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Stop Trying to Have a High School Relationship (Here's How)


What we're about to tell you may be hard to hear.

So take a breath.

See if you can get curious.

OK, ready?

Here goes.

One of the biggest barriers to a happier relationship is this: you haven't updated your model of love since high school. 

You remember high school love. It's when desire struck like a lightning bolt of dopamine, when you had endless hours of free time, when you could make the spur-of-the moment decision to cut class to hang out together at the mall without leaving your seven-year-old child stranded at soccer practice. 

Ah, how sweet it was. 

But herein lies the problem. Because things have changed since high school, a lot.

You’ve got jobs, a mortgage, kids, bills, family obligations, tax payments, and a body increasingly plagued by "old person" problems. 

And yet, if you’re like most people, you probably haven’t updated your definition of love. You may still see it like you did back then. Love and intimacy, you might think, needs to be free, spontaneous, and unstructured. 

“Adding structure, systems, and logistics to love?” this high school part of us says, “That’s about as sexy as spending date night tabbing through an Excel spreadsheet.” 

This is where the trouble begins. Because while this seventeen-year-old voice in your head wages a rebellion against business-like love, you keep adding so much overhead to your life that, at a certain point, it actually does begin to match the complexity of a medium-sized company. 

And yet rather than adapting to this new reality, you may still be holding out for a return to the teenage dream of late night walks, bonfire beach parties, and spontaneous love. 

The result?

Total unmitigated chaos.

 In an ironic twist of fate, spontaneity, this most sacred value of high school love, ends up annihilating itself.

It gives you chaos. Not freedom. Conflict. Not love.

What’s the alternative?

Try these three things.





1. See your system.

Every relationship has a system of habits. You may not see it. You may not even know that it's there.

But lurking beneath your rushed mornings and crazed evenings, there's a system at work.

So take a step back with your partner. Look at the system that runs your relationship. Ask: "How is this serving us? And how is it getting in our way?"


2. Design your system.

There are two types of relationship systems.

Type 1 -- Systems shaped by accident. In these relationships, everything just kind of happens through a mixture of random chance, historical accident, and unconscious 1950s gender norms. 

Type 2 -- Systems shaped by design. In these relationships, things happen intentionally. The system is optimized for connection, adventure, or, yes, even spontaneous moments of love (often scheduled). 

You can begin making the shift to a Type 2 relationship by checking out the values, priorities, boundaries, and sex chapters of the The 80/80 Marriage.


3. Plan more high school moments.

There's a reason the teenage dream of spontaneous high school romance sticks around. It's kind of awesome.

So why not create space for more of these moments to emerge.

You and your partner can do this. You just can't do it the way you did when you were sixteen.

You may need to schedule this kind of unbounded time by putting it on the calendar.

You may need to solicit the help of parents, siblings, or babysitters to watch the kids.

You may need to turn your phone on airplane mode so your coworkers can't text-bomb you with random requests when you're out with your partner.

But by shifting from accident to design, you can still have these moments. 

Just steer clear of going under the bleachers. You are too old for that.

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