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Eroticism Requires Space. Are You Getting Any?

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…

b,w,bed,couple,erotic,sex,shadow-a9eab6e0d33e2eb68d788fe4171226fe_hIt 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 IntelligenceIt 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 wedding-figurines-afpMating 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 couple in bed holding handson 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 kissing her backacceptance 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?



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  1. Michael Buley July 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    i think passion for life, leads to passion in everything. passion in sex, passion in work, passion in play. passion comes from within. if someone is on fire within, then that fire plays out in every area. an excitement for life, for all of it — that comes from within. and each person brings that, or doesn’t.

    i’ve never found that sex becomes mundane. sex is an amazing thing. and all of life is an amazing thing. sex happens to be a very cool one. what a wonderful area to play in, to explore in. we explore each other’s bodies, in the same way we explore each other’s minds — and our own! how exciting! to reach deep into someone’s soul … and to explore the body, too, of the one we love. both mind and body are intensely exciting.

    how much space someone needs, depends on the person, of course.

    you had said in another recent article, that you were looking for beta men. i can’t say i’m a fan of labeling anyone. from my limited knowledge of beta / alpha, sex and fire and passion are in the alpha. alpha is unpredictable. alpha is fire, desire, drive, power, confidence. we’re drawn to fire.

    i think we sometimes want both predictability, and unpredictability. seeking security above all, dampens things. life is unpredictable. in the end, we are our own security, if we realize that. giving freedom to others, wanting others to become whoever they want to become, that is intoxicating and erotic. realizing that every person is an ever changing being, and wanting that ever changing, makes some uncomfortable. for others, it is quite sensual and erotic.

    freedom is exciting — to many of us. not all. can we allow for someone’s freedom, and explore our own, and commit to each other to want the other to be whoever he or she wants to be? and really free each other to be, to explore, to become?

    we run from constraints. we run toward freedom. freedom to breathe, to be. sometimes alone. sometimes with the one we love.

    change is an important part of actually being alive. are we changing within? is the one we love changing? are we excited about life? about our own lives? about the life and potential and essence of the one we love? do we see who he or she really is? do we see her passions, her gifts, her genius? do we believe in each other with a fire? are we the greatest fan of the one we love?

    we never own another. we don’t need to. love, i think you quoted from an article, is having all that we want. i disagree. love is freeing the other person to be whoever he or she is. love says, ‘go and be all that you can be. i will be here when and if you need me. i see you. i believe in you. you are astoundingly beautiful.’ love isn’t about us. love is about the other person shining and becoming.

    the greatest gift we can give to another, is to truly see him or her. believe in this beautiful man or woman. express that belief. and be the biggest believer and excited fan that he or she has ever known.

    we are all beautiful, and infinite, and mysterious, and light and dark, and quite astounding spirits in these beautiful human bodies.

    i want to be with someone who is excited about me … and with someone about whom i am excited. how can wonderful sex not be part of that? and the excitement shouldn’t wane with time … not if we stay excited about life, about ourselves, about this journey, and about the infinite spirit that we might have the privilege of seeing and loving and believing in.

    such wonderful things to explore. all of it. who we are. who the other is. and sex is a beautiful part of loving and exploring and a man being a man, and a woman being a woman.


    • Brenda Knowles July 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      Hmmm lots to think about Michael. I should have put beta males in quotes. I don’t like labels either. Thanks for pointing a light on that for me. You believe sex, fire and passion are in the alpha. I’ve experienced that but also those traits in more ‘beta males’. The ‘betas’ have been more in tune with me.
      My mind is working over the need for freedom and the need for security and which denotes love. Lately, I’ve been reading and learning more about the freedom within a secure relationship. I think that’s what I want. When someone, as you said, supports you and wants you to shine but is also there when you return from shining.
      Thanks, as always, for your insightful comments Michael.:)

      • Michael July 20, 2016 at 3:59 pm - Reply

        Brenda, thanks for your words back.

