Deeper Dating: Passion Without the Drama

Stability and peace fuel the healthiest and happiest midlife relationships — and support our taste for adventure

by Ken Page • Next Avenue
middle-aged couple happy image

Many of us have wasted years in relationships whose hallmarks were conflict and drama. In our early years, when youthful ignorance and emotional baggage are still with us, we often feed off the excitement of drama and, not knowing any better, allow it to take the place of authentic connection.

As we get older, however, melodrama becomes increasingly less acceptable, and compatibility and kindness begin to look more and more desirable.

But this doesn’t mean the end of adventure. We can have and enjoy the deep thrills of romantic love and the comfort of stability at the same time. Recent research has shown that emotional safety is actually the jumping-off point for love that’s as heady as it is healing. It’s only in an even-keep relationship that we can risk the vulnerability that deep intimacy requires. Few of us, however, are taught how to link passion and peace in our relationships, or how to cultivate the thrill of a brimming yet quiet heart.

As a therapist who has worked with couples for more than three decades, I have learned a lot about finding this state and achieving that balance. In this article, I will share two powerful yet simple techniques for deepening safety and diving into new zones of intimacy. You can do them alone, but I strongly encourage you to practice with your partner or, if you prefer, a close friend or family member.

(MORE: Relationship Rescue: Bringing Back the Passion)

Emotional Safety Is the Bedrock of Adventurous Intimacy
"People who feel more attached aren’t just happier," says Craig Malkin, a professor of psychology at Harvard University School of Medicine, "they are more likely to seek such thrills as rock-climbing and parachute-jumping and to throw themselves into new situations and challenges, like meeting strangers and traveling overseas.”

Why? “Their sense of adventure may stem from a lust for life that security itself imparts,” Malkin says. Citing new studies on this subject, he says: “People who imagined a safe relationship felt more energy than those who didn’t. Perhaps the biggest turn-on in life is knowing someone’s always in your corner.”

The following two exercises can deepen the sense of security in your relationship. The first is a kind of meditation, but you don’t need any special talent or prior experience to make it work. Do it quickly, do it imperfectly — but just do it. It should take only two minutes, so don’t wait for an hour of dedicated quiet time.

You can even do it while waiting in a doctor’s office or when you’re on a bus or train. (Be aware, though, that you may feel very moved by this small but powerful process, so you might want to save it for a more private moment.)

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Photo courtesy of racorn/

First Published Thu, 2013-06-06 11:07

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