Passion Vs. Comfort: Do You Have to Have Fireworks to Have a Successful Relationship?

Passon Vs. Comfort: Do You Have to Have Fireworks to Have a Successful Relationship?

Passion vs. Comfort. This is a post you don’t want to miss, inspired by a discussion on my (500) Days of Summer thread. Here’s the gist of it. Reader Lori writes:

I have been with a man who loves me, and has loved me, as close as one can get to unconditionally for over 13 yrs…. I was never totally madly in love with him, but he knew he wanted to marry me the minute he met me. I married him – BECAUSE he was a great guy in so many ways, minus the sky illuminating fireworks. Don’t get me wrong, intimate moments were always adequate…even pretty damn good at times. But never, well, you know…crazy great. Almost fourteen years later, I remain married and faithful, but with an empty space in my heart. And wondering if I aspired to mediocrity and lost out on the amazing feeling most of us have felt at some time, of true selfless love. I love him….but I’m not ‘in love’ with him. And that is what has happened to EACH AND EVERY married friend I have, (male and female) that married simply because of the reasons you mention… many have strayed, the others are simply living there…yet nobody’s home.

Because if you take as gospel what she says – “passion or bust!” – you might have a long and lonely road ahead of you.

Everyone I know that married because the partner seemed a great choice, would be a great dad, etc. ended up divorced or unhappy. The FEW couples I know who are happily married – still love to hold hands AND ‘make-out’ – THEY married someone they felt intense chemistry for & vice versa…and of EVERY one of the divorced friends, several who are dating but have not found love, only ONE tells me she made the wrong choice leaving. The rest say they would rather be alone, than with someone and lonely.

Please know, I am not a cynic. I have SEEN & BELIEVE IN great love & marriage, but it SHOULD NOT BE treated as a business decision – it sounds great in theory – but it just brings way too much misery for way to many down the road – you better be pretty damn sure you wanna come home to this person, sleep with this person, and walk on the beach holding hands with this person 50 yrs later…because divorce.. from what I have seen… hurts. And living in quiet desperation…hurts.

Listen, I’m a 37-year-old dating coach who’s been married for less than a year. As such, I’m not going to sweep Lori’s points under the rug or deny her 13 years of pain. She feels what she feels, she’s seen what she’s seen, and it’s perfectly valid. In fact, it’s very persuasive.

However, without negating Lori’s take on things, I’d like to try to balance it out a bit. Because if you take as gospel what she says – “passion or bust!” – you might have a long and lonely road ahead of you. And I’d rather you have a happy relationship instead.

Unfortunately, while I’d like to appeal to emotion (as Lori did), I have to appeal to logic. So first of all, let’s acknowledge that Lori’s working off a small sample size, and, like most of us, she finds evidence to support her existing worldview. Whether Lori knows them or not, there are plenty of happy couples who did not have instant magic and chemistry. I’m in one of them. It’s dangerous to extrapolate from five divorced friends who regretted their choice of husbands and conclude “this is how the world works”.

People who are generally satisfied in life are satisfied in marriage. People who are generally dissatisfied in life are dissatisfied in marriage.

Next, Lori’s making the assumption that every woman who didn’t have that ga-ga, giddy, wobbly-kneed feeling about her husband feels as empty as she does in her relationship. This is not the case either. People who are generally satisfied in life are satisfied in marriage. People who are generally dissatisfied in life are dissatisfied in marriage. This is further explained in “The Paradox of Choice”, by Barry Schwartz. I can’t say what the right reasons are to get married or what the wrong reasons are. Nor can I say whether you or your friends truly settled. What I can say is that it’s really easy to envy others based on what you think they have in their marriage. The reality is often quite different. Yes, even for couples brought together by passion.

A movie called “Serendipity” illustrated this point well. In it, John Cusack envies his best friend Jeremy Piven’s perfect marriage…until he learns near the end that Piven’s getting a divorce. Who’da thunk it?

Envy is always a sin, and grass is ALWAYS greener. Seriously, Lori could sacrifice her marriage to pursue her dream man. The fact that she doesn’t means that there’s something compelling keeping her married – and it’s not simply the kids. I suspect she realizes that even if she doesn’t have the divine spark, being single in your 40’s is no cup of tea, and perhaps a kind husband is not so bad after all.

Reader Sophie follows up on Lori’s comment with this question:

Can you give me/us an idea of how many of your friends you think/know married people they weren’t in love with?… I’d like to know what percentage of people aren’t in love on their wedding day. I don’t want to “settle” but I think it would make it easier if I knew that it’s what a lot of people end up having to do.

