Changing the conversation about love and long term relationships
Creating long term intimacy is an art form and takes work, time, dedication, and presence. Psychotherapist Esther Perel is changing the conversation on what it means to be in love and have a fulfilling sex life. She takes her message about erotic intelligence all over the world. She says that we, as humans, have two fundamental needs in relationships, which are actually in contradiction to one another. The first need is our need for security, predictability, safety, dependability, our need to feel home, or need to be loved. The second need is our longing for adventure, novelty, mystery, risk, danger, unknown, surprise, and desire.
In committed relationships, we can develop unrealistic expectations of our partner if we expect them to feed us in every single way possible. But this is easy to do and at some point in relationships, we all do it. We end up asking one person to give us what a village once would have provided. We want belonging, identity, but also transcendence, awe, and mystery all in one.
So how do we cultivate long term passion and love, while asking realistic expectations of our partner?
1. Ever heard, “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” According to Esther Perel, couples are statistically drawn more to their partner when he or she is away. When they reunite, they were able to imagine themselves with their partner in a new way. So try to be playful and imaginative with your partner. Write down the qualities your partner has that attracted you to him or her in the first place. Share these qualities with your partner in a creative, fun way. This can help renew your romance and stir up that “butterfly feeling” we get when we like someone. It will deepen your intimacy and reconnect you both to one another.
2. Couples like seeing each other in their own element, when he or she is doing something they are passionate about, or when he or she is comfortable in their own skin. When we see our partner radiant, and confident, it is the biggest turn on. When we say radiant, we also mean self-sustaining. We are most attracted to our partner when they can take care of themselves and can be true to who they are. Don’t forget you. It is normal and easy to get caught up in someone else’s life when you date (especially if they have a cool life) but make sure to have time to reflect because it will only make you a better partner in the long run. Remember, your partner fell in love with you for all the things you were before you met. Don’t lose sight of what your own goals and dreams are!
3. When we share a new experience with our partner, we feel closer to them. In Perel’s words, “Couples are most drawn towards each other when they could look at this person that is so familiar to them, so close, and momentarily see them as somewhat mysterious, somewhat allusive again. Find a project to do together. Remember that in order to grow together as a couple, you want to be able to feel like to you can teach and learn from one another. The project can be something you both have never done before (like kayaking, cooking new food, or creating costumes for a Halloween party) or it can be something that one of you is really knowledgeable about and wants to share with the other. Stay curious and open to who your partner is and what they bring to the relationship.
4. Remember that you can’t expect everything from one person. We deserve loving support in all aspects of our life, and if your partner doesn’t feed you in a specific way, try hanging out with a friend or mentor who can give you that extra support. It is normal to have multiple outlets for emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Hanging out with a friend can also help take some pressure off of your boyfriend or girlfriend.
5. Communication is very important--in the bedroom and out of the bedroom. Remember that stating your wants and needs, in a way that honors your partner, can only make you closer as a couple. One meaningful way to cultivate intimacy during sex is to make eye contact with your partner. It lets him or her know that you feel connected, safe, and comfortable.
6. Passion in a relationship waxes and wanes, like the moon, but you can always resurrect it if it goes under. You must consciously create time for intimacy in your life with your partner. Esther Perel states, “Committed sex is premeditated sex. It’s willful and intentional. It is focus and presence.”