When loving him hurts – The Passion Paradox

Passion 3 (1) Falling in love is about excitement, yearning, desire and passion. It sounds like falling in lust would be equally appropriate. Lust is something men do. The female narrative is love. It is the lace and lavender of lust.

Love…. Lust.. makes no difference. When the earth moves we feel compelled to go with it, engage and hopefully commit to it. Loving/lusting is usually referred to as the “honeymoon phase” – usually well over by the time the honeymoon comes around. Years into their relationship, people yearn for the balmy days of butterflies, when lipstick made a difference and  men think longingly of the days when they were young stags.

Date nights, new lingerie, Botox, and no TV in the bedroom are often attempts to reclaim those early days. Viagra, horny goats weed and pornography….. another man, another woman and another marriage bites the dust. Passion rules.

The sad truth is that the co-dependent often doesn’t suffer from this problem.

Why? She believes that it’s because what she feels is real love. Not so. Passion is fuelled by fear and insecurity. The passion of beginnings allows the relationship to be consolidated into something firmer and more reliable. The co-dependent woman never feels secure. She is never safe in the love and respect of her partner. She is constantly working to be better, to prove her love and loyalty and to perfect the art of being his partner. When she fails, even briefly, he rejects her, leaves her, or threatens to withdraw his love or replace her with some-one more worthy. She is devastated, shocked and fundamentally insecure. The perfect recipe to keep passion safe and flourishing.

Being kissed and touched is proof of his forgiveness. Even a wink is devastatingly sexy and alluring when any sign will do. A wink suggests that making love will follow and once again she can feel like “the one”. Maybe if they make love two nights running she can begin to feel safe again – even if only briefly. Sex stays exciting because it signals the end of the rejection. It signals that he loves her again and she has proved herself to him yet again.

She hopes, she yearns, she prays for the days when she will feel safe and indispensable and without knowing it the days that will begin to erode the passion she is so dependent on.

The passion dilemma is that once people begin to feel safe they are able to attend to life and demands outside of each other. Life doesn’t facilitate passion. It serves the ends of raising a family, pursuing a career and meeting our responsibilities to the people around us and the greater community. Those demands are often tedious, relentless and unforgiving. They are the demands of a healthy adult life and are often noble and growth producing. They however do not encourage and breed passion.

Passion is not designed to define our lives or our relationships. It is designed to be a stepping stone to a healthy long-term relationship or to die out before that mistake becomes a longstanding one. Passion’s blue print is that it transforms into a quiet and persistent but not demanding attraction for each other. It doesn’t keep demanding our attention. It no longer says, “look at me, look at me”. It just is.

Where did the passion go?

Nowhere – it just grew out of its own fear which sustained it. It isn’t gone – it’s just no longer the same rowdy demanding, all-consuming two-year old it once was.

I was married to not one abuser, not two, but three. I fled from South Africa and from an extremely violent and traumatic marriage to a very well-known Johannesburg personality and resolved to learn a lesson and be more careful next time. In America I met a man who, on the surface, was everything that my second husband was not. Until I owned her own contribution to the dance of abuse I was destined to repeat the pattern. My story exists as proof of this. I am driven to help abused women as I know all too well what it feels like to be misunderstood and ashamed of my inability to let go of a relationship that was killing me. “It’s like wanting to hug a shark – why on earth would anyone do that?” I understand because I have been there, emerged damaged and broken from there and then – heaven forbid – went back! I know what it feels like to yearn for the love of a man who pulled out your hair, spat in your face and tried to choke you. I know what it feels like to tell people you are back there and watch their faces and see them thinking, “then you deserve what you get!” By telling my story, I hope to lift the veil of shame off abuse and encourage women to do the same. Un-silencing the voice is where true healing begins.

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Posted in abuse, codependency, domestic violence, healing, love, marriage, obsession, relationships

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