Esther Perel Quotes

What are your favorite Esther Perel quotes?

Esther Perel is an author, speaker and psychotherapist whose work mostly explores the tension between the need for security and the need for freedom in human relationships. Esther Perel is the best-selling author of books like Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.

Her work have helped many people to realize the truth behind successful relationships and how to implement such principles in their own relationships.

Here are some of the best Esther Perel quotes on cheating, infidelity, monogamy, relationships, love, marriage, desire and so much more:

Esther Perel Village Quote

1. Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?

Esther Perel

Best Esther Perel Quotes

best Esther Perel quotes

2. Everyone should cultivate a secret garden. -Esther Perel

3. Adultery is often the revenge of the deserted possibilities. -Esther Perel

4. Where there is nothing left to hide, there is nothing left to seek. -Esther Perel

5. We no longer get work out of our children; today we get meaning. -Esther Perel

6. If you’re too busy for sex, you’re too busy.

Esther Perel

7. The person I once was, but lost, is the person you once knew. -Esther Perel

8. It takes two people to create a pattern, but only one to change it. -Esther Perel

9. It’s hard to feel attracted to someone who has abandoned her sense of autonomy. -Esther Perel

10. The best ideas rarely arise in one isolated mind, but rather develop in networks of curious and creative thinkers. -Esther Perel

11. Eroticism challenges us to seek a different kind of resolution, to surrender to the unknown and ungraspable, and to breach the confines of the rational world. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel Quotes On Cheating And Infidelity

Esther Perel quotes on cheating and infidelity

12. Infidelity hurts. But when we grant it a special status in the hierarchy of marital misdemeanors, we risk allowing it to overshadow the egregious behaviors that may have preceded it or even led to it. -Esther Perel

13. Modern infidelity is different than traditional infidelity and sits on top of the romantic ideal that you find “the one” and that if you have everything that you need at home, you have no reason to go looking elsewhere. And if you have an affair, it’s a symptom of a flawed relationship. If you don’t apply the deficiency model to the relationship, then you apply it to the person. The person who strays is selfish, immature, addicted suffers from insecure attachment. And the person who doesn’t stray is the committed partner: mature, stable, and non-selfish.

Esther Perel

14. The vast majority of unfaithful people are experiencing a conflict between their values and their behavior, and that is the mess of infidelity. It’s not an either-or. The idea that you would ask, “How can you say you love your husband and you want to stay married, and you also are having an affair?” Because we are not the same woman, or the same man. Because sexual revolutions don’t take place at home. Because for most of us, freedom wasn’t something that we experienced in our family, but usually outside of our family. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel Quotes On Monogamy

Esther Perel quotes on monogamy

15. Monogamy used to mean one person for life. Now monogamy means one person at a time. -Esther Perel

16. Until now monogamy has been the default setting, and it sits on the premise (however unrealistic) that if you truly love, you should no longer be attracted to others. -Esther Perel

17. Monogamy, it follows, is the sacred cow of the romantic ideal, for it is the marker of our specialness: I have been chosen and others renounced. When you turn your back on other loves, you confirm my uniqueness; when your hand or mind wanders, my importance is shattered. Conversely, if I no longer feel special, my own hands and mind tingle with curiosity. The disillusioned are prone to roam. Might someone else restore my significance

Esther Perel

18. When we select a partner, we commit to a story, yet we remain forever curious. What other stories could we have been part of? Affairs offer us a window into those other lives, a peak at the stranger within. Adultery is often the revenge of the deserted possibilities. -Esther Perel

19. Despite a 50 percent divorce rate for first marriages and 65 percent the second time around; despite the staggering frequency of affairs; despite the fact that monogamy is a ship sinking faster than anyone can bail it out, we continue to cling to the wreckage with absolute faith in its structural soundness. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel Relationship Quotes

Esther Perel Relationship quotes

20. The more we trust, the farther we are able to venture. -Esther Perel

21. No woman should give any man the power to shatter her romantic ideals. -Esther Perel

22. The smaller we feel in the world, the more we need to shine in the eyes of our partner. -Esther Perel

23. Often, when one partner insists that they don’t yet feel acknowledged, even as the one who hurt them insists they feel terrible, it is because the response is still more shame than guilt, and therefore self-focused. -Esther Perel

24. Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew—or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment; rather, it mandates an active engagement that long-term couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency, in the most positive sense. -Esther Perel

25. We ground ourselves in familiarity, and perhaps achieve a peaceful domestic arrangement, but in the process we orchestrate boredom. The verve of the relationship collapses under the weight of all that control. Stultified, couples are left wondering, “Whatever happened to fun? What ever happened to excitement, to transcendence, to awe? -Esther Perel

26. The “symptom” theory goes as follows: An affair simply alerts us to a preexisting condition, either a troubled relationship or a troubled person.

