7 lessons about relationships by Esther Perel, a well-known psychotherapist
Esther Perel is a bestselling author and TED Talk presenter, and reveals the secret to thriving relationships. Her intention is to simply question failed relationship models and uncover the uncomfortable truth.
1. Monogamy is greatly misunderstood
The original meaning of monogamy is to live a life committed to a single person. But over the years, we began to confuse monogamy with having only one person by our side at a time. So yes, in that sense we are monogamous in all of our relationships.
As Esther Perel says, most of us in the West will have at least 2-3 marriages or committed relationships in our lifetime – and some of us will be with the same person. No relationship lasts forever. You can have the same relationship with a thousand people, or you can have a thousand different relationships with a single person. It’s up to you to decide.
2. Passion and security cannot exist at the same time
We come into this world to find belonging. We want to feel content, safe and share our vulnerabilities with the people we trust. We find it in moments when we feel like we are enough and we don’t need anything more.
But we also come into this world with a longing for something new. We want adventure and excitement. We go out to discover the unknown and take risks to feel the adrenaline. Both exist in all of us, but you may find yourself turning to one or the other. Maybe you’re looking for more stability and your partner is craving excitement – or vice versa.
It seems we all have a break from what we’re looking for based on what we wanted to have as a kid. An unstable childhood creates a need for security in a person. A strict upbringing awakens the desire for freedom. Are you starting to see which one you’re getting close to now?
The funny thing is that we often fight with our partners for exactly what we chose them for. A relationship is a dynamic dance between desire and intimacy, and you can create both with your partner. You just have to find out which one you are more attracted to.
3. We can’t date a whole village
Let’s go back in time. Our ancestors had lived in tribes, and in these communities everyone had a clearly defined role. We married for procreation and our options were pretty limited.
Then we moved to the cities and suddenly had to share our lives with about ten thousand other villages. We are clearly dealing with a paradox of choices. And as if that wasn’t enough, the more people we surround ourselves with, the lonelier we get because we’re hungry for real connections.
Once we find “the one,” or at least a temporary one, we press them hard, hoping they can fill our need for connection that an entire village once offered. Being our best friend, our advisor, the one who takes care of us and so on.
Isn’t that a bit much to ask from just one person?
Instead of raising our expectations of our partners, we need to take a hard look at what’s missing in our social lives. Do we feel we belong? Do we have people we can rely on? And finally, how is our relationship with ourselves? Find these answers and you will see your love relationship in a different light.
4. We must keep up our passions
We cannot want what we already have. This means that our desire is nothing more than an intense longing for something or someone that we see from afar. If that someone is always present in our lives, we may need to take a few steps away.
When do we feel most attracted to our partner?
It’s when we see our partner dance, sing, and do something with presence and confidence – because it’s their passion. When he travels, when he reacts surprisingly and shines in the light of others. But especially when he’s radiant, which Esther defines as confidence with enlightenment. If we want to feel the passion in a relationship decades later, we need to keep the passion alive in other areas of our lives as well.
It’s time to go out and express your creativity, travel, find people who inspire you or do whatever makes you come alive. So that when you come back, you will be the person your partner fell in love with in the first place.
1. A powerful aphrodisiac that has been forgotten in modern times
Not knowing everything gives us room for imagination and creativity, and the same goes for our relationships. We don’t have to hide our truth to evoke the glorious sense of mystery—we just have to keep some things hidden. And with that, we not only discover our longing for our partners, but also awaken a newly discovered zest for life in ourselves.
2. love isn’t something we do, it’s a place we go
The revolution had freed us from our limitations. But as we became free, our focus shifted to the act of love rather than lovemaking. We fool ourselves if we think we can measure lovely by how long and how often we feel pleasure.
Eroticism is more than just love. It’s a playful dance, a script, a work of art. And it goes beyond the bedroom. Those who live life like a passionate love affair focus more on play than achievement and enjoy the excitement of the journey. Both in bed and otherwise.
3. There are only two types of people in a relationship
There are those who tend to live outside of their relationships. They’re basically trying to be their best in their careers and putting their energy into building social connections.
As soon as they get home to their partners, they feel like they’ve given up all their energy and they just want to chill. They don’t want to exert themselves in their love relationship. And with that, they simply lose passion for their partner. Not a nice place.
Those who maintain a vibrant, fulfilling relationship are the ones who have known how to reinvent themselves. And they do it again and again. They actively create and build their relationships, keeping the energy constantly alive.