How to reconcile the erotica and life: what to do if the desire is gone

We publish a chapter from the book Reproduction in Captivity: How to Reconcile Erotica and Life, the main expert of our time Esther Perel on how to keep passion and desire in long-term relationships. shares with you an opener from this wise, witty and very honest book. She will change your relationship and revive the desire inherent in the first days of love.

Selfishness of intimate pleasures

... When James first entered my office, he sat down and said:"We have a great marriage with Stella, but sex has always been a problem."It seems to James that the relationship with Stella suppresses his sexuality, and he is very nervous because of this erotic incompatibility. No matter how excited he is, as soon as Stella approaches, he begins to think only about whether he will cope with the task. There is no question of pleasure and pleasure, while James thinks only about one thing. He can not flirt, can not try anything new, because everything that knocks him out of the usual rut, increases the risk.And fears trigger a chain reaction, and James’s insecurity paralyzes Stella. She feels that he is somewhere in his thoughts, not here, complaining about his carelessness; this has been going on for several years ...

Stella and I have a great marriage, but sex has always been a problem.
Photo: Getty Images

James and Stella in a dead end

... They habitually explain their sexual problems by the lack of necessary chemistry between them; both think it is forever and nothing can be done. For years, James thought helplessly about the same thing:“Our problem should be the source. Is it someone's fault, and if not mine, then whose fault? Apparently, this is Stella's fault. She is to blame for everything. ”. Analyzing the problem of James’s lack of sexual desire, I, however, find its reason in childhood impressions. Gradually, James begins to understand himself better and even empathize with himself. I ask him to take responsibility for what is happening in the present. Together, we gradually separate self-flagellation from a sense of responsibility and draw up a plan of action. The causal relationship we found partly improves Stella's self-esteem ...

They habitually explain their sexual problems by the absence of the necessary chemistry between them; both think it is forever and nothing can be done

In one of the conversations, James said that Stella has a difficult character. “Perhaps it is,” I replied, “butif you made love to her more often, your wife would have a completely different character. The fact is that the frustration and dissatisfaction that a person feels when no one touches his body, no one strokes him, does not hug, does not caress, can bring him to a white glow. It turns out that unsatisfied excitement transforms into rage.

I say words to Stella, which I have repeatedly said to those who, although they love their partner, but are not wanted: “You know that he loves you. You never doubted it, and that is why you are still together. It is unbearable for you to think that he never wanted you. It seems to you that the sexual and erotic relationships in your couple are completely dependent on you, and so it is. You have lost the wealth of sexual sensations, abandoning it for the sake of emotional security. And this, of course, is a cruel deal. ” Tears ran down Stella's face: the glacier is melting so slowly. And it becomes clear how hard it has been for all these years to feel the desire and to feel rejected.It is impossible not to take it so close to the heart, not to interpret it as a complete absence of sexual interest from a partner and not to lose faith in yourself ...

Photo: Getty Images

I explain to James: "Love and desire are not the same.Cozy is not the same as sexy. Your wife understands that you love her. But she also needs to feel that you want her. See your desire, see all its manifestations and make sure that it is in harmony with her own feelings. There is no way you can relax and allow yourself to satisfy your own hedonistic desires, and this makes her angry. Your passivity is annoying, your courtesy is the complete opposite of her fantasies. It is difficult to surrender to the feelings of those who do not allow this to themselves.

Your wife understands that you love her. But she also needs to feel that you want her.

In the life of the couple there was a turning point.James and Stella have a falling out. She was upset; it seemed to her that nothing would ever change. At first, he wanted to hug her and calm her down, but he was afraid that this was not what she wanted. Stella seemed to be pissed off. And then James managed to forget about his constraint and still hugged her.At first she did not answer, but he did not give up. Previously, in such situations, James retreated and tried to guess the desire of Stella. And now he allowed himself to focus on his own feelings, and this aroused him. He stroked her back, and she began to calm down: Stella realized that James was near and accepted her, that he was able to cope with her flash. And then it happened that both of them, without saying a word, were called "a fantastic love act." Instead of ecstasy, they experienced a quiet merger: the two bodies met after a long separation and understood each other.

And then James managed to forget about his constraint and still hugged her

A pattern of behavior is created by both partners, but one can change it. At our next meeting, James described himself as “confident and assertive” and was surprised himself, as the feeling that he was now in control of the situation charged him with energy. He took control of himself - and finally lost control of himself. That dungeon, which they themselves erected with Stella, opened slightly. James escaped from the behavioral pattern, and it inspired him and showed what erotic possibilities open up before both. For the first time in many yearsJames suddenly began to fantasize about his own wife: what they could do together, where it would happen. He returned the part of himself lost due to constant stress ...

Photo: Getty Images

Over the years I have met quite a few people who, like James and Stella, have sexual relations close to ascetic, although the outside of the bedroom is completely different. With each such pair, we explore the underlying causes of erotic stagnation. We are looking for the initial causes of emotional clips and reveal the aspects of a relationship that do not get rid of them. It is quite comfortable for people to begin work with such research; they happily learn to change the future with the help of the past.

Even more useful information, cases from practice and tips in the book of Esther Perel "Reproduction in captivity: how to reconcile erotica and life" of the publishing house "MIF".