Esther Perel

27. There is more than a hint of arrogance in the assumption that we can make our relationships permanent. -Esther Perel

28. Spontaneity is a fabulous idea, but in an ongoing relationship whatever is going to “just happen” already has. Now they have to make it happen. -Esther Perel

29. Then, having denied themselves freedom, and freedom of imagination, in their relationships, they go outside to reimagine themselves liberated from the constraints of commitment. -Esther Perel

30. IT ALWAYS AMAZES ME HOW much people are willing to experiment sexually outside their relationships, yet how tame and puritanical they are at home with their partners. Many of my patients have, by their own account, domestic lives devoid of excitement and eroticism, yet they are consumed and aroused by a richly imaginative sexual life beyond domesticity—affairs, pornography, cybersex, feverish daydreams. -Esther Perel

31. All relationships live in the shadow of the third, for it is the other that solders our dyad. In his book Monogamy, Adam Phillips writes, “The couple is a resistance to the intrusion of the third, but in order for it to last it is indispensable to have enemies. That is why the monogamous can’t live without them. When we are two, we are together. In order to form a couple, we need to be three. -Esther Perel

32. We don’t like to be intimate alone. Some couples take this one step further, confusing intimacy with control. What passes for care is actually convert surveillance…When the impulse to share becomes obligatory, when personal boundaries are no longer respected, when only the shared space of togetherness is acknowledged and private space is denied, fusion replaces intimacy and possession co-opts love. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel Quotes On Love

Esther Perel quotes on love

33. Love is an exercise in selective perception. -Esther Perel

34. Is jealousy an expression of love or a sign of insecurity? -Esther Perel

35. Love is at once an affirmation and a transcendence of who we are. -Esther Perel

36. Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. -Esther Perel

37. For [erotically intelligent couples], love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries of life: time. -Esther Perel

38. Love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries of life: time. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning.

Esther Perel

39. However authentic the feelings of love, the dalliance was only ever meant to be a beautiful fiction. -Esther Perel

40. Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it. If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition. It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected. -Esther Perel

41. Love is about having; desire is about wanting. An expression of longing, desire requires ongoing elusiveness. It is less concerned with where it has already been than passionate about where it can still go. But too often, as couples settle into the comforts of love, they cease to fan the flame of desire. They forget that fire needs air. -Esther Perel

42. The grand illusion of committed love is that we think our partners are ours. In truth, their separateness is unassailable, and their mystery is forever ungraspable. As soon as we can begin to acknowledge this, sustained desire becomes a real possibility. It’s remarkable to me how a sudden threat to the status quo (an affair, an infatuation, a prolonged absence, or even a really good fight) can suddenly ignite desire. There’s nothing like the fear of loss to make those old shoes look new again. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel Quotes On Marriage

Esther Perel quotes on marriage

43. Infidelity has a tenacity that marriage can only envy. -Esther Perel

44. Once divorce carried all the stigma. Now, choosing to stay when you can leave is the new shame. -Esther Perel

45. Marriage is imperfect. We start with a desire for oneness, and then we discover our differences. Our fears are aroused by the prospect of all the things we’re never going to have. -Esther Perel

46. A woman’s sexuality depends on her authenticity and self-nurturance,” she writes. Yet marriage and motherhood demand a level of selflessness that is at odds with the inherent selfishness of desire. -Esther Perel

47. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning.

