Trying to balance the scales of affection: Why does one person always seem to like the other person more?
I still remember the first time I decided I wanted to pursue my first boyfriend. I was in high school, and my friends and I were ‘rating’ the boys in our grade from 1-10. I found myself rating Dylan a 9/10, while the others fell short. It was then and there that my friends and I decided I needed him to become my boyfriend. As immature and conceited as this story sounds, it was normal at 14. Teenagers don’t generally fall for people because of their personality or their outlook on life – it’s usually a completely superficial process that lasts a couple of weeks before it’s over.
My story ended a little differently though, because the story hasn’t actually ended. I’m still with Dylan today, but our relationship has grown and developed into something totally different than it was when we were carefree, superficial teenagers. What’s remained the same through the years though is a constant battle trying to balance the scales of affection. That is, trying to love each other the exact same amount at the exact same time. This has proven to be quite difficult.
At the start of our relationship it was me who showed the most affection. This is because, at the risk of sounding a little creepy, I kinda forced him to like me. I was a bored, young teenager who saw something I wanted and made it my mission to get it. I was successful in the end, but it took a lot of hard work and dedication! I was always the one to send him the first text, or make the first move. This continued for a couple of years, him being quite relaxed and me constantly nervous. I was always questioning myself, wondering if I was making a fool of myself and whether he still liked me.
Several years on and it’s a totally different story. It seems that over the past few years, the scales of affection have tipped the other way. My partner now feels he is the one that likes me more – the one who puts the most effort in and makes sure that I like him. This is a topic we’ve brought up with some of our other couple friends, and they seem to have the same story. At the start of the relationship one of them was head-over-heels for the other, and after a few years the level of affection shifts completely. The question is: why do the tables turn?
My partner and I have obviously changed over the past five years – that’s completely normal. We’ve been together through one of the most significant transitions in our lives, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and in the process we’ve grown together in some ways and grown apart in other ways. But why, when I feel like my love for him has grown over the years, does he feel like he’s constantly fighting for my affection?
I believe it has something to do with insecurity. At the beginning of our relationship, it was clear to him that I was head-over-heels and, as a result, he didn’t really have to put that much of an effort in. He could just lie back and relax, knowing that he didn’t have to worry about me straying or losing my love. Over the years as I’ve matured and as our relationship has matured, I’ve started to relax; I no longer have to worry about trying to make him like me, I know that he does. I no longer have to worry about every move I make or thing I say because I’m more comfortable in myself and in our relationship. So, when you have a partner that goes from crazy-obsessed to relaxed about your love, I feel like the natural reaction would be to become slightly insecure.
Now he might feel that he has to fight for my affection because I don’t feel I have to give it away so openly and so easily like I did at the start. Despite the fact that my love for him has grown, on the exterior it might seem the opposite. However the reality is that the initial obsessive-love we have as teenagers, and sometimes at the beginning of adult relationships, is slightly insincere; it isn’t love, it’s a crush. When a crush turns to genuine love, people begin to relax. They no longer feel as if they’re in a competition to win someone over – they’ve won.
So next time you feel like your partner isn’t showing as much affection as they did a few months ago or a few years ago, try to have a think about the type of love they give you today. They may show their love in a different way, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone.
By Brianna Scully
Photo credit via Siyan Ren