How and why you should keep the conversation going in your relationship

How and why you should keep the conversation going in your relationship
Couples prepare to have their photos taken on the Bund in Shanghai, China, November 3, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

Comfort underpins human connections. It's been proven in this study by Match.com that having your partner be someone you can "trust and confide in" ranks near the top of "must haves" in a relationship. But you probably didn't need a study to tell you that. Intuitively, we all understand that it's hard to be with someone who puts you on edge. This desire for comfort drives another need amongst couples who have just started dating: the desire to be able to lapse into comfortable silence.

But what comes after? Comfortable lulls in conversation become more frequent, and yes, they can grow on you. And should. Yet when dinners in silence turn into a staple, you'll wish you hadn't burned through all the interesting stuff so quickly. However, there's some good news. Finding scintillating conversation again shouldn't be as tough as it is.

As with photography, or creative writing, keep your eyes open. The biggest mistake one can make is to think that good conversation comes naturally. This isn't always true. Conversation material is all around you, but you need to pay attention.

See that student complaining about bad grades in Starbucks? That's a debate about standardised testing and the education system waiting to happen. See that crow make off with a shiny wrapper it found on the floor? Cue discussion on how crows can function as low-technology metal detectors, and can make you a ton of money (proven, by the way). Sounds ridiculous? Sure. But it's better than initially-comfortable-turned-awkward silence.

Nothing intriguing around you? Throw your gaze further. Look to foreign affairs; these matters aren't as dry as people make them out to be. Read. You'll enrich yourself and your partner. The vastness and complexity of the world makes for equally vast and complex conversation.

Not one for discussing esoteric issues? Then look inwards. You're all the nuance you need in a conversation, and not quite as boring as you may assume. Played 20 Questions on the first date? Play it again; you've changed since then. This time, there won't be a need to hold anything back for fear of scaring off your date. Tell stories. Take turns; tell one and let your partner respond with something similar or completely different.

Talk about your friends. Ignore all that nonsense about how some kinds of people discuss people and others discuss ideas. Really think about how you both behave and react to similar things. Think about why you're different. Talk about art. Talk about feminism. Talk about a book. Talk about Mexican drug cartels. Talk about music. Talk about controversy.

And then talk about why you think ice cream will always be superior to frozen yogurt. Or why you prefer children's books to 400-page novels. Or even the life you'll want to have had by 35. After all, letting the thrill fade means that your relationship itself will soon follow.

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