Esther Perel

48. Almost everywhere people marry, monogamy is the official norm and infidelity the clandestine one. -Esther Perel

49. When marriage was an economic arrangement, infidelity threatened our economic security; today marriage is a romantic arrangement and infidelity threatens our emotional security. -Esther Perel

50. Once we strayed because marriage was not supposed to deliver love and passion. Today we stray because marriage fails to deliver the love, passion, and undivided attention it promised. -Esther Perel

51. At the same time, eroticism in the home requires active engagement and willful intent. It is an ongoing resistance to the message that marriage is serious, more work than play; and that passion is for teenagers and the immature. We must unpack our ambivalence about pleasure, and challenge our pervasive discomfort with sexuality, particularly in the context of family. Complaining of sexual boredom is easy and conventional. Nurturing eroticism in the home is an act of open defiance. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel Quotes On Desire

Esther Perel quotes on desire

 52. If we are to maintain desire with one person over time we must be able to bring a sense of unknown into a familiar space. -Esther Perel

53. When you love someone, how does it feel? And when you desire someone, how is it different? Does good intimacy always lead to good sex? -Esther Perel

54. Now that these men and women and the generations who have followed can have as much sex as they want, they seem to have lost their desire for it. -Esther Perel

55. Female eroticism is diffuse, not localized in the genitals but distributed throughout the body, mind, and senses. It is tactile and auditory, linked to smell, skin, and contact; arousal is often more subjective than physical, and desire arises on a lattice of emotion. -Esther Perel

56. It’s hard to experience desire when you’re weighted down by concern.

Esther Perel

57. By telling them not to touch I was mapping a space that would give her room to go after him. That, in turn, would give him the feeling of being desired. -Esther Perel

58. Eventually, if desire withers, monogamy too easily slides downward into celibacy. When this happens, fidelity becomes a weakness rather than a virtue. -Esther Perel

59. Armed with an ideology of love that advocates togetherness, we are awkward about pursuing autonomy. This is especially true of the individuality of our desire. Even couples who grant one another considerable space elsewhere. -Esther Perel

60. Sexual desire does not obey the laws that maintain peace and contentment between partners. Reason, understanding, compassion, and camaraderie are the handmaidens of a close, harmonious relationship. But sex often evokes unreasoning obsession rather than thoughtful judgment, and selfish desire rather than altruistic consideration. Aggression, objectification, and power all exist in the shadow of desire, components of passion that do not necessarily nurture intimacy. Desire operates along its own trajectory. -Esther Perel

61. The Archaeology of Desire The psychology of our desire often lies buried in the details of our childhood, and digging through the early history of our lives uncovers its archaeology. We can trace back to where we learned to love and how. Did we learn to experience pleasure or not, to trust others or not, to receive or be denied? Were our parents monitoring our needs or were we expected to monitor theirs? Did we turn to them for protection, or did we flee them to protect ourselves? Were we rejected? Humiliated? Abandoned? Were we held? Rocked? Soothed? Did we learn not to expect too much, to hide when we are upset, to make eye contact? In our family, we sense when it’s OK to thrive and when others might be hurt by our zest. We learn how to feel about our body, our gender, and our sexuality. And we learn a multitude of other lessons about who and how to be: to open up or to shut down, to sing or to whisper, to cry or to hide our tears, to dare or to be afraid. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel: Mating In Captivity Quotes

Esther Perel Mating In Captivity quotes

62. We’re walking contradictions, seeking safety and predictability on one hand and thriving on diversity on the other. -Esther Perel

63. We used to moralize; today we normalize, and performance anxiety is the secular version of our old religious guilt. -Esther Perel

64. Love is an exercise in selective perception, even a delicious deception as well, though who cares about that in the beginning? -Esther Perel

65. Today, our sexuality is an open-ended personal project; it is part of who we are, an identity, and no longer merely something we do. -Esther Perel

66. Our partner’s sexuality does not belong to us. It isn’t just for and about us, and we should not assume that it rightfully falls within our jurisdiction. -Esther Perel

67. We no longer plow the land together; today we talk. We have come to glorify verbal communication. I speak; therefore I am. We naively believe that the essence of who we are is most accurately conveyed through words. -Esther Perel

68. In our consumer culture, we always want the next best thing: the latest, the newest, the youngest. Failing that, we at least want more: more intensity, more variety, more stimulation. We seek instant gratification and are increasingly intolerant of any frustration. Nowhere are we encouraged to be satisfied with what we have, to think, “this is good. This is enough. -Esther Perel

69. Eroticism thrives in the space between the self and the other.

Esther Perel

70. When two become one—connection can no longer happen. There is no one to connect with. Thus separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex. -Esther Perel

