This talks is perhaps the best elaboration I have come across of this eternal issue that plagues so many couples I work with. It is a TED talk by New York relation ship psychotherapist and author, Esther Perel. (For those of you who don’t know the site, TED is Youtube for thinking people.)
It is an odd paradox that as our race evolves and we live much longer, we find that the building blocks of a long-term, secure and stable relationship actually DECREASE sexual desire and pleasure. From an evolutionary perspective, sexual desire after the peak child-bearing phase (20 to 30) offers no benefit to our species – but where does that leave the couple in a long term relationship?
The confronting truth is that the key elements of a loving relationship – like a commitment to nurturing our partner’s personal growth, non-judgemental acceptance of them just as they are, and being responsible and reliably there for them, do not translate to better sex. Indeed great sex is inhibited by these things.
It can is confusing, indeed disconcerting, to find that as true intimacy and love grows in a relationship over time, sexual desire moves in the opposite direction. As Esther Perel puts it: responsibility and desire just butt heads. As she explains, whereas loving needs to be more based on giving, there needs to be more selfishness to have great sex. Have a listen –