ASK ABDI: HOW DO I HANDLE THE LACK OF PASSION IN A POTENTIAL RELATIONSHIP?
QUESTION: I am having some serious issues in making a decision about this guy I am dating. We have been on four dates now, nothing romantically has happened - just a kiss or two.
I made it a point this time around to really take things slow and not jump into something so fast. But let me say, dating in New York City is a borderline horror show. I think there are like five women to every man… Competition is fierce. The apps and online dating has destroying most normal human interaction. If you are currently single in this city, or quite frankly anywhere, it completely sucks! No one speaks anymore and everybody is on their damn phones!
Back to my problem: This guy is so picture perfect, we are both from New York (so we get one another), money and career are good, looks… check, we are into a lot of the same things, and on the same page regarding our world views and politics, he is really kind and you can tell he is a good person. It’s all I have ever wanted, except one thing - I do not want to be intimate with him. No passion.
It’s been a while since I have been in a serious relationship. Yes I have been burned, yes I have been verbally abused, yes my parents are not perfect. I have been in good relationships, but mostly bad ones (being honest). For the past few years, I have done a lot of work on myself and really do not feel as though I am carrying any serious baggage.
The people who I have asked for advice, said the following:
1. ”You like guys that treat you like shit.”
2. “All guys suck.”
3. “Maybe you just have mommy and daddy issues.”
4. “Just give it a few more tries, maybe you will change your mind.”
5. “Sex dies out anyway after being in a long relationship.”
6. “Have sex with him and see how you feel.”
7. “Maybe you are just afraid of a good thing.”
This guy fits all the right boxes, but I am just not vibing with him. I kind of just want to tell him to ”stop and be for fucking real.” I want to like him, but something is off and I am killing myself thinking that it’s because there is something wrong with me.
ANSWER: I am with you on what a horror show dating is. I hear what you are saying about the ratio of women to men in the hetero dating scene. And we are in agreement on the depth of alienation in our culture as well as the social disconnect exasperated by our phones. I also appreciate that you have done a lot of work on yourself. Also awesome that you have taken your time and not dove into this relationship as you have in the past.
The irony of living in such a large city, as we do in New York City, is the level of alienation many of us feel and experience. Do understand that I hear the same complaint from men about the difficulty of dating women, as I do the other way around. Dating in this world of ours is not easy business. You say that because of doing the work you have done the last couple of years you “do not feel as though I am carrying any serious baggage”. Although possible, that is unlikely. We all carry baggage, just depends on the size and depth. Many times with deep work, we start becoming aware of our patterns. This does not mean that they go away or heal. Or that we are not unconsciously still affected by them. It takes time and effort for them to truly heal, if ever. It sometimes just ends with deep awareness.
Your list-making of what you desire in a partner is something that many of us do. It can certainly be helpful as a guide, but it leaves no room for our and the other person’s humanity. You say, “This guy is so picture perfect”. You are not buying a car at a dealership and checking options boxes. This is another person you are talking about. Do you feel like you have him figured out in four dates or a couple of kisses? Why are you projecting into the future so much? Other than anxiety, of course.
The passion piece is an interesting topic. I have written and spoken much about it. There is plenty on this site, from podcast episodes to blog posts, dedicated to exactly what you are experiencing. Chemistry is a real and important thing between two people. But when we have been in “mostly bad relationships”, there is much negative pleasure to work through. That means that our taste buds are not fine honed enough to know what exactly we are tasting. Or what nourishes and nurtures us. You have to be open to the possibility that it is exactly because “this guy fits all the right boxes” that “you are not vibing with him”.
To go from more “bad relationships” to healthier ones takes quite an adjustment. Counterintuitive to the thinking mind. The “lack of passion” can be tied into this. Just the fact that “he is kind” is a good practice for you, given your history. Unless he is proposing marriage at this juncture, why are you so freaked out? Something to look at. We are all control freaks to different extents due to our wounding. We have zero trust in process because of our wounding. We need to have compassion with this part of ourselves, as we push through its poisonous effect on our lives. Be gentle with the part of yourself that thinks “there is something wrong with me”. This process you are going through IS the work, not the end result.
This is a universal issue for many of us, especially those of us that have deeper childhood wounds than others. Do not underestimate the fear we have around intimacy. Put your lists down and take a break from asking everyone around you what is the right course of action. Ease up on white-knuckling this whole process. Quiet down your internal chatter due to anxiety. Instead of wanting to tell him “to stop and be for fucking real”, take a minute. Take an honest inventory of yourself, your desires, and fears. Get in touch with your inner compass. Give grace a chance.