        Alpha, beta … we just want whole people. a man who loves being a man, in every sense of the word — and that isn’t at all just about sex. the yin, the yang. the balance. in touch with masculine, with feminine. a woman in touch with all of who she is, too.

        i think men have gotten confused; women, too. the last few decades have not been easy on either sex. men have felt guilty for being men; in many ways, they have feminized themselves to try to feel more accepted, acceptable. women have struggled with being a woman, with being feminine, and have tried on more masculine ways. we keep exploring who we are. and that is so important.

        i think that purpose — why are we here? — if you have that, if a person has that, he or she has a fire from within that is lit. the clearer that purpose is, the more the fire burns brightly. purpose, passion — it is the fire within. and when that fire burns from within, then it’s a beautiful thing. and if you have someone with fire in your life, you have to let that person burn. as Rumi said, be with someone who fans the flames of your passion. not someone who dampens it, disregards it, is afraid of it. instead, blows on those flames.

        great sex, over time, i think that comes from that fire within. if it burns brightly, if we burn brightly, if we are on fire, then when we share bodies, when we share that part of us, that will be with fire, too. today, and years from now.

        are we passionate about ourselves? and the other? if so, then how can all of the relationship not have fire in it?

        of course, fire burns. and nothing is really destroyed. there is new creation after a fire.

        i think the security we really seek, can only be found within. when we are secure within ourselves, then we are free to really love someone for who he or she is. too much of what we call love, is need and dependence. when we are free of needing and depending on another, that person is free simply to be. and so are we.

        love, to me, is truly seeing who the other is. seeing into his or her heart. love must allow, gracefully and gratefully and excitedly, allow the other person to be whoever it is he or she is. encourage it. want it.

        i have found that a person without a purpose, is one that I cannot be around for long. when a person has a purpose, a passion, it is joy to be with him or her.

        without purpose, a person seeks meaning and love in another. and those things can only really come from within. without inner security, we seek it from another. we want to put ropes around that person, and hold him or her close, afraid of what will happen if we are alone.

        complex, all of this. sometimes so very simple, too. just be. find passion. live from there. if another joins us on our paths — be it for a day or a lifetime — we are very fortunate. and if we are living from our passion, if we love and accept ourselves, truly … then our lives are a joy, and we are even more fortunate. so many lives, you see the light is so dim. or has been extinguished. they have someone in their lives. and the light no longer shines in either.

        i went to a funeral some years back. an old man’s funeral. and there were lots of old people there. in their 80s. i will always remember the very keen sense, vision, i had. all these old people, many couples, shuffling along. there were no lights any more. they had gone out long ago. we are so fortunate if we keep our lights, our fires, our passions, burning brightly. we can. and we must surround ourselves with people who have the same things. else we will douse each other’s fires. and say, all the while, that we love each other. did we really?

        Brenda, thank you. thank you for sharing you, which prompts sharing on my part, thoughts on my part, and does that for many others. thank you for a safe place to share, to write, think, to feel, to explore. there is a nakedness to it. i reveal parts of me that i reveal to very few.

        i think the beta man that you seek, probably does that. allows for the nakedness. the removal of emotional clothing, masks. and we say, here’s who i really am. it’s the emotional intimacy that is the real intimacy that i think we all crave. i think the fire in sex follows very easily and naturally. just find the one who has passion, a fiery passion, a fiery purpose in this life. and then blow on those flames for him, and hopefully he does the same for you.

        and then, i think, it’s all good! 🙂 if we are excited, and are part of the excitement in the other, and our loved one does that for us? oh my gosh!


        • Brenda Knowles July 24, 2016 at 8:43 am - Reply

          I read your comment a few days ago and I’ve let it simmer. The part that keeps speaking to me is what you said about someone having a purpose and that being passion. I agree. The men I find most attractive are the ones who are driven, and not just in the career goal sense. They have their eyes and heart on something and they move forward because of it. Perhaps that gives them a sense of inner security, because they know no matter what they still have that drive/passion/mission/purpose to keep them going. I know when I’m doing meaningful work, I am more open and energized and therefore more attractive and more able to give to a loved one. It is that light you mentioned. Thanks for the aha! moments Michael.:)

          • Michael July 24, 2016 at 9:43 am

            Brenda, you have caused me to think and feel many things in the short time I have been reading your words. I am very grateful for you and to you.

            Passion is everything. We can stay alive without it. I’m not sure we really live without it. To find our own, to find it in another, to share our passion with another, to blow on those flames for each other … omg!

