Mating in Captivity
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Product Description

Why does great sex so often fade for couples who claim to love each other as much as ever?
Can we want what we already have?
Why does the transition to parenthood so often spell erotic disaster?
Does good intimacy always make for good sex?

Ether Perel takes on these 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 twenty 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.

Customer Reviews:

  • if your a women?
    If your a women, you will understand men a little more, if your a man you will nod your head. If you want to know why most marriages and relationships fail, read this book. Sex is not about numbers, your erotic life NEEDS a home to to come home to. To do that, this book explains that delicate balance of modern relationships and our political-correct views. I will read this agian in 1 year so I can focus on keeping my wife happy....more info
  • The BOCD wasn't enough!
    I bought this in Book-On-CD format to listen to on a long distance drive. Hearing the author's lovely, accented voice reading the unabridged substance of her subject was not enough - I had to also buy the book. It's that good.

    Dr. Perel offers such a distinctively original vision of relationships, provocative insights, and common sense that I wanted to bookmark and dog ear the CDs. I learned so many great, useful techniques to keep my relationship in perspective, I could hardly wait to get back home to write in my journal....more info
  • A Lifesaver for Couples...
    Perel's book is a must-read for couples in their relationships for the long haul. As a sex and relationship therapist, I highly recommend this read as a way for partners to better understand each other, and to revive the sparks they once felt....more info
  • Enthralling book about love, intimacy and about being a couple today.
    Esther Perel has written a compelling and intelligent book about what it means to be a couple today. In a fresh and provocative style she unpacks our prevalent ideas about "intimacy", "eroticism" and "being a couple" revealing to us how our unrealistic expectations about commited relationships are paradoxically responsible for our lack of "erotic" energy". In American society today we expect our intimate relationships to meet all our needs-- for friendship, companionship, economic stability, domesticity and passion --all with one person and at one time! As a result we end up creating our partner's and our own personal jails. In our self imposed "captivity" we loose our sense of separateness and freedom ---which are essential ingredients for a playful and passionate sexual life. Mating in Captivity takes the reader for a personal ride helping us examine our implicit notions. It is also an intellectual book that challenges our social constructions about love, intimacy and marriage and tries to bring forward essential elements involved in the cultivation of passion....more info
  • Very interesting, insightful, but no real solutions
    This was a very intelligent, well-written, somewhat dense book (i.e., not cute pop-psychology fluff -- you had to read carefully). It went a long way toward explaining why passion dies, even in a really good, close marriage. She also reassures us that infidelity is more the norm than the exception! But I really didn't find any helpful solutions for regaining the passion in here. Fight more? Have affairs and don't feel guilty about them? I just don't know....more info
    Eroticism is really a more sophisticated form of sex than the type that usually occurs between consenting adults. It adds a layer to the proceedings that elevate it above the ordinary. This book explains how to unlock that trait in yourself and others. Pair it with this book, The Sensuous Couple's (Flip Over) Guide to Seismic Oral Sex, and you will find a closeness and eroticism that borders on the poetic....more info
  • Amazing: a couples therapist finds the sex in sex
    Everyone knows that familiarity breeds contempt. Especially if familiarity comes with a wedding ring attached. A book about sex in marriage --- now there's a thin book!

    But here comes Esther Perel to suggest that we --- men and women alike --- have it wrong. Good sex doesn't have to end when the hormones cool. Lust doesn't have to devolve into companionship. You can be a mom and a sex kitten. And as for "intimacy" the bedroom, a little goes a long way.

    Who is this wild woman? A therapist in New York who's been working with couples and families for two decades. Belgian-born, to Holocaust survivors. Married (to her original husband). Two kids. Speaks eight languages --- including common sense.

    Not for Perel a how-to book of ridiculous exercises you can practice to rekindle the passion you once knew. If she had her way, you'd never consult a manual again. You might, however, write a dirty letter about all the hot things you'd like to do to your partner --- or that you'd like done to you. Or maybe you should start two e-mail accounts just for the sexual dialogue between you and your mate.

    But she's the mother of your child!

    But he's the guy who only gets his kicks from online porn!

    Perel has heard all that. Many times. She's not fooled --- underneath those smart New York rationalizations are hearts that still want to believe in hot sex with someone you know. The problem, she says, lie in the unspoken assumptions of most marriages.

    Like: To love is to merge. Wrong. Merging is what happens when you see the Other as your security. That's death to sex. Good sex requires a spark. A spark requires a gap. Cross the gap, feel the sizzle. No gap? The best you can hope for is a cuddle.

    "There is no such thing as 'safe sex,'" she writes. Sex requires mystery, excitement, uncertainty. Which means not knowing everything about your partner. You find that threatening? You'd find it less so if you stopped equating intimacy with sex.

    Here's a radical thought: don't do everything together. Cultivate your own set of friends. Create differences, not affinities. "Ruthlessness is a way to achieve closeness" --- ponder that for a while. Monogamy? Great if you can honor it. But it is, statistics show, "a ship sinking faster than anyone can bail it out."

    Infidelity is a symptom of deeper problems in the relationship? Many believe that. Perel doesn't. She finds life...complicated. She hates the verb "have" when used in relationships --- for her, no one "has" anyone. Relationships are negotiations, not assumptions. You can get crazy with someone you've lived with and known well --- if your "rules" allow that.

