I consider myself a fairly run-of-the-mill person, stirred by the ups and downs of celebrity relationships, rooting for certain couples on reality TV shows like Big Brother, The Bachelor, and Survivor, and judging the longevity of the relationships of certain couples who appear on The Newlywed Game. I think what stirs me most, makes me want to invest my energy into caring about these relationships is their passion. As a society obsessed with romance and relationships and how to get them, keep them, lose them, and sprinkle them with syrup, we place an undue amount of emphasis on passion. Passion, passion, passion - where's the passion? We've lost our passion. What do we do when the passion's gone? Um, cook dinner?
I'm not a relationship expert or a relationship scholar, just someone who's lived and loved, and have friends who have done the same thing. Both sexes seem to get stir crazy when that proverbial passion is lost, but they have different ways of showing it. Women, it seems, get anxious, start to feel inferior, question whether or not they're doing things right or whether or not their partner is still invested. Men, the incredible communicators they are, shut down even more, and often seek refuge in other places. No, no, not cheating on you - refuge with friends or work or a hobby. Something that "excites" them. Women go shopping.
I have spent thousands of dollars searching for that dopamine rush, and have some hot pairs of shoes to show for it. Still, what is it about "passion" - a noun that few people can even define - that gets us so hot and bothered? For one, it's exciting. First dates and first kisses are amassed with nervous energy, titillating provocation, and newness as well as uncapped potential. As the dates and kisses become more routine, we wrongly assume that out relationships are dying when, in fact, they're usually maturing.
One sure thing about passion is that it's not sustainable, at least not in its original form. The couples who last will always be passionate about each other, but it's very rare that, after a period of time, a couple will feel the spark of creation, or be nervous around each other, or haven't yet passed the "is it okay to fart?" stage. Passion is great, no arguments, but a mature relationship can be wonderful, too. Unfortunately, this tends to be an either/or situation. Would you rather be worried about shaving your legs before a first date or able to sit around in your sweats? Would you rather hope to find a date for Friday night or know that there's going to be someone there when you come home? It's a matter of personal preference, and it is what separates the fabulously exciting single life from the more laid-back, comfortable world of commitment.
What happens, however, is that couples tend to become too comfortable in their world and completely neglect to do things the other person finds attractive or helpful or even livable. More than losing passion, comfortable couples tend to forget that the other person is their own separate entity. Okay, women, so you've been together for a year and you don't need to shave your legs, but would it kill you to make them silky smooth once in a while? Or to get out of those sweats and into a dress? Or to surprise him with some new lingerie? And guys, would it kill you to remember to bring flowers once in a while? Or do the dishes? Or send a suggestive text telling us something dirty you'd like to do when you get home (and we don't mean gardening!)? Remembering little things goes a long way in sustaining a committed relationship and keeping it from dipping into the terrifying "no passion" universe.