            Thank you, again and again, Brenda. What a beautiful place and space you give to me, and to so many.


          • Michael July 24, 2016 at 12:17 pm

            thinking about the passion thing more. i think about it a lot.

            here’s the thing with passion. it’s fire. and fire does burn. if we are with someone with that fire, we can basically stand in the vicinity of the person, be close … and the fire can burn US. or our fire can burn someone we love.

            when fire burns, we can try to basically contain it. it’s sort of easy to do when the fire burns in another person. it’s easy to douse someone’s flame. less than enthusiastic response. a cutting remark. slight joking ridicule about something. so easy to do. and we’ve all done it. and had it done to us.

            if we stoke the flames of someone’s passion, the thing is, we don’t know where that’s going to go. where that person will go. where it will take him or her. what path she’ll travel on. what will burn down in the wake of this fire. what will be left?

            if we do NOT stoke the flames … and this person has a clear passion … we may not get burned by the flames. and we will lose that person, too. a person with passion, cannot exist forever with one who does not. or with one who doesn’t stoke those flames. and i think we’re most likely to stoke the flames of another’s passion, if we have our own. I’m not sure someone can blow on the flames of another’s passion — I mean really blow — if he or she doesn’t have a passion. perhaps in having a passion, we also know how to ignite and stoke it in another … and we must do that, or we feel incomplete.

            two people who burn hot — well, it sure would be interesting, wouldn’t it? if there is no one to burn hot with? well, at least let’s stoke our own flames. let’s burn bright. people will draw near. we all do draw near to fire. how close people get, how comfortable they are being near flame? we’ll see.

            and most important of all, WE burn brightly. WE are alive.

            again, thank you for giving me the space to share these things, Brenda. I haven’t had a space and place like this before. It’s quite wonderful. I am very grateful.


          • Brenda Knowles July 31, 2016 at 8:41 am

            You put my thoughts into words. Thank you! I do think it’s necessary to have some fire in you in order to have the energy to stoke other’s fires. Two hotly burning people can be magic AND can burn each other badly, in my experience. The passion has to be honored in both but also managed with respect to the relationship? I think sometimes it is very hard for someone with less fire to watch their partner burn brightly. If they only understood there is more than enough fire and passion in the world for everyone. You just have to take action to ignite it. Stoking your own flames is a great place to start. You always give me lots to ponder Michael. Thank you!

  2. Morena April 7, 2016 at 11:44 am - Reply

    I wish men got this! Like really got this! This is why among other reasons I don’t want to live with anyone, for fear I might lose interest or an attraction towards that person. Every single day, I don’t know if I can deal with that I feel every couple needs their space. I know I need mine, I can’t be with clingy and needy men. I really feel suffocated and its like I’m the selfish one because I want space. I don’t know why the men I meet, require me to be with them every single day, when they come home. thats what sends me running in the opposite direction. I honestly don’t know when I’m going to get over this fear.

  3. Abida Sultana Juti May 20, 2015 at 5:27 am - Reply

    I can’t explain how relief my heart feels after reading this. I am an extrovert, and my boyfreind is an introvert, this is both our first relationship and we have been dating for just a little over a month and at the beginning everything was wonderful, it was the ideal relationship for an extrovert, all the cute messages, flowers, the time he spends with you, walking in the park together, everything. Then things began to change, he became distanced, no more good morning messages, no more seeing each other often, and I decided to enquire him about it and he was honest about him needing space and how it is vital for him, he says he loves being alone, and he is so used to it, he needs this ever so often, my situation is very similar to the people who have commented above and am glad to know I am not the only one going through this, last few days I feel like Ive been going crazy because of the less communication and seeing him too much on social media, I felt as though he does not love me anymore, so me being me, I profess my love to him reminding him I wont ever leave him, and how much I want to make is work, he adores that but these days it feels one way, like I am putting in all the effort, it feels emotionailly draining at times.

    I spoke to my boyfreind last night and asked him when I will see him again, my birthday is in 6 days and I dont even know if he’ll attend because he is going through his self disovery cycle, where he needs. be alone, he keeps sayimg he will see me soon, but when is soon, how long do I wait? I crave for him everyday, I haven’t seen him in 3 weeks and to him thats okay but to me its painful, sometimes a nice cuddle under the stars would be most wanted.

