Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Sometimes that initial spark and desire in a relationship fades, in this article we discover why this happens and also how to bring the desire back.
Do you remember?
Do you remember the first time you saw the sunrise?
I remember a perfect sunrise on a December morning back in 2009. A couple of friends and myself were sitting on the beach awaiting the sunrise. Just before darkness gave way to the shimmering light of the sun, I could feel the temperature drop and over the dark waters on the horizon I saw the sun revealing itself in great splendour and colour – red and orange and yellow combined. I could see how the shadows move over my body until everything was lit up. Suddenly the darkness faded and a new day had broken through. I remember staring at the waters in front of me and I sat amazed at how the light of the sun created a mirror-like canvas over the waters. I could feel something special in this sunrise, I could sense the mystery, I could see the beauty… I was moved by that experience on the beach and the beauty and mystery of how the sun rises in the east, filled with awe at the creativity and beauty of creation.
Fast forward and here I sit today 9 years later, and 3145 sun rises down the line. I wake every morning and know that the sun will rise or have already risen. To be honest – I don’t even give it any thought. It is normal, I am used to it, it is how it has always been. Even though I had that spectacular experience in 2009 where my heart was touched by mystery and beauty – I never again really paid attention to the beauty and mystery of the how the sun is formed and created to rise in the east and set in the west; or allowed myself to be swept away by the creativity of creation and the mystery thereof. I just know the sun rises and the day begins…
Nothing special. Nothing attracting. Nothing mysterious. Familiar. Ordinary.
It makes me think of our intimate relationships and how the mystery that once attracted becomes ordinary and familiar and leads to disconnection and distortion in intimacy and sexual desire and passion in relationships.
Do you remember the first time you laid eyes on your partner?
What were you thinking, what were you feeling?
Do you remember?
Do you remember the way you looked at your partner in the beginning of your relationship? Looking into those eyes that you have never seen before, drawn by the way she sees life or how he is so different than anyone you have ever met.
Do you remember the tangible electricity bursting through your body the first time he put his hand on your leg or the first time you went in for that kiss?
Do you remember those nights that turned into mornings with endless conversations about love and life?
And the passion, do you remember the passion? It is like a magnet drawing your bodies to each other, the feeling of complete freedom in the eyes of the one that desires you. Waking up and feeling truly alive, daydreaming about that night, those hands, those eyes, those lips, that voice – completely captivated. Feeling intimately connected and erotically satisfied.
But does it last?
So many couples share the same story: “We started off irresistibly in love”; “the discovery was intriguing”; “the attraction tangible”; “the passion fierce”; “we were pursued with great passion and we pursued with intense desire”; “we spent as much time together getting to know each other”; “the passion and sexual chemistry was great…” Then a couple of months or years down the line and the honeymoon phase was over! The butterflies had turned into irritation; you think you have heard all their stories; you try to change that uniqueness you first fell in love; long evenings of conversation had turned into making dinner, watching tv and doing chores. Oh, and that mind-blowing sex has either become habitual routine sex or non-existant at all. The desire and passion has cooled down, we have decided that we completely know our partner; there is nothing mysterious and exciting. And alas marital boredom is born. You are suddenly not attracted to your spouse anymore, you are having dreams and fantasies about sexual experiences with other people and before you know it – you find yourself in an affair, in a sexless marriage or on the verge of leaving the relationship because there is no connection, no chemistry, no excitement – nothing.
Why do we fall out of desire?
Because attraction is only intense when mystery is involved. Mystery is what keeps you interested and what will keep your partner interested in you. Mystery is what keeps you thinking about the person you are with and keep you wanting to find out more about them, to be with them, to study them. When we are in a relationship, we usually think the goal is to know each other completely – as if a person can be boxed into your own idea of who they are. You see desire and passion thrives on unpredictability, thrives on the unknown and mysterious. In order to bridge the gap between familiarity and mystery, that deadens desire and passion, is to seek out the mystery in your partner. To come to the realization that you will never truly and completely know your partner, that there is so much more to discover, to recognize, to explore - than what you have already come to know.
It reminds me of what Marcel Proust once said: “The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. The invitation is not in seeking someone new, but in the decision to see the familiar with new eyes. To be curious, to have a sense of wonder and being intrigued by the unknowable nature of your partner. It is just like the sunrise. Each morning grants the gift of the rising sun, every sunrise filled with mystery and surprise in every season, climate, country, temperature, at the beach, in the bushveld, etc. The great effect is when I decide to pay attention, allowing myself to be captivated by the beauty again, realizing that each sun rise may be different and seeking the mystery, the surprises, the uniqueness of each morning.
Where are you in your relationship? Have the monster of boredom and routine stolen the excitement and edge in your marriage? Have you lost your sense of wonder and curiosity for your partner? Has the sexual tension cooled down below freezing point?
Maybe it is time to embark on activities that draws and seeks out the mystery in your partner…
Bring back the mystery
Become curious again
Ask questions. Look beyond the surface. Stay interested. The fact is that even after many years of being together, you still have a lot to learn about you partner - especially when it comes to sex. The idea that your partner should know exactly what you want and how you want it is surreal and will only leave you disappointed and unsatisfied. The reverse is also true, how will you know what your partner wants and likes if you don’t ask? This might be a little bit challenging in the beginning if you are not used to having conversations about your sexual likes and dislikes. But what an adventure when you face that challenge become curious again. Your partner will become even more mysterious once you embark on a journey of exploration of each other’s sexual desires, fantasies, likes and dislikes. The goal is not to create tension when you realize that what you have been doing is really not working for your partner and he/she actually has an appetite for something quite different than what you thought. Remember, being curious is also opening yourself to a new mysterious space in your relationship that will both challenge your partner and yourself… emotionally and erotically.
Inviting unpredictability/spontaneity into the room
The goal is to bring a sense of the unknown into a familiar space. We are afraid of inviting unpredictability into our marriages as it feels risky and unsafe. But “Eroticism is risky”, as Esther Perel states so perfectly. Sexual excitement needs unpredictability and spontaneity. If you are used to the routine of getting into bed at 10pm and expecting your partner to lean over and initiate your timeous and habitual sexual connection – you might just develop a headache or two in the long run. Inviting spontaneity is crucial in igniting the mystery in your relationship and challenges both of you to dig into your intimate selves and letting your sexual needs be made visible. You will need your imagination and creative juices for this one. The goal is to keep the adventure alive and replacing routine and habitual sex with exciting, edgy and spontaneous sex. Start with small changes like making your bed and even bedroom off limits for a while – that will encourage you to find new and exciting places to have sex. This will also give you the opportunity to be caught off guard and intrigued by your partner’s exciting ideas. Let your creative juices flow – think of new places and spaces, think of role play, think of the element of surprise… The options are endless.
Explore your partner in a fresh, exciting and intimate way
The most important part is to make it your own and to allow yourself to explore your partner in a fresh, exciting and intimate way. To move beyond the ordinary, daily relationship filled with life and all the responsibilities thereof and enter a world where you become lovers again, where desire and passion takes its rightful place in your marriage and the mystery inside each other captivates, intrigues and attracts again.
Without curiosity and unpredictability there is no mystery, without mystery there is no excitement and without excitement sex becomes habitual, ordinary and boring. The invitation today is to allow yourself to seek the mystery (that inherently creates excitement, desire and passion) in those all too familiar eyes.