The Secret Sauce to Desire and Longing
In this TED Talk Esther Perel talks about desire and longing in committed longterm relationships.
“Desire comes with the ability to stay connected to one’s self in the presence of another. If you are dead inside, the other person can do a lot of things for Valentine’s. It won’t make a dent. So it is about: “I turn myself off when…” and “I turn myself on when…”, in stead of “You..” or “What..”.
The paradox between love and desire is that the very ingredients that nurture love are sometimes the very ingredients that stifle desire. Basically most of us will get turned on at night by the very same things that we will demonstrate against during the day. The erotic mind is not very politically correct.
What creates feelings of desire obviously varies from woman to woman, but I believe that the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey is an indication of how starved women are, in particular, for those feelings. In 50 Shades, the protagonist is a 20 something year old virgin (a time free of emotional baggage coupled with raging hormones urging us on to procreate) who has her first sexual experiences, doing things she had never even imagined, with a powerful, emotionally damaged/dangerous and gorgeous man. 50 Shades might actually be the worst book ever written, but what is inherently powerful in this story is the sexual tension that seems to be what women everywhere crave. The unknown, the unpredictable, the threat of possible humiliation (gasp!) and the constant striving for something always just beyond reach, is what I gleaned from the chapters I could muster reading. That tension is the secret sauce starkly missing from the monotony of a stable, monogamous marriage. But isn’t the notion of “security” really an illusion anyway when you really think about it? There is another alternative to depressing, poorly written Mommy Porn…
Esther Perel says:
“I look at this person and I momentarily get a shift in perception, and I stay open to the mysteries that are living right next to me.”
“When I get back in touch with my ability to imagine myself with my partner, rooting it in absence and in longing, which is a major component of desire.”
“When I look at my partner, radiant and confident, from a comfortable distance, where this person that is already so familiar, so known, is momentarily once again somewhat mysterious, somewhat elusive.”
“When there is novelty. Novelty is not about a repertoire of techniques, but about what parts of yourself you bring out and how you express them. It’s a language with it’s poetics.”
“Looking at this as an intelligence, it’s something that you cultivate, with the central agent called the imagination.”