… the key to reviving romance in a long-term relationship isn’t necessarily to bring one’s partner closer but to let love breathe. Desire, Perel says, needs air. Romance is more exciting when we let our partners become a little unfamiliar to us again. — Terri Trespicio of Experience Life quoting couples therapist and author of Mating In Captivity, Esther Perel
Along with reveling in a cherished high when a man expresses his desire to hold me every night, I get a little nervous. I fear the overly familiar, particularly in a partner. Repetition and constant presence tease out my couple claustrophobia. I start to worry about my calendar getting packed. I see all of my personal space filled with other’s agendas. I see our curiosity derailed by predictability and expectations. Our meaningful and romantic connection eventually deferring to security. The element of surprise lost to routines.
Most relationships move toward a more stable and consistent existence. According to the article, The Chemistry of Love, our body’s chemicals lead us to this steady attachment. But what to do when steadiness turns into smothering or staleness?
When couples feel love growing stale, Perel suggests exploring ways of being in partnership that allow more space for people to flourish as individuals. — Terri Trespicio
Relationship therapist and author, Esther Perel’s, advice runs counter to the typical couples counseling recommendations to set up regular date nights and spend more time together. Perel’s advice seems like the kind that would appeal to the independent, introspective and introverted.
Perhaps introverts would even have an advantage in the flourish as individuals arena?
Please don’t take too much of me
I know within a relationship I crave a certain level of autonomy. I like to keep myself whole, not relying on a man to give me an identity. I admit to a fear of engulfment. I want to continue meaningful work, nurture outside friendships and foster my own growth. The truth is I need and I enjoy time to myself but within that time I also have the chance to miss my lover, the space to wonder and think about him. And I do. Despite my penchant for autonomy, I have a deep desire for intimacy as well. If I truly care for someone, I will easily and joyfully seek him out. The introvert ebb and flow of solitude and intimacy.
Do extroverts expect romantic partnerships to fulfill more needs than introverts do? Introverts know how to get satisfaction from going within. We can be happy alone. Extroverts get their energy from external stimulation — people, places, things. It would make sense for extroverts to rely more heavily on their partners for their own well-being but I have known introverts who consider their partner their person. They don’t have a herd of other companions so their mate is their lifeline.
If a partner is counting on me to be their happiness, I feel stressed. I worry that he will need me too much and I will use all of my energy satisfying his requests for time and attention. Not that I don’t believe in giving to those I love but giving so much that I become drained and less than myself, eventually resenting my partner, is not going to foster a satisfying relationship.
Get out there and glow
Eroticism thrives in the space between the self and the other.
— Esther Perel
As Perel suggests, a healthy solution to relationship staleness is implementing more independent exploring and growth. This could be joining or maintaining a separate social tribe, starting a creative project, focusing on a career objective or diving into a personal passion, among many other things. Experienced within that separate growth and development time is surprise, mystery, courage, curiosity and a spark of personal thriving. The stuff that makes us attractive and glowing.
When extroverted readers write to me concerned about their introverted partner’s need to be alone, I tell the extrovert to take that time to work on themselves, find what makes them feel alive outside of their relationship. The introvert’s energy supply is replenished in the solitude created by their significant other’s absence. The extrovert discovers they can survive separate from their partner. The independence and time away begets unknowns about their mates, making their partner seem new again.
When two people return to each other they bring with them novelty, playfulness, anticipation and curiosity. Perel calls these the erotic ingredients that make desire sustainable.
How could you create space in your relationship? What makes your relationship exciting?
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