The Paradox of Love and Desire
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because there is a great paradox between what we say we want from a relationship, but biologically what our mind and body needs for fulfilment.
You may find this confronting because it sits outside societal norms of what we have been indoctrinated into believing but I’m going to be brave enough to say it anyway, if you’ll be brave enough to hear it.
The longevity of a monogamous relationship is a sure fire passion killer for desire. It could be argued that those that have high levels of desire will never be satisfied in long-term relationships unless they have truly found their sexual equal, and that’s not so easy to come across. Many couples confuse that early insatiable drive from when they first met, with something that is going to be long lasting.
Most would agree that you can still be in love, but have lost that sexual desire for each other but what we don’t often think about is that just because sexual desire has gone from the two of you it does not mean that you have lost it altogether. It still lives in you, just not in your current relationship.
I know, this isn’t something society readily wants to admit to – however in my many conversations with both men and women around why people cheat is that the secret desires many harbour often involve people outside their marriage.
In my experience, these people undeniably love their partners and while that may not sit well with you let me explain a little about love and sexual desire.
Love – is unity, the bonding, reliability and dependability
Desire – risky, intoxicating, inspired, ravishing
They are innately different experiences and long term love frequently kills sexual desire. .
As Sex Psychologist Esther Perel describes, “Love is the things that anchor us, and if there is an antidote to desire, it’s neediness.” In this context, you see the paradox of a loving long term relationship that is still fuelled with desire for each other. According to Dr. Perel, we are drawn to something to stabilize us, yet it kills our passion.
Keeping desire alive in a long term relationship requires as deeper commitment as what it does to love. On one hand, couples wish to have that fulfilled, secure, safe loving bond – but they aren’t both committed to the process of fulfilling each others desires. Love becomes something inherent and a part of our being. Desire requires constant fuel to keep it alive.
I fully support the concept that love must be at the core of every human being to live a fulfilled life however we can love without sexual attachment which is evident in our love of self; children; parents and friends.
However an intimate relationship will not survive on love alone and the notion that desire is not important is flawed. It often comes down to a religious belief that is born from concepts like ‘sins of the flesh’. From the brains perspective, our instincts rely on survival – survival means critical heightened awareness and a propensity to be drawn to things that excite, stimulate and motivate us and this manifests in our relationships as desire.
What I recommend in couples is that you fully acknowledge the importance of desire to our happiness. Monogamous relationships will always have to work on this to succeed to a manner in which you are both sexually fulfilled.
There is often commentary when I write about monogamy and desire in that it changes with hormones, time and various parts of our lives. This is duly noted, I am not dismissing that – however we are also in control of desire by changing our acceptance of it’s importance in our lives.
The high probability is, if you want it, you can have it.