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Complacency in a Relationship – Everything You Need to Know

Complacency in a Relationship – Everything You Need to Know

Updated on Nov 10, 2022

Reviewed by Katina Tarver, MA (Mental Health and Wellness Counseling) , Life & Relationship Coach

Complacency in a Relationship – Everything You Need to Know

Complacency in a relationship is much more common than you might think. Once the honeymoon phase or the initial phase of your relationship has worn off, you’re left with a stage that is neither as exciting as the previous one nor can be termed as “boring”.

So, if you think your relationship or marriage has come to a “complacent stage”, then I am here to help you out! Read this think piece to discover why complacency occurs and how to overcome it!

What is complacency in a relationship?

Complacency in a relationship is a stage where both partners are very comfortable with each other to the point that the relationship feels monotonous or stagnant.

The actual meaning of complacency in a relationship is pretty nice; it simply means a stage where you and your partner feel that the relationship is going stable so there’s no need to put in any extra effort or be all over each other.

On the surface, it might seem like a pleasant phase because constantly putting in the effort can be exhausting. In fact, relationship therapists believe that reaching a stage of complacency in your relationship can mean that you both are actually very secure about your attachment. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll notice that complacency does have problems.

Sometimes, the complacent phase can stretch for months and then lead to boredom if you both don’t take action. if you keep ignoring it and think to yourself “It’s alright, we both are happy where we are so there’s no need to change things”, pretty soon, you’ll find yourselves in a fix.

The relationship can slowly wither away and cause problems. You might find your partner’s cute habits annoying, or you might just be tired of the relationship and the lack of overall progress.

Whatever the reason may be, it’s best to simply address the issue and figure things out together.

What causes complacency in a relationship?

There are various reasons behind relationship complacency, namely indifference towards your partner, not wanting to look or behave nicely, wishing to give up, and declining sex life.

While there isn’t any particular answer to what causes complacency, most experts believe that it creeps into your relationship over time because it’s easy for humans to sit back and do nothing.

So yes, complacency can be caused by a lack of motivation to keep working on your relationship! However, there are a few other reasons for this stage to occur.

1. The “dress to impress” phase is gone

This is the most significant reason why complacency occurs in any relationship. When you’re first going out together, you want to look stunning and be the wittiest and funniest person in the room. There’s this need of impressing your partner, which leads to being your best self.

But when you’ve been dating for a while, you simply don’t have the energy to put in so much effort every day. You know that the person loves you for who you are, and there’s no need for “extra”.

2. Indifference toward your significant other

Indifference toward your partner can easily be the silent killer of any relationship. This indifference itself can be rooted from underlying mental health issues or personal trauma, such as narcissistic personality disorder or an inability to appreciate being in a relationship.

So, if you’ve been showing an indifferent attitude to your partner for quite a while now, they can feel helpless and stuck, causing relationship complacency. To avoid this, search within yourself and get rid of traumatic triggers.

3. Saying the three magical words too often

Yes, saying “I Love You” can be super romantic at the beginning of your relationship but if you keep saying it every day, it starts sounding stale.

You both might truly love each other but now saying it feels boring. You’re thinking to yourself that there’s no need to be vocal about it because it has ruined the fun instead of increasing your intimacy.

So being stuck in a routine of telling or doing the same things can make your relationship complacent.

4. Being too comfortable with each other

Now, this is one cause that looks great from the outside but slowly eats up your relationship from within. I’m not saying that being comfortable is a bad thing. In fact, the more comfortable you are with each other, the better!

But becoming too comfortable can cause problems by leading to complacency. You already know your boyfriend’s favorite pair of sweatpants, and he knows how much you love eating chocolates before going to bed. Since there’s nothing new to learn about each other, the relationship becomes monotonous.

5. “I want to give up!”

This is also a prominent cause of relationship complacency. This happens when one of the partners is working very hard to make sure that the relationship is healthy but cannot see any visible changes.

