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  • feedwordpress 17:48:30 on 2017/06/09 Permalink
    Tags: , desire, lack of desire, , , , , performance, performance anxiety,   

    A Man’s Secret: Performance Anxiety 

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    “When I’m not interested in sex, it makes me feel like I’m not a man. In fact, my wife wants it more than me so I came up with the excuse of chronic back pain. I think it’s easier for her to accept. What’s wrong with me?” – David, Clifton, New Jersey

    As we talk about the modern man this month, David’s question strikes me as particularly apropos given the pressures on the man. Let’s start by debunking some of our most dear assumptions about men.

    Men are under pressure in life, and in the bedroom, to be untiring, masterful and dominant. It’s assumed men are always up for sex and women’s interest is much less, and subjective. It’s time we stop this oversimplification of men.

    For many men, identity and self-esteem are bound up with sexuality. This explains why David is more likely to feel ashamed when he has no desire.

    Throughout the month we will talk about the stereotypes surrounding masculinity and the shifting roles of men. But to start, here are some tips that that I hope will help David and many men out there.

    Bring your Partner into the Conversation

    David, your wife might buy your story about back pain but underneath she is wondering about her lack of desirability. It’s time to talk with your wife. Maybe you are exhausted at the end of each day and find it hard to shift gears. Or you have worries about your performance. Perhaps you are afraid you don’t turn her on. Something is turning you off.

    Whatever it is, open the conversation, without blame or defensiveness and reveal how you feel and start talking about what turns you on and what blocks you. My post on Role Play and Fantasy can help to open up conversations about sex.

    Check your Mood

    Here is a radical revelation: men and women feel the same way about sex. If a person is anxious, depressed, distracted or feels unattractive, regardless of their gender, they are less likely to be turned on. So check your mood. David may find the answer lies there. And as I often say, sex in a long-relationship is something you have to plan for. This may help to shift the pressure of you alone and help you find playful ways to alter your mood.

    Stop Thinking about Sex

    I would advise David to put himself more into his body and do less ruminating, which takes us out of the experience of pleasure. Forget about “the act” and think about simple starting points to give the other person pleasure, like a shoulder rub. Stop worrying about whether you’re turned on in the moment. And find ways (dancing, exercise, and other physical hobbies that fulfill you) that let you fully inhabit your body.

    What pressures do you feel as a man to perform? Let me know in the comments below. And look out for next week’s post on Masculinity and Assertiveness vs. Aggression.

    The post A Man’s Secret: Performance Anxiety appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 17:00:39 on 2017/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , desire, , , 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 13:00:33 on 2017/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: , desire, 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.

  • feedwordpress 18:00:36 on 2016/12/16 Permalink
    Tags: art of flirting, , chen lizra, , dance, dancer, desire, , flirt, , power of seduction, ,   

    The Power Of Seduction 

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    “Seduction is really about your untapped power that you are not using that you want to release. Seduction is about charm, connection, vulnerability, pride, self-confident and appeal.”  — Chen Lizra, Social Entrepreneur, Somatic Life Coach, Author of My Seductive Cuba, and dancer.

    On a recent trip to Miami, a friend took me to a salsa club in Little Havana. I love to watch people dance. Especially salsa, rumba and tango. These luminous forms of dance are based on seduction. Watching couples twirl around the dance floor reminded me of a TED Talk by Chen Lizra titled “The power of seduction in our everyday lives.” Chen learned the art of seduction through her travels and studies with professional Cuban salsa dancers. She believes that seduction is an essential life skill that can be taught and made one’s own.

    Watch the video and let us know in the comments what you think about the power of seduction.

    Additional resources on the topic:

    The post The Power Of Seduction appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 15:00:29 on 2016/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , Dan Savage, desire, Excitement, , , Mistletoe, , Playfulness   

    Flirting Under the Mistletoe 

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    During the holidays my husband and I always have a crazy schedule of parties and obligations. We get dressed up and spend more time out together than we do all year, but December is a tough time to actually connect with one another. How can we enjoy each other this exhausting season?” – Sari, 45

    Everyone remembers the moment when you were standing in a crowded party and you made eye contact with someone standing across the room. The electricity. The frisson. The delicious possibility of circling this attractive stranger the entire evening. You looked up, then looked away. And so it began.

    The word “flirt” comes from the French word “fleuret” — in English translation means “foil” — one of the three swords used in fencing. When using a foil, points can only be won using the tip of the weapon. To flirt is to play with the tip of the sword. To tease. To gently touch. To tantalize. It’s about playing with possibility, not going in for the kill.

    You want to see flirting in action? Watch *this.

    This dance piece of human’s imitating animal mating rituals shows us the active game of give and take that is flirtation. It’s called pacing in the animal kingdom. Humans do it too. We advance and withdraw. We circle. This is an essential, playful ingredient of seduction and excitement. It is about possibility. Anticipation. Fantasy.


