Almost half the number of marriages end in divorce. This does tend to put a damper on the whole “till death do us part” narrative.
However, it is not necessarily the institution that is at fault. Often, people blindly run towards said institutions either too early or dragging their unwilling partners with them. Sadly, couples are left wondering why they are in a passionless relationship.
Moreover, as the honeymoon period ends and responsibilities start to take their toll, there comes the point when passion is a distant memory.
The lack of passion is almost a numbness that doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of love. It actually best be explained as if the person is sitting on a couch watching a homemade movie rather than being a part of it.
What does a relationship without passion look like?
Passion is also characterized by sexual desire and enthusiasm for a particular activity. So, a passionless relationship lacks desire, enthusiasm, and even devotion, according to the APA. Having no sex is the obvious first symptom, but a lack of passion runs much deeper.
In short, one loses the will to be a part of their family’s life anymore. The interest, curiosity, and drive are all gone, and a passionless relationship becomes a reality.
Do you really need passion in your relationship?
A passionless relationship is like the elephant in the room. It is difficult to hide and even more difficult to ignore. Whether a long-term relationship or a marriage without passion, it also directly influences the people around you.
And what is passion in a relationship? It’s that overwhelming desire for each other and the drive to make an effort for the relationship.
Can a passionless relationship survive? It depends on how aligned you are. If you’re both looking for companionship, for whatever reason, then yes, you don’t need passion.
On the other hand, if you have mismatched expectations of what passion looks like in your relationship, you’ll just drive a wedge between you two.
A passionate relationship starts by realigning your energy. After all, passion is energy. Start by observing how you relate to each other and how much power struggle you have between you.
Then, talk about it. Be curious about how you both feel and where you want to get to. The aim is to combine emotions, values, and goals to rediscover what brought you together in the first place.
15 Features of relationships without passion
Carrying on from the above passionless relationship definition, it isn’t just about no sex, although clearly, that has to be included. As you review this list, remember that passionlessness refers to an overall lack of desire or enthusiasm that could show up in any area of life.
1. No sex
The “passionless relationship” usually starts with a lack of sex or, perhaps worse, passionless sex. This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault and can come from health issues.
For example, cancer, heart disease, and other conditions can reduce libido or even make sex painful. The impact on the emotions and sense of self can generate depression which overflows into the whole relationship.
A passionless relationship often comes with a lack of empathy and compassion. If you’ve lost interest in your relationship, you’re probably struggling to empathize with your partner.
You might even resent them for making you feel like this. As your resentment grows, the chances are your communication as a couple worsens, and your spiral even deeper into apathy.
3. Body language is off
We all crave that Hollywood passionate love even though it isn’t realistic in the long run. That’s because relationships need more than just passion. They are founded on friendship, trust, and mutual growth as you battle life’s problems together. Nevertheless, you still need intimacy and attraction.
Even if your mind hasn’t accepted it, a passionless relationship will be obvious in your body language and how you relate to each other when you’re in the same room. Your bodies will naturally lean away from each other.
4. You ignore each other
Marriage without passion is like a tropical island without coconuts. Of course, you can decide to be like friends living under the same roof, perhaps for the kids’ sake.
Regardless, you’ll naturally want to ignore each other if you’re simply not into it anymore. One of you might even start having affairs as the distance between you grows.
5. Too comfortable
A passionless relationship isn’t destined to last. Most of us get into relationships where we expect to receive nurture and support. As you lose interest in each other, those naturally disappear.
It’s almost too gradual to notice at times. Things become too mundane, and you realize you’re stuck on groundhog day. There’s nothing to spark your curiosity or desire for effort and change.
6. Too predictable
If you want sex with passion, you can’t forget to spice things up at times. We all get bored with repetition after a while.
This applies to other areas of your relationship. So, if you can’t enjoy activities together and lose yourself as you learn something new, for example, it will rub off on your sex life.
A passionless relationship overtakes you and infiltrates every aspect of your couple, just like an oil spill on a beach.
7. No more small gestures
You can easily lose passion in a relationship when life takes over. It’s perfectly normal to get caught up with the kids and the pets or even get lost in life’s transitions. So, you no longer surprise each other with little gifts or even say thank you.
Sometimes a mid-life crisis or redundancy can take its toll such that you lose your passion. Relationships are fulfilling, but they take work, and if you’re worried about other things, you might not have the energy.
His studies show that when men use humor, it’s more likely to lead to divorce, but when women use it, it can be beneficial. It seems that men can hide behind humor to avoid facing problems.
So, whatever you do, use empathy before you throw in humor to get your timing right.
And watch this entertaining TED talk by Humor Engineer Andrew Tarvin about learning the skill of humor:
9. Storytelling has stopped
Sex with passion doesn’t just happen. Usually, you need to build up to it, and, in a sense, foreplay is a form of storytelling. However, stories are much more powerful than that.
