modern love

The Scoop On Fetish & Fantasy

Sex without sin is like an egg without salt,

Luis Buñuel once quipped.

In this short video, Alain de Botton’s School of Life examines the underlying psychology of some commonly-held fantasies—from the lure of the uniform to the pull of submission—arguing that they are a way to address our daily anxieties.

Testing taboos not only allows us to transcend the constraints of everyday life, but turns our partner temporarily into an ‘other’. Freud observed, rather poignantly, that “where they love, they have no desire; where they desire they cannot love.” The insistence that our partner be both our best friend and lover, particularly over the long periods we’re living, is a tall order, as eloquently described by couples’ therapist Esther Perel in Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. To love is to have, to minimize distance, whereas desire means to want, requiring a gap to be bridged. It is a paradox to be managed rather than overcome.

If commitment requires a trade-off of freedom for security, then eroticism is the gateway back to freedom,

suggests Perel.

One would think it would be easiest to shed our inhibitions with the person who knows us best, but it can be risky to explore sexually with that person precisely because we fear rejection or destabilization of our sense of security. If we’re able to hold the space for our partners to open up without judging them, though, real connection can occur.

When our innermost desires are revealed and are met by our loved one with acceptance and validation, the shame dissolves,

writes Perel.

The mind really is our biggest erogenous zone, as it is imagination that separates eroticism from just sex. The brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine in novel and risky situations. As anthropologist Helen Fisher has noted, this can increase attraction between couples after doing something dangerous together. But dopamine release can also be triggered by taking emotional risks and being vulnerable with our partners.

So will it be bungee jumping or the French maid outfit for date night…?

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