The Complexity of Desire

I just watched a most interesting TED talk by Esther Perel called “The secret to desire in a long-term relationship.”  Be prepared for about 20 minutes of intriguing questions and her thoughts on why it’s so challenging to maintain desire in a long-term relationship even when there is intimacy in other forms.

Perel says that we all have needs for security,predictability, safety, permanence,  and also for adventure, mystery, surprise and the unexpected – and reconciling these within a committed relationship can be extremely challenging.

There was one particular part of her talk that stood out for me.  I’m a big advocate of “first attention on self” so we are intentionally aware of what is going on internally.  This allows us to “be there” for another but not to lose ourselves.  Rather than focusing on the other as the source of desire:  “you turn me on when…” or “you turn me off when…” she has the listener be curious about “I turn myself on when…” or “I turn off my desires when….” and, conversely, “I turn myself on when….”  This is all about taking radical responsibility for oneself.  She points out that if you’re dead inside (or you hate your body, or you’re exhausted from work etc.) it doesn’t matter what anyone else does,  because she says, “There’s nobody at the reception desk!”

I’m curious about what you think.  Please post your comments below.  Here’s the talk:

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