That ‘Sweet Spot’ to a Successful and Sultry Romantic Relationship
Whether of water and sun, focus and rest, protein and carbohydrates, or yin and yang, living a good life is all about balance. Your body likely wouldn’t appreciate it if you stayed out in the sun all day without getting a sufficient amount of h20, nor would it appreciate it if you ate bread and potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without squeezing in some protein-rich eggs or fish. Your brain too wouldn’t appreciate you working non-stop from 6 am to 9 pm without taking periodic breaks for rest.
The same is true of relationships. A good (i.e., healthy, desirable, sustainable, worthwhile) relationship is all about balance. It’s about finding a sense of equilibrium that is unique to the connection that exists between you. It’s about setting the stage for each person to empower rather than overpower the other. It’s about getting right in that ‘sweet spot’ that maximizes who each of you are as individuals, together.
A good relationship, in fact, is driven by not just one sweet spot, but by many. Here are some of the sweetest relationship sweet spots that– for a good reason– are preferred and sought out by couples all over the world.
That sweet spot between conflict and calm.
Consistent judging, demanding, criticizing, and arguing are behavioural signs of an unhealthy relationship in need of support. Consistent agreement and always saying ‘yes’ to one another, though seemingly positive, are also behavioural signs of a relationship in need of growth and support. Why? Because it implies that either or both individuals in the couple are holding things in and so it’s likely that wants, needs, and underlying issues are going unresolved.
It’s important to have more calm than conflict, sure. But if all you’ve got is calm, then your relationship may be in as good of a place as if all you had was conflict. One thing that relationship researchers and clinicians consistently emphasize is that calm without arousal leads to imbalance, as does arousal without calm.
What does the ideal balance look like in a relationship? According to relationship researcher and psychologist Dr. John Gottman (you may have heard his name before in the context of couples’ communication patterns that predict whether they stay together or get divorced), the sweet spot is found in having five or more positive interactions for every one negative interaction during conflict. The ideal balance, then, looks like a little bit of positivity and a little bit of negativity, like some agreement and some disagreement, like a good amount of consensus and a bit of conflict too.
That sweet spot between being friends and being lovers.
If you’re friends, it’s safe to say that your personalities ‘click’, that you know at least a bit about each others’ pasts, that you have a sincere interest in each other’s lives, you share some common interests and perhaps find the same things to be irritating, important, and/or funny, and there’s likely some reciprocal trust, understanding, and appreciation taking place. It’s also therefore likely that you feel comfortable being emotionally and psychologically naked with this person, expressing what’s true for you and being vulnerable with regards to your emotions, struggles, and anything that you find to be important.
If you’re lovers, it’s safe to say that your physical energies ‘click’, that you’ve had experience in navigating each others’ bodies, that you know a bit about each others’ preferences for physical pleasure, and that you feel comfortable being freely naked with one another, in the literal sense.
Being lovers and friends… mm mm mm… just imagine combining the trust, security, and ability to be yourself that friendship affords you with the playfulness, sensuality, intensity, and presence that being lovers affords you. When you find and are able to sustain that sweet spot of being both trusted friends and passionate lovers, a fulfilling relationship is a natural byproduct.
That sweet spot between planning for the future and being here now.
Having no idea about what tomorrow will look like, where you two will live, how you will each explore your interests and passions, where you each want your career paths to go, whether there are children in the picture, and how you prefer to care for yourselves and the connection between you can create strain for the relationship. If you, as a couple, spend too much time planning for the future, you miss out on life’s opportunities to swiftly move you in the directions you need to go, and to go with the flow of life’s magical currents. Spend your now planning for the future and you completely miss your now! And now, they say, is all we ever have.
The sweet spot, then, is really found between order and freedom and between knowing a bit about the future yet not sacrificing the present to get there. It’s found in co-creating the future by enjoying present moments together, and perhaps by dreaming about, exploring, and having wonderful discussions about the lovely tomorrows that you are envisioning today.
That sweet spot between reason and romance.
