Cultivating Desire in a Romantic Relationship
Quality relationships have proven to promote healthier and more fulfilling lives. In particular, people who live among supportive romantic relationships, tend to live longer and experience a higher satisfaction in their day-to-day lives.
A study on happiness shows conventional eagerness of money and fame have little or no correlation to happiness, whereas constructive relationships are the dynamic core behind building rewarding, long lives.
TED Talk: What makes a good life? (Start watching 7:30)
So What Constitutes a Meaningful Relationship?
A meaningful relationship, as we have discussed, is built upon well-balanced power dynamics, love that is composed of trust, sex, and honest communications, and adheres to the Desire Principle.
Think of it as a roadmap or a factory apparatus with multiple levers, it is by no means a set of rigid rules. If you find your relationship situation less than desirable, detach yourself emotionally (once again, succumbing to self-protecting psychology does not help anyone) and objectively scrutinize: which one of these levers should you pull on to restructure your relationship?
Inside the relationship toolbox, many tools are self-explanatory, but one area is often overlooked or taken as granted – the Desire Principle: a couple should always be together out of desire rather than desperation or complacency.
A couple should always be together out of desire rather than desperation or complacency.
The Blatant Example –
Have you ever met an older couple that has been married for decades, yet they no longer want to be in the same room with one another? They do not speak to one another, they argue over which TV shows to watch, and they go to the Bingo Hall just to spend time away from the other person.
Life is too short. It is simply too short to endure decades of bitterness.
Alas! You may say to me – there are other factors to consider, such as children, finance, and living situation. Yet that is precisely the complacency we are avoiding. Ignore all the other factors and distracting minuscule reasons, those are just noise. Go back to the core: under no circumstances should a couple ever be together out of external obligations and superficial reasons. External noises are the causes of such desperate arrangements. A couple should never be to together out of desperation or complacency.
Let it Sink in –
There is only one reason to justify a romantic union: a couple should always and only be together out of desire.
A couple should always and only be together out of desire.
With that said, the example of the older couple is one of the obvious. Think carefully about the people you have encountered. Ever met the couple who allows jealousy to run ramped? How about the single mother who moves in after 2 months of knowing the man? Or the couple who breaks up way too many times to still be considered in a healthy relationship?
All too often I hear couples utter – “we are just having ups and downs.” Why are there supposed to be ups and downs, or pain and suffering? There are enough pains and challenges in life without the exacerbation of the person who is supposed to love you. Why should you endure the downs that can be avoided?
Of course, what I am illustrating is figurative, not saying one should leave at the first sign of trouble, but do not confuse compassion with indulgence.
Perhaps with the older couple example, they do not start out at each other’s throats either. It is a long process of deterioration and disintegration.
Never be in a relationship because you are choosing your mate base on “lesser of evils.” One should always opt to be single if it is not a perfect match. Let it be known that most people do not “mess up” at the end, they “mess up” in the beginning.
Most people do not mess up at the end, they mess up in the beginning.
So How is Desire Cultivated?
I present to you – the lever of attraction and rapport.
In an ideal relationship, both attraction and rapport should be present. Attraction governs how much positive attention each party can garner, while rapport determines how much trust and comfort each party can harvest. These two factors must simultaneously coexist, it is not give-and-take, rapport cannot replace attraction and vice versa.
Rapport > Attraction
When there is too much rapport and not enough attraction, it is a classic “whipped” relationship.
One side is apt to be too dependent on the other: in the male version, he is the selfless provider, playing out the “knight in shining armor” role. He takes out the trash on time and performs every order the woman demands. When she says “jump,” he asks, “how high”? Somehow it always baffles him that she is never “in the mood” when he attempts to initiate sex.
In the female version, she gets too comfortable and starts to let go of all the appeals he once finds so charming. She does not plug her eyebrows as often, she may gain weight, there are a lot more sweatpants and much less high heels. Whereas he used to pay attention solely to her, his eyes now dart across the room whenever an attractive member of the opposite sex walks by.
Attraction > Rapport
When there is too much attraction and not enough rapport (really, there is no such thing as too much attraction, but for illustration purpose.) The scenario plays out to be one of insecurity.
The man overplays the “jerk card”, too many criticisms, and too evasive to establish trust. The woman is cold and nonchalant, excuses such as “I’m just not much of a hugger” or “I’m just focused on my career” begin to come out of her mouth, when in fact, a sincere bond is never established.
What Makes a Good Life? Balance is Key.
Once again, in an ideal, quality relationship, both high attraction level and a large degree of rapport should be present simultaneously. It is not a whole pie split into halves by attraction and rapport, it is a double barrel approach. If I have to make a mathematical illustration, attraction and rapport are not 50% each, they are both 100%.
When well executed, high levels of attraction and rapport will cultivate a situation where both parties in a relationship mutually desire one another’s companionship. Never mistake complacency with desire, it may look the same on the surface, yet there is a world of difference.
This is your life, there is no trial run – do not settle for less. You have the power to build healthy and fulfilling relationships that lead to long, rewarding lives. Happiness is paramount, make your efforts worthwhile.
Your happiness is paramount, make your efforts worthwhile.
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