Thursday, January 26, 2006

Passion vs. Comfort

A friend of mine had an interesting conversation with one of her girlfriends about the differences between passion and comfort in a relationship and whether or not they coexist. Below is a transcript of our email conversation (with names removed to protect the guilty!). I've since thought about it more, but I don't have the time to refine it at the moment, so here it is in all its rawness!

So i had a pretty interesting discussion with my friend, {removed}, last night. She's married and we were talking about relationships that are passionate and relationships that are just comfortable and natural. She said that she thinks that it will always be one or the other...and there really isn't such thing as having a relationship that's both naturally comfortable and passionate. She talked about how she wasn't really attracted to her husband at all...but got to know him and fell in love with who he was...but there's never been passion.
It's a conversation that i haven't been able to shake. Any thoughts?

My response:

I guess it depends on how you define "passion"? If you mean fiery explosions, clothes-ripping, I must have you or die, kind of passion...I personally think that seeking that kind of excitement as the primary purpose or goal of a relationship is self-destructive. You might get it sometimes, but it's unsustainable in the long run. It's temporary at best. After the explosions, then what? It's like when people get married just for the sex, what do they do with the other 23.5 hours of the day?

pas·sion n.
  1. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.
    1. Ardent love.
    2. Strong sexual desire; lust.
    3. The object of such love or desire.
    1. Boundless enthusiasm: His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the game.
    2. The object of such enthusiasm: Soccer is her passion.

If we define it in the first way, then it's much easier to think of your feelings as being passionate for someone. If she really loves him, isn't that passion? If by saying she had no passion, that she never had feelings of "strong sexual desire" - ever - then I suppose that could be a real issue. There are many women who are still happily married without it.

I think it also depends on your personality. Some people are happier being comfortable, and other people just can't sit still and get bored with comfortable. I think the more "passionate" personality will find it harder to find someone of similar tastes and they will find it even harder to keep things going than a couple who has to learn to spice things up occassionally.

They say half of sex is mental. I think the same is even truer for passion. In fact, I'd say it's ALL mental. How you think or feel about the other person defines your passion. If you truly love someone, it's much easier to be passionate towards them. Love is more than a feeling, it's also a choice. In that sense, I think you have some control over your own passions. If you never feel passionate about someone or something you love, then it's up to you to change it, or do like most people do and question whether they really "love" the person or not. I think that's where people confuse the feelings vs. choice part of love.

Do I think you can be comfortable and passionate at the same time?

Maybe it depends on how you define "comfortable"!!! hahaha Sorry I'm playing with words here, but I think it's worth exploring. If you mean that a person is truly at ease and feels safe in a relationship, then yes I think both can happen. If you mean comfortable as in "good enough to keep me from being single and alone and unhappy" then, yeah, they could seem exclusive. Passion shouldn't have to feel like you're risking the relationship for it to be passionate. Passion is an expression of a desire for someone, the need for some kind of fulfillment. If fulfilling that need (feeding your passion) makes you comfortable, wouldn't that be counterproductive to having passion? The only way to have passion then would be to never fulfill the desire. I think that's why people find stories like Romeo & Juliet so intriguing. Yes, they did have passion, but their passion was never fulfilled. Had they not died, would they have still had passion? I think that people's perception of it is this kind of thinking where the passion only really works if there's some risk or danger of failure. To me, that seems a rather unfulfilling kind of lifestyle that leaves you empty just searching for the next rush of passion.

Just in my short time with {removed}, I never got tired of kissing her. Maybe we hadn't been going out that long, but it seemed strange to me that my own passion was renewed every time, and it never got boring. But I could tell when her passion ended, and it was because mentally she was already thinking about how to break up with me. :-P

I'm starting to ramble now. Guys and girls maybe different, but I still say it's a mental game you play with yourself. You have some control over your own passions by the choices you make.

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