Why does intimacy and passion die over time in relationship?
In the beginning of relationship, we are open and in a mood of wonder about who our partner is. We delight in discovering who this amazing being is, eager to uncover the wonderful aspects of this marvelous person. We highlight our partner’s strengths and virtues with our attention.
We focus on what we love about him or her – their beauty, intelligence, caring, sexy, sweet qualities. We tell our beloved what we love about him or her, what we appreciate, all the things they do and give that we are grateful for, and we tell them several times a day. We talk for hours, touch and make love often, give heart-felt gifts – enthralled in the deliciousness of how absolutely wonderful and perfect we are together. We are wrapped up in a positive glowing story of who our partner is and who we are together.
As time passes, however, our focus generally narrows to what doesn’t work about our relationship and what we don’t like about our partners. Our view of our partner as being wonderful and perfect in every way begins to slowly change as issues arise. Perhaps they are not as open to sex as they used to be, or not as attentive or thoughtful, or perhaps they appear more controlling or fearful or jealous than we had previously experienced.
At first, we are able to see through their weak aspects to their virtues, seeing them as still fabulous with a little “garbage”, and we are more patient and understanding as we look for ways to support them. But as breakdowns and problems recur and disappointments mount, we begin to change our perspective about our partner. We invent unbecoming stories about them and highlight what they do that we don’t like. Before long, our beloved partners seem to be more like “garbage people” with a little bit of fabulousness.
Often, after years of partnership, we quit seeing our partner with fresh new eyes. After all, we know who she or he is now. There is nothing much new to discover about them. We know how they are in the morning, how they are when they get angry or moody. We know how they have sex and how they get dressed up and how they eat and what they eat and drink. We know where they get stuck and upset and fearful. We know what makes them laugh. We know how they sleep and how they look at all times of the day. The longer we know who someone is, the more we can say that we know who someone is.
This knowing sense of your partner comes with lots of stories and labels. If I asked you to describe your partner to me, you would have a descriptive list of their qualities and activities. You would be able to tell me who they are.
Eckhart Tolle said that the second you label something, you quit really being with it. When you label a tree “a tree”, you quit seeing the intricacies of the tree. You don’t delight in the discovery or in the experience of something the moment you label it. It is a little bit like, “been there, done that”.
The same is true of our partners, and this is the quickest way we kill intimacy and passion. Our labels and stories of who our partner is begin to take over. We no longer see our partner as a mysterious being that we are eager to discover. We no longer delight in discovering who they are in this moment, and in this moment, and in this moment. We long ago discovered and labeled and categorized and invented a story about our partners, so much so, that now, when we look at our partners, we see our story of them, our labels of them. We do not see them in this moment afresh at all.
Intimacy: Into Me You See. I do not see into you when I label you. I do not feel you, hear you, smell or taste you. When I move with you like you are a certain way, there is no presence, no discovery, no magic, no creation.
Labels prevent you from seeing into me too. Your story of me prevents you from being present with the ever unfolding of who I am.
Intimacy: Into Me You See. Not only do I not see you when I label you, but I don’t see you when I avoid looking into your eyes.
Over time, as we become accustomed to interacting with our partners like our story and labels of them as opposed to the miracle of them, we quit making eye contact. We look “at” our partner’s briefly throughout our days and nights, or close our eyes altogether, especially in lovemaking. It is easier, more comfortable to escape into the darkness of an unlighted room or closed eyelids rather than feel the discomfort we feel being really seen by our partner.
Truthfully, making eye contact with someone, extended eye contact, will bring to the surface rather quickly any places that are out of integrity or presence anything that hasn’t been said. Eye contact will rather quickly reveal if anything is in the way of pure connection – ie.. negative beliefs, incompletions, unsaid truths. If anything is in the way, discomfort will arise from eye contact, forcing the one looking to quickly hide again behind closed eyes, to avoid being found out .
Lack of practice is also a key factor. When we are accustomed to not looking into our partner’s eyes, uneasiness is common when we re-visit this practice. We will want to turn away, talk, giggle, divert attention away from our discomfort by avoiding eye contact and silence. Overall as a culture, we are unaccustomed to being present to our uncomfortable experiences and to telling the truth about our experiences in the moment. We have embodied a whole host of un-intimate relationship practices that we can’t see – they appear so normal that we remain unconscious to how we keep ourselves from experiencing intimacy.
We all have an idea that intimacy and passion is a “feel good” proposition. It is a yummy, delicious blending of two bodies and souls in union.
While this certainly is one aspect of intimacy, it is not the only aspect.
Sometimes deep intimacy comes from sharing our fears together, our stuck places, our anger – being vulnerable. Some of my deep experiences in lovemaking have come from my partner and I stopping in the middle of our experience to reveal our lack of presence, our pre-occupation with some thought, our belief that we should be doing something in particular or an arising insecurity or doubt. This honest revelation in the middle of lovemaking brings us closer to each other, and actually heightens our experience of intimacy – rather than taking away from it as you might think.
Intimacy – into me you see – is about sharing authentically who we are with our partner in the moment. The closer our communication is to our actual experience of it, the more connected we are to ourselves and the more moving and freeing our truth is. You cannot experience deep connection and intimacy and passion when you are not fully expressing yourself.