For example, you’re trying your best to improve the balance between you and your partner, but everything is backfiring. In the end, there has been no improvement, and you’re back to square one. This can also be caused by anger issues or constant criticism from your significant other.

6. There’s no desire for sex any more

Sex is an integral part of any relationship. Sure, you don’t have to rock the bed and break it to make your relationship a great one but not wanting to have sex at all? That indicates trouble! Sex isn’t just about jumping on the bed and doing the deed; it’s so much more.

It’s a great way to explore both physical and emotional intimacy but if your sexual drive decreases because you’ve been having it too often, it can make the entire relationship seem stagnant.

7. Date nights seem too boring

Date nights and cute candlelight dinners are what helped you both bond in the first place, right? But again, constant date nights can turn boring because there’s nothing new to know about each other.

On the other hand, if you don’t take date nights seriously and keep putting them off, it can also create complacency. Spending quality time with each other is essential, so if you no longer take time to have fun and flirty moments on dates, then it can cause a problem in your relationship.

8. Fun conversations never see the light of the day!

Look, talking about important things like your plans for the future is important. Very important. But if you both always talk about serious issues instead of having a fun and light-hearted conversation, complacency is bound to creep in.

Sometimes, it’s okay to have fun and enjoy the little moments in life. After all, if you don’t share a private joke with your significant other and share a laugh every once in a while, then it will all get boring after a while!

9. You both feel distant

When you and your partner don’t take time out to love each other and relive those magical moments, it’s quite natural that you’ll start feeling distant.

One of the strongest signs that your relationship has become complacent is when you just don’t feel that spark anymore. You don’t get the urge to run to your partner and hug them after you come back from work or they seem equally unapproachable.

The silence has long been the primary cause of complacency.

10. Unsolved resentments keep cropping up

Another strong reason why complacency occurs is that you both have way too many unresolved issues.

In the beginning, your partner seemed amazing but now, they’ve completely changed into a different person altogether. Or maybe you stopped seeing how unique your partner is because you’ve been staying with them for too long.

Additionally, getting to know disturbing things about your partner but feeling afraid or embarrassed to confront them about it can also lead to complacency.

Signs of complacency in a relationship

Usually, when you realize that your relationship has become complacent and stagnant, it’s too late. However, there are some warning signs that you can look out for, which will tell you that it’s time for you both to jump into action!

1. You both haven’t taken a vacation in… forever

Getting away from your boring old life can prove to be a breath of fresh air for your relationship. So, if you’ve not gone out for a year now, there is a high chance that your relationship has become complacent.

But if the thought of taking a trip with your mate seems unappealing to you, then it might be time to inspect your relationship closely. You don’t have to go out every other weekend, but taking a small trip every few months is necessary.

2. You don’t tell each other about your day

Your partner should be your best friend and your strongest supporter. For this to happen, it’s essential that you both share little details about your day with each other.

For example, if you’ve had an especially tough day at your workplace, telling your significant other about it will help you feel better. But if you’ve stopped sharing these little tidbits about how your day was, your feelings or thoughts, then it’s a red flag that your relationship is getting stale.

3. You both are your worst selves around each other

One important aspect of a healthy relationship is when you can show your partner your worst (and most raw) side, and they’ll still love you irrespective. But there’s a fine line between being vulnerable and behaving rudely.

If you have begun to notice that you both are always annoyed at each other and every little discussion is leading to an argument, then it probably means that you both have become too comfortable with each other!

4. The heart-to-heart conversations are gone

If you’re not able to walk up to your partner and tell them about what’s going on in your mind, then is it even worth it?

Every healthy relationship requires effective communication but if your relationship is turning complacent, then the conversations may feel off. You may notice that your partner is hardly ever willing to share anything with you… and same is the case with you.

5. You’ve given up trying to solve problems

This point is directly related to my previous sign where open communication has stopped. If you both have stopped being open and honest with each other because the relationship feels too boring, then it will automatically create a situation where neither of you wants to solve problems.