For what it’s worth, I think MORE people are “in love” when they get married than not in love. Unfortunately, that “in love” feeling one experiences is often an illusion that masks severe cracks in a couple’s long term compatibility. Thus, being “in love” – what some might call passion or chemistry – is not necessarily correlated to a happy marriage. Doubt it? Look at all the times you’ve felt passion for someone, which, ultimately, amounted to nothing.

That leaves a certain percentage of people – fewer than the passion-seekers – who go into marriage without blinders on. I would guess most of them love their partners – much like Lori – they just don’t feel that THING that makes you feel like you just KNOW. These marriages have a greater likelihood at lasting, but only if these folks can get out of their “grass is greener” thinking. Once they go for greener grass, as Lori acknowledged, they find themselves in the same morass as every other single person – wondering how to find that elusive partner that gives them EVERYTHING, consistently disappointed that everyone’s falling short. If you’d rather be single and alone, well, congratulations, you’ve got your wish.

If you’d rather be single and alone, well, congratulations, you’ve got your wish.

I didn’t arrive at these conclusions from a textbook. I arrived at them as a newly married man, as a dating coach, and as a student of all sorts of dating and relationship advice. In short, I’ve long been asking the same questions that you have. After dating half of Los Angeles over 15 years, I didn’t rush into marriage – and I wanted to be sure that it felt the way it was supposed to feel.

I remember talking to Dr. Pat Allen, author of “Getting to I Do”. When I asked her how marriage was supposed to feel, she held up a blank index card to me. “On this side, you have passion.” She flipped over the card. “On this side, you have comfort.”

“Choose one.”

Yeah. It hit me like a ton of bricks, too. But I got it instantly.

It’s not impossible to have ANY passion with comfort or ANY comfort with passion. It’s that the two don’t coexist easily. The very thing that ignites passion is friction and instability. Once again, look at your past. Passion is usually brief, intense and rocky. Comfort, on the other hand, tends to be softer and more nurturing.

Comfort, therefore, is not nearly as exciting, but it tends to last longer. Studies say that passion usually dissipates in 18-24 months. Which is why people who expect their passion to last for 40 years, in essence, are trying to defy the laws of nature.

In marriage, you’re not making a decision for the next six months. You’re making a decision that’ll last the next 30 years. And just like one might choose different career paths for passion or comfort, people choose partners for similar reasons.

Consider the 45-year-old struggling actress who still thinks she’s going to be the next Julia Roberts. Guess what? She’s not. But kudos to her – she followed her passion, she followed sher dreams, she never settled. She showed them!

I use the Hollywood metaphor because I was a screenwriter in my 20’s. I pursued it for 7 years because I knew that SOMEBODY made it in this town, and dammit, I was as good as they were. Agents, managers, execs, contests and film schools all agreed. But after writing 13 screenplays before I turned 30, and not making a consistent living at it, I made a conscious and difficult decision: I was going to put passion aside for comfort.

Due to some combination of unrealistic expectations, Hollywood fantasy, and human nature, we seem to think that all our dreams should come true.

I could have been the penniless 40 year old guy who continues to take a 1-1000 risk with his life…or I could get a new career. You know what I chose.

I have absolutely NO regrets.

Hey, I admire those who refuse to compromise – especially that tiiiiiiiiny portion who finds both passion AND comfort in work or love. But make no mistake, it’s rarely that simple. Passionate couples fight and divorce more readily than comfortable ones. Successful writers run cold, and are forced to find new careers. It’s easy to envy everyone else; it’s just foolish to do so.

All of this talk reminds me of a favorite Billy Joel song, Vienna, from 1977. In it, he wrote:

You have your passion, you have your pride, but don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?

Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.

Due to some combination of unrealistic expectations, Hollywood fantasy, and human nature, we seem to think that all our dreams should come true. Why?

Because we want them to. Because we’re good, deserving, people. Because SOMEONE has fantasies come true, why not ME?

I don’t begrudge you the right to your dreams. But at what point do you start to live in the real world, where people make compromises because they’re prudent?

Chances are, you’re compromising at your job – with your pay, your hours, your co-workers, your location, your status, your very career itself.

The alternative to this compromise is called unemployment (or, maybe, self-employment). Either way, it’s a lonely road.

Which is just my way of saying: think twice before you toss out that sweet, generous, good-hearted, loyal, honest partner of yours.

You might think you’ll be happier alone.

I think it’s debatable.

