The feeling that passion brings to a relationship is awesome! There’s no better feeling in the world. Passion is one of the most powerful and most addicting substances a person can experience. But there is a catch to willingly partaking of this “drug.” Passion has a downside; a dark side. The odds are that the longer you stay together, the more likely a relationship will get “routine.” Why is it so hard to keep passion alive in a long-term relationship? What do we do to try and keep passion alive in our relationships?
Relationships tend to start out strong, and then these days they seem to fizzle out just as fast as they ignite.Not all do this of course, but many do just that: fizzle. But because passion tends to go missing, couples find different ways to replace such a grand feeling. The rub, however, is that they tend to replace one type of passion with another type of passion. They resort to replacing positive passion with negative passion. This phenomenon fits with the old adage that negative attention is better than no attention at all. But what type of positive relationship can be built on negativity?
The reason that negative passion has taken the place of positive passion is similar to a drug addict “chasing a high.” The initial rush experienced when a relationship is new and still exciting is a feeling that normally dissipates as a relationship settles into a routine. So how do people keep the adrenaline flowing? They act in ways that keep passion in the relationship. However passion is an absolute value. Passion can be both negative and positive. Passion is passion nonetheless. So couples often engage in games that keep their relationships exciting. Only the excitement in these cases may not be such a good thing.
The first type of game based in negative passion is rooted in activities that involve sneaking around. Getting away with something tends to jumpstart a relationship with passion from the get-go. People that engage in this type of activity seek out other people who are either completely offlimits or are “restricted” in some manner. Sometimes students like their teachers. Sometimes teachers like their students. Sometimes supervisors and like their workers. Sometimes workers like their supervisors. Sometimes people are attracted to their best friend’s girlfriend or boy
friend. These sneaky types get their passion, their rush, from the illicit nature of their crime or indiscretion. This game, however, falls short of being ultimately satisfying. Because once these types of relationships transform into something “legit,” the very nature of the alteration kills its roots, the sneaky passion. So, just about the time one of these types of relationships become socially acceptable, the wind is let out of the sail and a new sneaky situation catches the eye of the deviant. In short, the types that enjoy this game tend to jump from short relationship to short relationship, avoiding legitimacy in the fear that the routine factor will have any chance of snuffing out the passion factor.
The second type of game rooted in negative passion is the relationship based in crabbiness or bitchiness. The type of people that are attracted to this sort of relationship are always upset, and the negativity of the relationship keeps them in the game.The raw resentment, anger and frustration keep the passion, or in this case the raw nerve, open and alive. This type of relationship may be rooted in a negative passion, but it’s definitely always a challenge- and the sex in these relationships tends to be very passionate and exhausting. It sometimes the good sex itself is what makes the whole thing endurable. Examples of these types of relationships are evident in television series such as Everyone Loves Raymond and the couple featured in Home Improvement. The crabby partner definitely keeps things from becoming too comfortable; and thus keeps the relationship from being anything but routine. In the long run though, a partner’s resentment from the continual crabbiness may cause too much of the nerve to become raw and the other partner may then be repulsed into the arms of a less crabby partner that seems just as passionate minus the built up resentment.
The third type of game rooted in negative passion I call the “cliffhanger.” In this game, the passion is created by pushing your partner to the precipice of the cliff and then the challenge is to stop them from falling over and permanently ending the relationship. The partners guilty of this game tend to come alive under these circumstances. Suddenly they realize what is at stake and the challenge of “saving” the relationship tempers any boring routine from developing. These cliffpushers truly believe in their cause; to save the relationship from doom. In fact, in counseling these types are the most passionate and believe in the romance of the chance to show their partner their true dedication to the relationship. The problem is that once they pull their partner from the edge of the cliff, “things” are okay for awhile and then they once again begin the push-to-save cycle in earnest.The troubled relationship eventually solves itself as the partner being pushed builds up enough resentment and then voluntarily seeks the cliff edge as their escape. Game over. The problem with intimate relationships is that their very nature makes them candidates for these games rooted in negative passion.The positive passion of a new relationship is difficult to keep at initial levels of intensity.Thus, couples have sought ways to keep the passion alive and intense. They have however, resorted to playing these three types of negative passion games. And because these types of negatively-rooted games have endured so long, they have become institutions firmly rooted in our relationship culture. In fact, an episode of Sex and the City called Drama Queens deals with the fact that some women have come to think that if there isn’t any trouble in their relationship, then something must be wrong with it. How sad.
Has drama, high maintenance, and negativity become the hallmarks of our American love lives? This may explain the emergence of a negative social phenomenon so pervasive that we have labeled it divorce culture: an entire culture built on broken relationships. Yet who has a magic solution that will keep alive the fresh passion inherent with a new relationship? Is it inevitable that our relationships must turn negative just to keep the passion intact? I don’t think so, but I also offer no solution here in this piece. I hate to leave the readers hanging, but each one of us must figure out the solution for themselves. Suggestions? Email Dr. Padilla pete.padilla@gmail.