Does the space introverts need in a relationship create an opening for better sex?
Does too much intimacy weaken your sexual attraction?
In the beginning…
It seems every relationship starts out hot and heavy. You can’t get enough of each other. You walk around all day dreaming about your new love; their smile, their words, their body. You get to know their daily schedule, their texting style, their scent, their family history, their relationship history. You imagine future plans with them. You imagine breathtaking sex with them. You have breathtaking sex with them.
And then a few months in… the hotness wanes. Why?
Like everyone else, I am out there trying to find love, and once found, make it last. My latest discovery is Esther Perel’s, Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. It is a fascinating read explaining the interplay between intimacy and eroticism.
A point of Perel’s that piqued my interest? Eroticism requires space.
Familiarity breeds intimacy and boredom
Passion is for teenagers and foreigners. — Marge Simpson of The Simpsons
Most of us want the serenity and security of a stable relationship. According to Esther Perel, a couples therapist as well as author of Mating in Captivity, the seeds of intimacy are time and repetition, choosing each other again and again. We learn everything we can about our new lover in an attempt to know them deeply and remove any chance of unpleasant surprises, but eroticism thrives on unpredictability and the unknown. We think all we need is solid and true love. Love is all about having what we want and feeling safe but what about desire?
Desire is about wanting. Desire needs mystery, possibility and space between yourself and your significant other. According to Perel, you don’t need to cultivate separateness in the early stages of falling in love; you still are separate. Boundaries and autonomy are still in place. Eroticism is still alive, residing in that ambiguous space between anxiety and fascination. You are not 100% sure you have your lover’s heart and there are still many facets of your mate undiscovered.
Some couples volley back and forth between familiarity and the erotic with ease — they can buy a home together and be naughty in it too — but many do not.
There is no such thing as safe sex
Other results of intimacy are a deep caring and worrying about the well-being of your partner. Obviously, this should not be seen as a negative side-effect of couplehood, but it can be a detriment to sizzling sex. It’s hard to experience desire when you are weighed down by concern. Is she enjoying herself? Am I hurting her? Does this excite him?
Sex has a vibrant shadow side. Eroticism requires a degree of selfishness, spontaneity, freedom, power, aggression and objectification that most of us spend a good amount of time trying to control. What would the occasional bout of selfishness add to lovemaking? Sizzle or anger? How would that affect the relationship?
Fire needs air
I have often spoken of emotional intimacy and its aphrodisiac effect on me, but is there such a thing as too much intimacy? I do not think so, at least at first. There is such a lovely headiness about falling sweetly into intimacy with another. The genuine heart-soaring feeling of discovering someone who finds you as fascinating and love-worthy as you find them. It can be all-consuming in the best way … for a while. Eventually, all of that ‘becoming one’ eliminates the space between two people that makes them interesting. If we are completely ‘one’ there is no one to discover or connect with. It is an intriguing paradox I believe introverts may feel even deeper than extroverts.
Introverts find separation sexy?
Introverts like space in order to minimize stimulation, process thoughts and recharge. In a relationship, space gives us opportunity to miss and become enchanted again with our mate. The otherness of our partner is intriguing. Separation allows both parties to maintain a strong internal connection with themselves and it makes sharing internal worlds that much more awe-filled.
All people and organisms require periods of work and rest, growth and equilibrium. Separation takes the pressure off of each person to be the growth/action and rest/safe place for the other.
You be you and I’ll be me
Maintaining space and boundaries may also stave off the fear of engulfment I mentioned in Emotional Intimacy: An Introvert’s Ultimate Turn On? It is easy for introverts to get lost in listening and wanting to please, especially if they are intuitive feeling types. Taking time away from each other in order to re-establish identities gives the introvert time to return to him or herself by allowing the focus to return to their internal world (first) as well as their outside activities and relationships. We have all seen or participated in a relationship where one individual gives up his/her activities outside the couple to enhance closeness with their partner. In the end, such changes remove the autonomy their mate was attracted to in the first place.
Back to the secret garden
The solution to intertwining monogamy with eroticism? Nurturing a strong sense of self. Do not be afraid to separate from your mate. You may do this by creating a secret garden like the ones mentioned in How to Keep Emotions in Check and Create Stable Sensual Relationships: The Importance of a Secret Garden. Some examples of secret sanctuaries: a fulfilling career with a sacred place to work, a book you get lost in, your bedroom, a quiet coffee shop where no one knows you, a not-so-quiet coffee shop with your closest friends…
Within these spaces there is spiritual, emotional and intellectual privacy. Maintaining that privacy requires distance, respect and acceptance from the relationship. The relationship thrives because the distance creates space, mystery, intrigue and maybe even some saucy sensuality.
Do you think intimacy and sex are two distinct parts of a relationship? How do you keep monogamy from turning into monotony? Does good intimacy always mean good sex?