Thursday, April 26, 2012

Intimacy, Love, and sexual desire

One of the areas that has caught my attention is our sexual desires and eroticism. I am reading a book by Esther Perel, ``Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic.'' The basic premise, so far, is the necessary distinction that one has to make between intimacy, love, and sexual desires. Here is an interesting quote:
Sexual desire does not obey the laws that maintain peace and contentment between partners. Reason, understanding, compassion, and camaraderie are the handmaidens of a close, harmonious relationship. But sex often evokes unreasoning obsession rather than thoughtful judgment, and selfish desire rather than altruistic consideration. Aggression, objectification, and power all exist in the shadow of desire, components of passion that do not necessarily nurture intimacy. Desire operates along its own trajectory. ---p. 31, Mating in Captivity
When I put these in the context of my recent encounters with my dark side, things make more sense. World around us is truly an amazing place, full of imperfections, at least to our intellectual minds and our preset values and convictions. Or, as I have recently come to appreciate more and more, everything has good and bad side, every thing!

 The caring, protective elements that nurture home life can go against the rebellious spirit of carnal love. We often choose a partner who makes us feel cherished; but after the initial romance we find ... that we can't sexualize him or her. We long to create closeness in our relationships, to bridge the space between our partners and ourselves, but, ironically, it is this very space between self and other that is the erotic synapse. In order to bring lust home, we need to re-create the distance that we worked so hard to bridge. Erotic intelligence is about creating distance, then bringing that space to life. ---p.32, Mating in Captivity

I suggest that our ability to tolerate our separateness---and the fundamental insecurity it engenders---is a precondition for maintaining interest and desire in a relationship. Instead of always striving for closeness, I argue that couples may be better off cultivating their separate selves. If cultivating separateness sounds harsh, let's think of it instead as nurturing a sense of selfhood. The French psychologist Jacques Salome talks about the need to develop a personal intimacy with one's own self as a counterbalance to the couple. ---p.37, Mating in Captivity

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