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Passionate Love: Secret #3

  • Neil Clark Warren, Ph.D. for the eHarmony Research Library
  • Published Oct 01, 2002
Passionate Love: Secret #3

Secret Number Three: Understand Your Chain Reaction

Secret number three: Understand that sexuality and passion are almost always expressed on the basis of a chain reaction that moves from the simplest kind of expression to the fullest kind of expression.

Let me tell you what I’m talking about here. Sexuality usually starts just by being with another person, because when you’re with the other person you have a tendency to reach out and hold their hand. When you hold their hand, maybe you want to have your arm around them. And when you have your arm around them, maybe you want to hold them close so that your bodies are close to each other. And when you draw them close, maybe you want to kiss them.

Usually when we draw someone from the opposite sex close we have a desire, especially when all the romantic urges are there, to kiss them. When we kiss them we usually want to get even more intimate with them. For a man, maybe we want to touch the woman’s breasts. And maybe a woman wants that, too. And after you do that perhaps you want to have genital involvement. It’s a chain reaction. And when you have genital involvement, you may want to be even more involved with oral sex, or genital sex, whatever.

It all starts with being with the other person. Now the question in my mind in the management of your passion is this: How far along the chain can you go and still maintain full control over your sexual expression, such that it doesn’t in any way create less objectivity on your part or on the other person’s part, in the determination of whether the two of you belong together in a lifelong relationship? That’s the question.

I know people around this country today who say that you need to stay some distance apart physically, or it’s going to start this chain reaction. I know other people who say you simply can’t have hand holding or it will start the chain reaction. I know people who think that you shouldn’t kiss prior to marriage because it’s very hard to stop the chain along the way.

I take the position that the passionate expression that creates the greatest amount of difficulty for your objective faculties, the type that shorts out the circuits of your brain the most, is simply orgasm. I don’t care how you achieve orgasm. If you achieve the orgasm, you’re going to get a bonding that is going to short out certain circuits to your brain. I say stop way short of that.

How do you stop short of that? You study your own chain. You see how far you can go. I know almost no one who can be with the person they love so much, drive their car out into a dark place like the woods, turn the radio on and listen to beautiful music, and pull the other person over to them without going too far along that chain reaction. You have to stop short of being out there. I know persons whose sexual expression has become so habituated that they have to be extremely careful to back way off in the chain so that they don’t simply go all the way with somebody else. So that they don’t go beyond the limit they have set for themselves. So that they don’t violate their own commitment that they’ve written out on that page and rehearsed over and over. Sexual expression is just natural for all of us. It’s built right into us. We have hormones that argue for full satisfaction in terms of dominance over our actions. We need to be extremely wise in the management of this whole area of our life.

You get my point. So far what I’m saying is this: passion is a great thing. We need to have it in any good relationship, but you need to go with somebody for two years so you’re going to have a period of time during which you need to manage your passion. In order to manage your passion well you need to use a lot of discipline, and I’m trying to give you some ideas about how you can discipline your own life so that you end up having maximum objectivity in the choice of the person with whom you’re going to be involved for a lifetime.