What makes relationships close isn’t always what it seems. We may think that our connection is based on something like shared experiences or compatibility, but often what makes relationships strong – especially long term relationships – is in things that you cannot always see. For example, one of the most important factors in a long term relationship is curiosity about them: the desire to learn more about who they are.
The Way that Curiosity Becomes Closeness
In any type of relationship – even friendships – the longer we know about the person, the more we often feel that “we know all there is to know.” There’s something comfortable about that. When you feel you know someone thoroughly, you may feel like you are each other’s closest persons. It can even be a badge of honor.
But if we feel we know everything about someone, we can lose something very important: curiosity. We get stuck in the status quo, feel we know our partner’s day to day life, and then have little desire to continue to discover more.
That feeling can hurt both of you in the relationship. For you, it makes your partner less interesting, and in relationships we all like to have interest in the person that we’re connecting with. For your partner, it makes them feel like you do not care, or it gives them less to show you. There’s a reason “mysterious people” have always had this lore of attractiveness in history. Because the more mysterious someone seems, the more curiosity we have about them and the more interesting the relationship feels.
Approaching the Relationship with Fresh Eyes
If you feel like your relationship has stagnated, it may be helpful to approach the relationship with fresh eyes and renewed curiosity, because doing so may help you create a more intense, meaningful connection. It gives you a chance to find your partner interesting, and it gives your partner a chance to feel noticed, seen, and heard.
You can do this by:
- Asking more questions.
- Listening better to the details.
- Focusing on your partner’s subjective experience more and validating it.
- Exploring emotions over just experiences, and more.
- Trying new things to explore who your partner is.
Not only will all of these behaviors express that curiosity that can be missing in many relationships. It will also demonstrate a deeper sense of care, respect, understanding and sensitivity for your partner that will help your partner feel seen, enhance closeness, and deepen connection.