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Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic Hardcover – Sep 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1 edition (Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060753633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060753634
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 458,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'An elegant sociological study, complete with erudite literary and anthropological references' (Daily Telegraph)

'Reads like a cross between the works of Jacques Lacan and French Women Don't Get Fat' (The New Yorker)

'At precisely the same moment that you're being shocked by her, you're also acknowledging the validity of her ideas. Perel's ideas are like the chorus of a really good pop song - instantly familiar because they resonate deeply. It's all rather terrifying in its intuitiveness and its pure rightness' (Observer) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Author

I wrote this book because, in 22 years of practice in six
different languages, I've met couples over and over again who were having a
good relationship, who love each other, but who have no sex, no tingle! I
met couples who had a bad relationship, and who I helped to have a good
relationship again, and the expectation was that the sex would just come
back - but it didn't. I began to think there's something in this premise -
that if sex is wrong, the relationship is wrong; and equally that more
talk, intimacy and closeness will equal more sex, better sex - that just
doesn't work. I knew I was on to something. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Karine on 24 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a huge and perplexing quantity of literature out there crammed with
advice on how we may tackle the blandness of sex in a long term relationship and thus improve our sex lives; if only we were to follow those authors clearly laid out instruction manuals. Whilst this may be effective for many people, hoards are left asking themselves why they feel so much in a rut and unable to relate to the proposed steps forward. The trouble is, as Esther Perel puts it, “eroticism simply doesn’t lend itself to the rigors of scorekeeping” but “is an imaginative act” and “cannot be measured”. Furthermore, “no amount of will or reason can dictate our love dreams”. How can we desire what we already have? How do we liberate ourselves and re-discover excitement in a sexual relationship that has gone stale? In our long term relationships, how do we manage “the tension between security and adventure”, between commitment and eroticism, or put “the ‘X’ back in sex”? Answers can never be simple and Perel does not pretend otherwise. But what she does do, through case studies and discussion, is explore the paradox between separateness and closeness, as it is acted out in sex, in a way that is plucky, inspired, imaginative, intelligent and entertaining. It is extremely well written and does not hide behind a lot of psychoanalytic jargon, thus making it accessible to the lay as well as the specialist reader. As a professional in the field, I found it to be a first class piece of writing that I can highly recommend.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Hope on 29 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
Esther Perel asks how do we bring lust home? We all need security, love and commitment but eroticism can be lost with repetition and familiarity. Desire is about wanting. Can we - and our partner - want what we have? This is what she says...

Erotic intelligence is about bringing the space between two people to life. Desire needs a degree of distance, elusiveness, excitement, fun, fascination, adventure, discovery, novelty, change, uncertainty, mystery, anxiety of the unknown and anticipation.

We advocate togetherness but we also need autonomy, freedom and personal fulfilment and therefore we should allow a little space in our relationships. If we lose our separateness then connection can no longer occur. For example we shouldn't feel we have to talk about everything - women especially can share too much such that doing so becomes obligatory with nothing left to seek. We are two different people and have a sexual self which is individual, generates its own images and is aware when it gets turned on unexpectedly.

Esther believes fantasy is important, since it allows us to break rules and to have some freedom and excitement, escaping the constraints of life. We shouldn't worry that the erotic imagination is fuelled by a host of improper feelings- lust, aggression, power, neediness. In fact fantasy can be a reaction to unconscious pressures. What turns us on often goes against our preferred self image and our moral convictions, but there's no need to feel ashamed or guilty about our fantasies. Acknowledging one's eroticism is healthy but we should be wary of detailed sharing of our fantasies with our partners.

Esther talks about the '3rd person' in other words someone else, real or imagined, whom we or our partner desires.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Woodfine on 4 Oct. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It’s been well said that sex is ten per cent of a good relationship and one hundred per cent of a bad one. Like water, it’s missed only when it’s not there. It’s the spiritual equivalent of Vitamin C: many people fall apart without a regular supply (though not every sailor fell to scurvy).

Which should make it really odd that our culture is riven through with stories, proverbs and advice about dealing with the fairly rapid decline of sexual desire in a long-term relationship. Most couples are not enjoying marital intimacy even remotely regularly and everyone thinks it’s regrettable but normal. Grow up and embrace the chastity, says the culture. Some of those who don’t want to, if they live in New York and have a lot of money, go see Esther Perel for counselling.

Perel's thesis is that eroticism - which word she prefers to "sex” - and regular, responsible married life "just butt heads”. A couple who want to keep the spark alive must deliberately and wilfully create a space in which they are not Mom and Dad, not taxpayers, not employees, not school board members or any other darn thing except consenting adults who enjoy each other. This is about the details: she has one story about how the husband has to pay the baby-sitter when they get back, because if his wife does, she drops back into Mother mode and turns right off sex. This gives you the idea. Perel is especially scathing about the Myth of Spontaneity. The blame is laid squarely on modern working, the nuclear family and the idea of romantic marriage.

Well, that’s one place to lay it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TL on 22 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read this book. In it Esther Perel delves into the world of relationship theory, exposing myths of what makes a relationship work and asking some interesting questions. It's highly readable; it's exceptionally fun but has a serious intent. What makes the author's book strong is her approach of a well defined theory: that emotional intimacy and lust can cancel each other out backed up with her case studies and practice. Esther goes out not to shake up the existing world too much, advocating unusual relationship styles such as "open" and "polyamorous" across the board, but she shows how such relationships are not about mere boredom or shallowness, but authenticity. It's most powerful idea of all: honesty is not the be all and end all of the modern relationship.
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