Passion in Relationships
Love is The Drug I'm Thinkin' Of
Remember when they were all you could think about? Your friends rolled their eyes in mock disgust as you went on and on about the object of your affection. You felt like you were on a constant high, and the world seemed full of hope again. Nobody seemed more fascinating, and the expression “fell madly in love” took on new meaning.
Passion, which is that feeling of crazy infatuation at the core of a new love relationship is a clearly definable phase--and while we wouldn’t trade it for the world, it is time-limited in its purest form.
Scientists who study love and passion have known for decades that when we are infatuated or “in” love, the brain actually does secrete certain chemicals, namely dopamine and norepinephrine, which are associated with pleasure and excitement. These, and a host of other brain chemicals, released by the strong forces of emotion, “bestow focus, stamina, and vigor”, according to Helen Fisher, a behavioral anthropologist.
Fisher, who is a leading expert on the biology of love and attraction, maintains that the most important [of these] qualities is the obsessive thinking that all new lovers are well acquainted with. As Fisher says, "Someone is camping in your head." Highly recommended: Helen Fisher's fascinating Ted Talk, The Brain in Love.
You Can't Stay High Forever
Sadly, (or luckily, in some cases), passion, such as it is during the initial stages of attraction, is a relatively short lived phase of a love relationship. This is not to say that aspects of passion do not remain an integral aspect of longer term relationships, but passion such as it is during the initial phases of courtship simply cannot be sustained to the same degree, and instead become integrated in the whole gamut of emotional qualities as the relationship matures.
As psychology professor Elaine Hatfield, PhD, from the University of Hawaii, who has been studying love since the 1960’s says, “Romantic, passionate love is fleeting, Passionate love provides a high, like drugs, and you can't stay high forever”.
Lost that Loving Feeling?
So what happens when this passionate feeling we have towards our love partner subsides? Since this can happen at widely varying times for individuals within the couple, this can be upsetting or anxiety-provoking to both, as the heat in the relationship cools down. Having an understanding that this is a completely normal and expected phase of any longer term relationship can help couples regroup and re-focus on each other and in sustaining the passion for the long run.
Romance as a key to Passion
One of the key things you or your partner may have forgotten was how to reconnect using romance as a tool for passion. Re-establishing romance can be as simple as refocusing on your partner in a way that you may have let slip away, causing complaints that they may feel taken for granted, or not truly "seen" in a way that makes them feel like the most important person or thing in your life anymore.
Start with something out of character, such as sending them a real invitation to meet at a mystery location at a particular time, and treating them to an evening or event which you have completely planned in advance for just two of you.
Truly, it's more the effort and energy that you have put into any event or gift which will be meaningful to your partner. As life gets in the way of passion and romance, it becomes imperative to maintain the connection to your partner by creating the circumstances and conditions necessary to slipping easily back into these moments of passion, which energize and reconnect your passionate selves.