He's waiting for affirmation from her and she’s waiting for unbridled desire from him.
This episode of Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel reprises an exchange begun four years ago in Season Two. Now the featured couple reflects on their growth from a trauma that brought them to the podcast in the first place—her STD resulting from his infidelities.
I've Had 100 Conversations With You In My Head Part 2 catches up with the legacy of that betrayal, where they are now, and what they continue to grapple with. Along the way, Esther choreographs a dance of affirmation and consent and invites both partners to an embodied experience of erotic rediscovery.
What to listen for in this episode of Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel:
- Desire is to own the wanting. Rather than approaching your partner from a place of needing reassurance—“I want you; do you want me? Do you find me attractive?”—shift your language to: “I want you. I enjoy that feeling of wanting you.” Release the underlying pressure of putting them in a caretaker mode—a killer of sexual desire (especially for women).
- Before you initiate intimacy, there must be an invitation. Try this non-verbal invitation exercise with your partner: Stand on two different sides of a room. Invite your partner to come to you only using your body, your face, or gestures. No words. Your partner responds to your invitation and walks over if they want to, when they want to, and as far as they want to.
- What makes a good invitation? Are your motions quick and big and filled with anxiety about getting your partner to come to you? Relax. Make it small—use your chin, just your eyes, your smile, your breath. Make it an invitation that says you have all the time in the world. Enjoy the wanting.
- Sexual play thrives on positive anticipation. Think about picking up your favorite food for dinner tonight. Most of us can connect instantly to the experience of wanting something, enjoying it, tasting it, savoring it even before we’re going to have it. Now, turn that anticipation toward your partner.
- Confidence feeds off of—or becomes starved by—the interaction between partners in a relationship. It is not static. Cultivate confidence in the bedroom with a little feedback. Rather than get annoyed with your partner in the moment, give a little nudge to course correct. As in: “This feels good,” or “Let’s try it this way.” Create a sense of riffing together to replenish confidence rather than diminish it.