For the past 30 years I've worked as a couples therapist in New York City. One complaint rings true across all cultures: couples claim to love each other as much as ever, but their sex lives have become dull and devoid of eroticism.
So why does good intimacy not guarantee good sex? What are the obstacles and anxieties we experience when our quest for secure love clashes with our pursuit of passion?
From the moment we come into this world, we straddle a paradox: our need for security, predictability and stability versus our equally strong need for adventure, novelty and discovery. Connection and freedom, love and desire, or the domestic and the erotic — name it as you wish — all these juxtapositions point to an essential predicament.
Never before have we tried to reconcile in one relationship these two set of opposing needs. We are asking the same person to give us both familiarity and excitement, comfort and edge. We want our partner to be the anchor, and the waves.
But what nurtures love, our feelings of responsibility, care, worry, mutuality and protection for our beloved, are sometimes the very ingredients that stifle desire, which lives on the side of unselfconsciousness, freedom, and being carefree.
Love and desire relate, but they also conflict. Therein lies the mystery of eroticism. What makes us feel emotionally secure is not always what turns us on sexually.
If you want to reignite your love life, take on the responsibility of your own desire. Start here:
1. Make a list of 10 things you do to turn yourself on.
Your partner can make the most romantic advances, but if you're shut down and the shop is closed, nothing will happen. How we feel about ourselves is key in how responsive we are sexually.
Instead of saying, "You turn me on when ..." or, "What turns me on is ..." OWN your wanting by saying, "I turn myself on by ... " and, "I awaken my desire when ..." and, "I come to live by ..."
I turn myself on when ...