That Lovin Feeling

You know that feeling you get when you first start dating, the one you want to last forever but it always goes away?

That sense of excitement, the energy, the desire.

We experience it for a short time and then, for some reason it suddenly vanishes. I recently watched Esther Perel’s TED talk, The Secret to Desire in a long term relationship. As a coach focused on courage, communication and connection I’m thinking to myself as I watch this, “Yes!! Yes!!! She’s got it!! That’s how I’ve been feeling and someone finally put it into words!!!”

Esther Perel is a couples and family therapist who focuses on erotic intelligence.

I found that she beautifully and easily articulated what these feelings are like while also exploring them in depth, helping us to learn why it goes away and what we can do to help maintain it.

Divorce rates are through the roof, heck I’m one of those statistics! So if I can do something different, take a different perspective on my next relationship and get a different result, then I’m open to doing that.

Both her TED talk and her book, “Mating in Captivity” explore the relationship between love and desire.  She has, in her 30 years as a couples therapist, observed that a major component of desire is rooted in absence and longing.  The ability to maintain your autonomy and independence from your partner are key to maintaining desire she says. Listen closely to the area of her talk where she describes what couples said when asked, “When do you find yourself most drawn to your partner?”

Have you noticed that when you got married or you were dating that you lost yourself in the relationship? You gave everything you had and didn’t save anything for yourself? Where did that person go once you entered a romantic relationship?  We seem to have the expectation in us that when we meet someone we want to or should spend as much of our time with them as we can.  After all we are a couple!

I’m certainly guilty of this, both in my marriage and in relationships since. Esther’s comments made me wonder, how has the fact that, for the last 30 years many of us “shacked up” rather than got married, affected the divorce rate? Did we think we were doing it differently by not tying the knot but in the end it wasn’t any different?  We still lost ourselves.

Our expectations around what we want from our partner have become next to impossible to achieve, and this is from both men and women. We say I need security but I also need adventure.  This quote from the Ted talk sums it up perfectly.

“Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise and we think it’s a given that toys and lingerie are going to save us with this.”

Yes!! I find myself saying!  You nailed it.  And then I said, “Mmm.”

How realistic is this?  How can we possibly expect one person to be all of those things to us and how can we possibly be that for someone else?

Marcel Proust says, “Mystery is not about travelling to new places, it’s about looking with new eyes.”  Esther suggest s that this is part of the key to maintaining desire, to look at our lover with new eyes, eyes that look from a distance rather than close up.

Deep down many of us long for connection, we struggle to find the courage to ask for what we want intimately from our partners. And often we just can’t find the words to communicate our wanting.  But what if it’s only in maintaining our autonomy that we can really have these things with our partners?

I think Esther has found the key, the question is will you use it to unlock your door?

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Comments

I've been in a long term relationship for 34 years. I believe that if you demand that your partner spend all his time with you it can make you appear very needy--and no one wants a clingy, needy partner! I believe it's necessary to have common interests, but people also need some "space" and allowed each other to have their own interests. Having your own interests can make you more interesting! A little time apart also helps--it's true "absence makes the heart go fonder!"

I also think that TV contributes to making us believe that we should be having wild passionate sex all the time--If both partners are happy with the frequency and quality of their physical relationship, that's all that maters--and yes, it still is possible to have a sex life after 34 years-- not 3 times a day, like in the early years, but it's all good!

Hi Dianne!
As someone with experience I appreciate your input!! I would agree that our society, ie: TV, media, print, all lead us to believe that wild passionate sex is what we should be doing all the time. I believe that Esther Perel is saying what you are saying, however what she sees in her practice is not what you appear to have. I love hearing your feedback on my posts!! Thank you. :)

We live in a throw away world if it stops functioning go get a new one,relationships are that way there's another guy/girl out there to fulfill the need. How about fixing the broken one and improving ourselves to find the lost desire the lost interest in each other, whether its in the bedroom or in what we do every day. Sex is a big part of a relationship if that need is not fulfilled we go looking to fulfill that need stop looking communicate,talk to each other eye to eye its not that hard. As we age we loose some desires and fill that need with other things friends,exercise,cars,golf,TV,facebook,internet,alcohol and other things to either numb us or distract us from the problem.
STOP running away talk about it find out what the issues are and see what can be done to improve yourself and the relationship
Enjoy

Hi Glen,
I agree, we do live in a throw away society, even our relationships at times. As a coach I know that many people do not have the skills to communicate well, communication is not just about words. Listening skills are huge, many of us do not know how to do this well as we are so stuck in our opinion and perspective. In good communication we must also have the courage to say how we truly feel and that can often be to scary to do for fear to retaliation. As someone who was married for 24 years and now divorced I can say that there is not a solution for everything in a relationship and sometimes it is better to go your separate ways. Both my ex husband and I are much happier apart than together, having said that it certainly took work on my part to get to this place! Thanks for your comments, it's great to get a discussion going.

I agree with Linda--not all relationships are able to be saved, and not all relationships are healthy to stay in. Sometimes you have to move on for your or you and your children's well being.

Yes some relationships are not worth the time to save as mine was.
it was meant more to the one's that are functioning but have lost some of the romance or have lost the drive due to health or stress issues. These relationships need to look in to what they can do to renew there zest or sense of adventure to rekindle the romance. :-)

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