How do you rekindle a relationship that's gone cold?
I've never been in a relationship, this is an issue a friend of mine is currently dealing with. From what he shared it didn't sound like there was any outright hostility (from his perspective at least). I can't give too much details because it's not my story to share and also I thought maybe keeping the topic general would allow it to be more beneficial for everyone rather than just me. How did you handle it when it happened to you? What advice can I give to him? Is it even appropriate for me to try?
This isn't really something you can answer with a one-size-fits-all reply. There's a number of different reason why a relationship can "go cold".
One of the problems that many people have with their relationships is that they get so comfortable with the other person that they don't really pay much attention to their relationship anymore; the "I love you" becomes automatic and you start overlooking all the signals that are being sent. And for that reason a lot of people have luck with spending some time apart. That time can be useful to realize what parts of your routine might be turning off your partner, to realize how much you rely on and appreciate the things they do for you, and to work on one's self and personal issues. That being said, it's far from being a silver bullet; it may have no effect, or it could even make the relationship even more distant!
It's kinda worrying when the partial solution not only may not solve the problem but could also make the problem worse :(
Sometimes the right answer is to simply move on. Like @pra mentioned, not all relationships should last.
There are way too many ways a relationship can go wrong, so there's no general advice on rekindling apart from the general advice on having a good relationship.
In my experience, here are the most important things to having a good relationship:
All relationships are work, some more than others. Whether it lasts depends on how much work the people involved are willing to put into it.
Not all relationships should last, especially when you're young. Most of us go through a period where we "find ourselves", which really means figuring out what you want out of life and your relationships with others. It's very hard to get there by sheer deduction, you've got to get experience. Sadly, some relationships end up being lessons in what we don't want, and nothing more.
Thanks for sharing your experience. We're in our 20s so probably still in the "finding ourselves" period.
Generally speaking relationships in which both parties are engaged do not go cold. Someone is disengaged on some level. There is resentment they aren't sharing, needs they aren't advocating for, boundaries that are diffuse but need to be renegotiated, or other issues which the two individuals are not broaching with each other. It's easy to fall into the trap of doing what feels best, to maximize happiness by ignoring problems and focusing on the positives. This isn't necessarily an incorrect strategy, in fact optimizing for happiness is the optimal relationship strategy, however, it can only be successful if you do not ignore the problems. You must come to an agreement with your partner about appropriate boundaries or come to a joint solution in order for a problem to be resolved.
To be fair, after a certain amount of time, many relationships can feel a bit 'stale', especially if you are monogamous and you're craving new relationship energy (NRE). NRE is a phenomenon that can only exist when you don't truly know another person. Limerance is a fun word which captures some of what NRE is. It's a state in which you're capable of fantasizing future states, or if you aren't prone to fantasizing can at least bask in the interest you have towards discovering new things about a new person. NRE is not specific to sexual or romantic relationships, and can happen with any person. Have you ever met someone at an event which you were excited to learn more about? That's NRE.
I think most people feel differently about sexual and romantic relationships, however, and thus limerance is meant as a word to capture that feeling when sex or romance is on the table and to distinguish the feelings it brings which are unique to rarer kinds of relationships- those with higher levels of intimacy. NRE for these more intimate relationships can breed a much stronger physical and emotional feeling than NRE for less intimate relationships. As a general statement, many monogamous relationships end up with people minimizing or reducing the number of friendships, acquaintances, associates, colleagues, neighbors, and other less intimate relationships. What comes along with this culling of less intimate relationships is a loss of NRE in various forms. In monogamous relationships people often find themselves pining for this lost feeling and mourning it's loss. For some, spending more time cultivating these other relationships can help quell the desire for NRE. For others, 'opening' a relationship to allow for romantic or sexual partners can help to resolve these issues.
I say all this simply because these are regular issues often associated with 'a relationship that's gone cold'. I don't know that this necessarily applies to the relationships you're talking about because you simply did not provide enough information. As with others in this thread, I agree that more information is needed and that there is no one sized fits all approach here.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. All this stuff about NRE and limerance are very illuminating! I understand that I'm making it difficult for everyone. Since the information I had are second-hand and only from one half, I feel it'd be irresponsible to use that as basis for forming opinions (too much speculations and not enough facts). Making this thread I was only expecting some kind of frameworks or resources that he can look further into if interested, not something to the level of "here's what I think you should do". I mean, relationship advice that the guy who's never had a relationship got from an online forum probably doesn't inspire confidence (I meant that as a dig toward me, not you guys, everyone's comments have been great!)
The single most important piece of advice you can give is to tell him that he should seek relationship counseling with his partner. I've been in relationship counseling before and the very first thing the counselor told me was that most people come to relationship counseling when things can no longer be salvaged. Being proactive about it and going after counseling when things are going well or even good is much more effective at improving a relationship.
Sadly we're from a third world country so relationship counseling isn't very available
Then I would say encourage him to have an honest discussion with his partner about the state of the relationship.
I've struggled a lot with relationship anxiety, and with trying to manage doubtful thoughts (such as, in your friend's case, "Has this relationship gone cold?"). I've found it challenging to figure out whether certain thoughts were accurate reflections of the state of the relationship, or whether they were intrusive, obsessive thoughts stemming from relationship fears and anxieties.
Now, without specific details, it's hard to really tell what's going on your friend's situation. But, I want to point out the possibility that... sometimes "a relationship gone cold" is actually just... the fading of infatuation? Missing the feelings of NRE, as @Gaywallet said? Comparing your relationship to the myth of "The One"? In fact, it's very possible to be in a healthy, loving relationship, but overthink and ruminate about missing feelings, to the point of convincing yourself that something is wrong in the relationship even when the progression of the relationship has been totally OK.
For my own situation, I made a thread on /r/AutisticAdults, and the resulting discussion helped me to see that, at least in my case, the problem was in my own head, rather than with the relationship itself. Picking up a book on ROCD was eye-opening, and I found it to contain a lot of wisdom to help me feel steady in my own relationship. I'd highly recommend to anyone feeling doubts to take a quick skim through a libgen epub of the ROCD book by Sheva Rajaee, even if just to see if the introductory descriptions feel familiar. There's also the ROCI, which can give a rough sense of whether relationship anxiety might apply.
Best of luck!
Thank you for this post and the context. Your thread is fascinating to me, because I think it brings to light an evaluation which can be deeply toxic - comparing yourself to others (including your past self!). The idea that there even is a "correct" way to feel love, is just as absurd as the idea that there is a correct way to do any emotion. Emotions are personal. You feel what you feel. There should be no value judgements on the feeling, in the same way that someone shouldn't make a value judgement around being cold when its cold out.
Feeling cold is just an indicator that we should change a thing - put on warmer clothes, go inside, or otherwise seek warmth. Feelings and emotions are the same, it's your brain and body giving you feedback on what's happening. While positive feelings can be a sign things are going right, if we always felt positive our emotions wouldn't be particularly useful - the absence of this feeling, much like the absence of any other feeling, doesn't necessarily indicate anything. In fact, if we think back to the feeling of being cold, I'm sure there are situations in which this feeling was ignored until it could no longer be ignored - feelings can suppress other feelings and thoughts or focus can suppress feelings and emotions as well. In this case, it sounds like, the focus stemming from OCD and hyper-analyzing may be distracting you from the ability to check in with your own body and feelings.
Thank you for sharing your personal story. The book and the thread both seem very informative! I wish I have more to say but I'll have to let the guy decide for himself. I'll probably take a look at the book for my own sake too, since the thought of getting into a relationship does give me a lot anxiety and fear.