Thoughts on Mating in Captivity

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I’m totally engrossed in a book called Mating in Captivity, Unlocking Erotic
Intelligence, by Esther Perel.  It’s
fascinating, and very thought provoking. 
I’m not finished yet, so I can’t give it a thorough review, but I wanted
to blog about one of the concepts she introduces.  I think I’ll have fodder for several
installations with this one book!

Perel states, “I suggest that maybe the waning of romance is less about the
bounds of familiarity and the weight of reality than it is about fear.  Eroticism is risky.  People are afraid to allow themselves these
moments of idealization and yearning for the person they live with.  It introduces a recognition of the other’s
sovereignty that can feel destabilizing. 
When our partner stands alone, with his own will and freedom, the
delicateness of our bond is magnified.” (pg 12)

This is interesting to me because many relationship models suggest that
romance (and with it, sex) fades in long term relationships because of comfort
and familiarity.  Baggy sweats and
tattered t-shirts just aren’t that sexy. 
But here, Perel is suggesting something deeper.  And while she’s suggesting it in the context
of one couple, I think she’s onto something bigger.  So far she hasn’t expanded on it as fully as
I’d like, but we’ll see.

She’s suggesting that we spend so much time creating unity, compatibility
and comfort within the relationship, and then we are afraid to rock the
boat.  The emotions that accompany long
term unions are geared toward unity and togetherness, while passion and romance
thrive in the space between two people, in their differences rather than their
similarities.  To me, the idea of my
beloved’s sovereignty creates a thrill. 
I WANT him to stand on his own, to be decisive and to surprise me.  That’s sexy to me.  Granted, I’m also someone with a strong need
for new experiences, but I suggest that even if that’s not true for you, your
passion might still be ignited by a little separation. 

Maybe we’re afraid to allow ourselves these “moments of idealization and
yearning” because we’re afraid our partner won’t live up to our yearning.  We expect him to be predictable, and we’re
afraid that if he’s not, we’ll be disappointed. 
We are afraid that if he steps away and claims his sovereignty, that who
he becomes in that space will not please us. 
What if the opposite were true?  What if, in stepping into that space, he
creates an updraft that reignites the flames of passion again?

Fear and exhilaration are two sides to the same coin.  The physical symptoms are virtually
identical; the only difference lies in the stories our minds create about those
symptoms.  Make up a new story and see
what happens.

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