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  • feedwordpress 10:00:22 on 2017/05/12 Permalink
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    What You Don’t Understand About Sexual Fantasies 

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    “What is sexual fantasy?” – Dylan, Columbus, OH

    People sometimes confess to me that they don’t have sexual fantasies. They assume they have no imagination. I want to tell you that everyone has the capacity for fantasy.

    But what is fantasy? The idea of it has been coopted so that we view it through a narrow lens. It has come to mean costumes, porn-star poses, elaborate accouterments and role-play. You can certainly introduce role-play into your relationship and here’s how.

    But here is the radical but simple definition of fantasy: sexual fantasy is simply anything that enhances excitement or pleasure. Whether it’s the time of day, the way the breeze drifts across a field or a story you create about the way someone looks at you. Let’s continue to unpack the idea of fantasy.

    Fantasy is a story

    This story – our fantasy realm – is what allows us to distinguish between sexuality and eroticism. Sexuality is instinct or biology. Eroticism is sexuality that is transformed by the human imagination.

    We all have these imaginative resources that allow us to play and be curious, to go beyond our lived experience. The wonder of fantasy is that it allows us to bypass reality; we can let go of the constraints of age, physical limits, material realities, health conditions and religious restrictions.

    What a relief to know that the central agent of the erotic act is our imagination rather than the toned abs we can’t ever quite seem to achieve. Fantasy is our very human ability to come back to something and forever change or relive it. Fantasy has the power to connect us to hope, playfulness, and mystery. I believe, if we didn’t have fantasy, we couldn’t live.

    Fantasy is a gift

    It can transform the traits that irk you – your shyness for instance – into something that you imagine turns someone else on. Or you can become all-powerful and confident – fearless and bold – in your fantasies.

    Fantasy allows us to bifurcate our inner blocks. The fears, anxieties and inhibitions that roil inside you can dissolve so that you can experience the joy of sexuality. The pitfalls of your relationship can be sidestepped in the moment of fantasy.

    Fantasy is an imagined place

    Does that mean that the fantasies that you have are what you really want to happen? Not necessarily. As we’ll discuss in detail next week, a fantasy is a game, an imagined place. Fantasies are different from what we want in the cold, harsh light of our daily reality.

    If you know how you want to experience sexual pleasure, even if it’s simply the way someone strokes your hair, you are already in the realm of sexual fantasy. Embrace it.

    Let me know your thoughts about the definition of sexual fantasy. And look out for an upcoming post on how to deal with your partner’s unsexy fantasies.

    The post What You Don’t Understand About Sexual Fantasies appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 10:00:28 on 2017/05/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Female, , Gender Expectations, Gender Norms, , , , Language, , , Understanding   

    Breaking Free from Gender Expectations 

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    “Why does gender still play such a defining role in our society?” – Nicolas, Copenhagen, Denmark 

    One of the oldest origin stories in our culture lays the ground for our binary system of gender: Adam and Eve. The Old Testament set up this duality of man and woman. And old stories are deeply rooted in us.

    From the very moment a woman is pregnant, we ask: is it a boy or a girl? We create two categories with very little room for anything outside of these prescribed definitions.

    My colleague Jean Malpas who studies transgender children, and will speak about his work on the TED stage in May, explains that gender is one of the fundamental ways we humanize each other. By assigning gender we turn something abstract (a fetus) into a concrete concept that will accompany us throughout our entire life. Gender is story. The story that culture has bestowed upon us – a legacy that comes laden with expectations. Expectations of how a man and a woman must be, must think, must act.

    You and I know these stories well. For instance: men are described as rabid biological creatures always looking for a sexual outlet. But for women, it is expected that sexuality is more subjective, that desire is complicated and conditional. These are just a few of the narratives we have learnt. But if you look closely at yourself and the people you know, you will find these narratives are riddled with contradictions and that individuals are far more nuanced.

    So what happens if you don’t meet the cultural narrative of your gender? If you are a woman who doesn’t like clothes shopping, for instance, or don’t use “feminine” gestures. What if you are a man who hates sports? You may feel in conflict. You may feel deficient, insufficient and incomplete.

    So how do we approach gender today? One of the greatest challenges is that we have seen gender as being consistent with the body and the sex that we were assigned as a baby. But we are finally beginning to understand that gender is not an assignation, that biology is not destiny. Or as transgender man Sawyer DeVuyst aptly describes it: “Gender is who you go to bed as and sexuality is who you go to bed with.”

    As I talked about in my Language of Gender piece, the gender revolution has arrived. We have a whole new lexicon to choose from. And with it, freedom for self-expression. So, let’s turn the page and create a new story for ourselves.

