love part 4: sex and cerebral

“When passions and appetites are stronger than the intellect, men are savages; when the intellect governs the passions, when the passions are servants, men are civilized. The people need education – facts – philosophy.” Robert Ingersoll

So. This one was an easy one for me to write.

Cause I am a guy (and guys love sex) and I love smart people (intellectually curious people).

Anyway (no details provided on the above).


All about balance.

But let me define. Because it isn’t a 50/50 balance I am talking about.

Varies couple to couple. And then there is balancing that balance.

Ok. Confused?  Well. Now I am too. Ok. Not so much.

Let me explain.


Balance one.

Let’s simply say it cannot be 100 percent on either side.

Gotta have some passion. Gotta have some cerebral thing going on (you need something to talk about or some topic both are ‘smart about’ … fishing. NASCAR. Astrophysics. Whatever).

Yeah. Knowing everything there is about nascar is a version of intellect and smarts. Cerebral ain’t just about IQ (because I haven’t seen how IQ measures common sense smarts yet).

Anyway. Let’s say mathematically love has to have a minimum 15 percent of one or the other. I made that number up but 10 percent seemed to low and I have seen awesome love relationships exist long term with less than 1/5th of their relationship on one or the other. Suffice it to say some love thrives on cerebral. And some thrive on sexual. But that particular relationship love thrives on whatever that original unbalanced balanced percentage is.

That leads to balance two.


Balance two.

So. Let’s say 40 percent passion and 60 percent cerebral is your relationship love mix (no. that is not the formula for Funky Cold Medina).

That percentage is what steadies love for you guys.

Now. Some months it may be off kilter for whatever reason. Who knows. You have a sexathon and forget to think.  Or the two of you pick up a new hobby and you are having a perpetual thinkathon over it and forget to have sex.

All that really matters is you regain that original unbalanced balance within some defined length of time (say a year to put a stake in the ground). So. Whenever you finish ‘whateverthon’ you got sucked into you will remember that you need to actually talk or have sex and the balance starts tipping back.

Now here is an interesting thing.

Some guy has actually done some study on this entire issue (where the hell do you get funding for something like this) and has come up with an incredibly cool name for it.

The Michelangelo Phenomenon. (awesome)

Here is The Michelangelo Phenomenon concept (from Dr. Caryl Rusbult):

“close partners are interpersonal artists, sculpting one another’s strengths and weaknesses so as to bring out the best in each other”. Such affirmation promotes trust in the partner and strengthens commitment.  And commitment is a key predictor of relationship durability.”

Awesome. We even have a frickin’ predictor.
So it appears that the winning combination is for individuals to do their important ‘inside work’ while allying with their partners to nurture their growth into the people they dream of becoming.  The focus then is less about changing someone else and more about mutual, sustained interpersonal growth.


Eharmony (those love specialists that they are) call it the “Cognitive Mode” and suggest it has 4 dimensions:  intellect, curiosity, humor, and artistic passion.


Some lady (Cristina Nehring) published her manifesto A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century in which she explores the “murky waters of love and relationships in which we swim, although it may more often feel like treading water”.

(I had to include that because I would never think to write such poetic drivel).

Oh. And while some of her stuff may seem wacky or over complicating a relatively simple thought she actually leverages her semi-pretentious book from the proto-feminist manifesto A Vindication of the Rights of Woman from 1792 which in turn was influenced by Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man (1791).
(so I give her lots of bonus points for accessing some smart shit)
Her book argues against the “pragmatic and pedestrian” and celebrates lovers who refused to be domesticated by their cultural norms and who had the creative passion to express their love through more than just the physical (in Bruce words that means more than sex and some cerebral aspect).
And while the book is a little pretentious in its attitude and discussion all it really does is point out that love relationships are best when they are viewed as multidimensional.

Avoiding much of the gobbledygook (spell check knows that word) it all gets summarized into this: “What if love has its own equivalents of length, width, height and time — the four dimensions we need to locate an object in space and time.”

taking that one step further (and avoiding the Star Trek multi dimensional discussion) she says that people who only love in two dimensions haven’t located all of love. They may feel like they have but there is more room to grow (that is where all the other wacky dimensions come in).