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  1. 121

    Wow what a debate… In my experience people that have to outright defend marrying for comfort are the one’s that have done just that… I’ve know people married “for comfort or for security” and I don’t know one that is really satisfied with their marriage.  The use alcohol, working all the time, eating, smoking etc to fill the gap that they “know” is b/c they married for reason’s other than romantic true love.  Passion can be a ego trip or it can be a true heart felt feeling… It’s just a word and for everyone can be different from a “feeling” point of view.  I love reading about the illusion of romance b/c what really is going on is that the “mind” is getting what it wants “for the moment”(passion) and if you wait out the “honeymoon” stage you will find out if you have the a workable, compatible and true romantic relationship.  Too many people marry too soon….. and if she know “she wasn’t in love with him” from the beginning then I say the Woman knows what she is saying.  I have had passion that fizzled and I’ve had passion that grew from just friendship.  The passion that grew outlasts the passion that started out as fireworks… does that mean it was comfort “not at all”.  And this is based on a premise that marriages should last a lifetime.. reality is they don’t a lot of the times.  People grow and change it is crazy to think that “every marriage” should last forever.  One thing is important in my life, it is how I love myself and others is what matters, not the duration of the “commitment”. Unless you need to stay due to religion or other reasons.. I’m not being negative just realistic. I can say I’d rather be alone than with someone that is staying with me out of obligation or religion or for that matter comfort…  That in itself is a just insulting.  There are different kinds of love… the brain can be mapped to tell attachment love, romantic love, and sexual love.  I’d bet lots of people marry for attachment love.  I can say from a child that grew up in a home where my mother married my father b/c he loved her ( she didn’t love him)  and she knew he would give her a life she wouldn’t have otherwise ( family and home) I can say that even though they are still together ( not happily), I have all kinds of issues with relationship b/c I knew all along she didn’t love him the way people can love each other romantically.  Marrying for comfort hasn’t worked for me… and I chose not to do it again.  But we all have our choices and have to live with them.  I think it is limiting to think you can’t have romance and compatibility – and for me “comfort” just needs to be out of the equation….b/c we can all be comfortable with status quo or even comfortable with dysfunction just b/c we don’t want to go through what we need to to move out of it……or b/c we just don’t want to be out on the dating scene again…

  2. 122

    Honestly, this is difficult. I’m 18 but I’ve watched my parents when my mom died and before. I’ve dated since I was 13, I’ve always been boy crazy. I’ve dated guys who I felt like if I wasn’t next to in the next five minutes, I’d scream. Love is one of those things that has always interested me. I’ve watched my godmom go through life single because she is so content. I’ve seen my parents’ friends go through shitty marriages and be happy single and some people who are happily comfortable.

    Now, I am just 18. But I met this kid the very first week of college. He took my breath away the first night. The second night I hated him because I thought he was clingy and stupid. Next thing I know, the third night I was madly in love with him. He kissed me on the fourth morning for the first time. I freaked. Fireworks, explosions all sorts of passion went all over. Over time, he became my best friend and my lover. We’ve now been dating for 8 months. I found this article because I was wondering if I did still have passion for him or just pure compatibility. Something in me knew the very first night I met him how much I could love him. And now I know, I am purely compatible with him but that doesn’t mean the sparks are gone forever. They come in waves. Sometimes I think he is a total dork and doesn’t deserve me. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am. I know I look at him and think about how great of a dad he would be.

    It comes down to both, trading off frequently. We have periods where we just can’t get enough of each other. Then I have periods where I want to spend time alone.

    Its a total balancing act. This guy has taught me a lot about sincere and deep love. After watching so many marriages and relationships from such a young age, it seems more right than I can really describe. Balance is all it takes.

  3. 123

    As a passionate person, I have been in a passionless relationship (from the start) and I can honestly say that it was the most soul sucking experience I have ever endured. At the time, it destroyed my self esteem because I constantly interrogated myself for not loving this wonderful person. It destroyed my ex-partners self-esteem as I could not give him the love that he truly deserved. The feeling of emptiness started to take control of my life and I lost ambition in many other life domains. I felt exhausted from constantly trying to “will” myself into feeling passion. I was even quite creative and at some points I did feel some little “sparks” but they never lasted. Ultimately I was too “comfortable” to leave. But I had to leave because living a passionless life is not living life at all. Once I was honest with myself and got the courage to break things off, I began to feel more alive again. For years I questioned my decision but today, in my heart, I do not have any regrets. Well, I do regret not breaking it off sooner, but I needed that experience as a learning experience. If you do not have passion from the start, it is nearly impossible to attain later on and it will only manifest into a life of emptiness. Yes, passion may die even for those who experience it in the begin but regardless, without passion life stagnates. Honestly, I’d rather be alone then in a passionless and loveless relationship. I believe that you cannot respect yourself or build true confidence until you listen your heart and are truly honest with yourself about this.

