Many readers individually messaged me to journey further into my last blog post “What Happens When the Honeymoon Phase is Over?”
So awaaaaay we go . . .
- You’re eating your third pralines and cream ice-cream cone. It’s your favorite flavor and you’ve had a real craving because it’s been forever since you treated yourself to it. How many licks into it do you still really and truly have strong interest for it? Maybe a bag of salty Lays potato chips is starting to sound better right about now?
- You always wanted to be a novelist. It was your life’s dream. And now you’ve put out three books — congratulations on achieving your goal! Ho hum, now it’s feeling kinda old hat. What’s next on your bucket list? Becoming a literary agent … a professional who helps others reach their own writing goals. Now THAT sounds fascinating, right?
- You’re in a relationship with someone you thought was highly intriguing, rather mysterious, and definitely “hard-to-get.” But they finally noticed you and now you’ve settled in for a monogamous commitment. How is it then that your bedroom life has become a predictable yawn, and why do your eyes zero in on the next elusive stranger who happens to flit by?
Of course the common thread in all three scenarios is … Desire. What propels it and what causes it to dissipate? Is a burning desire as simple as wanting what we cannot have? “The grass is always greener” or “The Forbidden Fruit?” Lets take that last phrase literally for a moment. If you hear a newsflash that after tomorrow bananas will be outlawed, what will go through your head? Yes, it will soon be illegal to grow them, ingest them, or use them in slapstick comedy … so of course what will you suddenly want more than anything, starting tomorrow? Even if you never really cared for them in the first place. That’s right….get peeling! Cuz you’re about to go bananas for bananas.
Every failed dieter knows this lesson when their “Last Supper” on Sunday night consists of everything the new diet deems “off-limits” come Monday morning.
Impending scarcity leads to desire!
But what can lead to maintaining desire?? Is it as simple as remembering that “Variety is the spice of life?” Sticking with the banana metaphor here — let’s say bananas actually have always been your all-time favorite food. And some new wacky reality television gameshow will pay you to eat nothing but bananas. In fact each day that you consume only bananas, you’ll earn a hundred dollars. (Being paid to eat your favorite food? Piece of cake! Or banana cream pie!) But I’ll wager you won’t leave the show with anywhere close to a thousand bucks in your pocket. And what do you wanna bet that you split (banana split?) even sooner than a week? Yes bananas quickly became extremely
Dole dull, didn’t they?
Feast or Famine!
So if desire (and lack thereof) is predicated on levels of deprivation and/or abundance, is it possible to sustain our hunger, yearning, aching, lusting, hankering, coveting something (or someone) once we secure it? I’m going to go out on a limb here by stating that we attempt to maintain passion and desire by the unconscious act of pushing away the things that we really want, keeping ourselves in a constant state of arousal? Psychologists take note: maybe it’s not the “fear of failure” that causes us to self-sabotage after-all? Maybe it’s just the brain’s way of keeping us interested.
Still not convinced? Why does a dog bury a bone when he knows it’s possible to indulgently sleep with the bone 24/7 in its bed or doghouse. But nooooooo. The dog hides the bone from himself so it has some distance from the bone and can sorely miss the bone. Later it becomes a thrilling surprise to happen to be digging in the backyard garden and whoa… would you look at that? It’s baaaaaack! Alright don’t go Googling this because you’ll find some silly explanation about how dogs need to instinctively protect their food from other predators because it hearkens back to the days before they were domesticated. Just do me a favor and stick with me on this.
However if you think my theories are for the dogs, let me get more human with you. On this blog it’s no secret my life romances haven’t sustained themselves longer than ten years. Early in my first marriage as a young and immature woman, I actually created arguments out of thin air with my new husband. I couldn’t figure out why I did this repeatedly until it dawned on me that our reconciliation was super exciting to me. I would bring myself to the brink of “losing something” so I could reawaken my desire for it once again and have the challenge (and satisfaction) of earning it back. Makeup sex anyone?
Only slightly more mature, I enter into a second marriage secretly thrilled that this husband travels frequently for business so I’ll have time and space to actually pine for him. Whenever he returned, things instantly became new and fresh again! Judaism understands how physical separation enhances a marriage, and actually will sometimes promote it as a side benefit to Family Purity Laws. Curious? Read more HERE.
In my next long-term relationship, (where I somehow manage to grow even more selfish and immature) I calmly ended things after they became overly predictable and lackluster some five years later. But this time, rather than trying to manipulate and trick desire into coming back . . . surprise (!) — desire had its own way with me when I least expected it. And was it ever painful.
Because another woman found my carelessly discarded ex-boyfriend to be the answer to her dreams and quickly nabbed him, my sudden reignited passion for him went through the roof, and let me just say that I became extremely physically ill realizing how playing mind-games and trying to control and manipulate had backfired on me big time. I then proceeded to (single-handedly!) help all the authors of books titled, “How to Get Your Ex Back, Even If You Were the One Who Broke Up” send their kids to college. Not a proud moment.
Does Stephanie ever stop riding a Streetcar Named Desire?
I will abruptly end here without telling you the answer (so your desire for me to post more about this topic stays heightened?) but I want to leave you with a terrific video from Esther Perel that has over 3.5 million views and counting. Click on THIS (but be sure and skip the ad, sorry!) and then leave me a comment with your thoughts. And I hereby promise to always want you as a follower, even if you already are one!
How fantastic to see that you’re still here, and I don’t have to hunt you down! I can’t wait to catch up on all of your posts that I’ve been missing!
Grace!!! I just thought of you on Sunday— yesterday. Oh my goodness, how are you? I was at a contemporary art show and someone’s booth was A-Maze-ing Grace Weaver. She wove mazes and made them into giant wall tapestries. Anyhow that’s neither here nor there, the point is a vivid memory of you entered my mind and now here you are!!
The Esther Perel link was a poignant one. Thank you for it. Personally, I am in group #2. I think you are glorious in your element. I appreciate the candor and the sharing and the imagination tied through it.
So from all those books you bought, how many did you actually read? And how many would you say gave you something that actually helped you in your present relationship(s)? I am, of course, asking from the male point of view. Forgive my this chauvanism please, but guys are supposed to be born knowing how to have good sex. And when they discover they don’t, they get discouraged, and believe themselves to be failures. Sex is not just inserting a penis into a vagina and saying, Was that as good for you as it was for me? Those girls/women who have the strength to be honest will almost always say, I need something more. And either it builds from there, or stops on a dime. That depends on the fragility of the ego.
Do we always understand our partners needs? Because those needs are always changing I don’t think we ever do. How can we when we cannot even keep up with our own needs?
I’ll leave this here, and hope that you or your readers respond. I love learning.
As usual, your post is informative, humorous and intriguing. I particularly enjoyed the links you offered in this one. Keep it up my dear Stephanie – I do have a simpatico with you. And happy new year.
Wendy! I’m so glad to hear from you. I didn’t realize you were still “out there.” Made my day! Thank you.
Ps Shana Tova to you.