Maybe you both feel tired or you think that there’s no use in talking things out because nothing much will change. Instead of simply giving up, it’s time to get up and address the problems!

6. You both seem more excited spending time away

Imagine you both have finally planned a date night but somehow, you feel it would be way more fun if you could hang out with your buddies or even watch Netflix at home. Has this happened to you frequently? If the answer is yes, then it’s a clear sign your relationship is complacent.

There’s no harm in wanting to spend time with your friends and family but if you’re doing that to get out of a date with your partner or even be near them, then you’ve got problems!

7. The priorities have changed

Your partner should be your top-most priority in life. Period.

…and vice versa, ofcourse.

However, if recently you’ve been feeling that your partner is just “there”, then it’s quite clear that your relationship has become complacent. Often, not prioritizing your partner’s needs or ignoring them stems from a lack of communication.

8. Things have simply become too boring!

A big sign of complacency in a relationship is when you just don’t feel that spark anymore. Well, sparks can fade after the honeymoon phase is over but you don’t want to give up right away, isn’t it?

If you truly feel that things have become boring and you don’t know what to do to make your relationship better, then I’d suggest you go and talk to your partner. Get to know each other again, or plan some fun activities that you can do together.

9. Arguments are constantly increasing

Arguments are actually pretty healthy in a relationship. If you don’t argue, you won’t move forward. But if you feel that you both are arguing a lot lately without actually reaching a solution, then it’s time to sit back and see what’s going wrong.

In a complacent relationship, small issues start getting bigger until you both simply can’t stand to be with each other anymore. When arguments become more important than the love that you both share, it means that your relationship has become complacent.

10. You feel like you’re settling for less

This is the last thing anyone would want in a relationship- to feel that they’ve settled for less. If you’ve already started feeling this way, then your relationship needs a booster shot!

Don’t get me wrong, you might not want to remain faithful to your partner, but we’re all humans, right? Your mind might start to wander, and you’ll end up thinking of all sorts of possibilities. Unless you’ve decided to break up, it might be a good time to reevaluate things.

Dangers of complacency in a relationship

Being complacent for only a short while is fine; it helps you to figure out how to proceed in the relationship. But if this phase lasts for a long time, then your relationship is definitely in danger! Read on to know some of the common problems that long-term complacency can lead to.

1. You don’t want to improve yourself

Probably the biggest problem with a complacent relationship is that neither of you wishes to improve yourself. You both have probably given up trying to make things better. With this comes the thought block that you don’t need to change.

Since the relationship has already gone for a toss, you might feel that improving yourself won’t be of much use. But what most people don’t realize is that unless you work on yourself, the relationship will remain complacent and go nowhere.

2. Communication becomes lesser with time

Complacency also leads to a gradual decline in communication. It might be caused due to a lack of interest in each other’s lives or some other reason.

And since communication, the most important pillar of a strong relationship, weakens over time, the relationship itself ends up becoming toxic. What was once a safe haven for you now becomes a burden.

3. You both take a passive role in each other’s lives

Now, this is most definitely a death trap for your relationship. The less you involve yourself in each other’s lives, the more distant you both will become.

Sure, you don’t have to stalk each other all the time or do everything together but small things like talking about your day or going out for a romantic dinner every night are essential.

If you don’t take an active interest in each other or wish to know each other better, then the relationship will be doomed.

4. You end up being lonely and bitter

Yes, you can stay for a few hours (or maybe a day or two) without talking to the person you love. But what if days turn into weeks, and then months? You’re bound to become lonely and bitter.

And if you see others in your social circle dating and having a good time, you will end up feeling even worse! This is another reason why you must try to avoid complacency in your relationship at all costs. Things become strained, and both of you start hating each other and worse, your own selves.

5. The relationship might end forever

A heated argument can be cooled down but a relationship where both people are tired of each other is almost impossible to revive.

If you let your relationship become too complacent, then there is a high chance that it will eventually fizzle out and you both will break up. Or worse, you’ll stay together simply for the sake of it.

