Does knowing our partners deeply actually lead to better sex? – maude Skip to content

Does knowing our partners deeply actually lead to better sex?

Does knowing our partners deeply actually lead to better sex?

From honeymoon to forever-horny.

The honeymoon phase is the earliest stage of a relationship, where lovers experience strong urges to connect physically, psychologically, physically, and physically. During this period, it may feel like the more you know and connect with your beloved, the better the sex becomes, the more love exists, and the faster a bright, forever-horny future comes. 

What comes after this phase, however, is startlingly unclear; all we know from narratives in popular culture is that it’s something else, and that this else implies less sex. You need only to look at the greatest hits in the Barnes & Nobles Relationship rack to confirm the existence of this “loss.” For example, psychoanalyst Esther Perel’s book Mating in Captivity, which aims to help couples “increase erotic intelligence” in their relationships, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated in 24 languages. 

In order to answer the question of whether knowing our partners fully leads to better sex, it may be helpful to look at both Perel’s work and that of her inspiration psychoanalyst Stephen A. Mitchell, who researched similar material decades ago, when traditionally monogamous relationships were an even larger majority. In Can Love Last, Mitchell argues that romance doesn’t fade with time--it becomes a risk, and one which may pose a major threat to sexual desire. 

According to Mitchell, in order to preserve desire, we should investigate our relationship with loss. He begins by exploring a central quality of desire: it is fundamentally “antisocial,” in that no two people can truly understand the private sexual worlds of another. This is not a bad thing, he argues, and can be a source of excitement, a way to create healthy mystery. Unfortunately, this mystery is often the cause of great relationship strife. We may seek to know our partner entirely, in order to guarantee there is no secret corner which threatens the end of our relationship. But security, Mitchell argues, is a harmful illusion and, in pursuit of absolute safety, couples may remove the spontaneity and uncertainty that creates romance. 

Mitchell asks the reader why they hold so tightly to the concept of “lasting love.” If pursuing lasting love means clinging to security and eternity, and this clinging disrupts desire and romance, then perhaps our traditional notions of love are inhibiting the kind of relationships we wish to experience. In fact, the idea that coming as close as possible to someone is the safest way to love gives us a false sense that, if we completely merge with someone, they will never leave us. 

In her viral Ted Talk “The secret to desire in a long-term relationship,” Esther Perel shares that researching for her book led to an interesting discovery--people often found their partners most attractive when they were slightly at a distance, engaging elsewhere, admiring the world and being admired in return. Perel also found people were turned on by novelty in their romantic dynamics: this could be a newness from very simple surprises, like a moment of laughter, or the rare occasion of a tuxedo. She says every person is born with a need for both security and separateness, both reliability and surprise, and that it is through accepting the uncertainties within ourselves that we can become comfortable with--and turned on by--the uncertainties in those we love.

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