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Publisher's Summary

Esther Perel takes on tough questions, grappling with the obstacles and anxieties that arise when our quest for secure love conflicts with our pursuit of passion. She invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.

In her 20 years of clinical experience, Perel has treated hundreds of couples whose home lives are empty of passion. They describe relationships that are open and loving, yet sexually dull. What is going on?

In this explosively original book, Perel explains that our cultural penchant for equality, togetherness, and absolute candor is antithetical to erotic desire for both men and women. Sexual excitement doesn't always play by the rules of good citizenship. It is politically incorrect. It thrives on power plays, unfair advantages, and the space between self and other. More exciting, playful, even poetic sex is possible, but first we must kick egalitarian ideals and emotional housekeeping out of our bedrooms.

While Mating in Captivity shows why the domestic realm can feel like a cage, Perel's take on bedroom dynamics promises to liberate, enchant, and provoke. Flinging the doors open on erotic life and domesticity, she invites us to put the "X" back in sex.

©2006 Esther Perel (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers

What the critics say

"As revelatory as it is straightforward....Perel sanctions fantasy and play and offers the estranged modern couple a unique richness of experience." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Mating in Captivity

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Reconciling the Erotic & the Domestic

Psychotherapist Esther Perel tackles the paradox of modern love. She explores why it's hard to want what you already have, even in the most committed and loving relationship. Good read.

3 people found this helpful

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Refreshing look at the erotic marriage

Wonderful insights into the many reasons our sex lives can struggle in long term relationships. Intimacy isn't the only issue that could hamper a healthy sex life. I recommend this to any couple (gay, straight, or non-monogamous) that is generally happy with their relationship but is struggling in the bedroom with no sex, boring sex, or shitty sex. Esther explores how our early experiences in life and the culture we grow up in, influence our expectations and needs in the erotic realm. One size does not fit all. Sex does not follow the rules of egalitarianism that pervades the rest of our relationships. What is comforting and cultivated outside the bedroom may hamper or abilities to objectify and find pleasure from our partner. It's not often I find a therapy book that I think men would enjoy as well as women and I think this one hits the mark.

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing insight

I absolutely loved this audiobook. The insight into working Eros into the domestic is one I have never heard before. I have put some of these suggestions into how I communicate with my spouse and have found them to be very valid and validating.

2 people found this helpful

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Out dates view points

I would say it’s a pretty good book over all. Just think the author at the time of writing this has some view points that are a bit outdated for 2020. Would be interested to see if they have changed their mind.

1 person found this helpful

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Transformed my understanding of sexuality!

This book is the first one I've read (heard) that REALLY helped me to understand how my background and experiences have influenced my views of sex and eroticism in my marriage. Please read it or listen to it! Now that I understand this better I am asking myself all kinds of questions about what I want and how to better connect with my spouse when this has seemed like work in the past. I'm excited to build on what I have learned instead of intimidated and I'll equipped to move forward. The author narrates and I loved that because it felt like I was actually getting advice and insight from her more than just reading. Highly recommend!!!!

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Amazing

To the people involved in putting together this research. Thank you for helping us look at real facts and feelings.

1 person found this helpful

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Great information.

Great information and stories that help you understand the place that you are in your relationship.

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Voice is a bit hard to take, but content is great.

Like most books of this kind, you investigate looking for answers, but none are directly given. Still the content provides clarity on different perceptions of individuals in relationships, and relatability is helpful.

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  • FT
  • 2020-11-02

Excellent in every way

Engaging, well produced, and thought-provoking. I found this a great listen on my commute, and it had me eager to return to the car.

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Very helpful and interesting!

Esther Perel shares her interesting insights about sexuality and demonstrates her deep understanding of sex in relationships. She supports her ideas with examples from her practice and work with couples. Highly recommend!

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  • Duarte Costeira
  • 2019-07-18

Didn't find it very useful

I was having relationship problems of my own, and a friend recommended this book, saying it might be insightful. Maybe I went in looking for something that wasn't there, but I didn't really find this book very useful for what I needed. The book talks about common intimacy problems that couples face, interspersed with anecdotes from Esther Perel's own clients. After 8hrs of , the only prescriptive solution I could draw out of it was: "too much familiarity kills intimacy, so maintain a healthy level of independence." Too be fair, that's good advice, but it wasn't necessary to read the whole thing to arrive at it. If you're interested in hearing about common problems in intimate relationships, you'll like this book. But if, like me, you're looking for guidance in solving your own relationship troubles, I recommend you look elsewhere.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Todd White
  • 2012-04-17

A Thinker's Book...

Would you listen to Mating in Captivity again? Why?

Absolutely. Though clearly articulated, the book contains sufficient nuance that listening to it again is needed to pick up on all the gems of the book.

What about Esther Perel’s performance did you like?

Clear articulation, good tone.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

A number of "A-Ha!" moments throughout the book.

Any additional comments?

Anyone seeking a "silver bullet" for erotic revitalization of their relationships will be disappointed with this book - rather this book is designed for people who are willing to carefully analyse their relationships, and consider the nuances of the case studies presented in the book to unlock the hidden gems.

