Nice dinner, soft lighting, candles and tasty cuisine. Why isn’t this enough to ignite passion? Because of one missing ingredient: Connection. What is connection? And why is it so important in a relationship? How does connection create passion? And how can I connect with my mate?
What Connection Looks Like:
At its core, emotional connection describes a bonding between two people: An appreciation or understanding of one another. Reaching towards the other person. Feeling valued and “seen” by the other person. A coming together over common goals. Having things in common. Feeling like two people in the world together. Connection can be feeling like best friends, even in a romantic relationship.
Why Is Connection So Important In Passionate Relationships?
Connection is the glue that holds a relationship together. It helps each person feel emotionally safe with the other. Connection motivates us to come closer to the other person and to seek them out. It helps us to feel as if we are not alone in the world. Connection helps to build a safe haven for us after a long day out in the world. It is a sense of belonging to one another within the outer world. When we have an argument connection is the emotional and ongoing coating to the relationship that tells us the person will be there for us.
Most importantly, it encourages the desire in each person to want to be all of the above things for “our person” and to have them be there for us. It helps us to feel accepted, along with the “good, the bad and the ugly” qualities that we all share. After all, no one is perfect. And being accepted by our special person helps us to feel emotionally safe and less emotionally vulnerable in the world. Lastly, when we disconnect from our mate because of an argument, we feel emotionally safe in the belief that we can reconnect with our partner, regardless of the difficulty of the argument.
Why Does Connection Engender Passion?
The definition of passion is a strong, barely controllable emotion. Connection helps make the physical intimacy of sex more enjoyable. This is in part because of feeling valued and accepted by the other person which increases the desire to connect spiritually, emotionally and physically with your person in the world. It is something the two of you share together. When we feel safe with our partner, sex becomes giving love to one another rather than taking. Passion also includes the strong desire to reach for the other person. To want to be with them. To appreciate who they are. The more connected you feel, the more you will want to share intimate moments with them, not just emotionally but sexually.
How Can I Build Connection (And Passion)?
There are a variety of ways connection can occur in romantic relationships. Here are some examples:
- When you go on a date, or even just spend time together, do what you both already enjoy. It can be taking a walk, going out to listen to live music, hiking, or whatever you look forward to doing, especially together. It also is okay to do what is special for your mate, but then they need to do what you really enjoy. Ideally, you will spend the majority of your time together focusing on what you both enjoy.
- You can greet your mate at the door with a hug or a kiss. Make the hug at least 10 seconds long.
- Everyday when you both get home from work spend a few minutes talking about your day. Statistically, men often like to leave work behind them, and women want to share their day with their mate. It doesn’t have to be an “emotional dumping” of negative things, but perhaps a short summation of things that stood out in the day, ie: what went well or what was challenging. Don’t be afraid to include what those experiences meant to you. It helps your partner reconnect with you. You don’t need to include a litany of details, just the gist of what it was like for you. For example: you felt pressured, or frustrated, or valued, or that you got a lot of work completed. Side note: Women statistically want to feel understood and men want to fix things. So if it is the woman who is sharing her day, the male focuses upon understanding, not fixing.
- Occasionally prepare a nice dinner, and possibly include candlelight. Perhaps prepare a meal your partner really likes and appreciates. Or maybe you’ve put the kids to bed a bit earlier or fed them already so it is just the two of you reconnecting and shutting out a bit of the world.
- A sure-fire method of connection: Communicate the top two of your mate’s love languages as described in Gary Chapman’s 5 Languages of Love. I recommend my clients do this at least twice a week to increase connection.
- Talk things out when there is a disconnection. The more you can do this the easier it gets. And the less vulnerable you will feel. Practice really hearing each other, rather than judging them. This builds not only connection, but a sense of acceptance of our humanness.
- Cuddle on the couch or before you fall asleep. Important: it does not always mean sex has to follow. It is about physical closeness that is not shared with others outside the romantic relationship.
- When on a date, do not talk about the kids. If you do so, you are changing the relationship from lovers to Mom and Dad. Not very romantic!
- Be playful with one another. Don’t be afraid to be silly!
- If you see your mate feeling down, reach out to them and ask what you can do to help them to feel better. If you already know what this would be, then fine. But don’t assume.
- Watch a favorite tv show together that you both enjoy and talk about it.
If you want passion in your relationship you must first feel accepted, valued, appreciated, desired and understood by your mate. This takes work in any relationship, but a romantic relationship is the most vulnerable one, so it takes more work. If you want passion in your life that is meaningful you need to water the relationship garden. Have some fun with it!
(Go to Resources for links):
- Love Sense by Sue Johnson, PhD
- Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, PhD
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, PhD