  4. 124
    CBK/Single's Minister

    Evan…you are absolutely right and your posts are so refreshing! Unfortunately, as I read through these comments, I realize that those who disagree with you, are not really comprehending what you’re saying. Your wisdom is something that can not be taught, it MUST be experienced. When I finally got it, I met and married a wonderful man that I can’t imagine being without!

    As far as a “9” having a larger dating pool than a 4 — this is right. However, a larger dating pool based on physical attractiveness is a big problem. That “9” will certainly have more opportunities for heartbreak and disappointment. Why? Because they’re being chosen because they are a “9.” The relationship is based on the superficial and will ultimately FAIL. Believe me, when it comes to finding the right person, the playing field is even — whether you’re a ”2” or a ”10.”

  5. 125

      By reading your replies it sounds like you already know what you want to do.  Just be sure you have done everything on your part to make your marriage work because divorce is probably one of the most traumatic events you can put your family through.
          It sounds like you have a great guy, its really hard to find someone who can love you unconditionally.  Of course, that is no reason to stay in your relationship(I’ve been in your shoes before).  I do believe you are experiencing a lot of pain and guilt caused  by  the void  in your heart.  I do feel your pain and I have been there.  
         Truthfully speaking, You created this situation… I would really suggest working on yourself before deciding to divorce him. You have the chance to save yourself and your family a lot of pain.  What is it you really want out of life Lori?    The only one that can fill that void in your heart is you.  Practice loving yourself(not just reading books on self love) but actually doing it and see where that takes you and your family before making any irrational decisions based off of emotions.  
         I know your happiness is important but too many people now days care about their own happiness.  The term “Happiness” can be dangerous.  Happiness is just an emotion, it comes and goes, just like fear,passion,joy, boredom,ect.. Without trying to sound too deep, I think what you are looking for is inner peace and that still can be found in the situation you are in.  

  6. 126

    Lori,I do beieve there is ALOT to be said being in a comfort relationship.You like many women out there seek a Mister “over the top” feeling or being in “Love” again. Well its nice to “think” all of that and that you”could” get another great or Hot Guy that really turns your crank but…..what if you leave everything you have for that Guy or find him later, to find out that Mr. Hot has eyes for other women, knows he can get them and why be stuck with a woman with a couple young kids when he could move on quite easily to other hot chicks….leaving you hopelessly in love but being now the one who gets dumped the same way you would dump your Husband. Karma inn this life has a way of working like that Lori,be carefull what you wish for.Just cause you may get the butterfly feelings does’nt mean “he” gets them too. Believe me once the Rose begins to wilt after a bit of time and the Bullshit starts or your weekend again with the Kids…who are’nt in fact his anyway he’s going to go off and do stuff with his friends instead.
    There is alot to be said for your comfort relationship  and you could be out there kissing alot of Frogs and not one of the will turn into the Prince you so desire. Or if he does…he may just hop away and hunt in a different pond,and Lori to give up all you have now to be alone later wishing you had made better choices would be wayy more empty feeling than what you have now.

    I speak this from Experience and seeing it happen many times over. Thing is one you leave….there is no going back, most any Man would never take you back after leaving him and breeching the trust of the  relationship.

    Think again dear Girl before you fill your selfish heart with a Fantasy. Think of your children and perhaps even Grandchildren and enjoying them with a “stranger”?…….. ya….good luck with that   

  7. 127

    Lori…. I feel all of what you putting out there.  Passion vs All of those other things.  Passion is such a volatile emotion.  Are you greedy, selfish to want passion?  Nope…. it is just that the stakes are so much higher now.  All of those years into the marriage, the children.  I feel that you getting into this life relationship was certainly understandable.  You have a man who loves you so much…..Has passion for you….  Why can’t it develop in you?  Take a chance and possibly passion will grow.  As you have told us…. Many things have grown just not the passion.  Some of these comments seem to think that you are looking for some hot stud to fulfill your life.  I certainly do not think you are that shallow, nor do I think that is what you are looking for.  It is that part of your heart that has been living in the shadows of your relationship.  You are so correct….  Loving someone and not being In Love with them is understandable and oh so hard…. You have some very difficult decisions to make.  Go deep inside and make it.  You sound like a very caring un selfish woman……

