Yesterday covered how the Passion-Attraction Model described passion and attraction in a relationship. Today we’ll look at how you might grow as a person and parter. We’ll end today with a typical goal you might work toward (before moving on to challenges and risks tomorrow).
Despite the nice clean curves in the graphs, you don’t know what curve you’re on. If you feel like you’re at the peak of a relationship, you don’t know how long your feelings will last — that is, you don’t know if you’re on the red or blue curve below, or a different curve entirely. Is your relationship about to end or will it endure?
You only know the general passion-attraction cycle from experience. Hopefully you’re learning to raise and extend the peaks, smooth out the ups and downs, and not letting them affect your judgment too much.
You also don’t know what life experiences will come your way. Some you have control over or at least can predict. Others you don’t. Are you on the verge of a big jump like this?
Your relationships as you gain experience
Experience will teach you the shape of the curves you’re on. That awareness will enable you to experiment and improve your relationships.
After some experience, your history of passion and attraction may look something like this graph, showing a series of five relationships starting with
- A short, low-intensity one (red)
- Followed by a slightly more intense one (maroon)
- Followed by a yet more intense one (green)
- Followed by a less intense, longer one (yellow)
- Followed by a more intense, yet longer one (blue)
You might say someone with this pattern of longer and more passionate relationships is maturing and improving their relationship skills.
Many of us have a goal of forming a relationship with a high peak, long duration, passion never fading to zero, and noise fading away with time, as in the green line in this graph from yesterday.
Maturity and improving relationships
The Passion-Attraction Model helps us describe some of what maturing and improving relationship skills means. They mean learning things like to
- Know the shape of the peak you’re on and where you are on it.
- Avoid wasting time on low-peak relationships to make time for high-peak ones.
- Make peaks higher than they would otherwise be
- By knowing how to create passion and attraction in your partner.
- By communicating to them what creates passion and attraction in you.
- By learning to contribute more confidently.
- Have more relationships. Even ones where you get hurt, if you learn from them and don’t create too many defenses, help you create stronger later relationships.
- Keep a long-term perspective during ups and downs of noisy periods.
- Build passion so it doesn’t fade to zero.
- Keep growing Other Feelings like trust, intimacy, understanding, and so on.
- Use helpful Other Events to improve the relationship and protect it from unhelpful Other Events.
- Create useful Other Events — that is, find ways to renew the relationship and restart the cycle with the same partner.
- Turn unrelated parts of life into useful Other Events — for example
- A dramatic success at your job could bring new passion to a mature relationship below its peak.
- You could learning new values, self-awareness or emotional intelligence one from a blog (like this one).
- You could working with a coach (like me).
- You could take classes in something new, retire, etc
On the flip side, you also get older, which will change your values. How you value or devalue passion relative to Other Feelings will determine how you apply what you learn to increase your passion or whatever else you value.
Other Events will affect you and your relationships too. As important as they are, I’m just talking about passion and attraction now, so I leave it to you to figure out for yourself how to combine them. I’m just trying to raise your awareness to inform your decisions.
A typical goal
We want all to understand ourselves and our emotions to improve our lives and relationships. While everybody’s goals are unique, I expect many people want a relationship with passion and attraction of the highest peak, longest duration, smoothest line, and so on with someone feeling the same way about you. (As I noted two posts ago, though I’m talking about intimate relationships, this analysis applies to other passions, like sports, hobbies, jobs, and so on.)
To get that result you’ll probably have something like this graph in your life — a series of relationships improving on each other, leading to the highest, longest peak you’ve had or ever expect in your life.
In a situation like the blue one, informed by the previous experiences, with a partner who feels the same way toward you, you might choose to commit to each other for the long term, balancing high but decreasing passion and attraction with all the increasing Other Feelings and hopefully helpful Other Events that affect your relationship.
I don’t know of any relationships where people just ride into the sunset and live happily ever after just because they chose to commit.
My observations tell me choosing to commit switches from one set of challenges to another. The old challenges were of growing into a person someone else would want to commit to and finding someone similar. The new ones are of making the relationship work — no less challenging, nor any less rewarding.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the challenges of passion and attraction in a relationship.
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