How Romantic Nostalgia Can Improve Your Love Life

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“I spent the weekend with my parents,” said Aleisha*. “They were nauseatingly sweet. They kept talking about memories of special times in their lives with each other. It was sweet. But a little annoying. But it is true that they have a very good relationship. They have been together for 35 years and are best friends. I hope I can find someone I can still feel this close to after 35 years.

Nostalgia can sometimes make you cringe, but research tells us there’s something to it, especially if you want to stay happy in a long-term romantic relationship. Here is an example of what I mean:

Debra* said, “My boyfriend and I had a great weekend. As I often do when clients make a general statement like this, I asked her if she could be more specific about what made it so nice. “Well,” she said, “I knew you were going to ask that question, so I tried to figure it out on my own. But I couldn’t find anything special that happened. But what was really good is that Roberto* (her boyfriend) and I felt especially close all weekend. We didn’t do anything different, I mean, we did our usual shopping and hung out with friends, but we just seemed to feel closer. And we had great sex.

I asked her if she remembered the first time she noticed that she felt closer to Roberto. She said, “Well, we had drinks and dinner with friends on Friday night, and when we got home, we held hands. We do sometimes, but not always. And then we came home and had this amazing sex. So maybe it was the good sex that set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

It made sense – good sex can sometimes promote intimacy – but I’ve found over the years that it’s helpful to understand what happens before a good one. sexual moment. Part of the reason is that sex often reflects the state of a relationship as much as it improves it. If you can figure out what made it happen once, you might be able to have more to say to make it happen again.

So I asked Debra to tell me more about what happened earlier in the day and in the evening. She said: “Nothing different from almost every Friday. Roberto and I said goodbye in the morning, went to work and met at the restaurant where we were meeting our friends. It was a fun night, although it started out a bit oddly. A couple is getting ready to celebrate their second wedding anniversary, and they’ve begun to long for times in their relationship when they’ve done something fun, or something silly, or something special. It was a little sappy, but for some reason Roberto started talking about a trip we took a few years ago, and suddenly we were laughing about how we had tried stand-up paddleboarding and had both fallen off our boards so many times that we had sat and floated on them for an hour.”

I asked if Debra thought it would be possible for them to share Memory had nothing to do with them feeling closer to each other for the rest of the weekend. She wasn’t sure. But research suggests that could very well have been a significant factor. It seems that the small act of remembering the experiences you’ve shared with your romantic partner can deepen your relationship. A recent study tells us that humans have a “basic need to belong” and romantic relationship help us meet this need.

The study, which was published in 2022 in the Journal of Social and Personal Relations, took a look at “romantic nostalgia,” or nostalgia that focuses specifically on past experiences shared with one’s partner. They wondered what role romantic nostalgia plays in maintaining and enhancing closeness and intimacy.

In a series of studies, authors have found a correlation between romantic nostalgia and greater relationship commitment, satisfaction, and closeness. In their initial study, participants answered a series of questions about their relationship, their sharing of nostalgic memories of the relationship with their partner, and their feelings of commitment, intimacy, and satisfaction in their relationship. Although this first set of questions did not show that either of these factors caused the other, it did show that couples who practiced romantic nostalgia were closer, more intimate, and more satisfied as partners than couples. couples who did not.

In the second study, a group of participants, who were all engaged in romantic relationships, were split into two equal parts. Half were asked to write for three minutes about a nostalgic experience with their partner – that is, an experience from the past with their partner that they felt “a sentimental longing for”. The other half were asked to write for three minutes about any experience with their current romantic partner. Participants who wrote about nostalgia felt somewhat closer, more satisfied, and more committed to their partners than those who were asked to write about any experience.

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In the third study, the participants were again divided into two peer groups. One group was asked to think of a song that reminded them of their romantic relationship and made them long for an experience with their partner. The other group was asked to think of any song they liked. The experimenters then played the song chosen by each participant. In questionnaires they completed after hearing their chosen song, participants who chose and listened to a song that reminded them of a nostalgic time with their loved one scored significantly higher on many indicator factors. of romantic love. Together, these studies seemed to point to a clear link between romantic nostalgia, commitment, satisfaction, and love in a romantic relationship.

So if your partner suddenly gets nostalgic, don’t fight it. Join him. And if they don’t bring up those memories, strike up a conversation yourself. Sharing fond memories of past times together is a good way to maintain a strong and loving connection.

*Names and credentials have been changed for privacy reasons

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