  8. 128

    I happened to come across this blog looking for insight to my current situation, which is similar to Lori’s.  I am in my late 20’s, finishing up my master’s degree and have been dating a wonderful man for almost 3 years.  We never had sparks (at least I didnt & he is aware of this), we never even had a “honeymoon” phase.  I have been saying for over a year that he has no passion and that I am a person who likes/needs passion.   He is a good guy and “puts up” with a lot from me, but we are never intimate/passionate.  We have only had sex maybe 5-10 times in the past 2 years, definitly only 2 in the past year.  In my opinion this is ridiculous for any “new” relationship.  I go through phases were I give up trying to fix anything and fall into a comfort zone.  At this point I feel like I couldn’t honestly say yes if he asked me to marry him becasue I don’t want to be “Stuck” in a passionless relationship, but the thought of starting all over scares me and I feel that I am just being unreasonable and selfish and just need to “tough it out”.
    I know I must really care about my boyfriend and know that he is a special find, but I don’t feel “in love” with him.  As Lori said, I wish I had a magic wand that would help me to be “in love” with him and improve our lack of sex life.

  9. 129

    Hello all,

    I might be late to the post, but I am definitely in need of advice.

    What do you do if you are on the receiving end of this kind of relationship?  I have been with my man for almost two years (we live together and are in our late 20’s). He reminds me a lot of who Evan used to be — dated a lot of women, always looking for that spark.  Needless to say, those relationships fizzled, and finally, he found me.  He did all of the things in the beginning that Evan says a boyfriend should do.  He told me he loved me, took me on a trip out of state to meet his family, and asked me to move in with him.  And still today, he tells me that he is “not going anywhere.”  

    He told a friend recently, however, that although he loves me, and says we’re close, and considers me as his best friend and teammate, that he feels something is missing, and believes it is the passion.  To me, this is confusing, because we have a good sex life, and I am constantly doing things/making romantic gestures to brighten up his day.  He also told his friend that he knows it would affect me deeply if he hit the re-start button on his life again and can’t let me down.  Wow, so how the heck am I suppose to feel?  I keep reading all of these posts from people who lack the passion from their partner’s, and here I am on the receiving end of all of it.  This knowledge completely depresses me, and I am not sure what to do.

    I love him very much, but it hurts to think he doesn’t feel as strongly toward me.  Yet, as I mentioned, it is confusing because he talks about a future with me openly.  

    So, what does someone on the receiving end do?  Is it worth it to stay if the other person loves you and says they don’t want to leave? 

  10. 130

    I dont know. I made the comfort choice b4. he would drive me to chemo if needed. I was unhappy and depressed it was so sad. I would never do it again. I feel lucky enough to b an attractive women so that i do attract lots of men and can b choosey more than the average women. but im am also smart enough to choose wisely my exhusband is a great father. hats off to him. I would not choose a partner based on comfort because like earlier mentioned it a long time to be with someone your just comfortable with and if you have no passion with them it will turn into hate real quick with just comfort. It has to be a mix not either or. I love your advise and your one of the best but u seem a lil on the negative worst case senario side sometimes…

  11. 131

    “I am not going to prostitute myself for rest of my life to have a relationship.” -NN-
    I have been in a marriage of comfort for eight years and I couldn’t agree more with this statement.  The entire time that I have been with my husband I have felt exactly this way, that I was prostituting myself to pay for comfort.  I had an extremely bad family life growing up and felt that I wanted the security of a stable and loving family.  I have the security of family.  My husband is faithful and for the most part is caring.  But I feel like I’ve given up almost ten years of my life where I wasn’t really living.  Now there is NO sex in our marriage.  Eventually, I just couldn’t force myself to do it anymore.  I don’t dream of fairy tale love and I don’t make projections onto other peoples lives which I then envy.  I am a firm believer in realistic expectations.  But I also feel trapped.  I love my husband but I am not in love with him and I feel like I’ve been caged and that my life isn’t going anywhere.  Whats worse is that because of other compromises I made to be in the relationship even if I decided to leave him I couldn’t because  I don’t have the financial resources or ability to be independent.  In other words, I’m stuck with it.  Nothing I can do.
    Frankly, I think that after five or seven years of marraige ones perspective can be A LOT different than it was after the first year.  I think it takes a lot of time and space for one to be able to objectively reflect on the decisions one made and think about all the things that were given up and also gained through compromises throughout the relationship.  Over time people change, their needs change, relationships have to be continually renegotiated or they simply fail.  That is the work part of a relationship.  But over time one also has the opportunity to reflect on who they are and what their needs are.  We don’t always know what our needs are.  Even if we just have a vague feeling, unless it can be expressed to a partner chances are it will never be met.  So, that time allows us to really learn about ourselves and think about what we might have done differently in order to have our needs met.  
    I really don’t know if I would have done anything differently.  I think it is very possible to be in a marriage of comfort and still be happy but I think that requires three things.  1.  Knowing yourself enough to be able to express your needs.  2.  Having a partner who is receptive to hearing them, and 3.  Both partners have to fully commit themselves to meeting the other persons needs.  If all things are present then I think the sex issue fades into the background.  Unfortunately, for me not all of these things are present in my relationship, and I think that is what it means to settle.  To be in a relationship where you know that there is no way that the other person can meet your needs yet you stay anyway.

