Love, Sex & Intimacy: Hot Sex vs. Passionate Sex

June 5, 2010

Do you ever wonder why some relationships last longer than others? And/or why some committed relationships seem to have a chemistry and dance about them that sail through the years? There are many possible reasons for this. But the one that I hear most often is that certain couples have learned what I might call the Erotic Tango. By this I mean that the couple is learning how to connect with the other with Passionate Sex more than Hot Sex. In other words, the couple intentionally tries to connect with his/her lover from the heart space (allowing them access to what’s below the skin), while deeply respecting the heart-nuances of the other.

This paradigm of Hot Sex vs. Passionate Sex has been around a long time. It is often misunderstood, and therefore treated as an unacceptable choice to most people. The truth is that both are healthy and important in a committed relationship. Hot Sex is described as having lusty encounters (often spontaneous) with toe-curling stimulation. Passionate Sex is having sexual encounters that reveal and experience your heart and soul (emotional intimacy) as you make love, i.e. an underlying passion for the other. Both are satisfying, stimulating and very lusty. Passionate Sex, however, creates lasting connection and deep fulfillment within a relationship.

In her book, Hot Monogamy (Penguin Putnam: 1994), Pat Love tells the story of a woman who attended one of her couples’ workshops.

I thought I had a perfect marriage. My husband and I had the greatest sex you could ever imagine. We still do. We have experienced every known form of erotic activity.” She had no idea that her husband was desperately unhappy until he took her dinner one evening and announced: “I want a divorce. I don’t like the way you live your life. We don’t have any common interests. I don’t really know what you think or feel. I don’t even know who you are.” It took her three days to realize he meant every word he said. Hot sex had been satisfying enough for her but not for him. He longed for more emotional connection.

This same sentiment is probably said by couples all over the country. In my practice I often hear these similar phrases from partners: “There’s something missing in our relationship.” ”I wish my husband would give me what he gives his wife.” “I don’t even know her anymore.” “Sex has become kind of boring in our relationship.”

Developing a heart-space with one’s intimate partner takes incredible desire and courage. If a couple truly wants to experience Passionate Sex, they must cultivate intentional openness with each other. This in turn will erode fears that keep them from intimacy and passion. These fears, these “inhibitions,” these “concerns,” usually stem from unresolved or confusing messages about sex. Both men and women have been indoctrinated by cultural, societal, and what I call locker-room norms, with what each gender “should” sexually be. The results are that we have couples and families that hold on to fearful, unhealthy, and binding perspectives of sexual connection. Passionate Sex has often been reduced to: sexual performance that feels good to do together.

Again, this kind of sex is great and healthy, if that is what a couple wants. But if they want their sexual expression to go deeper and more meaningful, and/or if they want their relationship to flourish, resulting in more of a non-judgmental relaxed erotic expression, then the individuals are encouraged to find intentional openness with the other.

Kevin Barwick

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