The Fallacy of Passion

We ask everything of love. We ask it to be anarchic. We ask it to be the glue that holds the family together, that allows society to be orderly and allows all kinds of material processes to be transmitted from one generation to another. But I think that the connection between love and sex is very mysterious. Part of the modern ideology of love is to assume that love and sex always go together. They can, I suppose, but I think rather to the detriment of either one or the other. And probably the greatest problem for human beings is that they just don’t. And why do people want to be in love? That’s really interesting. Partly, they want to be in love the way you want to go on a roller coaster again — even knowing you’re going to have your heart broken. What fascinates me about love is what it has to do with all the cultural expectations and the values that have been put into it. I’ve always been amazed by the people who say, “I fell in love, I was madly, passionately in love, and I had this affair.” And then a lot of stuff is described and you ask, “How long did it last?” And the person will say, “A week, I just couldn’t stand him or her.

– SUSAN SONTAG (aka HBIC of pretty-much-everything)


My friends and I have been on similar dating wavelengths recently, where many of us have one or more “guys-that-we’re-seeing” in that vague, undefined way so common to the twenties. But rather than lusting after these fellows with abandon, the majority of us are kind of, well, blah about the situations. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the gents in question, but, rather, that the relationships lack an overarching passion we’ve grown accustomed to.

The problem with that passion, however, is how often it trumps any logic—shrouding the fact that the two parties involved actually have little to nothing in common, and that their immense sexual energy is built upon a love-you-and-hate-you back and forth that is not sustainable in a long-term relationship. What starts off as a thrilling adrenaline rush every time you’re near the other person tends to fizzle out quickly into either blatant annoyance re: each other’s existence or the simple acknowledgement that you two are just horrendously mismatched. These are the relationships that blast off quickly, NASA-style, leaving little time for second thoughts or real consideration. They are fun, but only for brief intervals.

And yet, even though my pals and I have learned this time and time again, many of us still scratch our heads when that fire isn’t entirely there…wondering if it’s worth the energy to pursue someone whose presence doesn’t immediately result in clothes-ripping jitters. These people are usually funny, smart, and attractive—but, for whatever reason (probably that they’re actually good for us) they don’t spark that eerily comforting sex-tinged delirium. So after mulling over whether that’s actually a bad thing, and asking others to weigh in, I’ve decided that, instead, these calmer situations are much healthier than our former, frenzied experiences.

That is not to say that all passion is bad, and that it shouldn’t be present in a relationship at times. Rather, it shouldn’t be the foundation of that relationship. A solid relationship should be built upon a deeper understanding of one another, and not simply the instinctual ability to turn each other on. Mutual respect, kindness, humor, and a genuine curiosity about your respectively strange brains are all important facets of an A-plus pairing, but they tend to go to the wayside in those solely loin-leaning partnerships.

Notably, my friends and I also realized that none of those highly passionate relationships ever worked out, often ending with a Days of Our Lives-worthy shitshow. Those that have been more muted, and were nurtured by being present in a way that didn’t always require zero clothing, left much sweeter memories, and ended on a higher note (read: we’re all still talking). So, in matters of love, I’m learning to trust my body a little less than my brain. Though that narcissistic, perfectly-chiseled athlete might trip my vaginal trigger, he’s also probably far too self-involved and deeply insecure to appreciate my wackiest thoughts, my sometimes-bloated belly, and my other surely alluring [to someone] array of imperfections.

The point is: when deciding who’s worthy of your love, start privileging brain-on-brain connections a little more than the fleeting power of your united P’s (in whatever preferred formulation that takes for you).

3 replies »

  1. So true. But it makes for a pretty boring relationship when there is not the sexual tension that you often do have with someone else who might probably not be a good long-term partner. I suppose I prefer passion over love.

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