We all have areas where we don’t fully express ourselves. We don’t say how we really feel about our partner working late hours, or forgetting our birthday, or rushing through sex. We all have reasons for not saying what we feel and want and can easily talk ourselves out of communicating potentially difficult feelings and desires. But each time we don’t say something that needs or wants to be said, the more we put a wedge between us and our partners and the more we affect our intimacy.
Love is what is present when there is nothing in the way. Therefore, the more we don’t say, the more there is in the way between us and the less we will feel love and intimacy. The more distant we are, the less we will look at each other. We may go through the motions of sex and communication, but without full disclosure and full self-expression, there will be little true connection in our activities and we will feel more and more empty in the process.
We not only withhold truths through the course of daily living, we quit saying what we feel and want in our lovemaking too. We quit asking for what we want and settle into playing out old patterns in our sexual encounters. When we don’t ask for what we want or risk initiating honest communication or sharing some new sexual desire, we put what is not said between us. Love is not so easy to experience when there is much that is not said in the space.
Similarly, when you squelch your words, you are also, most likely, squelching your sexual expression. Passion is most felt when we surrender to sexual energy moving through us and allow it to take us where it wants to go. When we can let go of our preconceived notions of lovemaking, tune into desires as they arise, and move in concert with these desires minute by minute in the sexual dance, passion is inevitable. Sexual energy is best expressed and experienced when it is spontaneously allowed to flow in whichever way. If we have beliefs that certain practices are not welcomed or permitted, or that there is a prescribed order to sexual activity, these beliefs will inevitably inhibit our sexual expression.
Additionally, when we move with our partners like we already know them sexually and intimately, we quit being in exploration mode. It is another way where we bring our mind into activity and prevent ourselves from entering a no-mind zone – fully being present to our experience in the body realm. We are in “do” mode instead of “be” mode. We are in “knowing already” mode instead of hanging out in a world of discovery and wonder with our partner.
I remember the first time I saw a Tantra video, of long time lovers talking about how they wanted to be touched by the other in exquisite detail, how shocked I was to not only see people talking to each other that frankly and honestly about sex, but how open the person listening was – how much he or she moved like they didn’t already know. The intimacy and connection and creativity in the moment was astounding to me. It required that both partners be present and open and honest and receptive and unassuming.
Most of us, are needless to say, not accustomed to such frankness and openness in our sexual expression. We wouldn’t think to take an hour to focus on pleasuring just one of us, sharing every detailed experience along the way. Most of us wouldn’t think to talk that openly and detailed about other subjects way less charged!
There are many other ways we get in the way of experiencing intimacy and passion.
We resist the natural cycles of relationship. All things have a cycle. The moon, the seasons, plants, the waves upon the shore. Relationship also has it’s own cycle. The heart opens and closes. We experience intimate times and distant times, times when we are together and times we are apart. Each partner may have different needs for togetherness and closeness, and so resist one or the other cyclic aspects. Navigating these contraction and expansion periods can be tricky – especially if partners interpret the contraction periods as being bad or wrong. Both are an important part of the relationship growth process.
We are unaware of what has us and our partner really feel loved – some of us feel loved when touched, some of us when spoken to a certain way, some of us by being shown – flowers, cooking, gifts. We begin by doing everything and accidentally “hit” on our partner’s love strategy, and then over time do what has us feel loved, not necessarily what has our partner feel loved.
We have incompletions from the past that we have not forgiven or released. Incompletions that are difficult to let go of are accompanied by beliefs we don’t find it easy to let go of. To forgive someone and release them of some negative experience, often requires that we look at this situation anew. Sometimes it means taking responsibility, owning your power and taking charge of how you want things to be different in the future. Completing incompletions from the past can remove huge obstacles to intimacy and passion in relationship.
We have unrecognized negative beliefs about ourselves and our partner. The quality of our intimacy in relationship is directly related to the quality of our beliefs. If I believe I am unworthy of love, for example, I am not likely to be able to take in that you love me and that will have a direct impact on how intimate I feel with you. It is an important part of intimacy work to examine and shift limiting beliefs.
All of these breakdowns in intimacy and passion are caused by conditioned relationship practices that keep us from creating the closeness and freedom of expression we all desire. Most of us long ago learned dysfunctional relationship beliefs and practices, and we re-create these patterns every day without our conscious awareness. Until we learn new ways to approach relationship, until we learn new ways to think and interact, we are doomed to keep repeating patterns that don’t work – frustrated by the lack of transformation and change in our relationships.
But the good news is we can learn new ways to be in relationship!
You are invited to join us for a 90-minute virtual mini-workshop, How To Revive Your Intimacy, on June 7th at 10:00 AM. $40 per couple.
In this mini-workshop, you will engage in several practices to promote connection, relaxation, depth of sharing, and lighthearted playfulness in your relationship.
In this experiential mini-workshop, be prepared to:
- Melt into each other
- Go deep fast
- Step into love
- Play and have fun
- Learn tools for reviving and recreating intimacy
- Discover how to slow down and sync up when stressed or busy
- Create a safe space to be vulnerable and real
- Discover how to keep the connection alive day after day
Learn more and register here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-revive-your-intimacy