We know that you can’t build a relationship solely on passion. Does that mean that it has to be one or the other? That there’s only long term relationships with little passion or short relationships with all passion?
There is a middle ground. We can have both.
That’s hard for our culture to understand sometimes since so many of us want to simplify things. We want everything binary. Right or wrong. Black or white. Passion or comfort.
Esther Perel encapsulates the problem in her book, Mating in Captivity:
“Romantics value intensity over stability. Realists value security over passion. But both are often disappointed, for few people can live happily at either extreme.”
This sums up the problem. Neither is happy. It always feels like you have to give up one for the other. Why can’t we have both?
There’s different ways to have that, but one thing is for sure:
it doesn’t come naturally.
Long term relationships past 5-7 years aren’t biologically natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. They can actually be one of the most fulfilling things in our lives.
A great long term relationship can be one of the most fulfilling things you ever experience.
It takes emotional intelligence from both sides. Something we rarely learn to improve.
When we initially start dating everything is very passionate and it feels amazing. Love grabs you and you feel powerful. It feels like you’re on the best kind of drug.
We start becoming more attached and then we start feeling like we have something to lose. We try to make it more secure because we’re uncomfortable with the uncertainty. We make commitments, call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. Eventually we get married.
All these things secure the relationship in our eyes.
The irony is that trying to control the risks of passion take it out of existence.
Trying to control everything and trying to create certainty creates boredom. Spontaneity dies and passion goes along with it.
Passion thrives on uncertainty, the unpredictable. That’s what passion is.
Think of the most passionate times in your life and they were likely times when things were far from certain. There was unpredictability.
That’s why break-up sex or make-up sex is so hot. It’s more passionate than it was during the relationship because the unpredictability is back, albeit briefly. That’s one of the reasons emotionally unhealthy couples make-up and break-up so much, it gives them that passion they were missing. That unpredictability that they crave.
How do we change this? How do we keep the passion in a healthy way?
I’m not going to give you “10 tips to create more passion” or anything like that. There’s millions of posts that give you quick tips to “fix” problems. Passion isn’t just a quick fix. Most of these tips that you’ve been told so many times are just band aids. Here are just some of the tips that I’ve found by googling “tips to increase passion”:
- Try new activities together
- Go on vacations just the two of you
- Give more space to each other
- Prioritize passion in your relationship
These are just a few, I’m sure you can think of the typical ones they give you in the monthly Cosmo or Men’s Health. They’re very surface level and never dig deeper into the psychology and our mindset. We have to look at ourselves individually first.
What mindsets do we need to shift?
- Embrace uncertainty
It’s not an easy thing to change because we have to embrace some uncertainty. As much as we like to think of ourselves as spontaneous, most of us value routine and comfort more than we care to admit.
Tony Robbins said it best:
“Passion in a relationship is commensurate with the amount of uncertainty you can tolerate”
One thing is certain, zero uncertainty is bad for any relationship.
Zero uncertainty=zero passion
The amount of uncertainty that you want or can handle depends on you and your partner.
If your tolerance is very high there will be a lot of passion, but sometimes it will feel more uncomfortable because of the uncertainty. If your tolerance is lower the amount of passion will be less, but you’ll feel more secure and comfortable.
It’s a give and take.
You need to figure out how high or low your tolerance for uncertainty is and your partner’s as well. This is why self-awareness is so important before starting any relationship.
It’s why emotional intelligence is so important.
If you don’t understand or can’t communicate on an emotional level with your partner it will be very hard to stay in that ideal zone where there’s passion while you also feel secure in the relationship.
- Realize that our partner is never “ours”
If we can shift our mindset and realize that this permanence we think we have is an illusion, then we can be more accepting of the uncertainty that we need for passion to thrive in our relationship.
Many times in a relationship we get comfortable because we think we “have” our partner. We put in all this effort to date them, but once the chase is over we get too comfortable. We have the illusion that we don’t need to do anything anymore because he or she is ours now. If this is the way we think, is it really shocking that passion disappears?
It’s important that all these thoughts are just in our head. We never really “have” our partner. They could leave any day. There is no guarantee. And this is a GOOD thing.
Realizing and living this will ensure we don’t take what we have for granted. We have to choose her every day, just like she has to choose us every day.
We can always learn more about our partner. When I spoke to a few married couples that had been together 30+ years, they each said that they were still regularly surprised by their partner. This means we never completely know our partner.
Learning, loving, and appreciating our partner should happen every day.
- Embracing masculine and feminine polarity
The big X factor for passion is each partner embracing their core energy. Embracing their masculine or feminine energy in the relationship. They’re each other’s yin and yang. Complementary.
This means we have to embrace each other’s differences too. A feminine woman will feel most alive from different activities compared to a masculine man. A masculine might love competition and really get energy from playing a pick-up game of basketball for example. Whereas a feminine woman might love to go salsa dancing.
These differences are also there in the way we communicate. When a man hears a problem he goes into fixer mode naturally. He wants to find a solution and move on. A woman on the other hand doesn’t always need a solution, she wants to feel the empathy from her partner. She wants to feel the emotions.
It’s important that we don’t try to change each other to how we are, but that we appreciate and embrace that there’s differences. It’s what attracted us to each other initially, so why would we try and change that?
The answer is, we shouldn’t.
It’s hard to find someone you want to be with your entire life and even harder to have it be a passionate, happy, and fulfilling relationship long term.
It’s not easy, but no one said that it should be easy to find. Like most things in life that are hard, a passionate and loving relationship is worth it.
First published on Elephant Journal: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/11/the-connection-between-uncertainty-passion/