster a healthy relationship after the new love glow has lost its luster (though, to be fair, I can’t imagine many people would admit to total strangers that they’ve cheated). But I have seen infidelity destroy enough relationships (in some cases it’s decades of covert cheating that is more likely ignored than actually hidden) to know that there are also plenty of people who justify the infidelity as an easier short-term solution to meet their own needs rather than the needs of the relationship.
I often wonder what happens inside of those relationships up to and including the period of time where the individual strays. As the 4-Way article points out, I think many people who aren’t satisfied with their relationships jump outside before they even take a moment to deal with it from the inside. It’s easier and less sticky that way. At first. Ultimately the lying and betrayal will come back to cause a bigger mess than the offending party probably ever thought was possible.
It seems like this would be obvious. But for some reason it doesn’t seem to be to those in it. I think we often expect our significant others to just know what we need. Especially after we’ve been with them for long enough for the bloom to fall off the relationship. I’ve fallen into this unrealistic realm myself. After all, shouldn’t that be the perk of emerging from the honeymoon period? He’s not as romantic, but he now understands me. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) with the ever-evolving nature of human beings, communication is still required no matter how well we know the individual with whom we’ve become one. And who knows, in the process of communicating our needs, we may uncover a way to scratch that itch that doesn’t involve the demise of our relationships.