71. Like dreams and works of art, fantasies are far more than what they appear to be on the surface. They’re complex psychic creations whose symbolic content mustn’t be translated into literal intent. “Think poetry, not prose. -Esther Perel

72. Any person or system exposed to ceaseless novelty and change risks falling into chaos; but one that is too rigid or static ceases to grow and eventually dies. This never-ending dance between change and stability is like the anchor and the waves. -Esther Perel

73. As long as men completely dominate business and political life, as long as women are economically dependent on men, as long as the burden of child care falls wholly on women’s shoulders (toppling even the most egalitarian couples), you cannot speak of a liberated female sexuality. -Esther Perel

74. Beginnings are always ripe with possibilities, for they hold the promise of completion. Through love we imagine a new way of being. You see me as I’ve never seen myself. You airbrush my imperfections, and I like what you see. With you, and through you, I will become that which I long to be. I will become whole. Being chosen by the one you chose is one of the glories of falling in love. It generates a feeling of intense personal importance. I matter. You confirm my significance. -Esther Perel

75. We are afraid that our adult sexuality will somehow damage our kids, that it’s inappropriate or dangerous. But whom are we protecting? Children who see their primary caregivers at ease expressing their affection (discreetly, within appropriate boundaries) are more likely to embrace sexuality with the healthy combination of respect, responsibility, and curiosity it deserves. By censoring our sexuality, curbing our desires, or renouncing them altogether, we hand our inhibitions intact to the next generation. -Esther Perel

76. Erotic intimacy is the revelation of our memories, wishes, fears, expectations, and struggles within a sexual relationship. When our innermost desires are revealed, and are met by our loved one with acceptance and validation, the shame dissolves. It is an experience of profound empowerment and self-affirmation for the heart, body, and soul. When we can be present for both love and sex, we transcend the battleground of Puritanism and hedonism. -Esther Perel

Esther Perel: State Of Affairs Quotes

Esther Perel State Of Affairs quotes

77. But when we reduce the conversation to simply passing judgment, we are left with no conversation at all. -Esther Perel

78. The shift from shame to guilt is crucial. Shame is a state of of self-absorption, while guilt is an emphatic, relational response, inspired by the hurt you have caused another. -Esther Perel

79. Affairs are always harmful and can never help a marriage or be accommodated. The only way to restore trust and intimacy is through truth-telling, repentance, and absolution. Last but not least, divorce affords more self-respect than forgiveness. -Esther Perel

80. By turning our backs on other loves, we confirm the uniqueness of our “significant other.” “I have found The One. I can stop looking.” Miraculously, our desire for others is supposed to evaporate, vanquished by the power of this singular attraction. -Esther Perel

81. Humans have a tendency to look for things in the places where it is easiest to search for them rather than in the places where the truth is more likely to be found.

Esther Perel

82. Sometimes, when we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t our partner we are turning away from, but the person we have become. We are not looking for another lover so much as another version of ourselves. -Esther Perel

83. In our efforts to protect ourselves from intimate betrayal, we demand access, control, transparency. And we run the risk of unknowingly eradicating the very space between us that keeps desire alive. Fire needs air. -Esther Perel

84. The swiping culture lures us with infinite possibilities, but it also exerts a subtle tyranny. The constant awareness of ready alternatives invites unfavorable comparisons, weakens commitment, and prevents us from enjoying the present moment. -Esther Perel

85. It is always astonishing how love can strike. No context is love-proof, no convention or commitment impervious. Even a lifestyle which is perfectly insulated, where the personality is controlled, all the days ordered and all actions in sequence, can to its own dismay find that an unexpected spark has landed; it begins to smolder until it is finally unquenchable. The force of Eros always brings disturbance; in the concealed terrain of the human heart Eros remains a light sleeper. -Esther Perel

87. The honeymoon phase is special in that it brings together the relief of reciprocated love with the excitement of a future still to be created. What we often don’t realize is that the exuberance of the beginning is fueled by its undercurrent of uncertainty. We set out to make love more secure and dependable, but in the process, inevitably we dial down its intensity. On the path of commitment, we happily trade a little passion for a bit more certainty, some excitement for some stability. -Esther Perel

87. A Window into the Human Heart Affairs have a lot to teach us about relationships. They open the door to a deeper examination of values, human nature, and the power of eros. -Esther Perel