- Gender and Relationships»
Increasing passion and intimacy between couples
Romantic Relationships 101
I'll warn you up front: this is a PG-rated hub on a topic that could be treated in a much more provocative way... it would be "G" except I doubt the 3-year-olds would understand this topic!
There are three pilars in a lasting intimate and passionate relationship between adults: trust, respect and romance. Without trust, the relationship likely won't last or one partner may be distant or defensive. Without mutual respect, a personal relationship seems hardly worth having--more like a job. And finally, romance! While I trust and respect many people, the magic and spark of romance is only there for one extra special person. And THAT makes it a relationship like no other!
Have you ever wondered why characters in movies fall in love so often--and it seems so right to us? I suspect it's because of the intimacy and passion created by going through a feature-length struggle or adventure together. The characters feel connected, and they have learned to work together and trust each other. The other was there for them when the chips were down and the odds were impossibly against them.
So, how can you create your own adventure to deepen the trust and respect between you and yours? Go exhaust yourselves together! Make it something that fits your style and your budget, but be sensitive to your partner's likes and dislikes. My boyfriend (now husband of 16 years) and I played mud volleyball together for charity for three hours staight. They cleaned us off with a firehose. We were tired, cold and soaked to the bone, but we had made it through together. You could hike (in a soft rain is very romantic), go antiquing, ski or surf, run or bike, bungee jump (one friend got his (now) wife through the "awkward new relationship" stage this way), volunteer together, or do whatever tests your limits, gets your heart going and gives you both a sense of accomplishment. Be sure to stay with your partner in support and give-and-take: this means you, introverts, experts, know-it-alls, narcissists and ultra-competitive types! By the end of your adventure, you've both learned to trust each other a bit more, you respect one another for trying something new, getting through it or helping you through it; and hopefully, you've picked a fun activity with a dash of romance about it. Victorious exhaustion! It works in the movies and it can work for you!
Of course, increasing passion and romance means finding that you and your partner can grow together in some respects. If a romantic adventure is a little breathless for your taste, try taking a class together. Again, do something that is fun, but a bit of a stretch for both of you. Trust that you'll be there for each other, help each other with homework; respect the talents, abilities and accomplishments of both of you. If you've been to college, you're probably aware that entire villages could be powered by the passion and intimacy created by studying with special someones. Many of our friends fell in love in grad school, medical school or law school, so imagine how much more romantic it will be to try ballroom dancing, throwing clay, cooking or rock climbing!
As you know, your most important romantic organ is your brain. Use yours to
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show that you respect and "get" the other person. Go beyond being considerate and do something that will absolutely delight them. Maybe get concert tickets for your rocker or symphony lover; game or race tickets for your football fanatic or motorhead; get your stressed-out high-achiever a massage or spa treatments. Make it a date or schedule a date immediately after they've enjoyed their extra special treat. Make your someone feel appreciated and passion will follow.
Try to understand what your partner is passionate about. If she thinks scottie dogs are the bomb and you think they're obnoxious, useless yappers; or he gets lost playing Xbox for hours while you think it's childish, escapist and mindless, your relationship may not make it to the next level. And maybe it shouldn't. But if you spend a day at a dog show or surprise him with a date to an arcade or a new game he can play with you, you might even find it a little fun. No need to adopt your partner's passion, but it's nice for you be at peace with it and enjoy them enjoying their hobby. If you give a little, show you respect your partner's hobbies, and they can trust you'll give them the room they need to pursue things they enjoy, walls can come down and intimacy can blossom.
Often, the smallest things build a sense of trust and romance. Tune into your partner and offer a sincere compliment about something that attracts you to them. I guarantee, if a guy tells his date her hand is so soft or her hair just shines, she will definitely remember. And if you appreciate his smile, or that he opens doors for you, tell him. Often, it's that little "something" that tells you someone is special. When you are trusting and vulnerable enough to tell them about it, passion can quickly catch fire.
Just listen. When your special someone tells you about a problem or concern, hold their hand, look into their eyes, and show that you're listening. You don't need to solve their problem, offer advice, or "fix it". In fact, too much of that can seem dismissive, trivializing or irritating. Just be mentally and emotionally present and show your concern and empathy for what they're going through. If you can "fix it", great! But true empathy shows respect for your partner and their feelings. That kind of validation can feel very romantic!
Share simple sensual experiences like watching clouds, listening to music or poetry, or luxuriating in herbal foot soaks while you enjoy a movie or a game together. Stimulating the senses brings both of you into the present moment, where intimacy and passion live.
Finally, take a good look at yourself and assess whether you're projecting the image you want your someone to perceive. No need to get a makeover or become something you aren't for anyone else's approval. But regular bathing and minimal daily grooming are a must. Unpleasant odor can kill intimacy in a single breath! I'm a huge fan of the grunge look, but I know if I carry it too far, or look as if I don't respect myself, others will have trouble digging through the grunge to find someone they also can respect. Sometimes, this includes your mate.
Building an intimate, passionate relationship has less to do with trinkets, jewelry or expensive cars, and lots to do with enjoying a loving bond strengthened by trust, respect and romance. Deepen your relationship by enjoying and appreciating each other and the time you spend with one another. Couples who have fun together also have fun together!