Templates are like building blocks. They give people a way to understand and build personal and mutual narratives. Narratives can play out in various lengths of time, from minutes to years. They tend to make use of the same or similar templates over time. So in that way they can become quite knowable.
A person experiences erotic arousal at the idea of being physically vulnerable/threatened through some means to another person. Call this an “anxiety arousal template”. A partner is excited by experiencing specific, controlled amounts of physical pain (hurt, not harm.) A third person enjoys costume play in virtually endless forms as a surefire prelude to erotic arousal. How do one, two or more people build sexual narratives using erotic templates like these?
How do partners imagine wanting their template to be expressed (in both a safe and “loving way”). And not just as one recurrent mode of play, but as part of a variety of new and safe enough play to enjoy. How to own and respect that play, explore it fully, and combat the stagnating effects of shame?
Does “attachment” matter?
There’s truth in the idea that we reflect erotically elements of our our upbringing, warts and all. Some therapists try to answer it with their clients using attachment , in how it links directly to our earliest relational experiences. It’s more data that might help unravel a complex question. But attachment is far from the all-in-one solution to adult sexuality’s riddles. And difficult childhood attachment experiences do not automatically predict similar difficulties in adult life.
In broad terms adolescence is where adult sexuality often begins, either/both psychologically and physically to take shape (abuse/trauma affect this process.) Early awareness of mental & physical arousal (and/or the lack thereof) are the clues that lead to the development of adult erotic/sexual “templates” in which arousal fairly safely can occur. We often see that perfectionistic body images (and type) are arousing to adolescents, and these templates can remain in place for quite some time. How that particular template is expressed varies tremendously.
How does all this fit in with erotic & sexual narratives in committed adult relationships? Summarizing past (and future) installments of “Narratives”, adults can continue to “think developmentally” when tracking their own erotic templates. How have these developed over time? Are they indulged in with any frequency?
This personal inquiry is a good foundation for people interested in relationship therapy.
Narratives, Part 4 is next.