For many people, monogamy and excitement are mutually exclusive. There is the security and warmth of a long-term partner, but it seems to come at the cost of freedom and sexual passion. Is there room for both to exist within a relationship? This article will look at what relationship experts say about monogamy and desire and strategies for infusing passion and newness into your relationship.
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Can Monogamy and Excitement Co-Exist?
Experts seem to have differing ideas about sustaining sexual desire within a monogamous partnership.
Relationship researcher John Gottman believes that if couples within a partnership are sexually disconnected, it is likely due to underlying emotional issues that need to be addressed. He notes that it is crucial for partners to turn towards each other and demonstrate openness and empathy in communicating their needs. Through prioritizing positive communication and emotional attunement, a couple can then take steps to rekindle their sexual connection.
On the other hand, Esther Perel, psychotherapist and author of the book Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, asserts that creating distance within an intimate relationship is key to maintaining sexual desire. She counters widely held beliefs that sexual problems stem from a lack of emotional closeness within the dynamic. Instead, she posits that too much closeness could negatively impact sexual desire. Perel emphasizes the importance of each individual in the couple maintaining their own sense of identity separate from their partner, which allows space for curiosity and longing to emerge.
Strategies for Igniting Passion in your Relationship
Whether your thinking falls more in line with Gottman or Perel’s ideas about monogamy and desire, here are some ideas for igniting more passion and excitement in your relationship:
- Cultivate your unique identity separate from your partner. Many couples become fused over time, contributing to a loss of sexual desire. To recreate the distance needed for curiosity and longing, consider taking up a new hobby or re-investing in a passion or project you’ve set aside. When you and your partner remember that you’re separate entities with your own autonomy and freedom that continue to grow and change, this can fuel sexual desire and excitement.
- Become aware of the pursuer-distancer pattern in your relationship. Experts identify the pursuer-distancer dynamic as one of the most common contributors to the lack of sexual intimacy. It is characterized by one partner becoming demanding or critical towards the other person, which causes them to withdraw- creating a vicious cycle of disconnection. The first step towards breaking out of this pattern is identifying it is happening. From there, you can move towards each other from a place of empathy, not blaming. If you need support in doing this, consider seeking the support of a couple’s therapist who can help you enhance healthy communication skills within your relationship.
Openly discuss sexual preferences and fantasies with your partner. Some people may feel that sex within a monogamous relationship becomes boring, often following the same routine. Practice engaging in open conversations about what you both might want to try sexually. Maybe this looks like changing up the location of sex or acting out a fantasy that you have never explored before. Remembering that sexual needs and desires may change over time, and keeping open dialogue around these topics, can keep things unpredictable and fulfilling.
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