“I’ve decided that as long as I’m confident that I alone have his romantic and sexual feelings, I can share his time and attention with her, albeit with a struggle,” Andrea said about Michael and their extra-marital affair in the book, A State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel. This book offers a original perspective on monogomy and focuses on infidelity specifically, that has plagued so many marriages. Ultimately, I found myself asking the following question. Can romantic and sexual feelings stay alive in a monogamous marriage that also shares domestic and household responsibilities or is that too much weight for a relationship to bear? Is there a way for a partnership to thrive in this structure or is infidelity or forced celibacy paired with years of unhappiness and unwanted expression of sexual desire the price to pay for a lifetime of love and companionship? And how can personal style play a part in the self-expression that may also lay dormant with sexual desires. Let’s explore.
Can Love and Lust Co-exist?
I am personally invested in the answer to this question, although I won’t say why– because it’s deeply personal and not my story to tell, but it’s lead me to explore the topic of marriage and inspired by the pages of Perel’s latest book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity. In the book Esther Perel turns to therapist, Jack Morin, who named this dilemma the love-lust split, where “one of the key challenges of erotic life is to develop a comfortable interaction between our lusty urges and our desire for affection with a lover.” Esther Perel further conceptualizes this divide in the male mind, and how the woman is perceived when it comes to his sexuality, and states, “The part that loves, that feels intensely attached and responsible is the good boy. The part that lusts becomes the bad boy–ruthless, subversive, irresponsible. I could sum it up as follows: They can say “fuck me” sexually only when they have said “fuck you” emotionally. Callous as that may sound, ever man who has lived with this relational framework recognizes it on the spot.” I surely recognize this in a lot of my male clients. Sometimes, it plays out as a disconnect between sex and love, where some men have had to fantasize in order to orgasm.
The Link Between Sexuality and Personal Style.
While I don’t pretend to hold the solution to extra-marital affairs or the love-lust dilemma, I have seen how personal style serves as a powerful catalyst for self-expression of one’s sexuality. Dressing your deepest desires does have a direct correlation to feeling like you are expressing more of who you are, what you want, and it helps you embody the feeling that you want to feel, and step into expressing that part of your personality that sometimes has laid dormant inside of you.
In her book, Perel shares, “I have a playbook of interventions to help people reconnect with the sensorial, sensual, sacredness of intimacy, which involve a lot more than just talking. I collaborate with sex educators, trauma therapists, Tantra practitioners, sexological body workers, dance teachers, fashion consultants, acupuncturists, nutritionists– anyone who can help. Sexuality intersects with all these modalities.”
Start playing with your own style archetypes. Use this blog post to review The History Of Mens Style and see which decade speaks to you most. I list elements from each style era that you can start incorporating into your look right now.