Sunday, July 3, 2011

How important is passion?

I went on a date last Saturday with a guy named Mark. He's handsome, driven, romantic, an Ivy League graduate, also an NFJ. He's a film maker and is obviously going places. I like the guy, and he has made it quite clear that he wants to see me again and I would like to see him again. The problem is he doesn't ignite that burning flame of passion and desire that I so richly enjoy. He feels more like a platonic friend but I'm open to the possibility that that flame could develop. My mind tells me that it needs work and kindling, but once ignited it will be a strong fire that will burn long and hot.

Three months ago I went on a date with this fellow named Jack. He's handsome, funny, intelligent, if I had to guess I'd say he's an NTJ. He's logical, somewhat aggressive and teaches kids with autism (all these qualities I find attractive). Jack most definitely ignites that flame of passion, however, this intimidates me. From my friends' experience I recognize that flames of passion and desire tend to burn the people they take hold of. The thing that scares me about Jack is that he's not looking for something deeper than getting together every few months for a date and a romp.

To put it simply, Jack lights my fire, baby. Michael does not. But Michael has my trust, even though I have no reason to give it to him. I don't distrust Joshua, but I have no reason to trust him. What do I do?

THIS IS PROBABLY GOING to sound controversial, if not dead-wrong, but I actually think passion ruins relationships. When people are friends, things are simple and straightforward. They aren't looking to get something from the other person. They related to the other as a whole person.

The process of developing passion is really a process of objectification in the sense that you convert the person into an object of sexual desire. Passion changes the way you see a person. You start seeing them more narrowly and less holistically. You project all your neurotic needs and wishes that are connected to that sexual desire and lose touch with who they actually are, and often lose touch with who you are as you become more driven to possess and acquire something (the object).

So while passion definitely has its purpose of bringing two people together, I don't think it works as something that keeps people together and feeling close. All these seminars and workshops about reigniting passion, in my opinion, are completely misguided because a good relationship doesn't require intense passion. Occasional playful pouncing maybe, but burning desire, no. Yet we've all been trained to put a high premium on passion from stupid gurus with big mouths.

Onto your situation. If you just want something intense and chaotic, go with the passionate relationship. If you want a shot at something more fulfilling, for with the platonic relationship. But don't wait for it to turn passionate, but (a) your expectations will make you judge the situation and (b) as I've tried to explain, it's not necessary or worth it. Just see where the friendship takes you. The feelings that come up will help guide you. You don't have to plan it out. If it works, great. If not, back to the drawing board.

To submit a question, send an email to


RTOZ said...

As someone who married her best friend, and whose first thought when I realized he was going to try and kiss me for the first time was, "Oh God no! How do I make it stop!", I almost completely agree with you. We will celebrate our 24th anniversary together this month and hardly a month goes by that I don't have someone, usually divorced, tell me how lucky I am to be married to my best friend.

He was a geeky guy and not like the athletes I was used to dating. He was smart, funny and he listened. I trusted him and never imagined him to be husband material - for me. I dated other guys while we were hanging out together. I never wrote my name with his last name tacked onto the end to see how it felt. I didn't even like his last name.

I didn't discover how I really felt about him until I went to my parent's house for a week and was horrible to everyone. My Mom told me that if I was going to be so nasty, I could leave. I started trying to figure out why I was so miserable and realized I wanted to be with him. I was shocked.

These days, I am extremely passionate about my husband. The major thing about him that turns me on... I can trust him. He is the steady rock that I, the crazy, passionate one revolves around. Sometimes (not too often), he takes on my crazy passionate ways with me, but mostly he is is steady and lovely.

We people who value our passionate selves so highly, often make the mistake of requiring a passion like ours. We don't understand that just because someone is not screaming with passion, doesn't mean that they are not passionate. Some passions run very deep, inside of a controlled exterior. They are no less than ours and are wonderful to behold when you know what you are looking at.

My husband told me that he believes in soul mates and that I am his. Funny, I don't believe in soul mates and believe that relationships are hard work and you can make strong relationships with anyone you choose as long as you are both willing to work at it. That said, I wouldn't trade him. I also wish that my daughters and son end up with people who are steady and reliable and full of passion that is different from and complementary to theirs.

edahn said...

That was beautiful. Thank you for writing it.

Anonymous said...

Passion was always something that developed over time for me. A guy can't stimulate me sexually unless he stimulates me mentally...which takes time.

The more I got to know my boyfriend, the more attracted I felt, and thus passion was sparked. It wasn't the all-consuming kind, though. Don't get me wrong, it can feel like fire in my veins and we can burn that bed up, but it wasn't something that just happened in the beginning. It also isn't the driving force in our relationship.

Much like RTOZ, the idea that I can put my beating heart into my guy's hands and trust that he won't eat it in front of me is really hot. I can be myself with him, which I've never really had in a relationship. Or with hardly anyone. I can even fart in front of him! Even if we don't work out in a romantic way, I really hope that we can still remain friends because it's ultimately the foundation of our relationship.

Relationships that start out with longing and passion seem to burn the brightest, but also burn the quickest. Deep and intense passion means emotions run high which ultimately equates to nothing but great sex and drama...and one often feeds on the other, not you or the relationship, leaving you hungry for something more.

Some of the best things in life are the ones unexpected and surprising.