Stories allow you to share a piece of yourself with each other. They help you connect emotionally such that you better understand each other’s experience of life. Through that, you build empathy and connection, without which you lose passion.
10. No effort in looks
The “passionless relationship” definition can include how you present yourself. If you’ve lost interest in your relationship, it’s tempting to give up on taking care of your looks.
This isn’t about walking out of your house as if you’ve spent half the day at the hairdresser’s, but it’s about self-pride. Without passion, you lose interest in your relationship, yourself, and potentially even life.
11. Separate meal times
When you have passionate love, you want to do the important things together, but the small things count. Meals are everyday events that could be considered small, but they are opportunities for bonding and creating rituals.
As you fall into the habit of eating separately, perhaps for very good reasons such as work schedules, you’ll notice the flame gradually expires.
12. Independent hobbies
A passionless relationship usually means that each partner has their interests and activities. Essentially, they’ve lost the desire to share things together or even experience them as a joint moment.
Naturally, it’s important to have your interests and to honor your needs as individuals. Regardless, if you have no shared hobbies, it’s very difficult to get passionate about common life goals, let alone your relationship.
Often, a marriage without passion can start because of the obvious things, such as working too many hours a week.
At some point, you can fall into a vicious circle where the more time you spend at work, the less interesting your partner becomes. Almost without noticing, spending time together no longer seems a priority.
14. Distracted by the kids
Everyone knows that children aren’t the best aphrodisiac. Nevertheless, they don’t have to spell passionless sex. You just need to be more organized and, yes, structured.
The thought of planning sex ahead of time might feel passionless, but you don’t frame it that way. You plan your date nights, spend time getting ready, and generally build up to the occasion. It’s a great way to rekindle your emotions and passion.
15. High stress or numbness
Depending on what’s causing your passionless relationship, one of you might be too stressed to be enthusiastic about anything. Conversely, emotions such as depression could be so numbing that drive and interest dissipate.
Not only do you owe it to yourself but also to your relationship to find the help you need to rebalance your emotions and rediscover joy and passion.
So, what is passion in a relationship? It’s when you have a purpose in life and know your goals as a couple. It’s the opposite of apathy and indifference; you nurture that passion with energy and commitment.
If you want to rediscover that experience and reignite your passionless relationship, try these tips before you resort to couples therapy. You might surprise yourself that sometimes you only need a small tweak to rekindle a passionate relationship.
1. Pay attention
The main thing in any relationship is to pay attention to each other and be grateful for what you both bring to the relationship. For example, a great way to trigger gratitude is to surprise each other.
So, you can plan date nights or small gifts and knick-knacks to remind yourself of the simple pleasures.
2. Do not play the blame game
Whatever you do, do not play the blame game, saying that it is all just because of your passionless relationship. This isn’t necessarily easy to do because it takes self-reflection and courage to examine how we impact the relationship.
To help you, be kind to yourself and connect with your emotions. The more you know and accept them, the less likely they’ll hijack you and get you to say things you later regret.
3. Be vulnerable
Without vulnerability, we can’t truly connect and develop deep intimacy. That means sharing your darkest fears and uncertainties. This takes time and practice, but everyone can let go of their defenses step by step.
You’ll naturally encourage your partner to do the same if you start.
A passionless relationship creates distance. You fall into a pattern of comfortable habits where no one wants to challenge the status quo.
Instead, plan a time to share your feelings and disappointments. Be open about what you think happened and explore ways to change things.
If you don’t talk about it, you can’t collaborate, and the distance will get wider and wider, and passion will never come back.
Can passionless relationships pull through?
Some couples might be able to keep a passionless relationship going. As mentioned, if they just want to be friends, so to speak, without any other expectations, then perhaps such an arrangement can work.
Most couples don’t get together to be just friends under the same roof. The ensuing pain from unmet expectations and lack of emotional support eventually leads to depression and resentment.
How do you keep going without passion?
It all starts with an acceptance that you can’t change people. Moreover, what might seem a passionless relationship to you might be good enough for your partner.
You still have to find ways to meet your needs, though. So, communicate about your needs and come up with solutions that honor both sets of needs.
There’s usually a compromise you can reach. Moreover, some couples might look to open relationships with clearly defined boundaries for what’s acceptable to them.
There is no right or wrong. What matters is what works for you both.
Stop waiting and reignite your passionless relationship
Life is challenging, and new stresses come with different life stages, causing the passion you once had to disappear gradually. One day you realize you’re stuck in a comfortable but drab sequence of everyday habits where you don’t even notice each other anymore.
For some, a passionless relationship can lead to depression, resentment, and even a general loss of interest in life. It’s important not to wait until things get too far down the line but to start communicating your needs to your partner.
Rekindle your passion with date nights and little surprises during the week. Be curious and grateful for each other and do new things together.
If in doubt, find couples therapy but don’t let detachment and disinterest become your norm. This is the greatest danger to love and contentment in life.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.