Either way, the bond between you both will become unhealthy and there will be nothing left to look forward to.

Ways to Overcome complacency in a relationship

Even if you have realized that your relationship has become complacent, it doesn’t mean the end of the world! With a few smart tricks up your sleeve, you can breathe life back into your relationship and light the spark back.

1. Change your mindset

No change can be implemented if your mind is stuck on the problem. To change your relationship, you will first have to change yourself and how you view your partner currently. So, focus on the solutions, not the problems and you will eventually find your way out of this vicious circle.

2. Ask yourself questions and be honest

Once you’ve figured out that you want to change, the next logical step should be to ask yourself the areas on which you can work. You’ll be surprised by how many honest answers your mind comes up with!

3. Take interest in each other

Most of the time, you might have already assumed that your partner will want to eat a specific dish or go to a specific place after work. But what if you took some time out and asked them what they wanted to do? You may not believe it now, but asking each other small questions can open up a whole new world of possibilities!

4. Imagine living a life without them

This frightening thought experiment will surely give you a reality check and give you the motivation to drive complacency out of your relationship.

Every time you want to give up on your relationship, ask yourself “What will I do if they weren’t here with me right now?”. Chances are, you’d feel lost and helpless. And this fear will automatically make you want to work on your relationship.

5. Set new goals for your relationship

How many times have you looked at popular couples on Instagram and thought of the term “couple goals”? But did you know that every single couple can be their version of couple goals if they worked hard and loved each other? If you truly want to get rid of complacency, then you have to set new milestones for both of you.

6. Bring back the sex!

Another great way of spicing things up is to have fun in the bedroom! Trust me, sex can do a lot more than any of us could imagine.

It’s not only about physical intimacy; sex also builds up a tremendous amount of emotional intimacy that most couples find hard to revive in a complacent relationship. Set the mood outside the bedroom first, and then make things hotter inside!

7. Go to a therapist

There’s hardly a relationship problem that a licensed therapist can’t solve. If you feel that there’s nothing much that you can do to improve your relationship, then a therapist or counselor will be able to guide you on the right path.

Even if you’re apprehensive about therapy, try talking to a trusted friend or your family member for advice.

8. Be grateful to have each other

Gratitude can take any relationship from zero to 100 overnight. To make things easier, try to maintain a gratitude journal together where each of you will write down a quality or trait about each other that you appreciate.

Research has also proven that expressing genuine gratitude can boost happiness in your mind and make you satisfied!

9. Set aside some “us” time

No relationship will work if you both don’t set aside some time for yourselves. And this is especially true for married couples who have children.

Put the kids under the supervision of a babysitter and spend some time away from all kinds of distractions. Take time to know each other again and fall in love, just like you did the first time!

10. Go for an adventure together!

Along with gratitude journals, taking a trip together can also be a great form of therapy. Ideally, an adrenaline-filled adventure trip will be the right medicine for your strained relationship, but you can also choose to relax by the beach.

Set aside a few days, plan a great romantic vacation to an exotic place, and work on your relationship away from the chaos of your daily lives.

Things to do stop being complacent in a relationship

If you have started fearing that you and your partner are taking each other for granted or the relationship has suddenly become awkward and boring, you should already start taking action to get rid of “it”. Here are 20 great ways to keep the flame going strong.

1. Try out new things in bed

This advice might not seem much but trust me, it’s gold! If sex becomes routine and boring, then it will affect every other part of your relationship.

To make things spicy again, liven up your sex moves and ask your partner if they want to try out something new. And if you both feel friskier than ever, then it’s never a bad time to experiment with sex toys or sexy lingerie!

Keep experimenting and don’t shy away from anything that feels foreign to you.

2. Spend time separately

Did you know that complacency can happen in relationships if two partners spend way too much time together? To avoid this, try spending the day (or an entire weekend) going your separate ways.