Take reason. Without it, things would be a big ol’ mess. There would be no logical order or reasoning to how and why things are done. Yet with too much of it, decisions would be made only considering the mind’s desires, leaving absolutely no say for the heart.
Take romance. Without it, things would be dull, perhaps even dry. Relationships would be devoid of all mystery and lacking in excitement. With too much of it, we’re setting unrealistic expectations for our relationship to mirror what film makers have been crafting in romantic comedy movies since the late 80’s (picture Richard Gere standing on the fire escape reaching out his arm to Julia Roberts, his hand holding a rose in ‘Pretty Woman’).
It’s easy to see why the balance of reason and romance is so vital, isn’t it? A touch of logic spritzed with a blend of fun and excitement… and a bit of factual conversation interspersed with romantic innuendo– now we’re talking!
That sweet spot between ‘he’ and ‘she’.
This sweet spot applies to any couple regardless of the couple’s gender makeup, and it has to do with the balance of masculine and feminine energies between partners in the couple and how they waver, flow, and dance with one another over time.
Each partner in a couple has their own balance of masculine and feminine energies, and each tends to be more dominant in one than the other. If both partners are overly dominant in their masculin energy, there is likely to be an abundance of goals and aspirations and perhaps not enough love-making, self-expression, and play. If both partners are overly dominant in their feminine energy, the relationship is likely to be abundant in support and expression of emotion yet lacking in purpose and direction. In each case where both partners are dominant in a similar type of energy (whether it be masculine or feminine), it’s also likely that the relationship is lacking in polarity, leading to more of a companion or friend vibe than a romantic partner and lover vibe (which, as noted earlier, is another balance that makes relationships feel oh so good).
What’s important for that sweet spot of connection and attraction is the polarity between partners where in any given moment, one’s dominant masculine energy is balanced, opposed, and complemented by the other’s dominant feminine energy. When you’re in that sweet spot of balancing masculine and feminine energies between the two of you is when you will have created the kind of healthy emotional and sexual tension that many couples strive for, and your body, mind, and soul will undoubtedly know it. How will you know when you’ve reached it? Well, it’ll look and feel like a natural giving and receiving, a natural leading and following, a flow between protecting and surrendering and between pursuing and being pursued, an instinctive initiating and yielding, a balance of needing to feel respected and needing to feel appreciated and understood, a balance of rigidity and flexibility, and a balance of push and pull.
That sweet spot between intimacy and independence.
Relationships flourish when “you can be you and do you”, “I can be me and do me”, and “we can also be us and do us”. When each person can maintain their passions, interests, preferences, and needs, they can continue to be an individual within the couple, rather than losing themself for the sake of the partnership, which down the line only comes back to bite the couple in the you-know-what. After all, there is nothing sexy about being attached at the hip (in fact, it usually indicates that one or both partners are relying on the other to meet needs that are beyond what one person can healthily do for another), and there is similarly nothing appealing about being so individualistic that you wonder why you’re even coupled in the first place (in fact, it often indicates a “closed-offness” and inability to relate in mature, vulnerable, and open ways that advance the relationship in the direction you want it to go).
That sweet spot, then, is found in desiring and prioritizing closeness while also honouring personal space, personal choice, and personal time. It’s found in not losing your personal expression as you grow close to your partner, but rather letting who you are enhance what you become and choose to express as a couple. It is found in the space where togetherness and autonomy meet, and where “I” and “we” support, inspire, and raise each other higher and higher.
Can you just imagine getting to a place where you and your partner can enjoy one or several of these sweet spots on a semi-consistent basis? How full and fun life would be! The sweetest of all sweet spots, if you ask me though, is found between effort and ease. So if you find that your relationship could benefit from a bit of maneuvering into one or more of these sweet spots, see it as an opportunity for enhancing the relationship bliss that is already there rather than as an indication of the elements that are missing. Choose one simple thing you can do today to move it in that direction, and leave all the rest. Whether the movement towards balance inspires greater intimacy and more openness, truth, and trust, or reveals that the relationship no longer suits who you’ve become and requires some re-navigation or reconsideration, our relationships always move in the direction that best supports us. And yours, undoubtedly, will too.
Until next time!