    With a long-term partner, it can feel as if the dance is over. However, we can bring back a sense of excitement and anticipation to our relationships. But we must do it with intentionality. No different than the intentionality that lurked behind the first glance. Here’s a little menu of ideas to create space for flirtation. Pick one you like, and give it a try this month.

    Think of the whole evening as a canvas for seduction  

    Even though you may know the outcome, there are so many ways to be playful with each other through the course of the night.

    • Make a playful pact not to talk or touch for part of the party, only to make eye contact.
    • Send a suggestive text during the course of the evening. It’s all about talking about sex, without talking about sex. Hint, allow the anticipation to mount, and stoke curiosity — refrain from throwing the idea of sex onto the other person’s face.
    • In lieu of departing for a night out from your home together, drop a note that says, ”I saw you in the elevator, has anyone told you how bright and piercing your eyes are? If you are available this evening, I will meet you at 8pm in front of [Fill in the blank of the address of your event].” And meet there.
    • Introduce yourself to your partner at the party, as if you are meeting them for the first time. Remember, you cannot be self-conscious and play, so really go for it – give your best acting 101 performance.  

    Break your own rules

    We experience freedom when we break rules. Any small incursion into the illicit and the transgressive with your partner can be really enlivening.

    • Let go of guilt and don’t follow the typical schedule for the day or the evening ahead. Leave the party early and get a drink together on the way home.
    • Close the bedroom door after the babysitter arrives and dedicate the beginning of the evening to each other. Then go to the party late.
    • Skip the event altogether, and go for a walk instead.

    Flip the script

    Columnist Dan Savage often recommends couples to “fuck first.” You pick out the perfect outfit, bake the cookies, buy the wine with a matching bow, and travel to the event. After hours socializing, stuffing yourself, and drinking, by the end of the evening, the last thing you want to do is seduce your partner. Instead, get intimate before leaving the house, so you’re energized and avoid performance anxiety and disappointment if nothing happens when you get home.

    To make this season more enjoyable, remember that anything that takes you out of the predictable or introduces risk or disobedience, opens the door to pleasure. Happy holidays.

    Are you struggling to connect with your partner during this busy season? What was flirting like in the beginning between you and your partner? Leave a comment on the blog. I would like to hear your stories.

    *I have no connection to this company, do not endorse the product – but enjoyed this artistic interpretation of courtship.
    Image Source: Cab Calloway

    The post Flirting Under the Mistletoe appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 14:00:23 on 2016/11/11 Permalink
    Tags: , Brain Pickings, desire, fire, flame, intimacy, judy brown, , poem, , power, The Sea Accepts All Rivers   

    Poem on Desire: Fire by Judy Brown 

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    Today, I am reflecting this idea of power through psychological and physical distance as a way to awaken intimacy and desire inspired by Judy Brown’s poem, “Fire”. This piece echoes the ideas in my book Mating in Captivity — so beautifully articulated.



    by Judy Brown

    What makes a fire burn

    is space between the logs,

    a breathing space.

    Too much of a good thing,

    too many logs

    packed in too tight

    can douse the flames

    almost as surely

    as a pail of water would.

    So building fires

    requires attention

    to the spaces in between,

    as much as to the wood.

    When we are able to build

    open spaces

    in the same way

    we have learned

    to pile on the logs,

    then we can come to see how

    it is fuel, and absence of the fuel

    together, that make fire possible.

    We only need to lay a log

    lightly from time to time.

    A fire


    simply because the space is there,

    with openings

    in which the flame

    that knows just how it wants to burn

    can find its way.


    Image Source: Pexels

    The post Poem on Desire: Fire by Judy Brown appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 20:35:31 on 2015/08/04 Permalink
    Tags: , desire, live qa, twitter   

    Recap: First Live Twitter Q&A 

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    Thanks to everyone who participated in my first live Twitter Q&A. A lot of great questions came through. Although I was not able to answer all of them in the allotted time, here are some of the highlights. Stay tuned for the next twitter Q&A on August 19th at 11am EST.

    Question 1: What is the most common misconception about sex from a male perspective? From a female perspective?


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    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.49.54 PM


    Knowing what you don’t like is not the same as knowing what you like.


    Question 2: What is the best way to move on and find love again after being broken hearted in your 40s?

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    It takes time to move on from a broken heart and to reconcile all these parts & one day your eyes open again & You’re ready to let someone in.


    Question 3: Is it selfish to think one deserves more? Is there DESERVE in DESIRE?

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    Ours is an era where we feel we deserve to satisfy our desires. Selfishness is in.


    Question 4:  What are the best concerns/questions to gauge sexual and relationship compatibility?

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    Relationship compatibility: shared values, vision, humor, attraction, intellect and trust.


    Question 5: Don’t you think performance and satisfaction are somehow linked? (Performance defined below)

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    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.57.36 PM


    Outcome i.e. : an orgasm or cumming.

