For many women, the key to sex is seduction, argues Esther Perel in the article “Double Flame”. It is important for a woman that a man not only unleash his passion on her, but also kindle desire in her.
The main thing in seduction is the feeling of freedom, according to the Belgian sex therapist. Seduction excludes coercion. Sex is not taken for granted. A woman does not have to automatically agree. And you can react to an attempt at seduction directly, covertly or completely ignored.
In addition, some women find it difficult to immediately respond when a partner offers sex – they need time, Perel notes. It often happens like this: he makes an attempt, she pulls away, but later – after five minutes, an hour, the next day – she herself takes the initiative. Sometimes men perceive this as manipulation: “Sex will be only on my terms, and not when you want to”.
“Seduction is freedom” or again “the man should”?
I always read Esther Perel's texts with mixed feelings: very interesting, but can you believe it? For example, her main idea is that eroticism is born from the distance between partners. In practice, this does not work very well.
So, it is here. On the one hand, with the word "seduction" you imagine something romantic, sexy, light. Who doesn't want this kind of relationship?
On the other hand, in this call to seduce I hear the eternal “a man must”. In most couples, sex is initiated by a man. And over time, from a pleasant game, it turns into torment: “You dance around, and maybe I'll do you a favor”. How can you avoid this?
Perel in the article analyzes the case of his clients – the Spaniards Alicia and Roberto. The problem is classic: she stopped wanting sex and gets annoyed when he pesters. He feels rejected and unloved. In the end, it was agreed that he would not be so straightforward, but would try to seduce her. In response, she promises not to refuse in a harsh form, but will try to be seduced.
But it’s not clear how Alicia and Roberto ended up. At the time of publication of this article, therapy for this couple was ongoing. Whether it worked in the end or not is not written.
Eros is life: some live, others survive
Eroticism is much more than sex. This is not a physical act or a set of sexual techniques. This is the embodiment of vitality, the antidote to death, writes Esther Perel. Eroticism is much wider than the narrow framework into which they are trying to drive it in the world today.
Perel herself is a Belgian psychotherapist, a Jew from Antwerp. Since childhood, she was surrounded by people who survived the Holocaust. And among these people, two types were clearly visible: those who did not die, and those who managed to return to life.
The first did not die in the Nazi camps, but were forever broken and lived as if crushed to the ground. All their energy went into finding basic trust, fighting their fears. These people looked at the world with apprehension, and pleasure for them was associated with a sense of guilt and fear. But there were also the second – those who strove to return to life, to once again plunge into the world of joy, pleasure, risk.
As a sex therapist, Perel saw this same division among her clients. Some survive, while others live.
Some people have an “erotic spark”: they know how to cultivate this feeling of life, energy, movement. “They understand that the main component of eroticism is imagination,” writes Perel. Not imagination focused on new sex positions, but imagination that allows you to maintain a sincere curiosity about your partner, to remain attractive and interesting to yourself.
What about those who feel like a survivor and want to become truly alive? Of course, Perel does not write anything about this. But no one promised us that it would be easy.