    How can I deal with this self discovery crycle much better? Should I text him or leave him be till he is ready? I really need advice 🙁

    • Brenda Knowles May 20, 2015 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your story. Do you live near your boyfriend? You said you’ve been dating for a little over a month but you have not seen him in 3 weeks. I am going to reply honestly from my perspective. I would feel overwhelmed if someone professed their love for me after only a month. I strongly suggest stepping back and letting the relationship unfold more slowly. If you truly need someone to pay attention to you daily or frequently at this early stage, you may want to consider someone who is not so content on their own. In my experience, going overboard with attention and affection as well as expecting it in return, are a little off-putting to an introvert. He may fear you will never understand his needs or let him execute them. You sound like you have a big heart and truly care about this man. Long term, can you handle his retreat periods? Your nature should be honored as well. Your best bet at attracting and keeping him is to work on being a whole person on your own. Find something that fulfills and expands you beyond time with him. I hope my opinion gives you some insight. Best of luck with your relationship.

  4. […] I mentioned in, Eroticism Requires Space: Are You Getting Any?, eroticism is like fire and fire needs air. Hence our relationships need space in them. The […]

  5. 3D Eye January 16, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Loving this sentence: “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.”

    The rise in the numbers of people who choose to live alone is an interesting phenomenon. It’s clear that in the distant and not so distant past financial circumstances were a key driver for co-habitation, especially when a decision was made to have children. These days it’s much easier for people to live alone, even if certain luxuries have to be foregone in order to cope financially. For many of us the desire to have an independent life and to have a home of one’s own is a major goal in life. The effect of this on intimate relationships can be, as you say, extremely positive, both in the long and the short term – and no matter how much time you choose to spend together there’s always the ability to retire to a state of solitude in which it’s possible to reconnect with the innermost core of oneself. In fact for many people it’s only at the point of having a home of their own that it becomes possible to really discover the true landscape of that inner core.

    Clearly there’s no ideal state of being. Every possible circumstance has its light and its dark side. In order to survive and thrive we need to shift our circumstances according to our personal and spiritual needs at different stages of our lives. The important thing is to be unafraid of either living alone or of cohabiting, and to stay alert to the need to bring about changes when we outgrow our skins or our shells, or when a partner becomes more of a negative element than a positive one, no matter how much we “work” on the relationship. It’s regrettable that some people are literally afraid of living alone or living independently, even if they’re incapable of opening themselves up to real intimacy. Some are afraid of true intimacy. And then there are those who achieve intimacy but lose their physical desire.

    Thanks for another stimulating article.


    • Brenda Knowles January 17, 2015 at 8:01 am - Reply

      I especially like the ability to ‘retire to a state of solitude’. Sometimes this scares me when it comes to being a partner for someone. It seems my partners either want limited time with me, which can feel unreliable, or constant time with me which can feel a tad smothering. Taking this journey day by day…

      Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comment Gary. I always appreciate your perspective.

  6. Brenda Knowles January 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Perfectly said Vernon! I love the idea of having time to ‘kiss the sky’ and then having your lover feel secure in your return because you love them. That’s the ideal intimacy. Autonomy but trust and love as well. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Elisandra January 12, 2015 at 7:30 am - Reply

    Yes. I can totally relate to this. I was married for a very long time. I don’t want to do that again. A lot of people don’t understand that. But I’m currently in a non-living-together relationship without an official commitment, and I find it very satisfying. There’s a lot of desire. I’m excited when I know we’ll be seeing each other. There are still new things to discover about each other after several years. We’re never bored with each other. There’s more creativity, because I don’t need everything to be “just so” with him in order keep my life stable, because he doesn’t impact the stability of my life.

    • Brenda Knowles January 12, 2015 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      I have found desire and excitement are more prevalent in my non-living together relationships as well. The trouble is I think I would eventually like to have a long-term live-in situation again (not necessarily marriage). I worry that the desire will wane and my space/independence will be diminished. It sounds like you have an ideal situation for you. I know other married couples who honor each other’s independence. You all give me hope. 🙂

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