    The post Recap: First Live Twitter Q&A appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 20:44:27 on 2015/05/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , desire   

    Cultivating Desire in Couples 

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    America, in matters of sex as in much else, seems to be a goal-oriented society that prefers explicit meanings, candor, and “plain speech” to ambiguity and allusion. In America, this predilection for clarity and unvarnished directness, often associated with honesty and openness, is encouraged by many therapists in their clients: “If you want to make love to your wife/ husband, why don’t you say it clearly? And tell him/her exactly what you want.”

    But I often suggest an alternative with my clients: “There’s so much direct talk already in the everyday conversations couples have with each other,” I tell them. “If you want to create more passion in your relationship, why don’t you play a little more with the natural ambiguity of gesture and words, and the rich nuances inherent in communication.”

    Ironically, some of America’s best features—the belief in democracy, equality, consensus-building, compromise, fairness, and mutual tolerance—can, when carried too punctiliously into the bedroom, result in very boring sex. Sexual desire doesn’t play by the same rules of good citizenship that maintain peace and contentment in the social relations between partners. Sexual excitement is politically incorrect, often thriving on power plays, role reversals, unfair advantages, imperious demands, seductive manipulations, and subtle cruelties. American couples therapists, shaped by the legacy of egalitarian ideals, often find themselves challenged by these contradictions.

    What I’d characterize as a European emphasis on complementarity—the appeal of difference—rather than strict gender equality has, it seems to me, made women on the other side of the Atlantic feel less conflict between being smart and being sexy. In Europe, to sexualize a woman doesn’t mean to denigrate her intelligence or competence or authority. Women, therefore, can enjoy expressing their sexuality and being objects of desire, and enjoy their sexual power, without feeling they’re forfeiting their right to be taken seriously as professionals and workers.

    Of course, American feminists achieved momentous improvements in all aspects of women’s lives. Yet without denigrating those historically significant achievements, I do believe that the emphasis on egalitarian and respectful sex—purged of any expressions of power, aggression, and transgression—is antithetical to erotic desire, for men and women alike.

    So many of the couples who come to therapy imagine that they know everything there is to know about their mate. In large part, I see my job as trying to highlight for them how little they’ve seen, urging them to recover their curiosity and catch a glimpse behind the walls that encircle the other. Eroticism is the fuel for that curiosity, the experience of desire transfigured by the imagination.

    As Mexican essayist Octavio Paz has written, eroticism is “the poetry of the body, the testimony of the senses. Like a poem, it is not linear, it meanders and twists back on itself, shows us what we do not see with our eyes, but in the eyes of our spirit. Eroticism reveals to us another world, inside this world. The senses become servants of the imagination, and let us see the invisible and hear the inaudible.”

    The post Cultivating Desire in Couples appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • nmw 13:29:23 on 2015/03/12 Permalink
    Tags: , autonomy, care, desire, , , , nurture, responsibility, responsible   

    Couples Need to Fan the Flame 

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    What is the difference between love and desire?

    Love and desire relate and conflict:

    Love is: When you care, worry, feel responsible for someone. You want to minimize threats, reduce the distance, and nurture them.
    Desire is: an expression of freedom and autonomy. Many can feel freer with people they are less emotionally involved in. Why do women like the bad boys? You don’t have to worry about him – don’t’ feel safe with him, but it’s freeing in terms of desire.


  • feedwordpress 16:35:17 on 2015/03/11 Permalink
    Tags: , desire,   

    How to Distinguish Between Love & Desire 

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    What is the difference between love and desire?

    Love and desire relate and conflict:

    Love is: When you care, worry, feel responsible for someone. You want to minimize threats, reduce the distance, and nurture them.
    Desire is: an expression of freedom and autonomy. Many can feel freer with people they are less emotionally involved in. Why do women like the bad boys? You don’t have to worry about him – don’t’ feel safe with him, but it’s freeing in terms of desire.

    Sometimes the very care, worry, feeling of responsibility we feel for our beloved is what stifles the unselfconsciousness and freedom necessary for desire. What nurtures love is not necessarily what fuels desire and what turns us on sexually isn’t always what is emotionally safe.

    But most long term relationships involve responsibility by design… indeed women find it much harder to give themselves he permission for pleasure, sometimes any pleasure such as sitting down when drinking their coffee. When they are organized around attending to the needs of others they can easily forego their own. The first need to go for some of these woman is their erotic needs.

    For women, they loose themselves because they can’t sustain desire when the nurturing starts. We choose love over desire because that’s what we feel we should do. Men and women trade off the adventure for the predictability. They trade their erotic needs for security needs.

    In a long term, committed relationship, how do love and desire coexist?
    We like the unexpected at first – allow the unexpected to be part of the relationship. Break the routine – what you talk about, activities, how you react to each other. Bring vitality back – shake things up! Fire needs air, couples need to fan the flame. The excitement is rooted to uncertainty—keep mystery and adventure alive by alternative between what makes us feel safe and secure and by allowing the unpredictable and the unexpected to jolt us out of the flattening habits.

    The post How to Distinguish Between Love & Desire appeared first on Esther Perel.

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