Stay in touch through calls or flirty messages but overall, make time for yourself. Pursue a long-lost hobby or simply curl up on your couch and take a nap. When you both work on yourselves, you’ll notice that the relationship becomes much more meaningful.

3. Do something cute for each other

If you want a relationship to remain healthy, you need to work for it. Love is a conscious decision that needs commitment and hard work.

For starters, you can do something cute for each other like sending a funny video when they’re at work or ordering their favorite food on your monthiversary. These simple gestures don’t take any money or time but can mean the world to your significant other.

Surprise them after they come home from work by taking them out for a movie or renting a movie right at home- the possibilities are endless!

4. Talk, talk, and talk

Communication and honesty are essential to any relationship. No matter how difficult things might be between you and your partner, if you talk to each other, half the battle is already won!

If you feel uncomfortable, don’t start the discussion by dropping truth bombs or something heavy on them. Start with simple questions like, “Honey, how was your day?” or “Want me to make you something delicious?”. The more you talk, the more comfortable you’ll get around each other.

5. Be empathetic

Empathy is a powerful weapon that can keep relationship complacency at bay. Think about what your partner’s needs and wants are and how you can help them in achieving that.

Remember, every individual shows love in their own way, so if you keep pestering your partner to be someone they’re not, then the complacency is bound to increase.

Instead, give them the space and time to open up on their own. Be empathetic and understand what they are going through because this can enhance communication.

6. Start fighting with each other!

No, no, don’t start lunging at each other’s throats when I say “start a fight”. Keep things polite but don’t shy away from the occasional arguments. having fights is a great way to know what you both like and dislike and how they’re differing.

This, in turn, will help you to form a stronger bond in the future and help you both to understand the importance of compromising. After all, fighting is a way of knowing that your partner is still very passionate about you!

7. Make a “love map”

A love map is a sort of guideline where you can recreate the moment when you and your significant other first went out on a date or first fell in love. Ask each other basic questions like, “What are your hobbies?” or “What would you like to do in the future?”.

You might think that asking these questions is silly because you already know the answers but trust me, both of you have grown and changed over time. So, it’s only natural that your partner’s answers differ.

8. Show non-sexual physical intimacy too

I’ve told you the importance of sexual intimacy, but what about non-sexual physical forms of intimacy? Well, they’re equally important (and in some cases, more crucial than the sexual ones!).

You can’t expect your partner to grab you and have sex all the time, right? But small forms of physical intimacy, such as holding hands, kissing each other lightly, or cuddling together in bed are great ways to remove any chances of relationship complacency.

These gestures also make you both feel emotionally close and safe with each other.

9. Make a “no phone” policy every day

One of the major reasons why relationship complacency is increasing is that social media is on the rise.

We are all so busy burying our eyes into our smartphones and tablets that we’ve forgotten the importance of connecting with each other in the real world.

Virtual connection is important, no doubt, but ignoring someone who’s right beside you is a big mistake. Make a “no phone” policy at home where you both stop using all devices at least an hour before bed.

10. Take a class together

Learning new things is also a great way to make sure your relationship stays alive for years. You can learn a new language together or attend a super-cool baking class to enhance your skills! Or perhaps a Zumba class to keep yourself fit?

No matter which class you enroll in, the main focus should be to bond with each other and learn important skills. Not only will taking a class change your usual routine but also keep you both happy and satisfied!

11. Volunteer somewhere together

Volunteering in a local shelter or a charity organization has innumerable benefits. You’ll do something good for society by helping others out, and you’ll also remove any or all signs of creeping relationship complacency.

As I’ve already told you, practicing gratitude makes you appreciate your own life so much more. And when you truly go out into the world and see other people’s lives, you’ll realize how precious the bond is between you and your soulmate, as well as the purity in the heart.

12. Go out with your social circles

If you’re bored of spending all your free time with your partner and wish to hang out with your buddies, then why not mix the two?

Plan a fun game night and make sure your besties and your partner are all there. Mix some cocktails and vamp up the fun!

