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This is a tough one!! I often hear people, patients and friends, ponder the issue of whether they should choose a mate about whom they feel passionate or should they choose a partner with whom they feel comfortable. They also question whether it is possible to have a passionate relationship that spans years.

Let’s take the case of Joe. Joe is a 30-something single man. He has been in a relationship with a woman for several years. He loves being with her. They have everything in common. They enjoy each others company. Joe says she is the first person with whom he wants to share the important things in his life. She is without a doubt his best friend; he cannot imagine his life without her. But…..he does not feel romantic-sexual towards her. Yes, they do have sex together, several times a week no less, yet he does not feel drawn toward her; there is no chemistry…for him. She feels all sorts of chemistry and passion toward him. It is just not reciprocated. Joe has been in several relationships. He has also had many one-nighters. He knows what it feels like to want to go to bed with a woman. He knows what it feels like to fall in love. He just does not experience any of these feelings with her. So here’s Joe’s dilemma.

In previous relationships Joe has felt the excitement of being with and wanting to be with a woman. However, there was always something about the relationship that didn’t feel really connected except in the bedroom. The woman was either not intellectually challenging, not interested in the things Joe was interested in, non-athletic, not psychologically-minded, non-nurturing or empathic, or some other short-fall. They were 70 percent of what Joe wanted in a mate. Joe wanted it all. Now he is with a woman who meets 90-percent, maybe 95-percent of what he is looking for. But the 5-10 percent is very important to him; it is the passionate, romantic, sexual part that is missing. So what’s Joe to do? Should he sacrifice his current relationship with his best friend who meets most of his requirements to continue the search for Ms. Right? Should he settle in with his current girlfriend knowing that she does not “light his fire”; after all, the flame always dies eventually, doesn’t it? What would you do?

Clearly Joe could have a good life with his girlfriend. Though he is not in love with her, he does love her. She, on the other hand, loves and is in love with him. It is not a reciprocal, symmetrical relationship. It is a practical relationship. They enjoy traveling together, dining together, doing things together, even just hanging out together. So what if he does not want to “jump her bones” or take a shower with her. One only spends a very small part of one’s life making love, right? And passionate sex fades over time, right? It is much like the reasoning of the woman in the Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep movie Bridges Over Madison County, where the woman, married to a good man, has an affair with the romantic photo journalist, only to return to her farmer-husband to a good life that they built together. Did she make a wrong choice?

On the other hand, Joe knows what it feels like to be passionately connected to a woman. Would he regret staying with her or would he grow to appreciate the love they share together, the pleasure of being together?

[This is Part 1 of a two-part post]

[Please add your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comment section of this blog.  This blog is intended as a forum for folks to raise issues, share experiences, and promote dialogue on important issues of contemporary life.   Please sign up as a Facebook Fan at www.docdreyfus.com/fanpage. For additional information about me and my practice, please visit my website at www.DocDreyfus.com. ]