In her TED talk above, Esther Perel argues good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise. In her book, Mating in Captivity, she discusses when we are most drawn to our partners and why, our turn-ons and offs, balancing love and desire, reconciling domesticity and sensuality, and how to give and receive pleasure in long-term relationships.
As a therapist in New York, Perel works with many loving couples that have less-than-desirable sex lives. Many of them expressed feeling blocked or bored sexually despite being close and caring – the same questions kept coming up – so she set out to answer why their sex lives had faded and why good intimacy did not translate into good sex. She found that since we’ve done away with loveless marriages that only served as a financial and social arrangement, we’ve become preoccupied with the romantic ideology of modern love and coupledom and the dilemmas of desire, not allowing space for eroticism to grow.
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