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If You Really Want More Passion and Intimacy in Love, Read This

I was recently asked to give a talk to a group who wanted to learn more about how to deepen and strengthen their connections in love.  This is one of my favorite topics; after all, I’m on the planet to help people learn to love and be loved better. And, as this is a topic so many of us are interested in, I thought I’d share some of the ideas with you that I shared with them. 

The truth is, every one of us struggles with love, and not one of us (or our relationships) is perfect.  But as a sex love and relationship therapist of 30 years, I can promise you that sustainable, beautiful, soul and heart-filling love is available to each of us. 

As a clinician, I’ve learned to take a very holistic approach to understanding relationships and where the blocks are. I like to consider each couple as a picture puzzle…there are so many different pieces, and they are all working together to create the whole picture.  The puzzle pieces are made up of emotional, physical/medical, and relationship factors, all of which interact in a very nonlinear way.  

The Emotional Factors in your relationship involve the personal stuff going on inside each of you, all of which indirectly or directly affect you or your partner, your home life, and your relationship. This could include struggles with depression, anxiety, addiction, and situational stressors like the emotional burden of an extended family conflict or work challenges.   

The Relationship Factors include the dynamics and issues going on between the two of you. This might include your sense of emotional connection, how authentic you are able to be with one another, the amount of time you spend together, how you communicate your thoughts and ideas to one another, the conflicts you may have (and how you are resolving them or not), how you are navigating the logistics of your life (and how much time that sucks from your quality time), how playful you are together, how much delight you take in one another (or not), and so much more. 

The physical or medical puzzle pieces affecting your relationship picture are things like physical or medical illnesses or conditions that are impacting you and/or the dynamics in the relationship (like caretaker fatigue, mobility limitations, pain, or inflammatory/chronic disease).  I also put your physical chemistry, sensuality, physical affection, sexual activity, and connection in this category.  Along those lines, any hormonal or medical factors that impact your sexual interest or response also go into the physical or medical category of puzzle pieces as well.

All of these factors, emotional, relationship, and physical, comprise the picture puzzle that is your relationship dynamics and the challenges you may be facing. And the pieces rarely exist in isolation and tend to impact one another. For instance, one of you may be going through a difficult medical challenge or emotional upheaval, and as a result, you are withdrawing from the relationship. Or your partner is struggling to show up for you as the caretaker you need. Or your sex life and romantic connection begin to wane as a result.  The physical or emotional issues are now creating secondary relationship issues. 

This is why I find the best way to go at these challenges is by addressing all the puzzle pieces at once, sometimes acting as a quarterback, calling in medical and other professionals to assist in tackling the different issues in tandem with me. 

Much of my career has been spent helping individuals and couples clean up their beautiful relationship puzzles and put all the pieces back where they belong.  But truthfully, as I have continued to grow as a human as well as professionally, I find myself more and more drawn to what is underneath the picture; the underpinning of what is really happening in love relationships. It’s here that the true magic can be found.  We can move beyond the clean-up, making things work, putting band-aids where needed, and move into the blocks to love, discovering and releasing them so your relationship (and you) can fully blossom.   

Here’s the big truth: Love is your greatest teacher, as is your partner. It’s a living laboratory for your soul’s growth. Because when you are in a love relationship (any close relationship really), what you are really doing is having a relationship with yourself through someone else. You are perceiving your partner and your relationship through your unique personal history, including your wounds.  This is especially true in long-term relationships (where the stakes are much higher). As you address the wounds underneath the conflicts and negative stories you are telling yourself about your partner and your relationship, you have the opportunity to heal on an entirely new level and create a much deeper intimacy in love.

If you are currently in a love relationship, I’m sure you can remember the beginning of it, when all felt perfect, you couldn’t get enough of each other, and you were going at it like rabbits! Scientists call this the “Infatuation Stage” for good reason. But during the infatuation stage, you are both on your best behavior and neither of you is showing up as your authentic selves; more like your idealized selves. And through the haze of desire and excitement, your partner seems perfect. 

