Boom! The beginning of a new relationship is such an exciting time. Like two stars colliding, the birth of new energy fills us. The never ending curiosity to find out who this other person is erupts spontaneously within our bodies. We feel alive, more sexually excited and the novelty of every moment spikes our dopamine receptors.

The dating phase, or sometimes referred to as the honeymoon phase can last anywhere from 6 months to 2+ years (if you are lucky). However, this new relationship energy doesn’t last long for most people, and it’s painful to have such a powerful drug lose its effect. To experience a living and vital relationship over a long time, it’s essential to approach our partners as if we were on a first date, continuously curious and open to discovering new facets of their being. Instead of kicking back, and watching the fire go out, sustaining the first date spark requires going deeper into what awareness and vulnerability really are. There’s an intentional responsibility in learning how to employ awareness, not to let go of the reins and be used by it.

 Always Stay Curious About Each Other

Reflect upon when you first met someone you were attracted to. You probably approached them with curiosity and caution. Often the mind may start racing with inner dialogue, but underneath this thinking, our nervous system is checking them out at a more primal level. Our heart pumps stronger, and the gut churns with energy that may even stir in the genitals. Our body is subconsciously analyzing the person’s intentions and evaluating our attraction before the mind can start to get a handle on what is happening. This curiosity and playful tension within discovery and learning can be invigorating. It’s a form of what is called “beginner’s mind” in Zen.

After being with your partner for a while, the mental perception of newness fades as the mind starts reflecting upon its internal view of our partner, instead of seeing them as they are. We look within our mind stream and start assuming we can predict their actions, intentions, and how situations will play out. Sensing that it takes work to stay present and engaged, we may withdraw and start paying more attention to what is running through our minds than being fully present with our partner. We fall into our internal mind stream. We’ve all experienced the glazed-over look of someone lost inside their mind. When this happens, your partner will feel you are judging them, anticipating old responses, or predicting their actions. “You” will begin checking out, leaving the relationship, when the real work of love and intimacy is only beginning.

You never really “know” your intimate partner. Knowledge itself is a dead, conclusive mental position about something or someone, whereas learning, and “not-knowing” (or beginner’s mind) is a dynamic, active edge of empty subjectivity, experienced in the here and now. Herein lies a powerful secret about keeping things alive and new over the long term…

To believe you already know and can predict what your partner is experiencing is a delusion that leads to misunderstandings and pain. Assuming we know what our partner is feeling, thinking, or experiencing, puts us in our thinking mind—far away from the non-verbal intelligence of our heart and genitals.

Embrace The Vulnerability and Explore Erotic Possibilities

Our vulnerability in expressing our desires is linked to revealing a deeper, more sensitive part of ourselves, which is only revealed by staying in a relationship long enough for depth to be experienced. As relationships progress, people often prioritize emotional safety over sexual exploration, leading to predictability and creative stagnation. Vulnerability IS the juice, the spark, which can burn off our inward-turning withdrawal from life. Life naturally includes both pleasure and pain, you can’t game the system to only get one side.

Adopting an attitude of inquisitive not-knowing, coupled with playfully stoking your own inherent eroticism, is the key to keeping relationships alive and fresh. Our brains and bodies love new experiences. The risk of exploring new areas of erotic possibility fuels our vulnerability, and doing so with our partner can break up the mind’s tendency to think it “knows” stuff. Each time we do this, it’s like going to the gym, and we deepen our ability to be in touch with the unpredictable reality of intimacy.

What This Looks Like In Practice

The In Tune card game for couples is a fun way to explore this. Everyone sometimes gets stuck on how to start. Activities with a bit of structure and just enough unpredictability can allow you to relax and experience something new together with your partner. Travel is also great for this, especially because beauty, sensuality, and new locations discovered together stimulate the body, emotions, and mind in a way resembling new-relationship energy. When experienced jointly with your partner, we learn how to deepen our attraction and shared wonder. 

This question of how to keep relationships alive is profound. Mastering how to do this is liberating. Seeming small steps such as game playing or travel contains the seeds for becoming an artist in this realm. Erotic, playful curiosity is your birthright. Keep practicing.

Honor and praise the changing ways desire can show up in intimate connection with your partner.  Be accountable for finding your inner spark of desire, and get help if you feel unable to access it. Myself and other intimacy coaches and therapists can aid in this process if you are struggling or falling into old patterns. Help is available, so don’t suffer alone.

 To prevent relationships from becoming bland, we need honest communication about sexual desires and curiosities, and then take tangible action which feels slightly edgy or novel. This stretches us out of our egoic curl and makes space for others to relate with us. Be willing to not know how things will go, but stay emotionally connected and revealed to each other as you explore. That’s the essence of intimacy that keeps us awake, interested, and curious about what might happen. You never really know, do you?

Written by:

Christopher Sunyata


Mentor specializing in helping individuals and couples with intimacy, sexuality, and spiritual growth.


Want to connect better with your partner? Check out In Tune, our card game for couples by Therapists or get more data on your Erotic Blueprint with our quiz