Why Your Relationship Sucks After a While

It’s not you, it’s science

By the end of this post, you’ll realize that you’re not a Yoruba demon. It’s just biology at work.

I was doing an assignment where I was writing about theories of job satisfaction one of which was Opponent Process Theory by Landy. He developed the theory from Solomon’s Opponent-Process Theory of Acquired Motivation (pdf).

The theory posits that there are internal bodily processes that function to maintain homeostasis. When you experience an extreme emotional state, whether negative or positive, your body views this as a threat, and mechanisms in your central nervous system attempt to bring you back to a state of emotional equilibrium or neutrality. During this process, the CNS mechanisms might take you past equilibrium and move you to the opposite emotional state. The first emotional state is the primary process, and the opposite emotional state is the opponent process.

Imagine that your salary is increased. You might feel happy, but this emotional state will decrease to a neutral state over time, and eventually, you might feel dissatisfied and unhappy about your salary. So, in this example, the primary process is the happiness after your salary increase, and the opponent process is dissatisfaction.

A few days after doing the assignment, I had an epiphany:

When you first meet someone, you move to a positive emotional state and you are excited. After some time, your bodily processes gradually move you to equilibrium, and if there’s nothing to keep you at equilibrium or take you back to that positive state, you might become bored. Then you break up.

After you break up, you experience negative emotions. This is when you can’t stand your ex. Because your body hates emotional extremes, you have to go back to a neutral state. So your CNS mechanisms kick off to bring you back to emotional neutrality. Opponent process kicks in when you exceed equilibrium and enter a positive emotional state. This is where your ex starts to look attractive again.

This inspired a poem. You can read the poem here

If you enjoyed this, check out my theory of the origin of HIV/AIDS. P.S: I came up with it when I was 9 or 10 so don’t judge me too much.

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