    What stories about gender have you learnt that have accompanied you throughout life? In what ways have they shaped, helped or hindered you? I would love to know your thoughts. Please comment below.

    The post Breaking Free from Gender Expectations appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 13:00:29 on 2017/05/01 Permalink
    Tags: , Eva Illouz, , , sexual attraction   

    Quote of the Month: Attraction 

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    “Sexual attraction and beauty was always there but today is is a highly conscious and reflected part of mate selection. Historically, sex was not a legitimate way to choose a partner, today attractiveness and viewing the person as sexy, often trumps values like good character or intelligent. This profoundly changes the rules of the romantic mating market. And market it has become.” — Eva Illouz, from “Why Love hurts”

    The post Quote of the Month: Attraction appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 17:00:39 on 2017/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Mind Body Green,   

    How To Introduce Role Play and Fantasy Into Your Relationship 

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    Go Back to Basics

    First and foremost: role-play and fantasy do not have to include elaborate costumes, props and rehearsed scenarios. Forget shopping online for hours to find the perfect replica of an 18th-century Victorian maid’s outfit with elaborate silk ruffles and free yourself from the shackles of whips and chains (although, by all means, use them later if you want). The definition of fantasy is simply anything that intensifies the sexual experience. The weather, the time of day, the location or the pacing are some simple elements that may enhance the sexual experience between you and your partner. So let go of any expectations about elaborate role-play that may intimidate you or stymie you from beginning.

    Start from a Place of Reassurance

    Talking about sex can be tricky – especially when you’ve never done it before. Frequently, there is the fear that if we speak our desires aloud, our partner will shame us or they will feel like they have failed to satisfy us in the past. Insecurity and vulnerabilities swirl around our sexual selves. Start by reassuring your partner that you enjoy what you do have. Ask them if they’re comfortable talking about fantasy. Start slowly, ease into these conversations. Here are some suggestions to open the dialogue:

    “You know what, we’ve never talked about this and I’m really nervous…”

    “I’ve been doing this course, please don’t make fun of me – I would love to talk to you about it.”

    “Are you open to talking about what turns you on?”

    “I’m really curious about what you like…”

    Alternately, write a note. Or speak on the phone – which allows an intimate distance. Of course, the earlier you open up this dialogue in a relationship, the easier it is but nevertheless, start from today, because that is where you are now.

    Talk More and Try More…

    The door is now open to dialogue and for you to share your fantasies. Conversation about fantasy is about play, curiosity, transcending the limits of reality and moving beyond your usual boundaries. You can test out fantasies through talking (“Is there something you’ve always wanted to try?”) but you can also test through action. We act, we see and we wait for a response, then we try again. For instance if you start kissing your partner on the couch, but they are pulling you towards the bedroom, they are showing you what they are comfortable with – this can also raise an opportunity to express your desire to have sex in the living room. Through a combination of action and words, allow yourself to be playful and open. Get past shame by trying: knock on the door and say, “Hello, room service is here.” As children well know, you need a playmate to play. If you are shamed or rejected when you start to play a game, you retreat into yourself. So willingness is key. But so is the ability to try again if the door is not opened the first time.

    Bring in a Third… No, not that Kind of Third

    I often suggest to couples that they use a third item – a transitional object – such as a book, a movie or an overheard conversation to allow for fantasy and play to enter their sexual experiences. Reading to each other, for instance, can be a way to create desire.

    The book Behind Closed Doors offers fantasies from women and men’s point-of- view that can be read aloud. The lens of a movie or book allows for you to ask questions like: “Is that something you’d be interested in trying?” or “Does that turn you on?”

    Do it Yourself

    In the sanctuary of your erotic mind, you can be anything or anybody you want. So as well as cultivating mutual experiences, you can step into a different body or role inside your own mind – you are free to fantasize when you’re with your partner. You can imagine you are taller, younger, skinnier, more powerful, less powerful and on it goes. You can go beyond the limits of your own conscience, body type or abilities, particularly when you have a partner you feel safe with.

    How do you incorporate fantasy and how does that impact your relationships with yourself and your partner? 

    If you found this post helpful and crave a deeper dive into your erotic self, take a look at my new course on MindBodyGreen, The Essential Guide to Sparking Your Erotic Intelligence — over two hours of guidance to help you connect to your desires and improve sexual communication.

    The post How To Introduce Role Play and Fantasy Into Your Relationship appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 18:15:06 on 2017/04/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Gender Vocabulary, , Language of Gender,   

    The Language of Gender: Beyond Boy and Girl 

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    From the debate around bathrooms to transgender celebrities on magazine covers, gender has become the new frontier for self-expression and self-determination.. The sexual revolution is far from over, but the gender revolution has arrived. An entirely new vocabulary is emerging for people to understand the differences between body, sex (i.e. anatomy prescribed at birth) and gender.

