Romance and sexual passion are genuinely connected to the deepest patterns of our childhood, those relationship patterns that we experience with our mother and father from the earliest stages of development.
The way your parents cared for and bonded to you, the way they related to you emotionally — those early patterns of interaction are what you seek as an adult in relationships. Those familiar and early patterns create the charge you consider passion, sexual arousal, and love. It is not about the outer world — not about freedom, adventure, or even provocative experiences — but rather, the inner patterns of desire you project onto a familiar target. The man or woman who represents for you the patterns of early childhood that you understand and know how to do.
In everyone’s life, from birth to death, there are only two people: mother and father. These central figures create what Carl Jung called the incest mystery. Not physical incest, but the emotional incest of longing for the familiar that lives in your unconscious.
For example, if your father was a controlling person, and you are a female, you may gravitate to a controlling man. He turns you on because he is tapping into your early experiences of the relationship with your father…the experiences you define as love.
You know how to do that. After all, you are used to it: you related to male dominance for most of your life and understand how to work that pattern. Thus, the other is a blank face unto which you cast a highly charged and romantic feeling. This exemplifies the rose-colored glasses of early relationships, the ideological charge you define as love. As time passes, under the radar, you are changing. By maturing, you no longer need that controlling or dominant behavior to make you feel the heightened state of romantic, sexual attraction. Hence, you may start to lose that passion for the other. What is happening is that you are taking back your projection and integrating it into your unconscious. Now, you no longer need someone to help you work out your early childhood patterns… the ones you are still trying to get right. If you can integrate these patterns, you will no longer need to bring the controlling, dominating person that reminds you of your father into your sphere.
If you do not successfully integrate your early childhood patterns, you are doomed to act them out repeatedly. Thus you might find yourself looking for that pattern, or need, for example, control, rather than the mate you think you want.
On the other hand, if you treat your relationship problems superficially and search for love, passion, romance, adventure, and freedom, you will find yourself stuck looking for love in all the wrong places. The work is inner work. First, you must discover who you are: know yourself and the difference between your wants and needs. Let’s stay with the paradigm of the controlling man for a moment. If this type of male excites you, you will reach for him repetitively, as if compelled. However, suppose you recognize your early patterns and needs. In that case, you can learn to override that compulsion, and in time you will consciously acknowledge those red flags, turning you away from your needs into the direction of your wants.
Further, if control is your need, you may find that your controlling man has problems with intimacy. Why? Because controlling men fear the loss of control accompanying the vulnerability of intimacy. This type of male often initiates a fight after an intimate experience, such as sex. By sabotaging the closeness of the relationship, the controlling male creates control again through the space and distance of anger, as he can control the pain he deals himself with rather than the fear of rejection you may cause him. This is his way of compensating for the loss of control and vulnerability that is so much a part of sexual activity.
Consciously moving forward
There are no quick fixes here. To know yourself and your partner and what drives you both emotionally is to move forward from consciousness instead of projection. This breaks the cycle of early patterns that define us and thus ignites both passion and desire. To quest for desire, passion, and romance without understanding who you are and why you are, is to address the symptoms of a relationship instead of the relationship itself. This infantilizes you and your relationship by focusing on the immaturity of self-gratification. The stage is not the thing; instead, the intimacy of a relationship can only occur from the recognition, acknowledgment, and integration of self-knowledge. This leads you toward the positive incest mystery and the mate who carries the positive characteristics of the opposite-sex parent. Here is where love and desire become lasting.
This will give you a mutual and loving relationship rather than the shallow and often empty feeling that occurs when you try to make something happen. No one can make another person love them, no matter what they try to do. But a loving relationship that is both conscious and intimate holds the deepest feelings of attraction and love.
The real aphrodisiac
The familiarity of intimacy reaches the non-verbal and emotional cues of trust, value, respect, and validation that enhance desire and spark sexual interest. Communication and empathy for one another can become the real turn-ons in a relationship. Intimacy is the gold ring to reach for, and it occurs when you find the person you want rather than the person you need. This takes self-knowledge and inner work. The real aphrodisiac keeps desire, love, and passion alive.
Insight breaks the cycle of seek and find that keeps you always looking for the momentary high when the texture of the relationship is unconscious. When desire and love are based on external information and behavioral antics, one is set up to fail in the long run. There are no instant cures and no substitute for inner knowledge. In the movie “A Perfect Man,” starring Jeanne Tripplehorn and Liev Schreiber, the protagonist, and his mate play a myriad of sexual games to enhance the adventure, novelty, and excitement of their marriage. Yet, all the time, “the perfect man” is having sex on the side. Getting to the heart of the matter, healthy relationships are built on mutuality, empathy, communication, and a lifelong and exciting journey of learning about both your and your partner’s emotional worlds.