Keep the home fires burning

Esther Perel, Psychologies’ expert, author of Mating In Captivity, and one of the world’s most respected voices on couples and sexuality, shares her wisdom on keeping the flame alive


Keep the home fires burning
  • I rarely work on helping couples to have more sex. You can be having sex and feel nothing – women have done this for centuries. Instead I work on the poetics of sex, on how you connect to your erotic self.
  • People can have sex once a month – but who cares? It’s about how they look at each other, and how they feel in the presence of each other. It’s how connected they feel to the sexual part of themselves that matters.
  • The question I ask people is not: ‘Do you have sex?’ My question is: ‘What does sex mean for you?’ Where do you go? And what parts of yourself do you connect with there? What parts of yourself find expression there?
  • Once you love someone, you then have to deal with the fact that you can lose that love. That is the unbearable truth – you can lose that person you love to them loving someone else, to illness, to death. You have to deal with the fact that you could be replaceable, and that you’re not unique, as someone else could take your place. The discomfort of knowing that reality is hard to accept. However, if you are aware of that reality, then you are often more likely to try to present yourself at your best – whereas in many relationships, this does not necessarily happen.

Mating In Captivity is published by Hodder & Stoughton and costs £6.50. For more information, visit

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