Keeping Desire Alive in Long-Term Relationships

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Esther Perel gave a fantastic TED talk earlier this year after completing years of research on desire and fascination in couples.  Her talk and her work focus on key ways to keep the fire alive for couples who stay together a long time.  Two clear themes hold true for couples and for fires.  The are:

Fire Needs Air

If you have ever built a fire you know this is true.  You can't pile on too much kindling and paper, the fire needs to breathe.  This is true in partnership as well.  You need a little room to breathe.

As Perel puts it, one clear response in her research was from people who said "I am most drawn to my partner when she is away, when we are apart, when we reunite."  

Taking time away from your sweetheart is beneficial for many reasons, but in the case of desire it allows room for imagination.  Giving your fire some air affords the opportunity to long for one another.

Be careful not to smother your fire. Give each other space to breathe.

Fire Needs Kindling

You can't a fire without kindling, and without regularly feeding it your fire will eventually die out.  In couples this is probably even more important than giving space.

So how do you feed that fire?  Feed your inner fire.  Each of you has something wonderful and magical within you that originally drew your partner to you.  

Invest in your individual fires or as Perel's said, "When I look at my partner radiant and confident, probably the biggest turn-on across the board."

Find ways to develop your interests and passions and share them with your partner and others.  Toss some kindling on the fire and watch the sparks fly.

Watch the whole Esther Perel TED Talk below.

If you're interested in talking about balancing the kindling and air in your relationship give me a call for a consultation - I'm happy to help you out.   


Gina Senarighi Sex Counselor Portland

Gina Senarighi offers non-judgmental sex-positive, gender-affirming, LGBTQ relationship support online and in the Pacific Northwest. 

She often says, “I love love, in all its forms!”

She’s helped thousands of couples deepen their sexual connection, repair trust, and build sustainable lasting partnerships.

She uses her multi-disciplinary professional training to teach communication skills and help her clients handle conflict with compassion.

Gina has supported many couples experimenting with open relationships based in trust and integrity. If you’re considering polyamory you should check out her online resources here.

Although most of her couples are experimenting with less traditional relationship structures, even her more mainstream clients appreciate her open-minded non-judgmental approach and diverse expertise.

If you’re interested in taking this work further contact her for a free consultation.