“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ― Anaïs Nin
Anaïs Nin knew that love, sexuality, and creativity can lose their luster through erosion or neglect. The word “withering” suggests the need to pick fruit at just the right stage and not wait until it drops to the ground. Her choice of the word “tarnishing” suggests that love, like silver, needs polishing to retain its luster.
Anyone who has been to my training courses and retreats knows that I love Anaïs Nin. She is my hero: Smart, deep, witty, sensual, sexual, and a literary talent.
She had a keen understanding of human beings and our self-protective tendency to fall into what I call trance states. These states leave us feeling bored, stuck, de-eroticized, defective or disconnected from our partner.
Mesmerized Into No-Maintenance Thinking
One common misconception is to believe that sex and love should last forever in their original form. We forget that everything dulls from disuse. It always surprises me when people assume sex should be maintenance-free, when virtually nothing that matters to us is. We sometimes assume Eros should make a home in our relationship without requiring any tending, even though we consciously tend our house, garden, body, car, hair, children, family and friends—virtually anything that matters to us.
Why Eros Needs Tending
Eros needs tending because it is sensitive and fragile. After the initial supercharged sex wears off, as it will do in any long-term relationship, Eros only appears where it feels welcome.
Eros needs tending because passion fades without tending. After the first year or two, our hormones naturally change from a passion cocktail to a comfort food.
Eros needs tending because our likes and dislikes change over time.
Eros needs tending because our bodies have different capacities at different times, due to chronic pain and illness, stress, and/or aging.
Eros needs tending because deeper issues around sex surface through sex as part of the growth process. If we ignore these issues, they can turn into aversions, barriers and fears around sex that lead to avoidance or numbing.
It takes courage–and encouragement–to notice and acknowledge our trances and contractions, and in so doing, free ourselves to experience a more expanded life. Sometimes it takes courage to be fully present to what is, and to witness an unfolding and deepening, an opening to joy and authentic pleasure. As Anais Nin once famously wrote, “Life shrinks or expands according to our courage.”
So there is hope here: With a little courage, care and attention, we can maintain or revitalize all things precious.
10 Ways We Can Tend Eros Through Caring and Courage
There are so many ways in which we can tend and attend to Eros so that we can honor and source our innate erotic energy. Here are some of my favorites:
#1. We can build a home for Eros by letting it know that we value its life-giving, renewing, and creative potential.
#2. After the erotic rush of “chasing and dating,” a sense of companionship will set in. Desire may ebb with time, but we can honor a willingness to touch and re-connect with our partner as a pathway to pleasure. Practicing mindfulness during sex allows us to enjoy the freshness of meeting our love again for the first time, again and again.
#3. We can honor our bodies by attending to our health. If and when our physical capacity is at an ebb due to chronic pain or illness, aging, fatigue, or stress, we can use mindfulness to find new ways to experience eroticism and intimate connection.
#4. We can listen to the call of embodiment, which asks us to inhabit our body fully, living from the inside out.
#5. We can commit to clearing resentment and hurt towards our partner, knowing that real-life relationships are complicated. Couples can establish an open and collaborative spirit when they address their different sexual preferences, needs and styles.
#6. We can choose to stay awake to our erotic energy by letting go of limiting attitudes about sexuality, aging and beauty that tell us we are not desirable, pleasure is bad, and our bodies are untrustworthy.
#7. Tending means we put attention on our erotic life. We can talk about it, explore it, and nurture it so it stays in our consciousness. We can do this by befriending our fantasies and turn-ons, through self-pleasuring, through mindfully lingering with a sexual impulse or feeling, whether it leads to partner sex or not.
#8. We can tend Eros by getting rid of the goal of “going all the way.” We can savor moments of erotic connection with our partner – engaging in a game of “footsy,” stroking their face and opening to the energy that awakens in us as we do this. This is going beyond a performance mindset into a joyous surrender to pleasure.
#9. Daily acts of sensuality will be honoring Eros. For instance, we can enjoy the feeling of soft fabric against our skin, the taste of nourishing or exotic food flavors, the shape of a tree, the sound of the wind, a bird chirping or a soulful piece of music.
#10. We can tend Eros by creating a sensual environment through candles, music, and visual beauty that calls forth our sexuality.
So How Do You Tend Eros?
To pull out another favorite quote of mine from Anais Nin, “There is always more mystery.” Every person and every couple is unique, as they form and re-form their Erotic Team over time.
We would love to know how you tend Eros. I welcome your ideas, so feel free to email us at email@example.com. How do you keep sex sizzling in your Erotic Team?
We plan to print what we receive in a subsequent issue (and of course, we won’t share your name unless you specifically ask us to). Can’t wait to hear what you have go to say!
By Maci Daye 2016