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There might be love. There might be commitment. There might be a solid friendship at its core. Worth it — but hard. Desire feeds physical intimacy which in turn feeds connection, nurturance and the protective guard around relationships. Intimate relationships in which desire has faded can take on the shape of housemates or colleagues. There can still be love and a deep emotional bond in these relationships, there might even still be sex, but without desire the way we see ourselves and feel about ourselves changes and will ultimately play out in the relationship. Understanding the nature of desire is key to getting it back.
The intensity of desire in relationships will ebb and flow. Slowly, the protective guard around your relationship might start to chip away. The very thing that makes your relationship different to every other relationship in your life slowly stops. You can spend time with other people, laugh, cry, argue, share a meal and go on holidays with them — but sex is something that is only for the two of you, building and nurturing an intimacy and connection that is shared between the two of you and nobody else.
This is why it deserves attention. The fading of desire happens slowly. It comes with the vacuuming, the cleaning, stress, work, busy-ness, familiarity, predictability and just trying to make it through the day. Above all else, it comes with the assumption of responsibility for the needs of our partner over our own. As explained by Esther Perela Looking for intimacy ltr in the area of desire in relationships, desire fades when we disconnect from ourselves and become selfless, which is the enemy of desire. We show up completely. From the work of Esther Perel, we know that desire in long-term relationships involves two needs that push against each other.
On the one hand, we need security, safety, familiarity and predictability. But we also need adventure, unpredictability, mystery and surprise.
We need a sense of familiarity and predictability. We need to know what happens when we reach out and we need an idea of where the relationship is headed. But we also have a need for adventure and excitement. As much as we need predictability, we also need mystery and surprise. As much as we need security and safety, we need adventure and risk. The problem is that we are asking for all of this from one person.
We want a predictable, safe partner we can trust and we want an exciting, passionate lover.
We want to be in a relationship where we feel a sense of belonging, but we want to expand our own identity. We want to feel safe, but we want the excitement and growth that comes with teetering with our toes on the edges of unpredictability.
In love we feel the having, the closeness, the belonging. We want that from love.
We want to have the person we love. We want to be physically close, as in no distance between us. We want to know the other, to be familiar and to feel the warmth of that. We want to feel comforted by their physical nearness. But in desire, we want something else — something unpredictable and unfamiliar. We want the excitement that comes with seeking out and discovering that the one we are seeking has been seeking us too. We want the excitement that comes with the mystery, the uncertainty and the unpredictability of that. As explained by Perel, the qualities of a relationship that grow love — mutuality, protection, safety, predictability, protection, responsibility for the other — are the very things that will smother desire.
The desiring mind is not necessarily a politically correct one — but it is an exciting one and one we deserve to experience. Desire comes with a range of feelings that would make our everyday, socially appropriate selves gasp with the inappropriateness of it all — jealousy, possessiveness, naughtiness, power, selfishness. Too often, the very things that turn on Looking for intimacy ltr sexuality and our desire between the sheets are the same things we will push against once the bed is made.
We make the mistake of not asking for that which might nurture our desire because we confuse it with selfishness. So instead we act from a place of selflessness. The problem with this is that is can starve our desire.
Desire by its very nature is selfish — but the very best kind of selfish — the capacity to stay in tune with the self, while being with another. There is a time and a place to fully engage with our self so we can be aware of and meet our sexual needs and feel the feelings that come with desire. There is a time to put our responsible, selfless part aside and experience our desiring self in the fullest. Neediness and desire cannot exist together.
Nothing will kill desire quicker than neediness. Nobody will be turned on by somebody who is needy for them or who has an expectation of them as their caretaker. In relationships, the more connected we become, the more responsible we also become and the less able we are to be selfish — to let go — in the presence of another. Over time we lose the connection with the part of ourselves that experiences desire. Desire involves letting go enough to be able to fantasise, to imagine, to be completely in our own head and our own body while being with another, but Looking for intimacy ltr responsible for another.
Through her research, Perel has found a of ways to increase desire. We know this one. Desire flourishes in absence. When we are apart, we shift away from the day to day responsibility we feel for and share with our partner and reconnect with that which is unfamiliar and exciting. Desire is cramped by the familiar. With distance we are able to feel mystery, longing and anticipation — the hallmarks of desire. We see others drawn to them and we see them exude a confidence that we Looking for intimacy ltr not typically see.
However much we might love the person we see at home or on holidays or in the everyday, seeing them in an unfamiliar light as confident, knowledgeable, expert and sought after, inspires the unfamiliar which in turn feeds desire.
During these times, we are not close up. We watch from a comfortable distance and in this space, this person who is so familiar becomes mysterious, exciting, unpredictable. In that moment, we are changed for a while and we are open to the excitement and mystery that is within touching distance. This is when love and desire share the space. To find the desire or to bring it back into a relationship we have to look to ourselves first, rather than making the issue one of what our partner can do to make us desire him or her more.
Ask yourself the question: When do you shut yourself off from desire? Is it when you feel exhausted? When you feel selfish for wanting? When receiving pleasure feels wrong? Similarly, ask when you turn your desire on. When do YOU turn your desire on.
This is a different question to asking what turns you on. One comes from the self, one comes from the other. Is it when you miss your partner? When you feel good about yourself? When you feel like you deserve to look after yourself?
Who are you when you feel desire? Embrace that part of yourself. Desire is about a space you go into where you stop being the responsible, well-behaved human who looks after others and takes care of things. Desire happens when you can be completely available to, and connected with, yourself while you are with another. Is it a spiritual space, a naughty space, a playful space or a place of complete surrender. Forget spontaneity.
It takes effort. Bringing back passion into a relationship takes a deliberate effort. What does work is deliberately creating opportunities and space to be with each other. Desire, sex and physical intimacy are worth the fight and should never be looked on as a bonus extra. They are the heartbeat of relationships and the lifeblood of connection and intimacy. We deserve to experience desire in the fullest. We deserve it for ourselves and for our relationships. I suspect now that it is to do with the fact that I have been feeling less and less desire for him.
We work together and live together and we enjoy it too because we make a great team. Lately, we have started therapy to provide some insight into my unhappiness. I am very emotional and good at opening up to him, he is a great listener.
Do you have any ideas here? Your article has inspired me to focus on spending time apart more and to take control of my desires. I used to desire him and initiate but was hurt from rejection a few times that I just stopped altogether. Sometimes I think I will surprise him tonight with sex and then lose confidence. When he initiates however I feel myself pull away which really bugs me. Any suggestions?
My problem is not losing desire for a partner in a long term relationship. This happens to me within weeks of meeting someone, usually after a couple of sexual encounters. I not only lose desire my body shuts down sexually and I suffer from severe sexual dysfunctions that make sex stressful and unpleasant.
I want a long term relationship but every time I try these dysfunctions crop up and II have no reason why. This was a VERY good, well written and thought out article. Thank you!! Married 13 years to Looking for intimacy ltr pretty good guy with a lovely home and 2. This has tended to shut me off from expressing a lot of deeper fears and feelings. Sex was never great. He has a low libido and some degree of performance difficulty. My husband knows and we have been separated under the same roof for over 6 months.Looking for intimacy ltr
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