'I love you. Now change': Why do qualities which originally attracted us to our partner now repel us FEMAIL sexpert Tracey Cox explains 'the partnership paradox'
12:17 GMT, 5 December 2012
The 'partnership paradox' means what attracts us at the start repels us in the end
Ever wondered why the person you love the most – your partner – is also the person most likely to drive you mad
Thanks to decades of extensive research by sociologists at the University of California (spearheaded by Diana Felmlee) we now know the answer.
Think about what quality attracted you to your partner in the first place and you'll usually find it's the thing that most annoys you about them now.
It's called 'the partnership paradox': what attracts us at the start, repels us in the end because for every attractive quality there's a flipside.
The man you adored for being highly successful, you end up resenting for being a workaholic. That great looking guy starts to seem a little flirtatious and untrustworthy as time creeps on. Mr Organised becomes Mr Control Freak. The same guy who made us cry with laughter changes into someone who won't take life seriously.
What was initially attractive ('He's so laid-back') becomes a negative later on ('He's a lazy bastard'). Why
The very nature of long-term relationships makes them a breeding ground for a toxic combination of disillusionment and repeated exposure.
Disillusionment kicks when the heavy idealization stage of falling in love stops. We’ll forgive a lot of annoying habits when those dreamy love goggles are on, not so much when they’re removed and replaced with a critical magnifying glass.
Then there’s the ‘dripping tap’ effect. When you’re with someone long term, the same thing happens over and over again. What doesn’t worry us in small doses, does when it’s repeated continuously.
The ‘equity theory’ also has something
to do with it. All of us have a perception of who gets the best deal
from your relationship. If you feel it’s lopsided but tilts in your
favour, your partner’s quirks won’t annoy you as much. If you feel hard
done by and that they’re getting more out of it than you are, the faults
'Disillusionment kicks when the heavy idealization stage of falling in love stops – we'll forgive a lot of annoying habits when those dreamy love goggles are on'
How to stop love turning into loathing Write down all that annoys you about your partner and write the positive flipside next to it. For example, the positive of ‘too clingy’ is ‘affectionate’.
Look hard at the positive: wasn’t that one of the things that made you fall for them in the first place Doing this will help balance the scales and help you see both the good and the bad in your partner.
It also doesn’t hurt to remember that for every annoyance you have about them, they have one about you. The stronger the trait, the more likely it is to become aggravating.
What’s the one thing you’re most often complimented on You’re independent and good at standing on your own two feet Be aware of the flipside. Don’t be scared to let your partner know you do need them, even if it’s only sometimes.
If you’re the life and soul of every party, turn down the volume. Step back occasionally and let your partner step into the limelight.
A final word – or warning – from the researchers. Increasing annoyance is a sign of trouble ahead. Could be time for a Relationship MOT!
QUICK FIX: HE THINKS LUBE IS CHEATING!
Q: My husband found a tube of lube in my bedside drawer and went mad. He accused me of just pretending to fancy him because if I did, I wouldn’t need it. He says using lube is ‘cheating’. I tried telling him that most women need extra help at certain times (I’m 34) but he refuses to believe me. What can I do
A: Is brushing your teeth with toothpaste cheating in the breath department What about putting on moisturiser Using his logic it’s downright trickery because your skin wouldn’t be as soft without it. It’s a lovely concept that your husband’s going to turn you on instantly, just by looking at you. But it’s horribly immature. Experience with sex and women very quickly educates most men into realising our natural lubrication is affected by hormones, diet, stress levels and a dozen other factors. There are times when we all need to supplement Mother Nature with a quality lubricant. I bet this isn’t the only sex myth he’s fallen for. Buy him a good, basic sex book and suggest he reads it from start to finish.
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