The Shrink’s Links: Mating in Captivity

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Lions mating

Mating in Captivity

A few weeks ago, I brought you her Ted Talk, which I had first discovered. I was so taken by the hypothesis she presented that I went out and bought her book, Mating in Captivity. I was not disappointed.

Why does sexual desire diminish in many long term relationships? It diminishes precisely because the relationship is working. She writes:

Sexual desire does not obey the laws that maintain peace and contentment between partners. Reason, understanding, compassion, and camaraderie are the handmaidens of a close, harmonious relationship. But… Aggression, objectification, and power all exist in the shadow of desire, components of passion that do not necessarily nurture intimacy.

So, how do you put the X back into sex without being one of those couples that fight all the time and fall into bed when they make up?

She argues that, instead of always aspiring to be close, couples should cultivate their private sense of selfhood, a personal intimacy to counterbalance intimacy with the partner. Cultivate your own garden, in other words.

Here’s how it works: The balancing act between being close to your partner and being true to yourself is as simple as breathing. You want until you have, and then you let go. Then you want again.

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