We dated a lot in our first year. We’d visit the Zoo Negara, café-hop, and go to the Philharmonic orchestra every month.
Now in our second year, and we’ve traded all that for comfort. Instead of going out, we stay in, have afternoon naps, and indulge in all-nighters with our favourite video games.
At first, we were afraid that our relationships would fizz out the moment our honeymoon period ended. I thought that once the novelty wears off, we’d grow bored of the relationship and drift apart.
Surprisingly, I can say that it doesn’t. Comfort isn’t necessarily bad. If anything, it’s actually the point when the relationship starts to blossom. It brings a sense of security.
So, without further ado, here are 5 ways my relationship has changed since entering the comfort stage:
1. It’s the little things.
One of the best things of this stage is all the money you save. It used to be, we would buy each other expensive gifts. I’d buy him video games (which could go up to RM200), and he’d get me fancy stationery. That would set our budget way back, but back then we thought it’s what couples do for each other, so we never complained.
Today, we’ve learnt to love each other without breaking bank. I realised that money isn’t the only way to show love – it’s also appreciating the little things in the relationship.
One of the best things I love about him are the small favours he does for me. Like, I’d ask if he could get me groceries—toilet paper, ketchup, pads—which he does. He knows I hate to drive, so he doesn’t mind doing it for me.
For me, if he’s stressed out at work, I’d drive over and buy him food. He forgets to eat when he gets anxious, so I go over to make sure he does.
My point is, when you’ve been with a person long enough, you know all these little things about them. It lets you do things for them which only an intimate person would know to do. These small gestures mean a lot more to me than just a generic present you can buy at the store.
But to do that, you’ve got to know them well. Which is why,
2. Communication is key
People love to drop hints on what they want, instead of telling them outright. I used to do that.
Whenever he said something insensitive, I’d get upset and give him the cold shoulder. He’d never get why I was pissed, and it’d end up in two ways—the silent treatment, or a yelling match.
It was unfair and immature.
Now that we’ve entered the comfort phase, we know each other better. We’re comfortable enough to say what’s on our minds. When we say something that isn’t pleasant, it isn’t to start shit up, but to improve.
Now, we discuss and make amends. It’s much easier and stress-free. Really, that make-up sex wasn’t worth the screaming and the days of not talking.
Still, it’s not something that can be set up in a day. It’s a process of trial-and-error. While figuring it out, arguments are bound to happen—it’s part and parcel of a relationship. And that’s okay.
It takes effort to communicate and set things straight. Remember, no one is a mind reader. If you want something, or if whatever they said bothered you, tell them. Voice your opinions, and let them know why it bothers you.
Of course, building that foundation won’t be easy, but…
3. Effort is everything
Sometimes, the romance overshadows the realities of a relationship. It’s easy to get caught up in the lovey-dovey moments and forget that relationships are a lot of work. When we were in the honeymoon period, things were easy. Throw a few gifts, pay for meals, and whisper sweet nothings—there, you’re done.
But now, it’s more complicated. Problems at this stage of the relationship can’t be solved with just a slice of cake, or “I’m sorry” gifts.
In a way, the ‘comfort stage’ is a misnomer. We’re more comfortable expressing ourselves, which, in a way, makes things simpler—but it’s still not easy.
This is one of the important things of the ‘comfort stage’—showing up. If they’re going through a tough time, it’s time to buckle up and help.
Before, he was willing to put the work in. Whatever I asked, he’d try to do. I didn’t pull my weight as much, and we argued. Naturally, he was tired of doing all the work. I couldn’t be playing truant all the time. It wasn’t fair to him.
Since then, I learnt that it’s all about equal effort. I have to give as much as I ask.
And it doesn’t have to be big. It could just be a ride to school, a call to wake them up, or buying something on your way to meet them. It might seem small, but it could mean the world to your other half—that you’re willing to take time out of your day to help. And in turn, you know you can depend on them too.
Because of that, I know I can…
4. Let my guard down.
Obviously, I don’t have to wear makeup, and he doesn’t need to dress in stuffy button-ups anymore. We can hang out in sweats, and have our belly rolls out without being judged.
We’re more comfortable expressing ourselves to each other now. Not just the physical or superficial stuff – but also our deepest issues and insecurities.
See, I don’t like being personal. Being vulnerable doesn’t come easily to me. It might, to someone else, but this was a big step for me.
One time, I was depressed after I fell out with a family member. I stopped eating as much and didn’t write or play music.
But keeping up the pretense wasn’t helping, and he pried it out of me. I broke down and told him everything.
Since then, he made me promise to tell him everything. Every ups and downs, no matter how small. He’s my go-to-person for advice, or if I need to vent my frustrations. It feels natural to tell him things that I could never before.
You see, with the comfort stage comes the reassurance. Your partner is there for you, through thick and thin. Through the ugliness—physically and emotionally.
5. More than anything, we’re partners through life.
When you’re in the comfort stage, you stop looking at each other and focus on the journey forward. You start thinking about what the future holds, what can you do to help, how can you push them to be the best. Their future becomes as important as yours.
Let’s face it. Life is hard. Getting through it by yourself would scare the shit out of anyone. Being in a long-term relationship means that you don’t have to be alone—you have a person that gets what you’re going through. They’re gonna have your back, and they’re here to stay.
Depression, anxiety, work woes—it’s reassuring to know that you can break down, and they’ll hold you while you pick up the pieces.
At the same time, you know they’re going to push you to do better, and be better. They’re your #1 supporter.
As for my boyfriend and I, we share our dreams with each other. I want to be a writer, and he a voice actor. It’s not easy, and occasionally we doubt ourselves, but that’s when we support each other. We believe in us.
There you have it—5 ways my relationship changed since entering the comfort stage. Of course, everyone’s different, and not every relationship works the same. It’s like an adventure designed for two. Take it at your own pace, find out what makes you click as a couple, and enjoy the ride.
How has your relationship changed since entering the comfort stage? Let us know in the comments!