Reclaiming desire

Can lost desire be reclaimed in a stagnant relationship? Absolutely it can. I think the question is “how can I learn to see my beloved’s desire again?” Likewise “how can my beloved see me as I am?”
Volumes have been written about this and I find a common thread resonates with me and my own experience in the world of relationships. The journey starts inside, with me and my relationship to my own desire. In order to connect to my beloved, I need to be in right relationship with my own self.
Desire is distinctly mine, my own thoughts, feelings and fantasies. It is distinguishable from arousal and sex, which are what is happening in my body (or not happening) in a given moment of time.
Arousal response and “sex” is predominantly in my head. When I close down my fantasies and limit the possibilities of desire, my ability to become aroused and engage in sex drops significantly. Increasingly I belive that any limitations imposed on my desire negatively impact my ability to be in my body and relate to my beloved.
Culturally I am bombarded with information that takes me out of my body. Images of what I “should” look like, wear, drive, drink, eat and think support shame spirals and cultural programming that ultimately erode my sense of self and my connection to what I really want. My desire is replaced with something mundane and homogenized, something that was created by others to serve their purposes. The same thing happens in relationships.
Relationships flow in cycles. In the initial years of relationship, there is newness and excitement. What starts as a den of passion, filled with fresh discovery can gradually become flat, routine and disappointing. My shame around desire may lead me to hold back, to deny myself pleasure in fear that I will break the patterns that once felt so delicious and alive. I may settle for routine rather than risk reaching for something that really stirs me. In doing so, I begin the cycle of numbing that leads gradually to “bed death.”
To me, expecting that my desire will manifest is an abandonment of my responsibility for self care, and leads to disappointment and reinforcement of my shame stories. “If only I were (younger, thinner, blonder, taller, drove a better car), then I could be sexy and my partner would want me.” Disappointment turns me inward and I can no longer connect to the truth of my partner’s desire, let alone my own.
So…what should I do? The answer is simple and paradoxically complex. I have to show up fully and see my partner as they are. I have to discover desire for my beloved in myself and truly see their desire for me.
That starts inside, and like the musician getting to Carnegie Hall, it takes “practice practice practice.”
Practice knowing your own desire without expecting it to manifest. Let anything that comes up be precious and delightful. It doesn’t need to happen, your fantasy and desire is complete and perfect as a thought form.
Practice being in your body without expecting it to be different. Right now you are exactly as mature, in shape and sexy as you are. Practice curiosity and delight in what is…and be shameless about it. (grins)
Practice owning your own pleasure. Be responsible for feeling sexy and sensual. Fall in love with sensation and arousal the way you did when you were first becoming aware. Play in the realm of the senses.
If I can learn to celebrate my own desire, then I can be responsible for my own pleasure. From that place, I lose the expectation that my partner will fulfill my fantasies, and I can begin to explore again what being sensual with them is actually like. I can be curious about the shifts in their body, about what time and experience have taught them about their own pleasure. I can invite them on my journey of pleasure too and teach them that the curves and valleys that map my body are sensuous and delicious. I can have delicious fun learning and experiencing myself in new ways…and in that there is an invitation to possibility.