If your romantic relationship is based solely on sex, it can be guaranteed that it will not survive the long-term. If your romantic relationship is sex-less, it also will not survive. There has to be a middle ground!
How you perceive your partner has a lot to do with the amount of sex there will be in a relationship. What I mean to say is this-there is a very fine line between love and hate. Add to that, the fact that there is a massive valley between either love or hate and apathy, things can get quite confusing. With love there is sex, and with hate there is not; and unfortunately, this could easily depend upon how the day’s conversations end. With apathy on the other hand, there generally is very little sex, if any. There is generally nothing.
Which Emotion Should You Fear Most?
I believe that apathy is the emotion that you should fear most. With apathy, your partner really doesn’t give a rat’s behind about you, your feelings, or your needs. While you might get a sympathy boink once in a while, it will be rare.
Apathy can be caused by a number of things but I believe the most frequent cause is a partner just giving up and giving in. Passive aggressive has a meaning here. They give in but exert their power by withholding that which you need, want, and desire-intimacy. This is where you’ll generally find your sex-based relationship a few years down the road.
Love and Hate
Both love and hate are very strong emotions, with the line between frequently blurred. The emotion of hate will more often than not emanate from love gone wrong or neglected. Love neglected for an extended period of time creates a negative perspective and will eventually morph from hate into apathy. In order to keep the love emotion alive and healthy, that emotion needs to be continually fed. Any living organism will eventually die without nourishment-and so goes the living emotion of love.
If you live for too long exclusively on the questionably valuable nourishment of fast food restaurants you will eventually become obese or have health problems-that is an undeniable fact! So goes the nourishment of the love emotion-take your relationship for granted too long and it will surely experience health problems.
Nourishing the Love Emotion
In order to nourish the love emotion within your partner you will need to fulfill their need for intimacy; and that does not exclusively mean sex. Intimacy needs can manifest in a number of forms beyond sex-openness, respect, and tolerance just to mention a few. The challenge is to learn what the true needs of your partner are and to work to fulfill their needs in the way they need them fulfilled. Men have a tendency to fall down in the areas of openness and respect; while women frequently have the challenge of tolerance.
In an honest attempt to fulfill the love nourishment needs of your partner, the simplest mechanism to use is just to ask. Now I know this can be difficult as various pathologies and old mental tapes can get in the way of equally honest responses, however it is the place to start. Conversely, if a partner is not getting what they need from their relationship, they are equally accountable to verbally request that their needs be fulfilled.
Asking for What You Want
How in the world do you expect to get what you want from your partner or others for that matter, if you don’t ask? There is an art to asking for what you want. One way to do it is to be straight forward-sometimes yielding less than desirable results. However if you can directly ask in a sincere manner, you have a better chance for success.
Hinting is not asking-I repeat, HINTING IS NOT ASKING. Period!
Asking in a way that your partner sees a benefit to themselves could be considered by some as a bit Machiavellian, however I consider it just good sense. Think about it-if you can help your partner to get what they want; doesn’t it stand to reason that they will be more likely to help you to get what you want? Sure, there are a number of issues that can become road blocks here (some discussed above) but the simplest common denominator is that we all want to be loved and respected by our partner. If you do not ask well, you will not get. If you do not get what you need in your relationship, you will eventually fall into hate, and then at some point into apathy.
The middle ground is a place where both partners are regularly exhibiting love and respect for one another and working hard to help their partner get what they need from the relationship, keeping in mind that they too, need to receive.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.