  12. 132

    ET, 131
    Are we sure that our needs are meet-able by another person?  Some needs are entirely reasonable, others are more of a bottomless pit that we drag from relationship to relationship.
    I had an extremely bad family life too. Until I made peace with that, I was never going to have a good, lasting relationship. Not so say you are doomed or that you have to save this relationship against your better judgement. But it might be worth taking a deeper look at this issue.

  13. 133

    wow, it was depressing to read what you wrote. dreams/passions are the essence of life, please don’t demean them..

  14. 134

    Great, GREAT article! Excellent exposition, honest practical advice. Contrary to your article, and based on your article, you sound passionate and very comfortable with what you’re doing.  Well done!!

  15. 135

    “Which is just my way of saying: think twice before you toss out that sweet, generous, good-hearted, loyal, honest partner of yours.
    You might think you’ll be happier alone.
    I think it’s debatable.”
    So true, and the sad part is you don’t really realize this until you are accidentally separated or you are dum enough to leave the almost perfect husband, JUST because he doesnt drive you Hollywood wild in bed everyday every year. Its just stupid, to give so much weight to one thing and so little to the mountain of things the other person provides you and is.

  16. 136

    I see the importance of having comfort in a relationship, but where do you draw the line?? What if you’re in a 8 year relationship and felt unhappy and out of love with this person for years?? I was so caught up with a domestic lifestyle and planning things day to day that I thought that’s all what a relationship is supposed to feel like, this feeling i was lacking is probably unrealistic.  I was content in my unhappiness, because it wasn’t a terrible relationship even we fought a lot and i do love this person, just being in love faded for years. I also loved my house and everything that comes along with that. Plus being with them was everything I ever knew ,as our relationship started when I was young and now 30. Then I met someone else, and I suddenly felt alive again from just being around them and began to have deeper feelings for them, and I was shocked because I haven’t felt this for anyone in years. So do you stay in your relationship because its comfortable and what you know, by ignoring these feelings and walking away or do you leave?? I felt a strong urge to pursue this and I did, because the compatibility we have, and feeling like I’ve known this person forever drew me to them. And the times i feel myself doubting my decision is when I think about the things I left, especially my home, and the friendship because we grew up together. Everything has gone amazing the past 4 months in my new relationship, but after talking to my ex I feel I’m being manipulated into considering to go back home out of fear of losing everything else i had as a constant in life, and when i occasionally have these thoughts it’s only times while I’m not with my new partner and after speaking to my ex, who will threaten to screw me over financially amongst other things.. so do you still choose comfort and just continue to live off being content and try turning your unhappiness into happiness, even with risking that not ever happening or lasting?? And leave this person who you would at any other time begin a life with, by shutting off these feelings and them out of your life?

  17. 137

    I’ve been married for 24 years, have 3 wonderful children and live a relatively successful life or should I say existence. I married my wife because it felt like the right thing to do, I though she would make a good mothe, her parents were still together and all the other “good” stuff.  Never was I madly in love, see sparks flying or that beating heart thing. I’ve stayed married because of the convenience,  comfort, security etc. In short, I feel cheated . Please don’t make the same mistake I did. Get married for the real right reasons……passion, desire,  great chemistry,  and didI mmention passion.  Trust me,  doing it for any other reason is a waste of time. 

  18. 138

    From what I hear men say, they prefer the easy life with a woman who laughs with them a lot and who has dinner on the table when they come home.  (They said that, not me).
    Passion? I have experienced mad passion but sure, it doesn’t last when it starts off like that.  However, I’m sure that there are comfortable relationships with mad moments of passion.

