When you're in a new relationship, there are likely some things that you do and some that you choose not to, for whatever reason. Relationship habits can form pretty early-on. But you may not have considered some of the seemingly innocent habits in your relationship that actually sabotage your physical chemistry, which might be worth thinking a bit more about. Though you might think that habits and the things that you do or don't do in a relationship would have more bearing on your emotional intimacy, they can seriously impact your physical connection as well. And since those things are actually related, it makes sense that things that affect emotional intimacy might also affect physical chemistry.
"Physical chemistry is built on emotional chemistry," Dr. Laura F. Dabney, MD, a psychotherapist and relationship expert, tells Romper via email. "If two people emotionally relate well, the natural culmination is physical intimacy."
These habits, in and of themselves, aren't necessarily the worst things that you can do or total and complete relationship-killers. Instead, they're things that you might think are no big deal, but are actually having a very real effect on your relationship and your connection with one another. Breaking habits can be difficult, but trying to avoid doing certain things that you know are hurting your partner in some way could make a big difference in your relationship. Dabney says that explaining to your partner how it makes you feel when they do whatever that particular habit might be can be a more effective way of motivating them to make a change. Knowing what you might be doing (or what you both might be doing together) that could be inadvertently hurting your relationship is an important place to start.
1. Falling Into A Routine Right Away
When you start dating someone, you might fall into a certain relationship routine. And as your relationship progresses, the routine might change a bit here and there as well. But if you let yourself get stuck in a sort of a rut before putting in the time to explore the physical side of your relationship, that could hinder things. "This is significant because, in any relationship, physical chemistry fades over time," Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, a therapist and owner of Abundant Life Counseling St. Louis, tells Romper by email. "This does not mean the relationship is over, it just means you may need to nurture the physical aspect of your relationship a little bit."
2. You Can't Compromise
Compromises are necessary in nearly any relationship, but they can be especially important in your romantic relationships. Dabney says that if you're unable to apologize, compromise, or agree to disagree, that obstacle to emotional intimacy could also negatively affect your physical chemistry. Working to hear your partner's perspective rather than sticking to your opinion and trying to get them to agree with you no matter what should help things.
3. You Put Everyone & Everything Else First
It's not at all uncommon for some people, particularly women, to put other people and other responsibilities first before taking care of themselves, but that can be hard on your physical connection with your partner. "How you feel on the inside effects how you look and feel on the outside," Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage and family counselor, tells Romper by email. "If you’re taking time each day for self-care like exercise, healthy eating, meditation, journaling, reading, etc., these can all help you feel good from the inside out."
4. You're Always Late
If you're always running behind, that too can have an affect on your physical chemistry with your partner in some cases. Dabney says that even if you're only typically about five to 10 minutes late, it can send your partner the message that you're not entirely trustworthy, which can make physical chemistry a bit harder to come by.
5. You're Still In Touch With An Ex
Sometimes the people you date end up being part of your life long-term, even after you've ended the relationship, but if you're consistently in touch with an ex, that could be difficult when it comes to establishing or maintaining emotional and physical chemistry with your current partner. Dabney says that this habit can indicate to your current partner that you're not being completely loyal to them or your relationship, even if the contact that you have with them seems innocent to you.
6. The Two Of You Don't Talk Much
If you're not taking the time to talk about concerns, issues, and important topics, it can be difficult to establish emotional intimacy. And as Dabney notes, emotional and physical intimacy are related. "Research shows that those with the most satisfying sex lives report close, emotionally intimate relationships with their partners as well," Williamson says. So taking the time to discuss real things beyond the more fun, superficial conversations you might also have can make a real difference.
7. You Always Keep Your Emotions In Check
Keeping your emotions in check rather than allowing yourself to fly off the handle or break down into tears whenever something happens can be a good thing, but if you opt to stay stoic too often and never get around to addressing how you really feel about things, that might take a toll on your physical chemistry with your partner, Dabney says. Again, this all comes back to the connection between physical and emotional intimacy. Talking to your partner and working out your differences when need be might be a better way to go.
Having conversations about these kinds of habits and how they might be having an effect on your relationship is a good place to start, but if things don't seem to be getting any better, reaching out to a therapist might be a good next step. Be patient with your partner and with yourself. Changing or breaking habits can be hard — it takes time.