    So how do we begin to talk about gender? How do we understand gender beyond the simple binaries of, boy and girl, man and woman that we have been raised with?

    Similarly to sexuality, it comes down to linguistics. When we have the language it helps us identify who we are, but more importantly, it helps us understand the other. When we only have two categories and think in shades of blue and pink, we end up stigmatizing and rejecting those who don’t fit  these boxes.

    We need a glossary of terms to navigate the colorful spectrum of possibilities. With that in mind, National Geographic released a stimulating issue on gender at the beginning of 2017, in which they redefined gender in a glossary of 21 terms (although there are many more that could be added).

    Having a vocabulary is crucial. Language shapes our experience, it gives us access, understanding, emotional resonance and meaning. So let’s begin with a few terms from Nat Geo as we expand our understanding and join this cultural revolution:

    Genderqueer: Someone whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders.

    Cisgender (pronounced sis-gender): A term to describe a person whose gender identity matches the biological sex they were assigned at birth. (It is sometimes abbreviated as “cis.”)

    Intersex: An umbrella term that describes a person with a genetic, genital, reproductive, or hormonal configuration that does not fit typical binary notions of a male or female body. Intersex is frequently confused with transgender, but the two are completely distinct. A more familiar term, hermaphrodite, is considered outdated and offensive.

    Check out the entire piece to begin to understand the gender revolution. And look out for next week’s blog post in which we’ll talk about why gender is so important and the deeply seated roots of our old gender binary system.

    How do you define your gender? How has the gender revolution opened your mind or challenged you? Let me know your thoughts.  


    Photography by Robin Hammond/National Geographic

    The post The Language of Gender: Beyond Boy and Girl appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 14:15:09 on 2017/04/20 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Fallen Angels Fall With Desires For Excess, Lust and Betrayal 

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    Fallen Angels fall because deep in the psyche of ever girl is an unconscious desire for excess, lust and betrayal. We are taught to be good and dream of being bad.

    Who are these fallen angels? They are the girl next door, your girlfriend, your little sister. They are me, it goes without saying. And they are you, dear fallen angels, even if you are not aware of it.

    After a lifetime of being told not be show the tops of your breasts or your knickers in short skirts, your hip bones and curves in teeny bikinis, the inevitable fall is like slipping into a steamy bath of decadence and sin.

    Like well-heeled and unhappily married Michelle in American Concubine who finds a lover with S&M desires and learns he works for her husband. Like Jools in Snow Falls Softly who surrenders to her boss on the eve of his wedding. Like sad little virgin Angela Budd in Bringing Angels to Life who discovers her true self as a call girls and believes that “every time she has an orgasm an angel comes to life.”

    Fallen Angels OUT NOW

    FALLEN ANGElsFallen Angels is the title of my seventh book. It is a collection of six novellas, each one a mirror image of the times in which we live in America and Europe now it has it become one world.

    It is published by Xcite Books and FREE if you have Amazon Prime, just $3.75 at Amazon US and £2.99 at Amazon UK. 

    Follow the link to FALLEN ANGELS 

    EXCERPT from American Concubine

    She slipped down to the bed so he could remove her shoes, her red pants, her panties with satin bows. She was with a man ten years younger than her, and she thought about something Justine had said: why had she waited so long? She was naked, finally, and being naked with this stranger she didn’t know and knew nothing about made her nipples harden.

    He stood there waiting for her to unbuckle his belt, unsnap the button at the top of his jeans, lower the zipper. He was wearing white shorts and when his cock emerged from the folds she hesitated only long enough to admire this thing, this creature that is man, this work of art, this object with a will of its own. His cock was long, wide, the head pale pink and it felt as smooth as porcelain as it slid between her lips and down her throat.

    And P.S. – Katie in Love, my last novel, has been nominated for the People’s Book Prize. Loads of people have voted for the novel, more than thirty of you have left kind comments. Thank you. Thank you. Before the poll closes, if you would like to vote, just follow the link VOTE FOR CHLOE  xxxx Chloe.

    The post Fallen Angels Fall With Desires For Excess, Lust and Betrayal appeared first on Romance writer Chloe Thurlow.

  • feedwordpress 12:24:51 on 2017/04/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , Esther Moments, Finding The One, , , The One,   

    Finding “The One” 

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    “How do I know when I’ve found The One?” – Austin, Baltimore, MD

    This idea of finding “The One” is problematic for relationships. The paradox of choice creates a real sense of anxiety for people looking to find a long-term partner. The expectations of one person to satisfy all of our many emotional, physical, and spiritual needs is a tall order for one individual. 

