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  • feedwordpress 12:24:51 on 2017/04/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , Esther Moments, Finding The One, marriage, , 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, , marriage, , , 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 22:34:52 on 2017/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: , Anger, Bickering, , Chronic Criticism, , , Happiness, marriage, , ,   

    Video: Stop Bickering. It’s Killing Your Relationship 

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    “We bicker all the time, she’s so critical of me and I don’t feel like I am doing anything right. What should I do?” – Anthony, Boston

    The artist Louise Bourgeois once described her tumultuous experience as a child at the dining table listening to her parents fight in this way: “To escape the bickering, I started modeling the soft bread with my fingers…. this was really my first sculpture.” And while conflict may have lead to great art for this artist, in most cases, it can be the constantly replaying soundtrack of a distressed relationship.

    Anthony’s question is powerful because it is so common.

    I think of bickering as low intensity chronic warfare. Ongoing criticism can lead to the demise of the relationship. And if we criticize as a way of asking to be loved, well then we will often produce precisely the opposite effect of what we seek: to be loved and to feel good about ourselves. If we spend much of our time feeling lousy, unloved, devalued, inadequate and inept, we are on the wrong side of the tracks. So what can we do to reset this negative pattern?

    Pay Attention to What’s Working

    When I went to school in Belgium, the teacher would mark our mistakes in red pen. Our mistakes were highlighted; our achievements rarely noted. When our relationship is in distress, we tend to overlook the good and overemphasize the bad.

    To counter this, try keeping a daily list of everything that your partner does that is positive, everything that you appreciate, everything that you can be thankful for. Do this for ten days in a row.

    Each note can be as simple as: “Made me a cup of tea” or “Locked door on way out”. Instead of elevating the annoying, elevate the minute details of your partner’s generosity and thoughtfulness.

    Focus on what is working. Pay attention.

    The ratio of appreciation is crucial to a good relationship. Take the log one step further and make a big deal every time the other person does something positive.

    This will kick you out of a defeating cycle of negativity. And will motivate your partner towards acts of kindness.

    Let Yourself Be Vulnerable

    What’s important to understand about criticism is that it sits on top of a mountain of disappointments of unmet needs and unfulfilled longings.

    Every criticism often holds a veiled wish. When your partner says to you, “You’re never around”, what they may actually mean is “I’m lonely, I miss you when you’re not here.”

    When Anthony’s partner tells him he never brings her along when he goes hiking, what she is also trying to tell him is “I wish we would go hiking together”.

    I recommend that Anthony and his partner both say what they want and not what the other did not do.  

    Often I suggest this to couples and they complain, “But I already did exactly that and I got nothing”. Try again.

    It is tempting to launch into anger instead of experiencing the vulnerability of putting yourself out there, asking for something and waiting for the possibility that you won’t get it.

    For many, anger is easier to express than hurt. Anger can feel like a confidence booster and an analgesic. Yet the more we communicate through anger, the more anger we get in return, creating a negative cycle of escalations.

    Reflect & Take Responsibility

    If you have ever done any breathing exercises, or yoga classes, you may have noticed that there is a space at the end of each inhale and exhale. A moment to pause. Similarly, economists and psychologists often encourage this moment of pause before making a large purchase.

    Instead of shifting into instantaneous blame, take a moment to shift from reaction to reflection.

    Why are you angry? What do you want? Instead of going for the jugular. Take responsibility for what you feel and state it.

    When couples come to therapy and they are in escalating cycles – things change when each person begins to take responsibility. This is true for both Anthony and his partner.  

    How do you experience chronic criticism in your relationship? I would love to hear your personal stories – feel free to leave a comment below. And next week we will take relationship conflict one step further and explore how confirmation bias can affect our partnerships.

    The post Video: Stop Bickering. It’s Killing Your Relationship appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • nmw 14:09:13 on 2016/07/05 Permalink
    Tags: , cheat. cheating. infidelity, , , , marriage, , ,   

    Happy Couples, Marriage + Infidelity 

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    We talk about:
    – Why do happy couples cheat?
    – The language of infidelity
    – How modern marriage is evolving
    – My definition of an affair


  • feedwordpress 06:15:19 on 2015/06/19 Permalink
    Tags: , marriage,   

    We Just Met: I Like You. How Do I Tell You About My Dark Secrets? 

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    My patient  Rachel,  29  tells me: ‘I’m single and I love sex. I love the skin-on-skin contact, and also the orgasms. But it’s not helping me find a boyfriend. I sleep with men on the first date, but then I find they don’t want to see me again.’

    Rachel has been single for six years. ‘I’m a lusty woman in my twenties, and I want to have sex. What’s wrong with that? But I feel judged by men when they don’t contact me again.’

