What is Passion?
I often hear clients lament that they have lost their passion. I counter this by asking, “what is passion”? Answers are always subjective; however, the common denominator boils down the following equation:
Electricity + Spontaneity = Passion.
This works very well—in the beginning of relationships. Once the honeymoon period is over, New Relationship Electricity gets assimilated into the longevity of the partnership; and Spontaneity gets dumped for the daily grind of life. If this is your situation, you are not alone. Long-term relationships often become prey to ‘ho-hum’ sex, especially when we don’t talk about it or makes strides to create connection.
I could tell you to go buy more toys or try new positions. Yet for many, that ho-hum feeling can still be hard to shake. We get stagnant in our silent (and sometimes not so silent) discontent about our lack of emotional and sexual intimacy.
Though not so seemingly spontaneous, one solution to experiment with is to PLAN sex. While I often mean this literally—to pencil in a time and plan sex like you are going on a first date—this time I offer the following acronym that addresses where we went wrong and how we can try to get it right. My newly created PLAN method is as follows.
P: Pleasure Principle. Trade in the porn-instructed, performance-oriented, pressure-heavy approach towards sex for the Pleasure Principle. The Pleasure Principle is all about…you guessed it, Pleasure! There are three areas you can consider for pleasure. First is sensual pleasure. Can you pleasure your five senses by creating a daily life filled with things that you like to taste, smell, touch, observe, and listen to? Second is physical pleasure (not to be confused with sexual pleasure). Can you strive to do non-sexual activities that bring you pleasure and joy? And lastly, is sexual pleasure. Can you co-create a list of sexual activities that you have previously enjoyed, and may enjoy experimenting with in the future? Go beyond the box of just penetration and genitally focused activities and challenge yourself to consider sex as a whole body and brain experience.
L: Laughter. There is no better recipe for a stagnant sex life than laughter. Laughing in the kitchen can be just as powerful an aphrodisiac as in the bedroom. Laughing releases tension and can dissolve anxiety about how to break the ice. If you have the same sense of humor, you are in luck. If not, you may need to explore where your overlapping areas of humor lie. You can try dates to a comedy club, comedy TV shows, or witty books and articles. Laughing in the bedroom may not look like Hollywood’s typical romantic comedy, but laughing at the absurdity of your sexual escapades will leave you both feeling connected.
A: Appreciation. When we leave conflict unaddressed, or silently stew on difficult emotions, we create an ambiance of tension and frustration. It’s not long before this builds into resentment. Before you know it, there may be a stockpile of wounding and hurt—neither of which offer a safe, sensual space to fully surrender. As we tiptoe into those difficult conversations, and potential apologies, we can sandwich our language with words of appreciation. Acts and gifts of appreciation are great supplements as well. When we feel appreciated, we have more reserves to tread into deeper water and address those elephants in the room. If your emotional intimacy already feels strong, adding words, acts, and gifts of appreciation can only elevate your sensual setting.
N: New Normal. Human beings are not stagnant. We change and grow everyday. We may be graduating or getting married, having children or retiring. We may be in recovery from addiction, abuse, loss of a loved one; or embracing our changing bodies, hormones, and health. Whatever the situation, we often find ourselves challenged with the capacity to be resilient—and therefore the need to embrace a New Normal. We have to be flexible with our sex lives, to trust the ebb and flow, and know that pleasure will return if we invite it.
For long-term relationships, Passion is about PLAN-ing sex—about pleasure, laughter, appreciation, and flexibility to accept a new normal and way of being together.