“I love her very much, we have a lot of fun. But the sex is gone”
“I’m not attracted to him anymore.”
“It’s like the more someone rejects me, the more I want them. This guy likes me very much and he’s very sweet but the desire is just not there because I know he would never reject me.”
“We want what we can’t have I guess. When she told me she was leaving me, all of a sudden I wanted her more. We had the best sex we had had in years.”
“This happens to me every time. I’m fine for the first year or so and then the desire just dies. Am I choosing the wrong people for me?”
We’ve all heard the story. At first you can’t get enough of each other. At first, you can’t wait to have hot, steamy sex over and over again. All the time. But then your need for security, routine and intimacy kicks in and you want to get closer and closer. As the intimacy increases, the sex slowly dies. A sexless relationship is more common than you think, just not talked about. More often than not, “the relationship is not about sex anymore, it’s grown into a more mature, seasoned, meaningful commitment.” And you tell yourself this is what is supposed to happen. You may even tell yourself it’s a good thing. Until you become bored and unhappy.
Recently, I have had time to ponder on my current relationship and past ones trying to figure out what went wrong and what is working. One thing is for sure, independence and separateness definitely fuels my desire. Smothering and total enmeshment on the other hand are great for a safe attachment but they kill the fire. Quickly. It turns out, I’m not the only one. I have talked about independence and separateness in relationships here before in two different posts. Spending time alone when you are in a relationship seems counter intuitive. Why should you? Isn’t companionship what we crave the most?
I’ve been reading Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity. She suggests that “our ability to tolerate our separateness-and the fundamental insecurity it engenders-is a precondition for maintaining interest and desire in a relationship.” Couples who love each other very much may find themselves in a sexless relationship. This happens because the relationship is too intimate. “Love enjoys knowing everything about you, desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it.” The ways she puts it, the relationship has become a flannel nightgown – it’s cozy, warm, comfortable. You want to cuddle or sleep in it but it doesn’t inspire much eroticism. In fact, the more someone loves you the more they become asexual to you. The more someone needs for you to take care of them the less attractive they become.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t get close, have intimacy or rely on each other. We just need to make sure there is a healthy balance between that and cultivating separateness or nurturing a sense of selfhood – The quality that constitutes one’s individuality; the state of having an individual identity. Just like we need to nurture a relationship, we need to nurture ourselves, our hobbies, our friendships, our need for lonesome excitement, adventure and new experiences. We need to nurture our beliefs, values, lifestyle choices, self-care habits, weird quirks, passions, dreams, etc and hope they don’t clash with our partner’s.
Independence is sexy. Confidence is sexy.
Nurture your selfhood. Hold on to yourself. Be comfortable doing things alone, spending time alone. Your relationship will be much better off for it.