    It doesn’t sound to me that the men necessarily judge Rachel, but perhaps the men were just interested in sex and not a relationship. That said, when we invite people for dinner, we enjoy receiving a thank-you note that acknowledges the pleasure of being together. So I certainly understand Rachel’s disappointment, and her feeling of being dismissed afterwards.

    Unfortunately, in our culture we can easily feel disposed of, replaced and insignificant. Too often people lack the kindness and grace that should accompany a sexual encounter, even if it is a recreational one.  So many women (and men) wonder the next day if the pleasure of the encounter was even mutual.

    I wish I could say, ‘What’s wrong with being a lustful woman?’ Feminism has brought women more equality, more dignity, and more power. But still, the playing field is not equal. Many women hope that if they offer themselves sexually, love will flourish. I wonder sometimes to what extent the scarcity of sex in the past forced men to be more patient; to romance, to put more emphasis on seduction and foreplay. And I don’t mean the five minutes before the “real thing”, i.e. penetration  – I mean the entire pleasure dance.

    I tell Rachel that if she does not feel 100 percent OK after an encounter, then these sexual trysts may not be for her. If it’s truly pleasurable (and I’m all for enjoying sex and exploring your sexuality), then she should feel good about having these experiences.

    I also hear she wants a relationship and she has noticed a pattern. When she has sex the first night, it doesn’t turn into a relationship. To me, if something isn’t working, it makes sense to try a new approach. So if she holds off, she will own the situation. I’m not saying Rachel needs to play hard to get; I’m saying that if a guy is interested in a relationship with her, he’d have the patience to wait for sex (how long depends on Rachel and that guy).

    Like Rachel, many women need to start by getting to know the guy, see if they like him, if they enjoy his company. That is quite different from gauging if you are attracted to someone or making sure that he is attracted to you. Discovering your similarity of interests and values, the sense that he is interested in you, the person and not as a means to an end  – all of these are better predictors of qualities that lead to having a relationship.

    If Rachel is sexually frustrated after one of these nights of meeting up with a man and getting to know him, I’m sure she knows how to pleasure herself! Maybe think of it as teasing herself until she can have him. Soon, but not now.

    It’s just a matter of trying out a different approach – the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

    The post We Just Met: I Like You. How Do I Tell You About My Dark Secrets? appeared first on Esther Perel.

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

    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.

  • feedwordpress 16:45:09 on 2015/03/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , marriage, , ,   

    How Infrequent Sex Can Still be Good 

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    Does infrequent sex equal a failing relationship?

    No! Complainers sometimes want more, but they always want better. They want to reconnect with the poetics of sex. There is a real pressure to have sex in a measurable way. It used to be that you were ashamed because you had too much sex before marriage, now you are ashamed because you have too little, too much pressure. People will experience that desire ebbs and flows, but it’s important to focus on how to bring it back. How do you engage each other erotically? There are plenty of warm, affectionate relationships and if the sexlessness is mutually accepted, then there is no problem.

    So the quality is more important than the frequency?
    Yes, people want to feel alive. If there is a spark between you but it only happens every few weeks, that’s okay. The renewal, the connection, the playfulness is what most people are longing for.

    When do you know if you are in trouble?
    If it’s months, or when you say, “I’m living with my brother,” or, it’s like, “I’m married to my best friend who I’m not attracted to,” then the way you perceive your partner has become desexualized. When you feel this couple has become family and the desexualization is not about tiredness or stress. When the gaze is never on you. When you go for months and you never think of it except to hope your partner does not think of it either.

    Must both partners agree to the amount of sex?
    Yes – If both people are fine with the frequency of sex. What is the erotic connection between two people? If the passion is there, infrequency is only a problem when it becomes active avoidance. Desire discrepancy is often a problem, but it is not the difference between the partners as much as how it is deal with.

    The post How Infrequent Sex Can Still be Good appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 21:02:18 on 2015/02/05 Permalink
    Tags: , failure, marriage   

    Just Because a Marriage Ends Doesn’t Mean it’s a Failure. 

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    I think we’ve always equated longevity with good and successful marriages, but plenty of people who stayed “till death do us part” were absolutely miserable with each other.

    It’s important to recognize that some relationships can end with dignity and integrity, and be appreciated for what they were without being viewed as a failure. Couples raised their children together, bought a home together, buried their parents together, helped each other through cancer spells together. It’s cruel and shortsighted to say that if it ends, then it’s a failure.

    I think marriages sometimes just pass their shelf life, but the partners still stay connected because they have children and experience divorce as simply a reorganization of the family. More and more, I help couples who choose to end their marriage take with them the richness of their relationship and what they created, rather than just see the whole thing as a calamity.


    The post Just Because a Marriage Ends Doesn’t Mean it’s a Failure. appeared first on Esther Perel.

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