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Christine Bennett
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Marriage and Relationship Counselling | Help for all Couples | Family Mediation | Coaching
Marriage and Relationship Counselling | Help for all Couples | Family Mediation | Coaching

600 followers
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Faced with the irrefutable otherness of our partner, we can respond with fear or with curiosity. We can try to reduce the other to a knowable entity, or we can embrace her persistent mystery. When we resist the urge to control, when we keep ourselves open, we preserve the possibility of discovery. Eroticism resides in the ambiguous space between anxiety and fascination. We remain interested in our partners; they delight us, and we’re drawn to them. But, for many of us, renouncing the illusion of safety, and accepting the reality of our fundamental insecurity, proves to be a difficult step.

Perel, Esther. Mating in Captivity (p. 18). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.

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We often expect our relationship to act as a buttress against the slings and arrows of life. But love, by its very nature, is unstable. So we shore it up: we tighten the borders, batten down the hatches, and create predictability, all in an effort to make us feel more secure. Yet the mechanisms that we put in place to make love safer often put us more at risk. We ground ourselves in familiarity, and perhaps achieve a peaceful domestic arrangement, but in the process we orchestrate boredom. The verve of the relationship collapses under the weight of all that control. Stultified, couples are left wondering, “Whatever happened to fun? What ever happened to excitement, to transcendence, to awe?”

Perel, Esther. Mating in Captivity (pp. 17-18). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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There’s a powerful tendency in long-term relationships to favor the predictable over the unpredictable. Yet eroticism thrives on the unpredictable. Desire butts heads with habit and repetition. It is unruly, and it defies our attempts at control. So where does that leave us? We don’t want to throw away the security, because our relationship depends on it. A sense of physical and emotional safety is basic to healthy pleasure and connection. Yet without an element of uncertainty there is no longing, no anticipation, no frisson.

Perel, Esther. Mating in Captivity (p. 10). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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You meet someone through a potent alchemy of attraction. It is a sweet reaction and it’s always a surprise. You’re filled with a sense of possibility, of hope, of being lifted out of the mundane and into a world of emotion and enthrallment. Love grabs you, and you feel powerful. You cherish the rush, and you want to hold on to the feeling. You’re also scared. The more you become attached, the more you have to lose. So you set out to make love more secure. You seek to fix it, to make it dependable. You make your first commitments, and happily give up a little bit of freedom in exchange for a little bit of stability. You create comfort through devices—habit, ritual, pet names—that bring reassurance. But the excitement was bound to a certain measure of insecurity. Your high resulted from the uncertainty, and now, by seeking to harness it, you wind up draining the vitality out of the relationship. You enjoy the comfort, but complain that you feel constrained. You miss the spontaneity. In your attempt to control the risks of passion, you have tamed it out of existence. Marital boredom is born.

Perel, Esther. Mating in Captivity (pp. 9-10). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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We all share a fundamental need for security, which propels us toward committed relationships in the first place; but we have an equally strong need for adventure and excitement. Modern romance promises that it’s possible to meet these two distinct sets of needs in one place. Still, I’m not convinced. Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all? It’s hard to generate excitement, anticipation, and lust with the same person you look to for comfort and stability, but it’s not impossible. I invite you to think about ways you might introduce risk to safety, mystery to the familiar, and novelty to the enduring.

Perel, Esther. Mating in Captivity . Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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“The motives for straying vary widely, as do the reactions and possible outcomes. Some affairs are acts of resistance. Others happen when we offer no resistance at all. One person may cross the border for a simple fling, while another is looking to emigrate. Some infidelities are petty rebellions, sparked by a sense of ennui, a desire for novelty, or the need to know one still has pulling power. Others reveal a feeling never known before—an overwhelming sense of love that cannot be denied. Paradoxically, many people go outside their marriages in order to preserve them. When relationships become abusive, transgression can be a generative force. Straying can sound an alarm that signals an urgent need to pay attention, or it can be the death knell that follows a relationship’s last gasp. Affairs are an act of betrayal and they are also an expression of longing and loss.”
Perel, Esther. The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity - a book for anyone who has ever loved (pp. 9-10). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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“The motives for straying vary widely, as do the reactions and possible outcomes. Some affairs are acts of resistance. Others happen when we offer no resistance at all. One person may cross the border for a simple fling, while another is looking to emigrate. Some infidelities are petty rebellions, sparked by a sense of ennui, a desire for novelty, or the need to know one still has pulling power. Others reveal a feeling never known before—an overwhelming sense of love that cannot be denied. Paradoxically, many people go outside their marriages in order to preserve them. When relationships become abusive, transgression can be a generative force. Straying can sound an alarm that signals an urgent need to pay attention, or it can be the death knell that follows a relationship’s last gasp. Affairs are an act of betrayal and they are also an expression of longing and loss.”
Perel, Esther. The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity - a book for anyone who has ever loved (pp. 9-10). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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“The motives for straying vary widely, as do the reactions and possible outcomes. Some affairs are acts of resistance. Others happen when we offer no resistance at all. One person may cross the border for a simple fling, while another is looking to emigrate. Some infidelities are petty rebellions, sparked by a sense of ennui, a desire for novelty, or the need to know one still has pulling power. Others reveal a feeling never known before—an overwhelming sense of love that cannot be denied. Paradoxically, many people go outside their marriages in order to preserve them. When relationships become abusive, transgression can be a generative force. Straying can sound an alarm that signals an urgent need to pay attention, or it can be the death knell that follows a relationship’s last gasp. Affairs are an act of betrayal and they are also an expression of longing and loss.”
Perel, Esther. The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity - a book for anyone who has ever loved (pp. 9-10). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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"People often see an affair as a trauma from which there is no return, and indeed, some affairs will deliver the fatal blow to a relationship. But others may inspire change that was sorely needed. Betrayal cuts to the bone, but the wound can be healed. Affairs can even become generative for a couple."

What are your comments on what Esther Perel is suggesting?

Perel, Esther. The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity - a book for anyone who has ever loved (pp. 7-8). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
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Myth: You Have to Love Yourself Before You Can Love Someone Else If this were true, a baby would have to love itself before it was able to love its mother. But that’s not what happens: a baby learns to love from being loved. For a baby, there is no loving without feeling loved, or vice versa. The two work in tandem, inseparable. In fact, the baby experiences being loved and loving before it has any concept of what love is. Moreover, self-love becomes meaningful only after a child experiences a sense of separate self. That typically occurs after a child’s first birthday. (Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton [1992] and others have researched and written at length on this topic.) Suffice it to say that, in our earliest stages of development, love is like a vast ocean whose waves do not distinguish between self and other.

The myth of self-love being primary implies that, as an adult, you should stop right now, go somewhere, and learn to love yourself before you embark on the dating journey. It supposes that you can generate self-love by taking a class, reading a book, or meditating in a cave. But you can’t. You learn to love by engaging with others, period. It can’t be done alone.

Tatkin, Stan. Wired for Dating: How Understanding Neurobiology and Attachment Style Can Help You Find Your Ideal Mate (p. 21). New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.
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