Long term relationships and desire

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Desire in long terms relationships

We often grow up learning desire and love are closely linked, however in many cases this is far from the truth.

In fact, the results of fantasies recorded in annomous surveys show sex with multiple partners come in at the top.
More interestingly however, who that partner actually is seems to have less significance.

While exploring this topic I found that many of the emotions that create desire, turns us on and makes sex enjoyable are even at the opposite spectrum to the emotion or energy of love.

Love at it’s core is a nurturing and protective emotion, whilst sexual desire is fuelled by obstacles, distance, undertainty, anticipation, the hidden, power dynamics and inequality to mention a few.

So why is it so hard to keep desire alive in long term relationships?

They are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but this does not mean they can’t co-exist and that we can’t have great desire or exciting sex with the ones we love.

Love is about closeness, certainty, care taking and safe attachment.

Desire and excitement is about distance, uncertainty, inequality.

It’s easy to fall in to the trap of comfort, safety and familiarity as this is a core human need designed to ensure our survival as a species, so we naturally gravitate towards this despite its destructive force on desire.

We often give up desire to feel safe and secure and this can cause desire to fade over time.
Because as you have seen above, what feeds desire is the polar opposite of what feeds secure attachment.

Men also often feel they can’t have the sexual experiences they really want with the woman they love because they have learned they should treat a woman with respect (and we should), however some of the emotions that create our hottest sexual experiences are not deemed respectful.

This brings up the question of shame and we will deal with that later.
Right now I want to pose a question:

Is it respectful to hide who we are from the person we love?

Is it not more respectful to share who we really are, and allow our partners to do the same, than to pretend, hide and supress our desires?

So how can we have security and excitement in the same relationship?

Before giving you the solution to that question I want to put it into context.

As children we get the feeling of safety often from our parents.

This safety allow us to go explore the world and experience excitement and have new experiences.

When we feel scared we run back to our parents for safety.

As we become adults we try to merge both these into one person; our romantic relstionship, and we suddenly expect one person to provide both the safe attachment and the excitement.

This will prove problematic as they are opposites and therefore often subdue each other.

I came to realise that we don’t have to be one thing all the time.,
Just like we don’t feel one emotion all the time or act the same way all the time with different people.

We can also love our partner and at other times express other sexual emotions towards our partner.
Being kind has it’s place but being the same all the time is not fully sharing the human experience.

Whilst some of the more hidden parts of sexuality and desire that we will discuss in this book are often seen as not being loving, I would argue that sharing openly and vulnerably, being accepted… is a critical part of love and makes the connection stronger.

So how can you create novelty, unpredictability, anticipation and distance in a long term relationship to keep desire alive?

  1. Plan surprises

People often say that it should’nt take planning and should be spontaneous.
Think about this for a minute.

When you started dating nothing was spontaneous.

You would plan a time and place to meet;
someone would organise the date; you would both spend time and energy getting ready;
Then you would go on the date not knowing what exactly would happen (uncertainty).
You would imagine what you would like to happen (anticipation) and the experience was new (novelty) hence why you felt desire.

It wasn’t spontanaety but a planned effort that took energy and time.
So rather than keep going to the same restaurant and then back to the bedroom, or simply going to the bedroom and expecting desire to appear despite none of the conditions for desire being there (novelty, uncertainty and anticipation)… you could spend more of your time planning a date that incorporates all these things.

So let’s look at them one by one.

You could pick a new place and then send her an email saying she should meet you at x location and x time and wear x sexy dress dress.

This makes it a new experience (novelty) but it also creates uncertainty as she does not know what will happen so leave out details on purpose (anticipation) as she will start thinking about the experience far in advance.

Can you see the similarties to when you first started seeing each other?

So by recreating the same conditions you can rekindle the desire.

  1. Have time apart

I know some of you may live together, and if you do make sure you have time apart.

If you come home every day and do the same thing, sit together and then go to bed to have sex, then none of the conditions for desire are there and so it’s more likely it will be lacking.

If instead you both book time with your friends so you are apart.

Enjoy hobbies you can go to that does not involve your partner, or even go on some trips apart.

That way there is also new things to learn about each other.

Space is where desire can breathe and grow Longing can build.

We can start to miss and desire what we don’t have all the time but seldom desire what we do
We need a gap to bridge.
The space, the obstacle, the uncertainty and novely of what is on the other side and if it can be ours is the fuel of desire.

If I put you in the desert without water you will feel a great desire for water very fast… but if you have it next to you all the time you feel little desire for it and simply drink when you feel a little thirst, and I guarentee it doesn’t feel half as satisfying.

  1. Social settings

As we spend so much time together one on one, we get so familiar that we often forget the parts of our partner that initially attracted us and made us feel desire.

This is why sometimes being in a social context together and seeing each other with other people can allow us to see our partner from a new perspective, again rekindling that desire we felt.

Seeing how other respond to them will remind us of their desirability.

They will like act and behave in a different way to the habits you recognise, and so you can see your partner in a new light (novelty) and that can help you both feel your desire again.

Seeing other people desiring your partner will help you get in touch with the desire you initially felt for your partner.