On Mating in Captivity – Help for those in a sexless relationship

It can happen to any of us – and perhaps it will happen to all of us. You love your partner. And you know they love you. You created a good life together.  They make you laugh. They get you thinking about things differently. They keep you on track.

So why did your sex life disappear? Esther Perel, a family and couple’s therapist in New York city knows why. In her book, Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic + the Domestic Perel explains how familiarity breeds a lack of desire in relationships that were once filled with passion.  The unfortunate truth is that this is almost inevitable, as the heckic-ness of daily life keeps us so busy and disconnected from our partners, that familiarity soon grows into disengagement. And once disengaged from our partners, the journey back to connection can feel daunting.

The good news is that conscious awareness of the challenges of maintaining passion in long term relationships is an important first step in keeping passion alive, or restoring passion to your existing relationship. Perel suggests a wide variety of ‘usual’ activities, like masturbation and role play, to re-awaken passion. These techniques create a lack of predictability during sex that counteracts the disinterest brought about by familiarity.

Perel is unique in her potentially troubling claim that good sex is about the interplay of power between partners, and that erotic vitality requires us to move beyond our notions of what is fair and equal in a relationship to embrace our most erotic imaginings.  For many feminists, using  power relations to excite sexuality  is problematic, and potentially misogynistic. However, this misses the insights in Perel’s work that recognize that relationships always are shaped by power dynamics. Power is enacted through the body as part of the social process – and there is no escaping this.  Consciously utilizing the subtle and not so subtle effects of power in our sexual relationships works to keep passion alive, in the bedroom and beyond.  Power, when used with loving awareness is the foundation for playful sexuality.

So, if you are looking to put passion and play back into the bedroom and beyond, give this a read.

Focus on Intentions Not Expectations

Ever want something you didn’t get? Either someone disappointed you, or things didn’t turn out how you planned?

This happens when you have expectations and expectations inevitably lead to disaster. How? Well, expectations include others, even if they don’t know it, and you don’t realize it.

Expectations feel a lot like an agreement, where you assume “if I do this, then this will happen”. When expectations are unspoken, assumptions are unrecognized, and outcomes are not achieved, disappointment follows. You may feel like you put effort in, and didn’t get back what you thought you should.

Sound familiar? Let’s go back to my vision of snuggling by the fire. If I expected this to happen, then I might be disappointed – the dishes, the bills, the dog hair all detract from the joy of that moment! Especially if doing the dishes, paying the bills and vacuuming was someone else’s job this week.

So avoid disappointment by dropping the expectations!

Instead, try creating intentions. And make them simple. For example, if I intend to have a relaxing evening by the fire, I start by focusing on the feeling I wish to create. Intentions are about feelings, not about outcomes. And feelings happen within us. They are not dependent on someone else’s actions.

Despite the dishes, the bills, and the messy floor, I can feel contentment by my fire. I can experience the feelings of relaxation and peace by appreciating the parts of the vision that actually happen – the fire, the apple cider, my warm fuzzy feet!

Ask yourself “what feelings do I wish to experience this December?” Lovingness, peace, gratitude, abundance, joy, excitement, restfulness? Then take notice when they happen.

Feel the power of your intentions as they create the holidays you envision.