A reviewer of the book says: “Nehring sees in the grandeur of feeling a kind of heroism, even if the relationship doesn’t take conventional form or endure in the conventional way. For Nehring, one senses, true failure is to drift comfortably along in a dull relationship, to spend precious years of life in a marriage that is not exciting or satisfying, to live cautiously, responsibly. Is the strength of feeling redeemed in the blaze of passion even if it does not end happily? she asks. Is contentment too soft and modest a goal?”

Someone really smart (not me … I cannot remember whom) calls this whole thing “Romanticism” (which I personally like because romance & intellectualism are so intertwined that it … well  … makes sense).


The idea of Romanticism validates passion, risk, and imagination leading to a willingness to be challenged intellectually and to engage in stimulating conversation.

Look. It is difficult to argue that an enjoyable meeting of minds can help to solidify any relationship. Intellectual attraction shows itself in personal interests, cherished values and preferred life purpose.

That means you may find a strong attraction to another person because they both share a similar purpose (studying snails, global literacy, religion, teaching art, etc.) or through a mutual interest. But. It also may be something like they love the same sports team, enjoy dancing, listening to music or playing a good game of horseshoes.

Whatever the common passionate cerebral link it is often the glue that will keep your relationship together.

Most importantly it can create a sense of shared values which often overrides other elements in the relationship process, reinforcing a partner’s significance and beliefs. This creates respect, trust, fulfillment … all of which bleed into sexual passion no matter what you think (or want to debate).


Being intellectually compatible does not have to mean a high level of college based education on both sides. It can relate to simple common sense, having different life/career experiences or being knowledgeable in a specific field. The main aspect of being intellectually appealing is to have reciprocal interactions which make both people interesting in some way to the other.

Clearly the best ways to be intellectually appealing is to read a lot, converse with someone whenever you can, keep up with news and have some opinions on them, develop hobbies, take an interest in something (that, my friends, is a pretty low bar for all of us … thank god I may add).


Here is the sometimes tricky part about the cerebral thing as you seek balance in the partnership.

“I fear you have expectations of me that I can never live up to.”

Yup. Comes up.

And you can invest a lot of energy trying to discuss “what expectations?”



Because it is cerebral. And intellectual. And intangible.

How do you describe that someone intellectually completes you and make you whole?

Part of the cerebral function (and maybe this is what that wacky lady who wrote the book was trying to say)  is the ability to understand how all the imperfections, integrity and insecurities, beauty and bafflements all seem to seamlessly mesh into one complex lovable package.

(proof once again that love is complex)

I also believe the cerebral part acts as a functional intellectual ability to see beyond some “god/goddess on a pedestal” but rather forms the ability to stand by in love as the other’s identity inevitably unfolds and changes.


Passion is not just about sex but partly about that chemistry or that ability to see someone across the room and “connect” as well as some … well … let me call it ‘creative pursuit.’

Ok. Let me explain.

Everyone is creative in some form or fashion.

Engineers are creative thinkers (if not typically linear creatively).

Artists tend to be creative (and less linear).

And then there is a lot of space in between these examples for evryone to reside in.

But creativity is captured in each person pursuing some passion and relationships thrive when each person supports the other’s passion.

Look. Each couple can figure out their ideal mix of passion and creativity and thinking and sex and cerebral.


And I do believe passion can thrive in a content separation of creative pursuit (balancing cerebral and passion).

It is quite possible your best days may be having coffee together in the morning, one retreat to the computer and write and the other off to show homes to home buyers. Take breaks for conversation and look at each other’s creative pursuit (text image sharing has enhanced this exponentially) and, yes, I guess sometime some on the fly making love (sex).

I don’t think I am crazy to suggest that this passion (or creative pursuit or sharing of passion) bleeds into the sex passion venue.

It’s part of the balance and the intermingling.  In my way I guess I envision it as while going through your own creative endeavors you connect deeply at an emotional level which heightens the “physical selves”.

But. I didn’t write a wacky book about Michelangelo Phenomenon or one on love existing on 25 dimensions and crap like that.


In the end?

All I know is that sex mixed with cerebral is awesome.

Next up?

Where I started several months ago when someone asked me to write about this. Complexities.

Or simply the things you just cannot explain. But I will try and explain.

Written by Bruce