Grant Me Identity, Belonging, Eroticism, Safety, and Mystery

The Paradox of Passion and Love in Long-Term Relationships

Why does the intensity of sexual desire often diminish even among couples who deeply cherish one another? What drives the belief that extramarital affairs or a multitude of partners will bring fulfillment and joy? Why is it that satisfying sexual experiences do not always foster intimacy, and conversely, why does profound intimacy not always translate to fulfilling sex, despite common misconceptions?

Can our deepest desires be for what is already within our grasp? Why does the allure of the forbidden stir such intense eroticism? Why does the natural act of sex, which creates life, often spell intimacy and sexual discord for many couples? When we are truly in love, how do those feelings compare to the experience of raw desire?

Is it a matter of Romanticism versus Desire? Is sexual engagement primarily about pleasure and connection rooted in desire? Why do desire and connection wane over time in long-term relationships?

Balancing Security and Adventure in Relationships

Sustaining desire and connection in a long-term relationship fundamentally hinges on two core human needs:

  1. Security and Predictability: The grounding experiences of reliability and permanence, which we often call “home.”
  2. Novelty and Adventure: Our innate yearning for security coupled with a desire for excitement and mystery within the same relationship. We crave novelty, adventure, and passion with our partners.

During the dating phase, imagination thrives, making the experience thrilling with elements of anticipation and surprise. When couples lose this imaginative spark and surprise, it often feels like no effort is being made. But should maintaining a relationship be hard work?

Historically, marriage was an institution serving economic, social status, succession, and lifelong companionship. Fast forward to the 21st century, we now seek more: love, desire, passion, security, a confidant, a passionate lover, a family, all while living much longer lives.

Navigating Modern Relationship Dynamics

Today, women assert their needs both in the bedroom and the boardroom. They are louder, have a voice, and are encouraged to pursue and achieve it all. Men, on the other hand, face the challenge of being both vulnerable and masculine simultaneously, often leading to an identity crisis, leaving them feeling unfulfilled, confused, and perceived as failures.

We’ve shifted from traditional relationship models with clearly defined roles to an era where everyone is improvising their roles. This leads to a paradox where individuals feel isolated within committed relationships, failing to forge deeper connections.

What Do We Truly Seek?

We clamor for “Identity, Belonging, Eroticism, Safety, and Mystery,” yet we lack a clear roadmap and effective communication. Navigating through new experiences—be it career, marriage, or parenthood—requires self-compassion and understanding…

Love vs. Desire

What is the relationship between love and desire? While love is about having, desire necessitates imagination and effort. Desire thrives without neediness and without falling into parenting dynamics within the relationship, which stifles desire.

Successful long-term relationships operate on a “Serve & Return” model, devoid of selfishness. There is no “I,” only “we.” Couples who withstand the test of time maintain open, respectful communication without resorting to yelling, name-calling, or swearing. They understand that resentment breeds contempt, which erodes love and leaves bitterness.

Overcoming Challenges

For relationships facing challenges like substance abuse or excessive drinking, it is crucial to address these issues early to prevent them from undermining love and desire. In an era of instant gratification, we must remember that relationships require effort—there are no escalators, only stairs. Relationships demand education, patience, persistence, loyalty, and the delicate balance of connection and bonding over time.

Couples counselling and therapy provide the tools to navigate these challenges, offering professional guidance to strengthen and maintain momentum in the relationship journey.

Inspired by Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity”

5 Steps to a better more connected relationship over 30days

Relationship DISCLOSURE is designed to get to the root of your problems.

Developing and creating a strong bond with your partner takes work. There are many levels in life and each level brings with it many challenges: From the honeymoon, buying a home, careers, becoming new parents, poor health, no sex, to looking after aging parents and much more in between. Couples need to master communication skills to not only survive but to thrive over the years to come. ** Private health rebates may apply

Couples Counselling Services Australia | DIPAC