I am not the Valentines Grinch. Yes, in this blog I expose the incompatibility of love and passion discussed by Esther Perel in her book Mating in Captivity. This is not me trying to diminish your hopes for a steamy encounter with your loving long term partner this Valentine’s Day. I am nudging you in the direction of how to make it happen.
Modern-day romance wraps love and desire together in a neat little parcel as if they were made for each other. When we find the right partner, it is expected that love will fuel our eternal flame. Surely the deeper we love, the more passionate we should feel. This is the ideal many of us still carry, despite the outweighed evidence to the contrary. So why do these two seemingly compatible emotions, fit so uncomfortably together?
The inconvenient truth is desire and love sit on opposing sides. While love feeds our need for nurturing and security; desire fuels our need for risk and adventure. Passion breeds in the unpredictable, while love nests in the familiar. In the early days, those beautiful butterflies we experience, flourish in the expanse that sits between us- the mystery. For a while, we float in the delightful fusion of connectedness and desire where the unknown meets the known. Before we know it the space is filled. We replace our differences with similarities; the unfamiliar with the known. We build a secure solid structure but forget butterflies need space to fly.
Just think for a moment, what first attracted you to your partner? When I ask my clients this question; most will answer by affectionately describing the very same characteristics they just spend 45 minutes berating each other about. Indecisive and irresponsible turns into carefree and spontaneous; bossy and pedantic shifts to strong-minded and organised. When I point to this contradiction, my clients are often left perplexed. How did this happen? How could something so endearing become so annoying? It seems what is sexy in the wild, looks pretty ordinary when tamed.
So, how can you free passion from its domesticated cage? It’s a challenge but can be done. Like everything in life, the answer is balance. Consider passion as equal to the amount of uncertainty you can tolerate. Find this tipping point for your relationship, how much security and familiarity are you willing to compromise? Then return to ‘the wild’ and embrace your differences in novel and adventurous ways. Take risks, trying new things that sit outside your comfort zone. Be daring, be flirtatious and most importantly be you.
This is just a taster of a much larger discussion. If you are hungry for more I highly recommend reading Mating in Captivity. Esther Perel is an absolute gem. If you want some more practical help working on your relationship, book a session here. Online and Face to Face options are available.