You hear a lot about the honeymoon period and the seven-year itch, but there’s another relationship phenomenon that doesn’t get as much press—probably because it’s nowhere near as glamorous. But, for many of us, at some point, there’s a complacency dip. It may be right after the honeymoon period ends, or it may not happen for months or years, but it’s a period where one (or both) of you becomes just a little too relaxed. Being comfortable with each other is one thing, but being complacent is a whole other ballgame.
Because complacency has an apathy component, it suggests you’ve started taking your partner or the relationship for granted. Too frequently when we talk about people no longer making an effort, we relate it to superficial things—like not going to the gym or living in sweatpants. And sure, that can be a sign. But complacency is about something so much deeper than that.
Worried that you—or your partner—have become complacent in a relationship? Here are the signs to look out for and what you can do to fix them.
Date Nights and Vacations Are Disappearing
Maybe one of you has become a little lazy and is dragging your heels—or maybe both of you have succumbed—but if you’re seeing your date nights and romantic opportunities fade away, it’s a good sign complacency has set in. Especially if you live with someone, it’s easy to think that you can always “just go out another night” and decide to stay in and watch Netflix while drooling over delivery. But soon, you’re never going out.
The solution is simple: Get out of the house. Make a reservation or, better yet, book a vacation that you can’t get out of and really catch up on quality time. It might seem unnecessary when you live together, but being at home just isn’t the same.
You’re Not Confiding in Each Other
Complacency isn’t just about being stuck in the same old T-shirt, you can become lukewarm emotionally as well. If you stop checking in with each other—about the little things and the big ones—then your connection can slip away. Even though having a strong social life is important, your partner should be your go-to for emotional support.
If you feel like you’ve lost that emotional intimacy, start by just making time every day to talk about how your day went. It doesn't have to be life-altering, it’s just about reconnecting. Once you establish that, build up to the deeper conversations.
The Sex Has Started to Slip
First of all, there’s no “right” amount of sex to be having, so don't worry if you don’t have sex regularly. Everyone’s different, but if there’s a big change or drop-off from the amount of sex you usually have, then that’s a sign. You know what's normal to you—and if things have changed.
Try initiating sex more and taking time to really set the mood—schedule it in if you have to. But if your partner is really stuck in that same-old rut and waves you off, you may need to sit down and really explain how much this means to you and that you think the lack of sex is a sign of bigger problems. Talk it through, then start making the effort.
You’re Your Worst Self With Each Other
It’s great that you can be yourself with your partner, that you don’t have to be “on” all the time with them—but that can go too far. If you find that you or your partner are taking things out on each other, always grouchy, or just plain difficult, it may be that you’ve become a little too relaxed. There’s a thin line between becoming comfortable and using someone as an emotional punching bag.
If you find yourself doing this, it’s important to take a breath and remember that everything going on in your life is not your partner’s fault and that they deserve to be treated a little more gently. If your partner’s doing it, you can remind them of exactly the same thing.
You Feel Distant
If you or your partner are finding that you feel like you don’t even know each other anymore—or even like each other anymore—that’s a sign of emotional complacency that's gotten out of hand. Any vast distance between you should be addressed sooner rather than later.
Try to carve out some time to sit down and talk about the fact that you feel distant—it will be hard, but it’s worth it for your relationship. Agree to make more of an effort with each other and work out a plan to do that, then keep checking in to make sure the situation is improving. Open communication is key.
It’s so easy to fall into laziness or worse, but, luckily, it’s also easy to pull yourself out of it, if you do it early enough. Make an effort, be kind to each other, and, crucially, keep the conversation open. You’ll be back to your old selves in no time.