Have you ever glanced across a restaurant and seen a couple sitting together in silence? They stared at each other, at their meal, or, most likely, at their phones.
This is a sad sight, for staying engaged throughout a dinner date indicates the health of a long-term relationship in two ways.
First, it shows that a couple has plenty to talk about.
In a strong relationship, the couple cultivates shared projects (beyond raising their kids). These can be more abstract aims that they’re striving side-by-side towards, like a spiritual purpose, or more concrete things, like a home remodel, a joint business, or financial, fitness, or travel goals. Happy couples love to scheme and dream together, surveying the current lay of their land and plotting a fulfilling future.
When they exhaust the topics around their common interests, the partners in a healthy relationship are able to offer news around their individual ones. For in a happy pairing, each person maintains the kind of qualities, hobbies, and friendships they had before becoming part of a dyad. Though they’re now attached, they haven’t lost the distinct identities that attracted them to each other in the first place.
When a couple stays engaged on a dinner date, it’s also a sign that they’re still asking each other questions. Nothing stills the heart of a once-beating romance like contempt, and admiration is almost as essential an ingredient in a relationship as love. A healthy couple has maintained so much mutual respect that each person remains keen to know what the other’s been thinking about.
Of course, being able to sit comfortably in silence is the well-earned privilege of intimacy. But comfortableness isn’t the highest standard of lasting love. You can know you’re in a thriving relationship when you’re able to sit in silence, but rarely want to.