However the Infatuation Stage is not sustainable. Not just because our true selves will always emerge over time (whether we want them to or not), but also because society probably wouldn’t continue to function if we all stayed there. We’d be so busy going at it together, that no one would be able to get anything done!  So after somewhere between 3 months and 3 years (depending on how much time you spend together, how quickly you commit and start getting real with each other), we move into the Attachment Stage of love. 

The Attachment Stage of love is a much softer and sweeter kind, and much more sustainable.  But many feel like it’s a loss, missing the passion and intensity of the infatuation stage. But I believe there is a 3rd stage available to us in love if we are brave enough to do the work to get there; the Integration Stage. This is when we have an opportunity to dive much deeper into emotional, relationship, and physical intimacy that can be insanely passionate and intense.  However, we can only reach the Integration Stage if we are willing to do our own healing work and support our partner in doing the same.  And it requires authenticity, acceptance, and communication—within each of you and with each other. 

Most of all, it means seeing your partner as your greatest teacher.  Because whether we like it or not, they are. 

In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you that one of the key reasons you fell in love with your partner is because they would trigger your wounds. We unconsciously do this in an effort to heal what’s felt broken in us. To me, as a therapist (not to mention a wife), I find this is one of the coolest parts of love.  You tell me the thing that bothers you the most about your partner, and I can show you that this is why you (unconsciously) fell in love with them in the first place.  

Here’s an example. Let’s say you had a childhood where you had a parent who literally or emotionally abandoned you; didn’t show up for you, wasn’t engaged with or emotionally available to you.  Chances are, despite all your best intentions otherwise, you ended up in a relationship with someone who does the same thing in a totally different unexpected way. Perhaps they’re distracted by the kids and channeling their energy away from the two of you. Or maybe they are a workaholic and can’t seem to ever find time in their schedules to slow down and tune in to you and your connection.

More (or as) importantly, there is a shadow and a light side to everything including your partner’s “flaws.” So back to that example; you are feeling abandoned in love because your partner is distracted or investing their energy that could be going to your relationship elsewhere…but chances are one of the reasons you fell in love with them is (for instance) they have such a huge heart and are always helping others in need, although now it feels like too much because they are investing all their energy to others or to your kids rather than to your relationship. Or you were so attracted to their drive and passion in their career, but the shadow side is it turns out their work comes before everything else.  

Until we get super aware and conscious of it, we are always viewing our partner through a default lens colored by our history and our own wounding. We can’t see their light anymore, only the shadows. And we begin to relate to our partner not as our greatest ally and teacher, but as our adversary and wounder. 

There is another way.  We can create beautiful and deep connection, and abiding love and passion in the Integration Stage. But all it starts with you. That’s all you can really control.  I can tell you for certain, that when you take accountability for your own baggage, your own wounds and triggers, you begin to heal and can start to move into full, authentic, empowered self-expression. And when you do that, everything else will begin to change for the better, including in your relationship.  That’s when the Integration Stage can begin and the passion, love, connection, and intimacy you so desire can be found.  

So do work on the puzzle pieces of your relationship picture. Get the support you need to address them. But most importantly, do the work to really try to understand yourself. That’s where true healing always begins.  Explore things like Attachment styles, enneagram and human design. Explore therapy with a trained coach or clinician if you have trauma or deep wounding in your history. And start investing even more time and effort into your connection with your partner. Put down the technology, at least for several hours a day. Give each other a 10-second kiss or 30-second hug in the morning and before bed. Commit to authenticity in your life and your relationship.  

Whatever you do, just remember that not everyone reaches the integration stage, but absolutely everyone can. It just requires the courage to go into the dark places you’ve never explored. Because it’s only in the light that true love and freedom can be found. I promise it’ll be worth it! In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions, and if you want to explore ways to kick start the passion between you, check out my Month of Love Challenge, 7 Days to Better Sex, and my Quantum Sex Course!

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