Why Breaking The Rules Is Key To Keeping The Spark Alive In Any Relationship

Photo: Thais Ramos Varela

This Valentine’s Week, we’re setting aside time to honor our relationships with advice from the ultimate expert on love, psychotherapist and best-selling author Esther Perel. Whether you’re single or in a partnership, spending a few extra minutes expanding your knowledge on romance through writing exercises and thoughtful conversation will set you up for a mindful, loving day that will leave you with a greater understanding of love and connection

When was the last time you broke the rules? If it's been a lot longer than you can remember, consider this: When you break the rules, you feel powerful and like you’re doing exactly what you want to do. You feel free, and you don’t feel like there’s something hanging over you. That’s why there’s something so generative in breaking your own rules.

The violation of prohibition as a cornerstone of desire.

Even if it makes you nervous, there's always a small thrill that comes from doing something you're not supposed to do, which is why sexologist Jack Morin always talked about the "violation of prohibition" as one of the four cornerstones of desire. A little bit of rule-breaking goes a long way.

Ask yourself this: How can you introduce small transgressions in the midst of the safe and the predictable? You may know the outcome, but there are so many ways to be playful with each other throughout the day or night.

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A few ideas for breaking the rules:

  • Leave a party early and get a drink together on the way home.
  • Close the door after your babysitter arrives and dedicate the beginning of the evening to each other and arrive at a party late. Or skip the event altogether and go for a walk or bike ride instead.
  • Stay home for a few hours in the morning midweek. Do something that you’re not supposed to do, because breaking the rules and changing the norm together leads to vibrancy.
  • Send a suggestive text during the day or evening. It’s all about talking about sex without talking about sex. Refrain from throwing the idea of sex in the other person’s face—be coy!
  • Drop a note that says, "I saw you in the elevator; has anyone told you how bright your eyes are?"
  • Meet him or her at a party and introduce yourself to your partner as if you’re meeting them for the first time. Once you give yourself the permission, you won't be afraid of acting like a fool or being ridiculed.

This advice comes directly from Esther Perel's mbg class, The Essential Guide To Sparking Your Erotic Intelligence. For more wisdom from Perel, try this exercise on love versus desire.

Esther Perel

Psychotherapist & Author
Psychotherapist Esther Perel is recognized as one of the world’s most original and insightful voices on personal and professional relationships.She is the bestselling author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, translated into 26 languages. Fluent in nine of them, the Belgian native now brings her inclusive, multicultural pulse to The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity (due out October 2017, Harper Collins).The New York Times, in a cover story, named Esther the most important game changer on sexuality and relational health since Dr. Ruth. Esther’s two critically acclaimed viral TED talks have reached over 16 million views in under 3 years and she has consulted on the award-winning Showtime drama, The Affair.In addition to Ms. Perel’s 34-year private practice in New York City, she is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT certified sex therapist, a member of the American Family Therapy Academy, and of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.Perel speaks the unspoken—articulating the hidden psychological states most people can’t yet put into words—and unearths the complicated and contradictory needs that are shaping relationships and commitment today. Learn more at EstherPerel.com or by following @EstherPerelOffical on Instagram.
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Esther Perel

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