Intimacy & Desire | David Schnarch

Summary of: Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship
By: David Schnarch

Introduction

Discover the science and psychology behind maintaining a passionate relationship in the book summary of ‘Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship’ by David Schnarch. In this summary, you’ll explore the myths and realities of desire in committed relationships, including the concepts of high and low desire partners, the effects of long-term attachment on desire, and the importance of developing a strong sense of self to overcome sexual challenges. Find out how understanding your own desires and your partner’s can ultimately enhance your relationship and reignite the flames of passion.

The Truth About Desire in Relationships

In all relationships, there is a high desire partner (HDP) and a low desire partner (LDP). This dynamic is relative to each other and can even shift throughout the course of the relationship. Understanding this can help partners let go of worry and embrace the natural and healthy aspect of desire problems within relationships.

The Power Dynamic in Sexual Relationships

The lower desire partner controls sex, whether they like it or not. This summary explores how the power dynamic in sexual relationships plays out in other areas of the relationship, and how understanding this dynamic can help tackle sexual problems without making it personal. The author also touches on the evolutionary logic behind this power dynamic.

The Evolution of Sexual Desire

The initial phase of infatuation fades as a result of evolutionary science, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher. While long-term attachment can inhibit sexual desire, our brains are not built to remain in the love-drunk state forever. Sexual desire problems evolved to help us develop ourselves and our sense of self evolves throughout our lifetime, shaped by our interactions with our partner. Sex is a tool for self-growth, challenging us to confront issues and build resilience, ultimately increasing our chances of survival as a species.

Relationship Mind-Mapping

In relationships, people track their partner’s mind for self-validation. The evolved selfhood is reliant on feedback, known as a reflected sense of self. Mind-mapping is an automatic mental process that we do in all our social interactions. It takes center stage in sexual desire problems and puts pressure on a partner to constantly cater to emotional needs. Though maintaining a reflected sense of self and mind-mapping are natural, they can lead to emotional dependence and conflict.

The Link between Self-Validation and Sexual Intimacy

Sally’s fake orgasms brought her and Robert’s sense of self together, but at the cost of intimacy. Partner validation for a sense of self-oppresses sexual relationships, thereby triggering frustration and conflicts. To avoid this, one needs to soothe their own inadequacies and develop their own sense of self, without needing their partner’s approval. To achieve this, Sally had to confront her lies and focus on strengthening her own self before Robert was ready to act on their relationship, resulting in true intimacy and sexual pleasure.

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