Love vs Sex 130

We segregate lust for psychological as well as cultural reasons. Any experience of love holds within it a dimension of dependence. In fact, dependence is an essential ingredient of connection. But it’s a producer of terrific anxiety, because it implies that the one we love wields power over us. This is the power to love us, but also to abandon us. Fear—of judgement, of rejection, of loss—is embedded in romantic love. Sexual rejection at the hands of the one we love is particularly hurtful. We are therefore less inclined to be erotically adventurous with the person we depend on for so much and whose opinion is paramount. We’d rather edit ourselves, maintaining a tight negotiated, acceptable, even boring erotic script, than risk injury. It is no surprise that some of us can freely engage in the perils and adventures of sex only when the emotional stakes are lower—when we love less or, more important, when we are less afraid to lose love. Stephen Mitchell writes, “It is not that romance necessarily fades over time, but that it becomes riskier.”

Mating in Captivity

Esther Perel          2006

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