Cultivating Both/And Thinking in Love: Can You Have Both Passion and Security?

People tend to believe that, at some point, they have to settle. To them, love is either fire and fury, or immature, or safe and stable, or mature. But there is another option, which may appear different to different people.

Willing yourself to attempt to regain something, as opposed to taking the risk of fighting for something new, isn’t as challenging as you may initially believe; we fear loss much more than we fear rejection. Consider how many times you’ve forsaken dating, trying again but with someone new, Didn’t you long for the comforts of some prior partner, to bask in the warmth of predictability? Did you ever settle for the “nice guy” because it was better than nothing, or rather, better than risking rejection? Settling, in this respect, is common and obvious. The individual knowingly does so, convinced that better options don’t exist, at least not for them.

But, you can also settle for the other extreme, for the love-bomber type. This version of love, if you can label it that, appears to be romantic because it’s chaotic, full of emotional highs and lows. But, while appearing unstable, there’s some sense of stability in all of the turmoil, predictability among the chaos. When settling for the alternating obsessive/avoidant type, the individual fluctuates between passivity and hyperactivity, between dependence and compulsivity. What appears as romantic is, in reality, a bastardization of romance, a mere mirage that entails minimal risk.

It’s funny how chaos engenders excitement, where the individual is convinced that they’ve won some hard-fought battle. But, what if, there was no battle? What if the fight, the striving, and, most importantly, the risk, were just illusions? What if you erroneously persuaded yourself that any of it mattered, your pleas, your attempts, when they actually didn’t? What if you hadn’t actually won anything, especially love? Many of us tend to look out into the world and perceive all of the ways in which people “settle,” promising ourselves never to become one of them. So, naturally, we tend to overcorrect. In seeking adventure, we discover it in what’s akin to a video game, a ride that’s only sort of what it appears to be.

This type of relationship begins with excessive gestures, trapping the soon-to-be partner in a mist of admiration. To the captive, the relationship feels as special as she does. And she believes she’s finally saved from the cruelties of dating, finding herself, instead, in a whirlwind of what feels like romance. As the relationship progresses, she remains passive, sucking up his attention like air, as though she just learned to breathe. But, then, the inevitable, the light switch flips. He becomes cold and even abusive. Knowing what she had, and terrified of loss, she hatches a plot to regain it. While appearing risky, she knows it’s less risky than its alternative. Starting over? Pursuing new people? God, that sounds awful! So, eventually, he returns. And while she believes his reappearance is due to her pleas, and his subsequent realization of her worth, he always knew he’d return, because he never had anywhere better to be. Whether she pled or avoided, his departure was never meant to be permanent.

And, on some deeper level, she might have known that; she might have already felt safe.

Being trapped in either/or thinking, in this respect, means seeing the above noted scenarios as our only two options: the love-bomber or the nice guy…. “romance” or safety. In essence, it’s all the same shit, but with different apparel. When a client finds herself in this predicament, she asks: But, isn’t asking for both just me wanting to eat my cake and have it, too? What appears as someone demanding perfection is anything but. In reality, choosing one or the other is a mask for one’s fears of rejection and failure. For how did she know that by continuing to date, she wouldn’t find someone with the combination of traits that worked for her? How did she know that she couldn’t find passion and kindness, that stable love didn’t exist? Why wasn’t she willing to risk it to try?

Essentially, I’m not arguing that you should search for someone to meet all of your criteria perfectly, but that we create cognitive and emotional traps for ourselves when we’re convinced that a healthier and passionate love can’t exist for us. Sometimes, it’s even already there, but we fear diving in.

We spoke with an expert on Both/And thinking on our podcast, found here:


  1. “People tend to believe that, at some point, they have to settle” I married too young and divorced out of verbal and psychological trauma abuse – it was permanent! I started out building a life and divorcing out of abuse was not popular or supported. If good men spoke up, then women wouldn’t settle.


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