Romance and sexual passion are connected in a very real way to the deepest patterns of our childhood, those relationship patterns that we experience with our mother and father from the earliest stages of development.

Parental bonds

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. In fact, it is those familiar and early patterns that create the charge you consider as passion, sexual arousal, and love. It is really not about the outer world — it is not about freedom, adventure, or even provocative experiences — but, rather, the inner patterns of desire that 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.

Relationship Patterns

You know how to do that, after all you are used to it: you related to male dominance for most of your life and you understand how to work that pattern. Thus, the other is really a blank face unto which you cast a highly charged and romantic feeling. This exemplifies the rose colored glasses of early relationships, the romantic charge that you define as love. As time moves on, under the radar, you are changing, and 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 that other person to help you work out your early childhood patterns… the ones you are still trying to get right. If, in fact, you can integrate these patterns, then you will no longer need to bring into your sphere the controlling, dominating person that reminds you of father.

If you do not successfully integrate your early childhood patterns, then you are doomed to act them out again and again. Thus you might find yourself looking for that pattern, or need, for example, control, rather than the mate you think you want.

Inner work

On the other hand, if you treat your relationship problems superficially and search for love, passion, romance, adventure, and freedom, you will just find yourself stuck looking for love in all the wrong places.

The work is inner work. First, you must find out who you are: know yourself and the difference between your wants and your 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, if you recognize your own early patterns and needs, you can learn to override that compulsion, and in time you will consciously recognize those red flags, which will turn you away from your needs into the direction of your wants.

Sabotaging intimacy

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 that accompanies the vulnerability of intimacy. This type of male often initiates a fight after an intimate experience, such as sex. By sabotaging the intimacy of relationship, the controlling male creates control once again through the space and distance of anger, as he can control the pain he deals himself, 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.

The stage is not the thing; but rather, the intimacy of 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 the relationship that is mutual and loving, 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. Here is the real aphrodisiac that 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.

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 you and your partner’s emotional worlds.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.