  19. 139


    What struck me here is your admission that your most passionate relationships ended because the women broke up with you. I am curious what if they hadn’t would you be happier than you at right now? Did you settle for your wife because the women you truly wanted kept dumping you? Did you feel like you simply weren’t good enough to keep the women you truly desired so you decided to lower your standards and go for someone who wouldn’t leave you even if it meant giving up some of the excitement. Or at you saying that inherently having 10 in passion means that a relationship won’t work? Because if it’s the former one could make an argument that you just got impatient and perhaps if you kept looking you would find someone you were extremely passionate about who felt the same about you . If it’s the latter than your choice would be harder to argue with. If you don’t mind addressing this I would greatly appreciate it

  20. 140

    I can’t help but wonder how old Lori was when she got married and how many relationships she’d had. I had passions and flings and a long term expensive relationship with a man I never fully had (aka passion) and I’d love nothing more than comfort from this day forward. And I found it…and  deathly afraid I’ll take it for granted and I am determined to remind myself every day how lucky I am to have this man and how none of that other “passion” could come close to a man who is truly 100% dedicated to me. 
    passion is fun, get it out of your system while you’re young and move on. 

  21. 141

    So this is what I’ve been battling to answer in my head for these past couple of week. I have been enhanced for nearly 2 months with the father of my daughter and have been feeling Sooo manY conflicting emotions. Being that I had a baby with him at 20 after only dating him for a few months I feel lucky that he turned out to be a great father and is in love and ready for marriage…he could’ve been so many other things being that I barely knew him beyond our instant connection upomI meeting one another. We have had manyyyy ups and downs in the trying journey of parenthood , moving intogether, money issues, Etc growing into the start adulthood together has been  a tough trip but we love each other so we have made it work. We have matured in many ways and I can say I’ve felt the transition from passion fighting like we’re entitled teenagers to rationally putting our prides aside because we envision a future together that we would both like to create as peacefully and comfortably and joyfully as Can b. Still I feel I’m young and sometimes I get depressed and feel that I’ve signed my life away to motherhood and horse n carriage before having experienced my young adulthood like most of my friends and co workers etc. I sometimes wish I could pause and come back to my life in 10 yrs. I love my man and my daughter with all my heart I just feel there’s a whole area of my heart/my journey I haven’t explored…

  22. 142

    Great article, interesting debate.
    Having never experienced truly mutual sparks or chemistry, I don’t know anything besides “comfort” and being in a comfort zone without sexual tension. I have felt passion for others, including my ex-wife, but that passion was not returned. I was able to have a more or less comfortable relationship with my ex-wife (we were very good friends), but it was never mutually passionate. Even early on, it felt forced and one-sided. The only other long-term relationship I had was similarly imbalanced, yet comfortable and based on a solid, loyal friendship. Ultimately, however, a relationship based solely on comfort will not work. It’s not sustainable, and can feel alienating, emasculating, and frustrating. 

  23. 143

    I am fairly inexperienced/inept when it comes to romantic relationships. I chanced upon this article while searching for some insight into how to find my Ms.Right.
    It has however led me into another train of inquiry – are we as a species even designed to be paired off with one person? Anthropological studies prove otherwise. There are other cultures which practice polygamy (… be it many wives or many husbands) and they do live harmoniously. This leads me to the conclusion that monogamy is more of an intellectual choice and in line with modern cultural norms, and perhaps a requirement to stability; be it to raise a family or support one another in order to succeed in the given cultural structure. It is not all about chemistry, passion; something that most long term couples seem to attempt to “reignite” over and over again through out their lives. There is a trade-off and perhaps the true soul mates are the ones that place importance on their intellectual decision to stick together no matter what. They eventually get through those rough patches which will invariably present themselves along the way.

  24. 144

    WOW, your response is absolutely amazing. You explained it so well and it is so true!

    Passion is always short-lived, and if you have a partner who is faithful, caring, and sweet….man, be thankful and love them because those don’t come by often! 

  25. 145

    Perfect! This reading is EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you for the ah-ha moment I was looking for!

  26. 146

    Frankly I agree with reader Lori and pretty much all of her sentiments. I’m a 47 year old man, have been married for 20 years this week and I feel a strong desire to leave the relationship. We have a happy home and good lifestyles. No money issues. We’re both pretty normal, intelligent and well balanced people. I can boil this down for the purpose of my reply to a total lack of attraction and chemistry. Why read books and articles and seek the advice of others endlessly. We’ve forgotten in so many aspects of life to just listen to our intuition, to follow our highest excitement. We stay in unhappy situations against this inner voice and then get labelled with depression or mood disorders. It’s all rather crazy. Breaking up sucks, I get it. But be your tallest, proudest self and do what is best for you. Mediocrity sucks, personally I’ll take being divorced over just being comfortable. If just being comfortable is your thing, do it, but don’t rely on others advice. You and only you know inside what’s best for you. Most of us married early, myself in our mid twenties. I’m a different person now, have different needs and thoughts on things. At this stage of life I’ll certainly know when a potential mate will be a good fit or not. Hollywood and the other foolish distractions on TV have zero impact on my sense of what is right for me and frankly I don’t think most people have a false sense of what they strive for based on media and movies as “the dating coach” seems to believe…

  27. 147

    What about love? 

