“Unless it is mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love should not be one of them.”—Dream for an Insomniac

Everything that I do long-term is fueled by passion. I won’t work a job that I am not passionate about for a long period of time, and I won’t be with someone who does not give me butterflies. I refuse to eat mediocre food, have mediocre sex and live a mediocre life. Call me crazy, a dreamer and a hopeless romantic, or just plain unrealistic.

But one thing you will never be able to say about me is that I settled. Especially when it comes to love.

My steadfast commitment to passion does not ignore the fact that other areas in life will undoubtedly require attention, feelings and emotions. Nor does it glance over the certainty that people change. But passion, that undeniable urge to be all over someone, should never go away. You should never look at your mate and feel nothing.

I was talking to a friend a while ago. During our very candid conversation, I told her I didn’t feel like she was passionate about the man  she was seeing at the time. Their relationship was good, but it seemed so… robotic, so standard.

He did everything a good boyfriend should, and she was one of the best partners a guy could ask for. On the outside, they appeared to be a perfect match. But that chemistry, that undeniable flame present when two people are on opposite sides of the room? Nah.

“Shantell, everyone isn’t like you. Some of us would rather settle for what works than for what drives us crazy,” she reasoned.

I didn’t have as much perspective on her response at the time, but looking back on it, my guess is that she equates passion with insanity―with losing control of herself.

Like many people, my friend thinks that having a strong, free-flowing feeling for someone is nuts. She believes you should always be with someone who loves you more than you love them, and that practicality is more valuable than experiencing a love that spills over into another dimension. She also thinks that some couples are meant to be a team that works efficiently and effectively, and that’s enough for a great, long-lasting relationship as long as they can get along. In many ways, she is right. But in many ways, she’s completely off base.

By rationalizing a lackluster relationship, you cheat yourself out of one of life’s most precious gifts in exchange for comfort, for settling. You rob yourself of the gift of openly loving someone to the point of no return, and you do so in the name of safety and “protection.” But passion isn’t the problem; uncontrolled feelings and irrational behaviors described as passion is.

The world operates and thrives on connections. We are more powerful together than alone, and a way to mutually benefit and succeed in life is to connect with the right people. Passion-filled connections make the union much stronger. You’re more inclined to do a favor for someone who has your back than for someone who doesn’t. You’re more likely to ride or die for someone you feel a genuine, authentic bond with than for someone who can simply “get the job done.” So there’s no reason to cheat yourself out of that when it comes to love.

Some of the most successful people understand that without passion, few things are worth doing. In order to get others to understand the importance of executing a particular task, they have to light their fire. An unlit candle cannot light another one, so they themselves have to possess the fire to spark the world.

Despite this proven fact, people run away from those who make them feel the most. They describe feelings as some sort of contagion, something  you “catch” instead of a pleasantry that should be welcomed.

Everyone should have someone who makes him or her “we,” and not in a way that allows them to be manipulated and used. Everyone deserves that one person who lights his or her fire to the point where the energy is so strong it can be felt without announcement. Everyone needs to experience love this way, because passion allows you to feel more than alive, and it allows you to experience life beyond  simply “existing.”

Passion isn’t something you can create. You can’t just go and purchase it at your local grocer or sex shop. It’s a natural chemistry that’s either there or it isn’t, and it’s hard to find. Perhaps that’s why so many people settle. But that fact that connecting on that level is so rare should fuel you to be more open to that type of love. You shouldn’t run from it because it does come so infrequently.

The best way to invite passion into your life is to allow yourself to become more comfortable with the idea of loving someone openly and freely. You’ll never experience it without that type of vulnerability, and that’s not a love worth living through.

Shantell E. Jamison is a senior editor for EBONY.com. Not confined to chasing headlines, this Chicago-based writer, radio personality and cultural critic is also the author of Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self.