Distance is Sexy!
One of the pitfalls of modern relationship is the perception that we need to do everything with each other and BE everything for each other. We are sold on an idea that to be really in love, to be truly committed to each other, means that we don’t need time apart, we don’t need our own friends, interests or creative pursuits. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
This common misconception leads us to put a huge amount of pressure on our relationship and on our partner. We expect our beloved to be everything for us; to be our best friend, our colleague, our lover, our confidant, our therapist, etc. In the words of my greatest professional crush, Esther Perel, “we expect our relationship to provide what a whole village used to”.
This notion can also go on to create one of the most common relationship challenges I hear about in my work – a lack of passion.
When we first meet a prospective partner and the fire of attraction gets sparked, what we are most attracted to is a sense of otherness. The other presents as a mystery to us, something novel, something to discover. This otherness is exciting, alluring and a little scary. This is sexy, makes us feel alive, and provides ample fuel for the fire of passion.
But of course for most of us this dwindles over time. The sense otherness becomes less and less until the distance between one person and the other disappears into a singularity. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful thing to feel so closely met by another person, to have such a close bond, AND it is guaranteed to become a massive leaky hole in the passion that once existed between you if you don’t create some distance.
So how do we recreate or maintain the distance we had at the beginning?
It would be remiss of me to prescribe a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question because of course every relationship is unique and meets with unique challenges at different times throughout the relationship. But that said there are a few significant suggestions that will fit most relationships at least some of the time. I will split my suggestions into 3 different categories; Physical, Psycho-emotional and Sexual.
- Spend time apart – this sounds obvious of course but surprisingly is not something many couples do very often or very well. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder, it also does a lot for our desire for each other. This could mean something like the following;
- having a weekend away on your own every month.
- Taking a month every year to travel solo.
- Having 1 or 2 nights a week where you go out to do something just for yourself
- Sleeping in the spare room regularly
- Find and pursue an interest or activity that is just for you
- If you are often physically affectionate but lack sexual intimacy, stop touching each other. Go a week without hugging, touching or kissing. Let the tension build.
- Don’t get ready in the same room for a date night. Make an effort and surprise each other just like you did when you were dating.
- Keep some secrets – of course I’m not talking about being deceitful but knowing every moment of every internal nook and cranny of the internal workings of each other’s mind is not sexy. Keep some mental mystery to be discovered. Pursue and expand your own mind capacity on your own terms and for your own self growth.
- Hire a therapist – ok you might not think you need therapy and that may be true, but what I’m really getting at here is relieving your partner of that role. Of course it is super important that we support each other emotionally AND there is a limit to what we can or should do for each other. Go to a mens or women’s group, talk to a trusted and objective friend or work with a professional.
- Break the monotony – if there is routine in your sexual relationship, timing, positions, experiences, then break it up, expand your repertoire, read a book, learn something new and surprise each other.
- Explore your fantasies – they’re so normal, we all have them, if you say you don’t you’re lying or you just haven’t discovered them yet. Our fantasy world is a rich and ripe arena for creativity and exploration. Many of us have some shame around our fantasy world as often the subjects can be perceived as taboo. But given the chance to explore our fantasy world within a safe, consensual and exploratory container, we can add a great deal of fun and spice to our relationship and our life.
- Drop your expectations – just because you are in a relationship this does not mean you have a right to each other’s body when and how you please. It is an honour to be able to share intimacy with another human and so you need to deserve it.
- Let go of what you think you know – every body works differently, and works differently from moment to moment. Allow yourself to be vulnerable in the humility of not knowing. Give each other the opportunity to discover how your body works, what you like and what you don’t.
This is a brief list of suggestions and I’m sure you can come up with your own creative ideas also, but I think you can get the gist.
And of course we find ourselves in a time when distance is being mandated in the outside world, when it could be more difficult to find in our relationships. If we’re in a situation where we’re isolating together this is going to add even more pressure on the relationship. It may mean that we have to be a little more imaginative with how to create distance from time to time, but if anything, it becomes even more important.
But what is most important is that we have fun, that we enjoy the fruits of our relationship, otherwise what’s the point?
Enjoy your distance and what it brings you both.