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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 November, 2014

Column: Beware the passion killers – how to keep the spark alive in your relationship

Passionate love is a complex mix psychological processes, hormones and evolutionary drives – and at some point in every relationship “the spark” flickers. But there are ways to keep it strong, writes Tony Moore.

Tony Moore

PASSION HAS BEEN described by some as “a state of intense longing for union with another”. Intense passionate love is a complex mix psychological processes, hormones and evolutionary drives.

Those who have experienced such feelings in a relationship can attest to its power. We behave and think somewhat irrationally. Some also describe it as a temporary form of madness. Some feel energised and, as they describe it, fully alive.

Some may replace the word, passion, with love. Therefore it is often with intense anguish, to put it mildly, that many people are shocked and devastated that this heady – and sometimes addictive – feeling has gone. So what causes the change to a relationship that was once so passionate?

Unrealistic expectations

The start of a relationship is suffused with quite unrealistic expectations. The idealisation of the other that he or she can, and will, not only meet, but exceed our expectations, is very common and understandable.

We overlook and dismiss our partner’s shortcomings. Some of these foibles we can even find quite endearing and attractive – it’s only after that initial ‘rush’ that those foibles begin to grate on our nerves.

Some of the most prominent ones that we have encountered over the years in Relationships Ireland include lack of personal hygiene, lack of romance, weight gain, nagging, money and child worries.

Passion killers come in many forms

So passion killers come in many forms and seem to emerge a fairly short time after the initial ‘heady’ passion is over. Many individuals and couples I work with would, on the one hand, acknowledge that it is unrealistic to expect these ‘heady’ feelings to continue, but are still disappointed by their disappearance.

They compare themselves to others who seem to be just as passionate after many years together and want the same feelings. Many more people decide that, after a fairly short time that if he/she isn’t ‘doing it’ for them, it is time to move on. So many of us want that ‘heady’, intoxicated feeling and will go to extraordinary lengths to feel it. Hence the increase in short term affairs.

Passion killers come in many forms and we can easily address some issues – our personal hygiene, for example. One passion killer that is very common is boredom with our partner. When we met initially we worked hard to arouse passionate feelings in our partner. We worked hard to appear cheerful and interesting and positive. We complimented the other, often sealing the compliment with a kiss. We would buy (inexpensive) little gifts or keepsakes.

Can you make more of an effort?

It’s important to look at ourselves. Are we the passion killer? Have we become boring and pedestrian? Do we ‘dress down’ a bit too often, eat and drink too much, and stick to the same routine that with a tiny bit of effort we could change?

We make excuses by saying that we are older and it is a ‘natural phase’ in a relationship that the passion lessens over time. Yes, that is true on the surface. But the actual desire needs to be encouraged by us ourselves.

We do that by understanding that passion isn’t just about sex, it is more about an intensity of feeling and desire about another – and that feeling needs to be encouraged and stimulated if it is not to disappear altogether.

Tony Moore is a counsellor for Relationships Ireland. Relationships Ireland offers confidential counselling and currently has a special introductory offer for an initial consultation. For more information or to book a consultation you can contact 1890 380 380 or email info@relationshipsireland.com

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