Invite the Shadow Into the Bedroom
Q: Once a relationship has lost its passion, is it possible to get it back?
Barry: Yes—if you want more passion in your relationship, you have to get in touch with a part of yourself you usually keep under wraps. It’s the part of you that isn’t trying to control things—it doesn’t care about keeping up appearances. In fact, the essence of this part of you is that it’s out of your control.
What’s the connection between that part of you and sex? If you think back to the best sexual experiences you’ve had, they all have this quality: It’s a little out of control; it feels like another part of you is taking over, and that part of you is looser, more improvisational, and more passionate than your everyday, put-together self.
Phil: Barry is talking about a part of you called the Shadow. The Shadow was discovered by the psychiatrist Carl Jung and it embodies whatever qualities you feel aren’t “right”—qualities that endanger your organized, controlled existence; it’s messy. Everybody tries to hide their Shadow because they feel embarrassed and threatened by it.
If you want to have a good sex life, no matter how long you’ve been together, you need to nurture and create a space for the Shadow; you need to let yourself be vulnerable and bring it into the bedroom with your partner. Ironically, even though you’re embarrassed of it, the Shadow is the part of you that can have passionate sex, get close and be intimate with someone.
In working on this, every interaction with your partner matters: Each time, you’re either going to bring your Shadow out or hide it inside. When you hide it, that drains the relationship of its passion.
And part of what “bringing your Shadow out” means is that you have to express interest in your partner all the time, not just right before you want to have sex. Where people fail each other is between the times they have sex. When you pass by your partner in the kitchen, you might want to touch them, look at them sexually, tell them they look great, etc. This needs to be done all the time.