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Watch > Episode > Esther Perel - Sex & Infidelity

Esther Perel - Sex & Infidelity


Bored in your relationship? Lost the spark and settled for less?

Marriage or long-term relationships can very quickly decay into becoming suffocating and emotionally draining, far from the liberating and erotic dizziness that first drove your courtship.

It’s part culture and part our fault. Our consumer attitude has seemingly perforated even our approach to one another. We take what we need and head on our way, and it’s killing not only our relationships but our ability to be happy. We have a contentment crisis on our hands.

It’s at this precise point that most affairs happen, as an attempt to reawaken desire. The thrill of the chase, the connection and the mystery of someone you don’t know.

In this episode, London Real guest esteemed psychotherapist Esther Perel suggests that “desire is fuelled by the unknown”, which is why when people cheat they feel not only free, but alive.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Eroticism, mystery and romance are possible in long term relationships. How? Well, she’ll go into that on the show. Connect with your vitality and creativity and revitalise your relationships in this compelling episode.

Esther Perel is internationally recognised for her groundbreaking work in the field of relationships and sexuality. With a unique and refreshing approach to love and intimacy, Perel has become a prominent figure in the realm of psychotherapy, challenging conventional notions and encouraging individuals and couples to rethink their understanding of relationships.

Esther Perel’s journey into the world of psychotherapy began in her native Belgium. Born to Holocaust survivors, she grew up with a keen awareness of the complexities of human relationships and the impact of trauma. Perel pursued her academic interests at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and later completed her graduate studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Esther Perel gained international acclaim through her captivating and insightful TED Talks. Notable among them is her talk titled “The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship,” which has amassed millions of views. In these talks, Perel explores the intricacies of love, desire, and infidelity, challenging societal norms and prompting audiences to question their assumptions about relationships.

As a prolific author, Esther Perel has translated her expertise into written form. Her books, including “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” and “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity,” have garnered widespread acclaim for their exploration of intimate relationships. In “Mating in Captivity,” Perel delves into the complexities of maintaining passion in long-term relationships, while “The State of Affairs” offers a nuanced perspective on infidelity, urging readers to consider the various dimensions of affairs beyond societal judgments.

Esther Perel’s work extends beyond the public sphere into the realm of private practice. As a licensed psychotherapist, she specialises in couples therapy, helping individuals and partners navigate the complexities of modern relationships. Her approach is characterised by a blend of empathy, cultural sensitivity, and a deep understanding of the human psyche.

Esther Perel’s influence reaches far beyond the therapeutic setting. Her thought leadership extends into the cultural landscape, challenging societal taboos and encouraging open conversations about love, desire, and sexuality. Perel’s ability to articulate complex emotions and relationships has positioned her as a sought-after expert in media, where she continues to contribute to discussions on love and intimacy.

At the core of Esther Perel’s philosophy is the exploration of eroticism and desire within the context of committed relationships. She advocates for maintaining a sense of mystery and autonomy within partnerships, challenging the notion that familiarity and routine must lead to a decline in passion. Perel’s work encourages couples to rekindle desire by embracing the paradoxical nature of love, balancing security with the need for novelty and excitement.

Esther Perel has further expanded her reach through podcasting. In her critically acclaimed series, “Where Should We Begin?” she allows listeners a rare glimpse into real-life couples therapy sessions. The podcast serves as a window into the complexities of human relationships, fostering empathy and understanding among a diverse audience.

Esther Perel’s legacy is rooted in her ability to challenge societal norms, spark difficult conversations, and offer fresh perspectives on the intricacies of human connection. As she continues her work, Perel remains at the forefront of reshaping our understanding of love, intimacy, and relationships, leaving an indelible mark on the fields of psychotherapy and relationship counselling.


00:00 | Trailer
03:50 | Brian’s introduction06:58 Background influences which contributed to Esther becoming a cross cultural psychologist
09:53 | A chance encounter on Liberation Day following a very dark time
10:47 | Learning from a young age of the brutality in the world, but also the possibilities for a positive life
12:35 | Circumstances can knock one person down, whilst for another, it is the catalyst to build them up
14:57 | How those who take risks manage to insulate feelings of danger so it doesn’t control them
16:03 | Why Esther is willing to question rigid certainties or authoritarianism with no room for ‘disruption’
18:16 | The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships
19:46 | The changing reasons for working in men’s lives
26:53 | Esther’s bold statement that women’s lives are not going to change until men’s lives change
28:43 | Men are constantly having to prove they are men
29:30 | Where male bonding is normative
31:15 | How the male millennial generation is seeking ways to change the need to prove masculinity
34:09 | Technology has its place but nothing surpasses face to face contact
35:10 | Love and desire relate but maybe they also conflict
39:00 | Retaining desire in a long term relationship
40:19 | Desire needs space: when couples desire their partner most
43:12 | How couples can engineer their own happiness and moments which generate desire
45:34 | We are asking one person to give us what once an entire village used to provide
48:51 | It is tragic that the average American today, in times of crisis, has only one and a half people to turn to
49:29 | Esther’s response to people who say ‘My wife is my best friend’
51:17 | What Esther wanted to facilitate with her book and first Ted talk, that was male friendly
52:38 | Why was it important for her to want it to be male-friendly
54:53 | Men don’t have a space nor language to express things about the male experience
55:13 | Brian answers Esther’s query as to how he responds to what she says in her Ted talk
56:04 | If you want comfy and safe, fine, but if you want spark, you need to get off the cosy sofa
and innovate
59:50 | Why did Esther give a second Ted talk so soon after the very successful first talk
1:02:51 | How Esther approached a talk on Infidelity
1:07:50 | Audience reaction
1:08:33 | The counter intuitive perceptions of infidelity she spoke of
1:10:30 | The power of transgression
1:15:14 | Showing the audience alternative perspectives from the polarisation of views on infidelity
1:16:51 | What do we learn about love, lust and commitment by studying infidelity
1:18:49 | Some of the myths on male and female sexuality we don’t talk about or understand
1:22:01 | Facilitating talk amongst children about sex by making it a non-issue
1:24:13 | Adopting Dutch model of sex education would stop children learning through pornographic sex which is not normal
1:26:15 | Success secrets
1:27:13 | On her own death bed how will Esther evaluate her life
1:28:21 | Esther loves connecting people and growing the network of social connections
1:29:04 | Why Esther will continue to see patients as well as lecture and write books
1:32:05 | Your old relationship is over, would you like to start another, together or with someone else
1:35:49 | Phone call to the twenty year old Esther
1:39:53 | Best advice ever received
1:41:40 | Advice to the 20 year old who wants to get their own message across
1:47:34 | Brian’s summing up.


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