NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Cornerstone of Eroticism: Longing and Anticipation

In my last article, What Are the Four Cornerstones of Eroticism?, which is based on the book, The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Source of Passion and Fulfillment by sex therapist Dr. Jack Morin, I gave an overview and a brief explanation of the four cornerstones.

A Cornerstone of Eroticism: Longing and Anticipation

The Four Cornerstones of Eroticism:
  • Longing and Anticipation
  • Violating Prohibitions
  • Searching For Power
  • Overcoming Ambivalence
One of the Four Cornerstones of Eroticism: Longing and Anticipation
In the current article, I'm focusing on the first cornerstone mentioned in Dr. Morin's book, Longing and Anticipation, which includes the sexual attraction and obstacles I discussed in my article, The Erotic Equation: Attraction + Obstacles = Excitement.

The ability to experience longing and anticipation begins in infancy when you're yearning for your mother's soothing presence, warmth and nurturance.  Also, as a child, you might have anticipated and longed for your parents' arrival from work in the evening.  

Children also use their imagination and fantasize about imaginary friends who are always with them and who never disappoint them.  Sometimes these imaginary friends are their alter egos, as when a child says about his imaginary friend, "I didn't do it--it was Johnny!"

As an adult, when you desire someone who isn't with you, you can experience this type of longing.  This is the case with unrequited love and other instances where what is desired either cannot be obtained or there are obstacles to obtaining what you desire (see my article: Obsessing About the One Who Got Away).

In a long distance relationship where you can only see your partner infrequently, you are also likely to experience longing because you miss your partner and anticipate the next time you see them.

A Cornerstone of Eroticism: Longing and Anticipation

Longing and anticipation also comes up when you're pursuing someone and hoping that person will go out with you.  As I mentioned in my article, Romantic Obsessions and the Thrill of the Chase, the real thrill in chasing someone isn't about "catching" them--it's about the pleasure you experience from the anticipation of "catching" them.

Even when you're in a relationship with someone who lives nearby, on the days when you're not together, you long to see them or hear from them, especially during the early stages of a relationship.  You might daydream about that person, anticipate their call or text and imagine the things the two of you will do when you're together.

In these and other similar situations where you're unable to be with a person you desire--whether it's temporarily or indefinitely--you feel a heightened state of sexual excitement.  All of this pent up emotion and sexual energy peaks when you get together with your partner.  

Paradoxically, once you and your partner are in an established long term relationship where you're living together or married, anticipation and longing tend to wane if you don't add novelty or spice things up (see my articles: The Paradox of Love and Sexual Desire in a Committed Relationship and To Rekindle Passion Fire Needs Air).

Clinical Vignette:  
The following clinical vignette, which is based on a composite of many different clinical cases with all identifying information changed, illustrates how longing and anticipation enhance sexual excitement:

Sandy and Bill
While they were home from college, Sandy and Bill met at a friend's holiday party, and they both felt an instant strong attraction for each other.

During their holiday break, they spent as much time together as they could before Sandy returned to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Bill returned to UCLA in Los Angeles.  

Every night before she went to sleep, Sandy thought about Bill and how she couldn't wait to see him the following day.  She even had romantic dreams about him.  

Every night before Bill went to sleep, he thought of things he wanted to tell Sandy and what he wanted to do with her sexually.  He couldn't wait to see her.

By the end of the first week, they found a secluded area in the park near Bill's parents' house and they had passionate sex for the first time.  

The sexual passion was heightened because they both knew there was a risk of getting caught by having sex in a public place (i.e., one of the four cornerstones of eroticism: Violating a Sexual Prohibition) and also because it would be months before they saw each other again.  

When they returned to college, they both spent a lot of time obsessing about each other and texting as much as they could.  

Both of them found it difficult to focus on their college assignments because they were fantasizing about the next time they would see each other again during Spring Break.

During the months before Spring Break, Sandy sometimes felt she couldn't endure the wait to see Bill again.  She told him that she wanted to take time off from school to fly out to Los Angeles to see him.  Bill told her that he felt the same way--like he would burst if he didn't see Sandy soon. But he didn't want Sandy to miss her classes so, reluctantly, he told her not to come see him.  

While they were counting the days until they could see each other in person, they were online every night. They told each other how much they yearned to be together. They also sent each other flirty texts during the day.  

During that time, the romantic and sexual tension was building between them, so by the time they saw each other on Spring Break, they couldn't keep their hands off each other.

When they were back at their respective colleges, during the months between Spring Break and end of term, they were both missing each other a lot and the tension led to a few arguments.  

After one of those arguments, Bill went to a party, got drunk and took a woman he met at the party back to his dorm room.  

When Sandy didn't hear from Bill the next day, she was surprised.  She tried to reach him a few times, but he didn't respond.  

Finally, after receiving several panicky texts from Sandy, Bill called her and confessed that he had sex with another woman at his college.  He also told Sandy that he didn't think he could remain celibate for the rest of the term until they saw each other again.

Sandy was heartbroken.  She knew it would be difficult while they were apart and so far away from each other, but she thought Bill would be faithful to her, as he promised he would.  

During the next week, she kept calling Bill, but he didn't respond.  After that, she felt so despondent that she could barely bring herself to go to class.  

A few weeks later, Bill called Sandy to apologize for hurting her feelings.  They were both seniors and just a few months away from graduation when they would be returning to their parents' homes in New York City.  So, Bill asked to see Sandy again when they were both back in New York. In the meantime, he wanted to be free to see other women, and Sandy grudgingly agreed.

During the next few months, Sandy and Bill kept in touch by phone and online.  They both missed each other a lot.  To soothe their longing for each other, they talked about getting together when they were both at home in New York again.

During their first few weeks back home in New York, they got together every day.  The longing and anticipation had built up so much sexual tension that they were having sex every chance they could, and it was even more passionate than before.

By the end of the month, they were getting to know each other better, and they both realized they each had very different goals and long term plans.  

Sandy wanted to return to Ann Arbor for a graduate degree and Bill wanted to join his father's brokerage firm on Wall Street.  Sandy also realized that Bill was a lot more politically conservative than she realized, and Bill discovered that Sandy had liberal views that he found repugnant.

As they each realized they didn't really known each other before this. They also acknowledged that, with all the excitement they experienced while they were apart, they didn't realize that a long term relationship between them wouldn't work (see my article: The Ideal vs the Real).

They now understood that they were too caught up in their sexual attraction for each other to consider their very different values.  They also realized that their brief relationship was more about lust than about love (see my article: 7 Signs Your Relationship is Based on Lust and Not Love).

They decided to continue to see each other until Sandy left for her graduate school program in Ann Arbor.  

After that, they both eventually got into long term relationships with people who were compatible.

Longing and anticipation is one of the Four Cornerstones of Eroticism, according to sex therapist Dr. Jack Morin.

Whether the longing and anticipation involves a long distance relationship, pursuing a partner as part of a "chase" or unrequited love, to name just a few situations, the sexual attraction plus obstacles involved serve to heighten eroticism.  

Getting Help in Therapy
Relationship problems can be difficult to solve on your own.  

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who has the experience and the skills to help you resolve your problems.

Taking the first step to contact a therapist can be challenging, but it can also be the first step on your way to having a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.