Does Personal Growth Benefit a Relationship?
New research examines the potential impact of shared and unshared experiences.
- Recent studies showed an association between experiences of personal growth on a given day and the passion individuals felt in their relationship.
- The studies also add to the evidence that growth experiences shared by a couple can strengthen a relationship.
- Chronically high individual growth, however, may be associated with lower feelings of passion in one’s relationship.
There’s some truth to the old proverb that “familiarity breeds contempt.” When we first enter into an intimate relationship, everything is exciting because everything is new. You’re getting to know your partner, and they’re getting to know you. On top of that, each of you is also changing as you adapt to the new relationship.
Over the years, we get to know our intimate partner better than any other person, and this is when the excitement in the relationship often starts to wane. What was once new and exciting can become old and boring.
But this doesn’t mean that romantic passion is destined to fizzle out over time. Plenty of research shows that couples can maintain excitement in their relationship by jointly engaging in novel experiences that promote personal growth. This could be taking a ballroom dance class, traveling, gardening—really any activity that the couple enjoys doing together and that entails some sort of novelty or challenge to overcome.