Love, desire, intimacy. These are “skills that need cultivating, not merely feelings,” according to expert Esther Perel. These emotions are dynamic and active - talents you have to practice to get right (like underwater basket-weaving or Fortnite dancing). To desire is imbued with intention and responsibility. And it is a verb.
Perel believes there are 7 verbs that are essential to a desire-filled relationship:
- To ask
- To take
- To receive
- To give
- To share
- To refuse
- To play/imagine
Look, when you list them out it feels daunting, but each of these are merely meant to be a small part of the larger picture. Some are already strengths, some will be weaknesses, and one of them might just be the missing link to the kind of love you you didn't know you had in you.
To desire is imbued with intention and responsibility.
When we ask our partners of something, we're building a level of transparency that allows our relationships to grow more intimate. Simply requesting more phone-less time after work has an undercurrent of vulnerability that forces more meaningful interactions. And on the other end, receiving that request and making an adjustment shows your partner that you are willing to make changes with them.
If you're feeling like the power balance between you is out of whack, sometimes a refusal is the most powerful choice you could make. If your partner wants to watch the same Netflix show every night, putting your foot down and flipping over to Hulu could (in a strange way) bring you closer.
Here's a scenario for you: your partner's parents are in town, but your partner has to work for a few hours on one of the days. Of course you're going to offer to show your in-laws around, and of course your partner is going to feel awful about it—but it's the give and take between you that strengthens the foundation of your relationship.
When it comes to the successes and failures of life itself, to share all of that with your partner (and all of the small moments that lead up to them) is one of the best parts of having someone in your corner. For instance, if you have a boss that's sending you mixed signals about a promotion and it's affecting your demeanor, share your feelings on it with your partner!
And most importantly, don’t ever take yourself too seriously. Dare to get back in touch with your creativity and never forget to imagine with your partner. Communicating the possibilities of the future is an incredibly constructive way to learn to love not only the now, but what's to come.