    Perhaps, instead of looking for a person who checks all the boxes, focus on a person with whom you can imagine yourself writing a story with that entails edits and revisions. As a reminder, there are no perfect stories. 

    How do you continue to re-write your story with your partner? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

    Photography: Keith Morrison

    The post Finding “The One” appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • nmw 14:04:34 on 2017/04/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , divorce, , , , , reliance, seduce, , ,   

    If we see Cuba as a representation of our essential human need for connection, it’s clear that loving and leaving someone still happens in person 

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    even though we live in a digitalized world where our screens are glued to our hands, human connection is all-powerful: at some essential level we still need to meet someone, to talk to them, to interact, especially in order to seduce them.

  • feedwordpress 18:39:59 on 2017/04/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , Emotional Intelligence, Relationship Dynamic, , Trip, Vacation, Work   

    Love in The Age of Cuba 

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    I have just returned from a trip to Cuba with my family. It was partly vacation and partly work. As Cuba reinvents itself after 60 years of socialism and teeters on a precipice about to plunge headlong into capitalism, I noticed some interesting contrasts between their culture and the US.

    I don’t want to sentimentalize the Castro regime and all that has happened in the past but much of what I saw spoke directly to my work with relationships.

    Here are a few observations about Cuba that we can learn from:

    Instant Gratification vs. Emotional Depth

    I live in New York City where the corner deli, Amazon Prime Now, Uber Eats, etc. can deliver every desire, at any hour of the day. The consumer culture of the West is intensely focused on immediate gratification, on achieving, on owning things.

    In our atomized and digitalized society, when we want something (or someone) it appears before us in an instant – often for purchase on a screen.

    But Cuban society has existed for over half a century without advertisements, internet connectivity, and without instant gratification, which has created an environment in which people develop sophisticated social and emotional intelligence.

    Cultivating Inner Joy

    When you watch Cubans move down the street, you can see they have cultivated what Chen Lizra eloquently describes as “sabrosura” – an inner joy. In the US we are constantly bombarded with ads while Cubans, on the other hand, were bombarded with indoctrination. No signs of Apple, Gap, or Pepsi, instead, endless slogans about the revolution, and pictures of Che and Fidel.

    It’s interesting to note that we think of the messages Cubans received as propaganda and our blinking billboards as the glorious free market. This lack of advertising in Cuba has changed the way people move and interact. Women in particular, in Cuba, have not had to measure themselves by exacting standards of beauty – so when they sashay down the street, it’s not the size of their backside that matters but their inner radiance.

    Human Connection is Powerful and Unavoidable

    I went to a party with over 300 people in Cuba – as we moved through the energetic crowd, the people around us were looking at each other, talking to each other, dancing with each other.

    My son and his friend who are in their 20s immediately turned to me and commented that – unlike their friends at a party – no one was tethered to their phones. It struck me that even though we live in a digitalized world where our screens are glued to our hands, human connection is all-powerful: at some essential level we still need to meet someone, to talk to them, to interact, especially in order to seduce them. And the fact that dating is not second job, but a game of intrigue, surprise, and playfulness – swiping has turned the intrigue of meeting people into bored shopping for humans.

    In Cuba, they are doing this the way we were 15 years ago – as they gather in the streets and stroll the malecón – and because of that they have more finely tuned social skills.

    If we see Cuba as a representation of our essential human need for connection, it’s clear that loving and leaving someone still happens in person.

    Sexuality is Self-Expression

    In a totalitarian regime like Cuba, where historically the state controlled people’s lives, partners, sex and marriage have become major areas of individual expression and autonomy.

    That is why I found that discussions around sexual infidelity were far less taboo on the latin island.. Infidelity is one of the few areas of individual freedom; transgressing in this way is not controversial.

    Notably, Cuba also has one of the highest divorce rates in Latin America.  Why is that so? It’s simple to get married, and equally simple to divorce. In  a society where no one accrues wealth or owns property or things, it’s much easier to separate – there is no division of belongings.

    In a similar system, in the Soviet Union, women initiated 97% of divorces.

    In Cuba, marital relationships emphasize emotional fulfillment and there is barely any economic reliance. “If one is not met emotionally, why be married?” explained one of the local female psychologist. Without the need for another’s economic support, why stay and continue doing their dirty laundry?

    Have you travelled to Cuba? Or do you have thoughts about what relationships were like before social media and smartphones? I would love to hear your thoughts below.

    The post Love in The Age of Cuba appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 13:00:33 on 2017/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , Leonard Cohen, ,   

    Quote of the Month: Desire 

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    The old are kind.

    The young are hot.

    Love may be blind.

    Desire is not.

    — Leonard Cohen

    The post Quote of the Month: Desire appeared first on Esther Perel.

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