Today’s topic is a not so well known desire killer for couples. When a woman starts speaking to me about her sex life or lack of sex life and what could be getting in the way, this one stands out pretty early on because its known to squash desire. Squash attraction and squash interest in sex. When it comes up, it’s really obvious.
(Prefer to watch? Click below...)
It is enmeshment. It might be a term you have heard before, it’s a bit of psycho jargon for not knowing where one person ends and the other one begins and I visualise it as though they are wrapped up together.
Enmeshment. It means that your lives are totally intertwined. It’s an issue that keeps coming up and it’s something that people aren’t conscious of. Some women come to me saying that there isn’t enough happening – not enough connection happening in their lives with their partners and other women say that they feel completely satiated, completely full, completely satisfied with the connection that is happening with their partner with all forms of intimacy but sexual intimacy is amiss. It’s not there. It’s not there because how can the desire for sex and sexual connection thrive when you are in each other’s lives all the time, when you do everything together.
This is the key term: women say we do everything together. We even help each other when we go to the shops and everyone says that we are the perfect couple. The problem with that is that if your partner fulfils every single role in your life: confidante, best friend, helper in the house, every single role you can think of, you can start to feel like there is not a lot space for fire and flame in your relationship to really, really flourish.
You can’t build desire when you are always with someone. You can’t miss someone if you are always with someone. I imagine that this is especially hard for couples that are business owners together as well as work directly with each other that it is a real challenge for desire to bloom and grow when you are always spending time together.
You need to have separate identities. It is what brought you together in the first place just that you may not have realised this in those early days of your relationship where in the early days we are highlighting how attracted we are to this person and the points of similarity and connection but ultimately you are two people who are choosing to come together and it’s the differences that create a lot of that tension and that sense of uncertainty: will this happen or won’t this happen? So when everything in your relationship becomes more certain and more predictable, it makes it more of a challenge to be spontaneous, to feel arousal (which is a physical response), it’s really hard to feel desire (which is a mental response) because there is not a lot to distinguish you and your partner.
It’s wonderful that you are best friends with your partner but the point of difference is that your partner should be someone where you’ve got that sexual element to your relationship (if that is what you have both chosen to have) and that sexual element is what differentiates your relationship with your partner from all the other relationships in your life. You can get that fulfilment from your best girlfriend, from your Mum, cousins or next-door neighbours but hopefully that sexual element is the point of difference with you and your relationship. That needs some air to breathe and a bit of separation and a bit of mystery. How can there be mystery if you are doing everything together and you know each other’s inner worlds and outer worlds in and out?
It’s OK that you rely on your partner, that you love them; that you see them as family because they are your family but ultimately in your eyes, you need to come back to the fact that your partner is your family and also someone you have an erotic connection to, which is not what we have with our blood families.
Women, we need to keep seeing our partners through our erotic eyes and it’s the same for our partner, they need to see us through erotic eyes. Be really careful about spending too much time with your partner. I know that for other women reading this it will be the complete opposite in that no quality time is happening, not a lot of quality touch or intimacy (closeness and bonding) but if you are reading this and you spend way too much time with your partner and sex is suffering, it’s a chance to really hone in on your own identity and what it is that you need to do more independently. You don’t need to have someone by your side for everything you do in your life. It might be a cue for some space or some investment in time alone where you go and do something for yourself by yourself without needing to have someone else there.
From today, keep the bond going, keep the connection going. Be really careful if it is slipping into enmeshment because the sex is probably going to suffer. You need some mystery and you need some space to build desire. In the words of Esther Perel: desire is fire and fire needs air. You’ve got to flame it.
If the pendulum of desire and space needs some tweaking in your relationship then let’s get shifting with the accountability and clarity of 1.1 sessions (because you've got a long time together in your relationship and it needs some fire!)