Before you know it, you’ll see how much fun it is to spend time with your significant other. Or you can even plan a quiet family dinner and make sure everyone gets to know each other better.

13. Cook meals for each other

This might sound weird but one big reason why couples fall victim to relationship complacency is that they have the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner day after day. And as they say- you can win anyone’s heart through their stomach!

So, if you want to change the relationship, then cook something new. You don’t have to be a pro chef, just make sure you have fun while cooking it!

And if your partner has a talent for whipping yummy meals, then ask them to help you out!

14. Share your fantasies

Let’s say, you both have had the best sex in a while, but you know that the moment you both jump out of bed, things will again become boring and bland. To improve your relationship dynamics, especially through sex, share your fantasies with each other.

This can make way for new ways of reaching sexual pleasures and improving your sex life. Feel free to say out loud whatever crosses your mind. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to indulge in some post-sex cuddles and kisses!

15. Shake up your daily routine

Daily routines and chores can get monotonous and annoying. A fresh start to how you live your day can be just the medicine needed to drive out complacency in your relationship. De-stressing as a couple is important because it makes you feel happier and much more relaxed.

So, take a day off and go for a couple’s massage, or do something that relaxes both of you. Even going for regular morning or evening walks together can be therapeutic.

What does it mean if you feel complacent?

If you realize that you’ve been feeling complacent in your relationship, then it’s a signal to change the relationship dynamics and fall in love with your partner again. If complacency goes on for too long, it can lead to a nasty breakup.

Interestingly, being complacent in your relationship can look very comforting at the beginning, which is why people have named it the “silent killer of relationships”. And it’s not tough to figure out why people settle into comfortable routines.

You’ve known your significant other for a long time, you know their routine, their favorites, and everything else. Even if the sex life was great in the beginning, with time, you become too familiar with their moves. So how will you understand whether the relationship is going to take a dark turn in the near future or not?

Therapists believe that you have to take a closer look at the finer aspects of your relationship and figure out how you feel. See whether you would like to stay in the relationship, in the same way, five or ten years down the lane.

If the answer is no, then it means you have to make some positive changes. Comfort is great and even necessary, but becoming too comfortable to the point where you’re resisting change is a bad thing.

How to avoid complacency in a relationship?

Some of the common ways to avoid complacency from ruining your relationship are to celebrate important events together, keep the flirting strong, stay curious about each other, and not give up on the relationship.

Avoiding complacency in a relationship is easier than you might think. But even then, if you’re unsure about where to start or how to proceed, then these tips can be useful!

1. Celebrate important events together

Make it a point to meet each other and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or job promotions in the sweetest way possible.

And don’t forget to celebrate small victories too, such as being made the project manager of your company or finalizing a deal with an important client. These day-to-day victories are also worth celebrating and can keep your love alive for ages.

2. Be curious about each other

Remember how you both were curious about each other when you first started dating? The flow of questions would never seem to stop, and you loved finding out every single detail about your mate.

Well, bringing back that curiosity can be a great way to avoid relationship complacency. After all, you can’t know someone completely, and people always change over time!

3. Flirt with each other

Just because you both have officially started dating, it doesn’t mean that the flirting has to stop! Of course, it’s important to not be creepy or gross, but trust me, flirting with each other can make things hotter!

For example, send a naughty meme to your partner or gently rub your toes along their legs when you’re out in public.

4. Don’t give up

Giving up on each other and the relationship can be detrimental. If you want to make anything work, you’ll have to swim through the tough times and combat all hurdles.

Yes, things won’t always be easy for you both but always keep in mind that true love is worth every kind of adversary! Do everything possible to make each other feel special and loved.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Nobody wants a relationship that is boring and complacent. But if happens to even the best of relationships, trust me… however, the good thing is that, if you take action soon enough and talk things out with your partner, you can revive the spark and make things work again.

And if you’re ever in need of a bit of a push to go ahead and take that step, this think-piece is just the right place to start!

Are you interested to know more about ‘Relationship Anarchy’ then click here?