Slowly Raise the Bar

All this talk about habits, choice of friends, partnership in romance, and being better… what does that mean for my existing friendships? Do I ditch them?

The prospect of love can bring about a few wrinkles in the network of friends. The love of your life will not necessarily like everyone you’re cool with.

Raising the bar can be a bit jarring when it means dropping friendships that one has. What is worse, some folks will turn all their attention to their romance partner at the exclusion of their existing network of friends. When love fizzles, as it sometimes does, they’re left with no support at worse, or a jilted support network for the most part.

Just like the transition to a stable relationship takes time, don’t be fooled by the falling in love at first sight myth, the friendship negotiations take time.

Today, for Motivational Monday, let’s do a quick dive into the process of slowly raising the bar for relationships.

Slowly Raise the Bar

First and foremost, what are we talking about here? What bar? How high to raise? Why raise it at all?

What Bar?

With each decade of life one lives in a different season of life. That can be the transition from grade school to high school. The transition from college to work. The transition from single to parent. From parent to guardians of one’s parents. Whatever the transition may be, each ten or so years, one has to do better to keep up with change.

The same mindset that handled high school is not the same that will handle the sale of a home to fund a move to a better place for having children of one’s own… just to pick one example.

Each levels is measured in the proverbial bar. Each bar is higher than the last one. The exception being the closing bar for some where failing health lowers the threshold of skills in the closing year(s) of life.

When talking romance, the mindset that works for the single person has to be adjusted to deal with life for two. The ability to read someone else’s feelings, understand their mindset, and work with them as lover and friend is greater than being single and chasing solo goals.

Just like one’s single life has steps and levels, so does the relationship. It started in the honeymoon phase and will mature over time to being best of friends. There will be dips in feelings of romance and there will be changes in levels of attraction. If one isn’t aware of these changes, they may mistakenly exit a perfectly good relationship for no reason or prematurely.

Let’s look at it differently.

In the beginning, all feels extraordinarily awesome. Love at first blush. It’s perfect. It’s heartwarming. It’s bliss. Life is grand. The stuff of legends and songs.

At some point, the relationship runs into reality. People get busy. People stop dating each other. Worse, they assume that once in a committed relationship, they have a pass on dating their lover. That assumption gets significantly worse in marriage. Work takes over. Kids take over. Friends squeeze in where they can. Family takes the rest. Then, what’s left for the couple to nourish themselves?

The raising of the bar means that a couple has to make it a priority to improve their love life over time. That means more work has to go into making it work. Keep in mind… when the work is done right, it doesn’t feel like work and the feeling of the honeymoon stage stays around longer. Better yet, it can come back after it’s been gone.

What?!?!

Yeah! One can keep the spark hot longer when work is applied to love. Plus, one can return the spark if it had flamed out. Do be realistic though, a re-ignited flame will feel familiar and not necessarily brand new. It won’t have that intoxicating adrenaline rush of a new relationship. However, it will have the strength and depth of a seasoned relationship while having the glow and fondness of a new relationship. Basically, just missing some adrenaline instead of all of it.

How High to Raise the Bar?

That depends on the couple, really. Each relationship has it’s threshold of happiness. Some love to go camping and that brings their feeling of love back up. Others just need a few moments of Netflix and chill to be good. Others need a long walk in nature or a skydiving act or a scuba diving expedition. Whatever it is, that’s the level you’ve got to reach for.

What constitute the raising of the bar… two folds. First, one has to look to see how low the bar might have fallen over the course of time. Then, work to raise it back to where it should be. Second. One can raise it higher as the relationship reveals new things that work to keep love happy.

Example:

In the dating years, one couple used to go fishing together. That was where they built up their bond and made things hot. Now, with work and inner city living, they never go fishing. The bar has been lowered. Throw in some bills, some school debt, and demanding teens at home, the love is all but faded out.

The raising of the bar is planning in advance when the couple will go out to the countryside and find their favorite watering hole to enjoy some fishing alone. The raising of the bar is signing up with a group to have regular fishing trips so that they’re with other couples of like-mind fishing with them. During those trips, they not only share tips with other couples on how to keep love fresh, they have time also to go fishing alone… away from the group.

How high to raise the bar is entirely up to your relationship. You’ve got to find out what works. And then, do the work. To keep things fresh, keep discovering what could work and adopt what does.

So… why do people have to raise the bar again?

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