    What about marrying because you love that persons soul instead of choosing between comfort and passion.

    I’ve felt both comfort and passion in my relationship and I know it’s possible to build both.  My question is not: “hmmm, do I want comfort or passion today?”, My question is: “Is this person worth growing with, building passion and comfort with, staying with when life sucks etc.”  

    I would like to get behind the shells of comfort and passion, to love what’s actually the person and not the feelings created from our insecurities. 

  28. 148

    @Malin (147) – you ask a good question.  What about love?  What about marrying because you love that person’s soul?
    Whether or not one believes in the concept of a soul, I think we can agree that the soul is invisible – in other words, we can not see it, and therefore we can not love it directly.  We can love/desire a person based on how they act or speak, which (we hope) is indicative of who they are inside/their soul.
    But what attracts us to the way a person acts or speaks?  The answer to that really depends on us.  What do we value?  What are we looking for?  Do we value a particular religious belief system?  If so, a person who demonstrates belief in that system will seem more attractive to us (and this will contribute to “comfort”).  Do we value family and children?  If so, a person who demonstrates value of the same things will seem more attractive to us (again, this will contribute to “comfort”).  Do we value fun and excitement?  Again, if so, a person who acts fun and exciting will seem more attractive to us (and this will contribute to “passion”).
    We can not “see” a person’s soul.  We can only see how they act/speak.  If they act/speak according to what we find valuable, we will see them as attractive and will believe that we love that person for their soul/who they are.
    But realize that all of this pertains to Evan’s original question – what do we, ourselves, value?  Comfort or passion?  Of course, we would all like to have both, but which to we value more?  What mix would we prefer?  And the answer to that question will determine which person we fall in love with based on how they act, which we will hope is indicative of “their soul.”  Our “soul-mate” is the person who best matches the criteria that we are searching for in the comfort/passion mix.

    So your question and Evan’s are really not different, but he is looking at the issue in a more bare-bones and practical way.

  29. 149

    Thank you for your response Jeremy 🙂

    I don’t think I fully agree:
    We can not “see” a person’s soul.  We can only see how they act/speak.  If they act/speak according to what we find valuable, we will see them as attractive and will believe that we love that person for their soul/who they are.

    I couldn’t just judge a person from how he/she is acting, I don’t belive that we are our actions. 

    I believe that we can feel souls and I know you don’t, but it’s ok, we don’t HAVE to agree 🙂

    I can spend all day being mad at him, I’m protecting myself and he’s protecting himself,  but when he falls asleep I can watch him totally unprotected, it’s like he’s glowing (and I see this in other people to), and I just want to scream to the world how much I love him, it’s like the love doesn’t fit inside of me. And it’s not like that’s “I gotta have you right now” – passion, it’s just love, love from an unprotected heart, and it feels so pure. 

    And yes, there’s probably some fact or science that someone’s going to mention, telling me that it’s just the reaction of this and that.. haha!

    And it’s not like im suggesting that he’s my soulmate, I don’t believe in that crap, but I’m just saying that my soul, or whatever you want to call it, really loves his soul, the essence of him. I think it’s possible to love many souls but what makes this love special is that I’m choosing it every day.

    And I’m not saying that I belive that only the people with passion can have a great relationship, I’m saying that I don’t think you have to “settle” for comfort or passion, I think you can go beyond that if you want to, with your guy/girl, if your willing to open your heart fully. 

    Last but not least, just don’t want to spread any hollywood false ideas of happiness, I don’t feel this pure love all the time, not even close, just to be clear, I’m not head over heals and roses blablabla, been dating for four years and reality is very real most of the time! haha

  30. 150

    Ah, I misunderstood you, Malin.  It is not that we disagree, per se, but rather that we see the world in completely different ways.  I understand you, but can not presume to agree or disagree with you.
    Have you ever taken an MBTI test, by the way?  If I had to peg you based on your writing, I’d say INFP.  As an INTJ, my insights/advice would likely be too cold and pragmatic for your tastes.

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