People often blame the lack of passion and desire in long-term relationships on over-familiarity, busy lifestyles, hormonal problems, and having children. Or simply that it is unavoidable in long-term relationships. But there is another reason, not yet known to many people.Insomniac young couple laying in bed late at night

When we explore beneath the surface of our personality, we discover that within our subconscious mind and in the unconscious exists various known sub-personalities, energy patterns, or selves.

So we are not one self, but many.

Which self met your partner, and which self is around now?

Different selves within your personality are dominant at different times in your life, even at different times each day. You might currently have a responsible self, a perfectionistic self, an inner critic, a needy inner child, or a pleaser. And your partner has his or her inner selves.

All these selves have their own rules, values, and desires and their particular way of communicating. They all play a role in your relationship, with some being primary and running the show, while others take a back seat and don’t get their needs met or even heard.

The Real Reason A Lack of Passion (and other Relationship Problems) Happen

The selves within you bond with the selves in your partner in particular patterns that restrict your behavior, feelings, and desires. Your selves, and how they interact with the selves in your partner are the reason so many couples experience a lack of passion (amongst other issues).

Bored Looking Senior Man Lying In Bed Next To Senior Woman Reading BookThese bonding patterns are natural, psychological blueprints for how we give and receive love and affection, and also for how we express negative feelings toward one another.

There are two types of bonding patterns: positive and negative.

Negative bonding patterns can range from the mildly irritating type, such as when you are the tidy person in your relationship, and your partner is the messy person, to the full-blown world-war-type of pattern where you wish you had never met your partner and can’t imagine what you ever saw in them.

Positive bonding patterns, on the other hand, are when the feelings are positive: good, caring, loving – but where neither person will express anything that might rock the boat.

Both types of bonding patterns place limitations on how fulfilling a relationship can be.

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The power of bonding patterns is dependent on two factors:

  1. Over-identifying with some of our selves, and disowning other parts; and
  2. Not dealing with our vulnerability.

Being in a bonding pattern is a bit like standing on one leg and having our partner, also using only one leg, to balance us, so we don’t fall. This can feel safe and familiar (a positive bonding pattern), but it requires that each of us stay put to stabilize the other. If one leaves, we both fall.

Couple in bed looking upsetWe then blame and accuse each other (a negative bonding pattern) and angrily hobble around until we reunite in a new positive bonding pattern or, in extreme cases, with someone else.

In a negative bonding pattern, each person’s primary self is in a state of judgment about the other person’s primary self. The judgment occurs because there is a vulnerability in both people that they are not attending to.

This vulnerable feeling is uncomfortable to your primary self, who knows no other way of dealing with such feelings but to push them far away to where you won’t feel them so that you can feel powerful and in control again.

The more identified you become with your primary self and its perspective, and the more you push aside your other selves, the less you can see things from any other perspective, particularly your partner’s.

When you become stuck in a positive bonding pattern over time, your relationship, although close and friendly and loving, loses its spark.shutterstock_128107688-300x300

You become very good friends rather than lovers and will suppress any feelings that might rock your relationship boat. Sexuality disappears, or you become attracted to other people. Most relationships stagnate or end because of positive bonding patterns.

On the other hand, couples who break out of a positive bonding pattern without awareness of what is going on will end up in a negative bonding pattern. That means bitterness and arguing, with long periods of unhappiness, lack of passion, or to the relationship ending.

The level of passion in your relationship is a wonderfully accurate gauge of whether a bonding pattern has taken hold in your relationship. If there’s a lack of passion, then you’re in a bonding pattern.

Here are the 3 steps to break a bonding pattern and reviving the passion

1. First look at which parts of your psyche have become dominant in you

This could be the role of nurturing mother, pleasing daughter, workaholic, responsible father, withdrawn father, critical mother, caretaker, etc.

If you can’t work this out yourself, ask your partner to help. They are likely to have some insight into which part of you has become the main ‘you,’ just as you will probably be able to see which selves of theirs have become primary in them.

2. Determine which parts of your psyche have been left out.

It's Time to Remember what it's like to Feel Alive - Inspirational quote on blurred mountain background. Hand written calligraphIt will help to think of interests you had early in your relationship, even before it, such as when you were a teenager or younger child.

Remember the things you enjoyed doing that made you feel alive. Some of these selves might include a sports enthusiast, skier, dancer, skateboard rider, photographer, theatergoer, hiker, meditator, magical child.

This simple exercise will help to determine what your primary and disowned selves are:

Write down the qualities in other people you judge or over-value.

You’ll probably find that if you judge:

  • messiness then your primary self is tidy
  • loudness then your primary self is quiet
  • wildness then your primary self is sensible
  • selfishness then your primary self is generous
  • flirtatiousness then your primary self is more reserved
  • irresponsibility then your primary self is responsible
  • laziness then your primary self is a doer
  • emotionality then your primary self is rational and impersonal

If you are in awe of:

  • sportiness then your primary self is probably someone not so skilled at sport
  • intellectual ability then your primary self is probably more of a feeling person
  • glamorousness then your primary self is probably more practical
  • artistic ability then your primary self is probably more rational
  • serenity then your primary self is probably stressed
  • rebelliousness then your primary self is probably more careful

3. Then reconnect with these missing selves.

Find a way of reconnecting with the qualities you judge or over-value in others.

Senior couple laughing and having fun in autumn park. After all these years as at the first meeting You could do an activity a missing part would enjoy, meet up with an old friend who knew one of the ‘old’ parts of you and see if you can re-ignite that energy, enroll in a workshop, watch a film you usually wouldn’t, read a genre of book different to one you have recently been choosing, wear an outfit you haven’t worn for some time or buy a new one.

If you usually plan outings in detail, try going somewhere spontaneously.  Do you typically take responsibility for everything? Hand over responsibilities to your partner or children. If you usually take time to get ready for work, go out with something you’ve quickly thrown together.

When you start to integrate the disowned parts of yourself, your whole life transforms

You’re able to communicate better because you have a greater understanding of and compassion for others. You can more easily find solutions to relationship problems, and you can make better choices.

The more you grow and develop in this way, the less often you’ll end up feeling negative and angry at your partner, and you’ll be able to connect with your partner from a more enriched and whole sense of who you are.

Every relationship goes through stages, ups, and downs, and is affected by various life events. Instead of seeing a lack of passion as a problem, we can see it as an indicator of where we are at and how we can grow.

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Astra Niedra is a teacher of the transformational work Voice Dialogue and the Psychology of Selves. She is author of The Perfect Relationship and Enlightenment Through Motherhood, and other books. She writes the Voice Dialogue and You! blog, which offers tips on using Voice Dialogue in relationships, parenting and personal growth.