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Mating in Captivity: How Creating Distance Can Keep Us Together

In Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, couples therapist and author Esther Perel explores the possibility of sexual desire co-existing with intimacy. She points out the paradox in long-term relationships that creates conflict between the erotic and the domestic areas of life: “Love seeks closeness, but desire needs space to thrive.”  This post is the second in a series of posts in which we’re exploring how to love consciously, confidently and how to step into fear and not away from it.

MatingInCaptivity2In my own life and counseling practice, I am often asked how to keep the sex spark alive. According to Perel, creating some emotional and physical distance in your relationship can inject a little mystery and curiosity, which serves to inspire passionate desire and help you stay together. Based on years of counseling couples and conducting interviews around the globe, she identifies three themes related to togetherness:

Individuality Is A Turn-On

Usually, what initially drew us to our partners were their uniqueness, their passion, and their talent. Space in a relationship allows room for individual development. Each partner needs to reclaim his or her individuality and sexual, erotic selves, independent of the other. Fantasy is a valuable imaginative resource that allows you go anywhere in your imagination as a pure expression of individual freedom.

Merging Into One Actually Stops Connection From Occurring

When two people become so fused they are co-joined, there is no longer any one to connect with and thus connection no longer can happen. The paradox of intimacy and sex is that a certain degree of separateness is a precondition for connection.

Desire Blossoms From A Comfortable Distance

Much of desire is born of the unknown, in anticipation, out of curiosity. Much of intimacy stifles these elements, in favor of knowing security and valuing reliability. Often, with deep emotional connection we develop a sense of responsibility for the other that turns resentful and burdensome. We no longer choose our partner; we are obligated with the choice. Spend some time apart from your partner, and allow each to see the other from an enticingly different perspective.

Togetherness is a big topic. What’s your thoughts on Perel’s perspective?  Comment on this post or share on our Facebook page.

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