The concepts in this book are counter-intuitive to most people's views of how to address erotic issues in their relationships which makes the listener question and ponder their own misconceptions of what makes us tick erotically.

I listened to this book on a long road trip with my partner and it lent itself to being paused and discussed on a chapter by chapter basis - making for an entertaining and insightful roadtrip with discussions of our own relationship and the relationships of those around us.

This is worth the listen - so much so, that we purchased several paper copies to give to our friends.



98 people found this helpful

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  • Grant
  • 2013-03-10

Intimacy is in the eye of the beholder.

The best thing about this book by Ester Perel is that you get real insight into how different people in relationships see their partners and their roles. You get to hear how they approach sex and intimacy and love and how the three things are almost never the same to any two people. This book is a little short on solutions. (I guess that, as a therapist, Perel believes the solution, ultimately, is therapy. Although she does not say as much.) But, overall, this piece is an engrossing and worthwhile glimpse into the minds and lives of people who find that love and lust aren't always in synch. As a narrator, Perel's strong but infinitely listenable Belgian accent and tone are, simply, pitch perfect.

90 people found this helpful

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  • Michael - Audible Editor
  • 2017-06-28

Radical Relationship Insights

Ms. Perel has an innate understanding of relationship dynamics, and she illustrates them from multiple angles. These aren't the cliched musings of a relationship columnist or self-help guru, but qualified and experienced approaches from someone who has obviously studied relationships in earnest, and lived through their myriad issues in real life.

She knows what she's talking about, and many of the things she reveals in Mating in Captivity seem obvious in retrospect only because of how clear and adept they are as observations.

I listened to this book before moving in with my girlfriend of a year and a half (it's the first time I've lived with an SO), afraid our relationship would fall apart the moment we signed the lease - and eager to prevent the slow decay that I've heard domesticity brings about.

While I can't say this book has saved my marriage (I'm not married and we've only lived together for like 3 weeks now, so no verdict yet lol) it has already helped me shift my approach, and reassured me of the importance of uncertainty, mystery, and communication in any long term romantic exchange.

24 people found this helpful

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  • William J. Mcdougle
  • 2018-10-05

When a theory is manifested by confirmation bias.

While I enjoyed the theories and experience the author brought to the table, I was astonished that the underlying theme of the book. The theory being that in order to create a spark, you must first become in a sense a stranger or “other” to your partner. She encourages leaving the home to flirt, to become more independent, and to create some sexual tension with your spouse through teasing the real or perceived concept that a spouse could cheat at any time, but chooses you. While on its face, I can understand the math, and can see what she’s saying, but a home with kids is a delicate partnership that rarely can handle the volatility she theorizes is needed to create a sustainable passion. I was really disappointed that after all of the great information, and literal foreplay, the book’s climax was primarily based on the theory that monogamy and the rules assigned to it were the culprit in failing marriages. Disheartening to say the least.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Advika
  • 2013-05-07

Deep reflections on sexuality and intimacy

Any additional comments?

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It brought to light a lot of things I hadn't really thought about maybe ever, or didn't know about, or didn't really understand, and some things I had only partial knowledge of. Its enlightening to listen to someone who has so much vast knowledge about sexuality, coupling, intimacy and pleasure. I've listened to maybe 50 books on relationships in the last few years, and I want to give this one 7 stars.

41 people found this helpful

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  • Debra Despot
  • 2018-03-17

wish I would of had this info in my 20s

wish I woulkd of had this information in my 20, before two marriages and divorces

7 people found this helpful

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  • BattleD4d
  • 2017-12-12

Incredible

Esther Perel hits the nail on the head over and over again. Sexual health isn't something we spend a lot of time discussing in American culture, but it's an important facet of any adult's life. If you are interested in improving your own outlook on human sexuality, improving the relationship between you and your partner, or better preparing to teach your child about healthy sexuality, Perel's work should be among the first places you go.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-01-29

life changing

I love these books I love the podcast I love just being able to explore the approaches that people take to relationships. I am going to share this with my wife and I hope to have many many deep conversations on understanding each other and where we have been where we are we want to be. I definitely recommend this to folks who have been in relationships are not in relationships or in something it's lingering. five stars for sure.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Allie
  • 2011-05-22

Highly Recommended!

I enjoyed the author's reading. She does have an accent but it doesn't get in the way of the message. Instead, I found her voice sexy and appropriate to the book's subject matter. Her re-enactments of sessions with clients were very expressive and entertaining.

The book itself was excellent. While not a how-to guide, through examples and explanations the author relates how she believes eroticism and sexual tension can be maintained in a committed relationship. She approaches the subject from many different angles and some repetition (which I saw as a learning aid as opposed to a lack of material).

This book really opened my eyes and raised my erotic-intelligence quotient! I have a much better understanding of what sex means to my partner and what I can do to keep eroticism alive between us.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Alexandre QUACH
  • 2018-11-22

Aller plus loin que ses Conférences

Ce livre est une mine de sagesse et d'ouverture d'esprit. Esther Perel, qui fait déjà d'excellente conférence, va plus loin et plus précis dans cet audiobook lu elle même. Un must !

1 person found this helpful