Day 69: The secret to desire in a long term relationship.

The crisis of desire is often a crisis of the imagination.

At least, according to Esther Perel, who explores the issues that lead to dissatisfaction with sex in a long-term relationship.
The major paradox, Perel outlines, lies in the fundamental differences between love and desire. Love grows from a sense of security, predictability, dependability, while on the other side, desire is nurtured by spontaneity, adventure and excitement. This is the first time in history that we expect our partners to almost provide the functions of a small village. We want belonging, identity, mystery, transcendence, awe, novelty, predictability, surprise, all in one.
If love had a verb, it would be, ‘to have’. If desire had one, it would be, ‘to want.’ Each is counter-productive to the other. To examine how people can live with both love and desire, Perel asked hundreds of people a question; ‘When do you feel most drawn to your partner?’
She classifies the responders into 2 groups. The first are those who are more drawn to their other half when they’re apart or return after a long period of separation. Absence and longing is a major component of desire. The second group are those who are drawn to their partner when they see them doing something they’re passionate about. This makes the familiar individual at once elusive and unknown. As Proust says, ‘Mystery is not about travelling to new places; it’s about looking with new eyes.’ The third group of answers fall under the category of novelty; when he’s wearing a tux, when she is out for dinner.
Better sex means to reconnect with the quality of aliveness and energy.
The next question Perel asked was, ‘I shut myself off when…..’ The common themes were there; people feel less attractive or desirable when they have issues such as low self-esteem. On the contrary, desire requires the partner feeling desired to be complete inside; otherwise, no amount of Valentines Day presents will help.
On her quest to reconcile the emotional needs of desire and love, Perel has discovered the secrets of highly erotic couples. They have sexual privacy. They understand that foreplay is not something you do five minutes before the real thing, but starts from the end of the last orgasm. They understand the need to leave work, political correctness and responsibility at the door. And when desire goes, they know how to resurrect it.
Perel also dispels with the myth about spontaneity. Committed sex takes focus and presence. It is premeditated, wilful and intentional.

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