Complacency is rarely listed as a top cause of divorce or separation. At first glance, the word doesn't seem as threatening as other more dire terms such as cheating or infidelity. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch out for the telltale signs that you or your partner may be getting complacent in your relationship. In fact, it may be the silent catalyst that can lead to relationship problems. As Kelly Campbell, associate professor of psychology at California State University in San Bernardino, explains, "Complacency in relationships will lead to boredom and dissatisfaction, which are the key threats to infidelity and dissolution."
What does complacency look like? It usually starts small, with making little effort to strengthen your relationship and, instead, doing the bare minimum to help each other grow. Do you think you may be complacent in your relationship? Could your partner be getting a little distant? We asked Campbell to share the top three signs of complacency in a relationship and help us understand how to solve the issue before it's too late. Here is how to bring the passion back into your relationship if complacency is becoming a problem.
Pay Attention to the Signs
According to Campbell, there are three telltale signs that your partner may be growing complacent in your relationship:
1. The amount of attention they give you has dramatically declined over time.
2. They don't care about how they look anymore (or maybe they care more about how they look when they go to work or out with other people than they do for you).
3. The intimacy has dramatically declined. For instance, you no longer confide in each other, you barely communicate, you aren't affectionate anymore, or there is distance between you.
Try to Mend the Situation
All hope isn't lost if you or your partner have become complacent in a relationship. In fact, Campbell suggests there are many things you can do to rekindle the flame.
"Do novel things together as a couple," she says. "Take a vacation, agree on a regular date night, and do something different each time, or take turns planning dates. Engaging in new things outside the bedroom transfers into the bedroom in terms of more passion. Agree to invest in how you look—work out together, go shopping for clothes, try a new perfume or cologne, or plan a fun date that involves getting your hair done, a spa day, or any type of self-care that you both enjoy. Remain curious about each other—when you get home from work, ask questions, learn about each other's day, continue to learn about your partner's likes and dislikes. Sometimes, people who are newly dating know more about each other than long-term partners because the motivation to learn is high, they ask questions and want to know as much as possible about their partner. With time, this fades away, but it's important to keep it alive."
She also warns of a situation when complacency may have reached a point of no return and it might be time to let a relationship go.
"If only one person is invested in maintaining or repairing the relationship, that's a bad sign," she explains. "One person can carry the relationship for a period of time (for example, during a stressful period or illness), but they can't be asked to do that for the long-term. A healthy relationship—one that is satisfying and fulfilling—takes effort from both partners. If one person is asking for change because their needs are not being met and the other ignores the requests, it is likely time to move on."
And now, an expert weighs in on how to have a healthy relationship.