Your relationship is… well… comfortable. Some might even call it boring. No fights. No real problems. Things are going okay, but there’s no excitement or fireworks. This could mean that you are in one of two kinds of relationships: an empowering one that is deeply fulfilling, engaging, and meaningful – yet, stable and without drama. Or it could mean that you are in more of a “security blanket” kind of relationship. You are settling for safe reassurance that lacks a greater depth of connection with your partner.
One way to figure out whether what you have is really working for you is to look at three elements: you, your partner, and your physical connection.
You: A healthy relationship nurtures and supports you as a whole person. Partners see you through a positive, loving, caring lens. This is expressed by encouraging you to explore your interests and live according to your values.
- In an empowering relationship, you feel better about yourself, your interests, and your forays into the world.
- A security-blanket relationship helps you to feel safe and reassured, allowing you to feel comforted and protected from life’s stresses. But the relationship does not necessarily effectively support and encourage you to stretch and be your best self.
Your partner: In a healthy relationship, you want your partner to be the best friend you want to spend time with.
- An empowering relationship is created, in part, by being with someone you appreciate and respect. You want to know more about their inner life, such as their opinions, fantasies, and goals. You care about them, and so you want to be there to support and encourage them.
- A security blanket relationship is created, in part, by being with someone you seek out to help you feel emotionally safe. You aren’t thrilled with your partner but accept the situation because it is comfortable. This might be tricky to figure out because sometimes people stay with partners who treat them poorly or with partners whom they don’t respect. These relationships are safe in the sense that they are familiar; the person knows what to expect. Their fear of being alone or leaving may be bigger than the discomfort or pain of staying.
Physical connection: A healthy relationship includes physical attraction and sharing your emotional attraction through physical affection.
- An empowering relationship includes physical affection that both people enjoy – from holding hands to sex. There can be differences in each person’s style, but the couple is able to negotiate those differences so that both people’s needs are reasonably met.
- A security blanket relationship often includes a sense that something is amiss in the physical relationship. There is a lack of attraction or physical displays of affection are not nurturing – either because they are not there or they don’t fit your needs. Another problem might be that the physical relationship is what holds the couple together. The physical affection is comforting, but the relationship is not validating, supportive or nurturing on a more psychological level.
If you review these three elements and determine that you have a more empowering relationship, then you would be wise to attend to all the good it has to offer. Just because a relationship does not have all the fireworks or drama of a Hollywood movie, that does not mean there is a problem with it – in fact, their absence might reflect that the relationship is healthy and mature. Still, if your connection is not as intensely passionate as you would like or think it “should” be, pay attention to everything that the relationship does has to offer. Then talk with your partner about how you wish there was more excitement or passion – or whatever else is bothering you – and try to work on it together.
If you relationship seems to be more of the security blanket kind, there is a lot to think about. It may be exactly what you need at the moment, and so it would be helpful to respect that need. But you might still want to explore how you, and possibly your relationship, might grow.