Esther Perel

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Esther Perel
Esther Perel in Boston 2017.jpg
Born 1958 (age 59–60)
Antwerp, Belgium
Nationality Belgian
Alma mater Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Known for Erotic intelligence
Spouse(s) Jack Saul
Scientific career
Fields Psychotherapy
Institutions New York University
Columbia University

Esther Perel (born 1958) is a Belgian psychotherapist notable for exploring the tension between the need for security (love, belonging and closeness) and the need for freedom (erotic desire, adventure and distance) in human relationships.[1]

Perel promoted the concept of Erotic Intelligence in a best selling book (Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence) which was published in 2006 and since has been translated into 24 languages.[2] After publishing the book, she became an international advisor on sex and relationships.[3] A talk entitled The secret to desire in a long-term relationship which she gave at TED in February 2013 has received more than 11 million views on TED's website as of February 2018.[4] A talk entitled Rethinking infidelity ... a talk for anyone who has ever loved which she gave at TED in March 2015 has received more than 9 million views on TED's website as of February 2018.[5] In 2016, Perel was named to Oprah Winfrey's Supersoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders.[6]

Professional career[edit]

Perel is Jewish, the daughter of two Polish-born Holocaust survivors. She was raised in Antwerp and attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.[7][8] Perel grew up amongst Holocaust survivors in Antwerp, Belgium and noted two groups around her: "those who didn't die, and those who came back to life". Her observation was that "those who didn't die were people who lived tethered to the ground, afraid, untrusting. The world was dangerous, and pleasure was not an option. You cannot play, take risks, or be creative when you don't have a minimum of safety, because you need a level of unself-consciousness to be able to experience excitement and pleasure. Those who came back to life were those who understood eroticism as an antidote to death."[9]

Perel subsequently trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy before finding a professional home in family systems theory. She initially worked as a cross-cultural psychotherapist with couples and families.

Perel has worked as an actress and has run a clothing boutique in Antwerp.[8]

In 2017 she released her new book The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.[3]

Select discussion topics[edit]

The secret to desire in a long-term relationship[10]

  • Why does good sex fade even for couples who continue to love each other as much as ever?
  • Why does good intimacy not guarantee good sex?
  • Why does sex make babies and babies spell erotic disaster in couples?

Personal life[edit]

Perel is married to Jack Saul, Assistant Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, with whom she has two sons.[11]


  1. ^ Perel, Esther. "Erotic Intelligence: Reconciling Sensuality and Domesticity" (PDF). The Psychotherapy Networker, May/Jun 2003. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Perel, Esther (2006). Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Harper. ISBN 978-0060753634. 
  3. ^ a b "Unorthodox advice for rescuing a marriage". The Economist. 12 October 2017. 
  4. ^ Perel, Esther. "The secret to desire in a long-term relationship". TEDSalon NY2013. TED. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Perel, Esther. "Rethinking infidelity ... a talk for anyone who has ever loved". TED 2015. TED. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "Meet the SuperSoul100: The World's Biggest Trailblazers in One Room". O Magazine. 1 Aug 2016. Retrieved 5 Jul 2018. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ a b [2]
  9. ^ A-Fest by Mindvalley (2017-11-26), In Search Of Erotic Intelligence | Esther Perel, retrieved 2018-06-24 
  10. ^ TED: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship
  11. ^ Dominus, Susan. "The Sexual Healer: The Couples Therapy Expert Esther Perel Takes On Sex and Sexuality". Fashion & Style. New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 


External links[edit]