It’s not uncommon to find partners who’ve not only lost a sexual spark in their relationship, but an emotional connection too. According to couples therapist Susan Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy and the author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, without the presence of emotional connection and safety—what Johnson calls “secure base,” attempts to reignite passion are doomed to fail.

In this clip from her Networker Symposium keynote address, “Attachment and the Dance of Sex,” she shares the story of her clients Frank and Sylvie, and how, they used secure base to restore both emotional and physical passion to their relationship.

“Hundreds of attachment studies show that safe emotional connection is the opposite of deadening, in or out of bed,” says Johnson. “A secure base allows us to play, to learn, to explore each other’s bodies and minds. Thrilling sex is about being secure enough to surrender to the moment—to let go and see what happens.

Susan Johnson

Dr. Sue Johnson was the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Couples and Family Therapy (EFT), which has demonstrated its effectiveness in more than 30 years of peer-reviewed clinical research. Her books include Attachment Theory in Practice: EFT with Individuals, Couples and Families (2019) The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection (3rd edition, 2019) and Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors (2002). Read our tribute to Sue and learn more about her legacy on her website.