If you’re a fan of “Rom-Com’s”, you know this formula all too well.
Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back.
The obstacle is the loss and that’s essentially the plot of the movie. Without it, the film would be pretty short.
And that’s exactly the point of Esther Perel’s philosophy. She is a psychotherapist, author and host of the podcast “Where Should We Begin?”
I watched her on Real Time with Bill Maher last week and she was one of his more interesting interviews.
She borrowed the equation, Attraction + Obstacle = Desire, from Sexologist and psychotherapist, Jack Morin, who authored the seminal book “The Erotic Mind”.
Perel asserts that all relationships need an “obstacle” – some kind of friction – to keep it alive, and not just sexually.
There needs to be mystery, imagination and creativity, otherwise the passion withers.
What dooms relationships is often predictability and routine. That’s how the “fire” dies and that’s indeed why so many relationships, particularly marriages of many years, fizzle.
One of the mistakes we make, according to Perel, is we believe our partners belong to us.
But the reality is they can leave us, they can get sick, they could die.
As long as we maintain this awareness – that our partner is not ours – it pushes us to try new things, to go on new adventures and to challenge ourselves personally.
Perel has traveled the world interviewing couples and asks them, “How many of you take the best version of yourself to work and bring the leftovers home?”
So many of us bring that drive and focus to our careers but are too exhausted to bring that same energy and ingenuity to our relationships.
Constantly reinvent yourself and allow the partnership to evolve.
If you truly believe you can lose your partner, and if you live with that awareness and slight anxiety, you will keep refueling the relationship.
Keep that friction alive and you’ll enjoy much more fulfillment and longevity in your relationships.