    Eroticism, she says, is "sexuality transformed by the imagination." So, start dreaming. There's a big payoff: "Nurturing eroticism in the house is an act of open defiance."

    I live in a city of therapists and in a neighborhood where they are at their most dense. I have done couples therapy; socially, I know several sex-and-couples therapists. All women. All buttoned-up --- their sexuality is not just unseen or tamped down, it's under lock-and-key. So it's a great relief to read Esther Perel. No question about it --- she's hot....more info
  • Excellent...except for one part
    Because the author's ideas are provocative, this won't be an easy read. It wasn't for me, but it was highly enlightening as well. The author challenged all my beliefs about love and how relationships really work and I rather liked being challenged. She made me think in ways I had never before.

    For example, her discussion on how desire needs distance, but intimacy needs closeness and how these two conflict with each other in long-term relationships is dead on! But the author believes, and I agree, that it's possible to achieve both even if it seems impossible. She explains how this is possible without cornering you into believing only one method is the right way. There is no right way. Instead she shows how couples have managed to achieve this in their own way and discusses the pros and cons of each.

    I also appreciated her discussion on how sexual fantasies differ from everyday fantasies. If you fantasize about the perfect job or the perfect mate, it's because you want these things to happen in reality. However, if you have a sexual fantasy about being raped, it doesn't mean that you want this to happen in reality. There's an element to your fantasy that is your true desire and in your sexual fantasies, you are in complete control about how this plays out.
    I don't want to give away all her secrets because that would be like giving away the ending to a really good movie.

    So, if I'm so in love with this book, why would I only give it 3 out of 5 stars? It's because there's a part in the book where the author agrees with a client that it's respectful to withhold telling the truth about an affair. I've heard this argument before and I strongly disagree. I think it's disrespectful to decide for someone else (who's not your child) what they can and cannot handle. Withholding the truth is not about respect, it's about fear. If you told the truth, that person could leave you or retaliate in another way. By withholding the truth from them, you strip them of their choices in order to gain an unfair advantage over them. Lying to someone in order to keep them bound to you is not only selfish and controlling, it's also manipulative. It's just manipulation reframed in a positive way. And a surprising argument coming from an author who earlier was arguing against possessiveness. So, while I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of this book, this part left me cold.

    Otherwise, I think this is a very interesting and provocative book....more info
  • A very revealing book!!!!
    This book is fantastic!! I don't know where to begin. First, her writing style is incredible. There is a beauty to what is written in her book. The beauty is revealed when you read passages that explain intellectually things you have felt for some time. Some of her explainations were so beautiful and fulfilling it brought me to tears.

    Second, she is incredibly accurate about relationships and desire. She clearly shows why love and desire operate on different trajectories. But, the beauty is, the trajectories are not mutually exclusive and can co-exist. The key is re-igniting the individual.

    Third, she is open minded, accepting, and understanding of the incredible impact that sexual freedom and individuality have had on marriage. She does not sugar coat the fact that monogamous marriage is "dying." She advocates being proactive about ensuring passion and desire within your marriage.

    The examples in her book were not very applicable to me, but the principle of each story was clearly established and easily applied to my own marriage.

    Most importantly, she helped me understand my desire. She helped me understand why I enjoyed thinking of my wife in certain ways. It helped me understand my desire and find new ways of experiencing passion. ...more info
  • Return to Paradise, Lost
    Do you feel lost, frustrated, confined or disappointed with your sex life? Does sex feel like a chore? Has the rugrats' arrival sucked that sexual impulse out of ya? Or maybe relations has morphed over the years from what seemed spicy and fresh into a short menu of the same ol' sauces and meats? Do you wonder if this is the inevitable result of being married/together with the same person for years? That you just have to "grow-up" and accept it?

    Esther Perel, in "mating in captivity: unlocking erotic intelligence" says, you can have that soulful home-made chicken soup and STILL be pouring that Sriratcha in...or even head out for sushi some nights. How? By awakening your erotic intelligence: your ability to know how to be both serious and playful at sex; be both adult and child-like; be committed and free...

    An experienced and articulate psychotherapist, Perel weaves together her specific experiences from her practice and professional observations about the societal forces that impact the bedroom dynamics to help give some structure to understanding what's going on in there.

    Perel's core premise is that erotically intelligent people find a way to establish a healthy balance between serious intimacy and sexual play. Taking intimacy seriously means being committed to the relationship: establishing and cultivating communication. Being sexually playful means letting go (in a healthy way) of operating out of a rigid system of beliefs around what is and is not allowed in sex in a committed relationship.

    It's not a simple topic: it doesn't lend itself to easy analysis and general prescriptions. Despite that, Perel does an excellent job at drawing out the abstractions out of the specific circumstances. Over the course of the book, she pieces together a small, course-shaped mosaic of the modern couple navigating their way along a path that includes a genuinely satisfying long-term relationship.

    For me, personally, Perel sparked whole missing elements of this incredible uniquely-human experience of being erotic. I had my own set of beliefs that held me back from really opening-up and sharing the healing, fun and vital experience of being in sexual desire. She underscored for me how critical being playful is to the whole endeavor. I found that I had a pretty rigid idea of what one can do to another that they love and respect. Turns out, when the two are in agreement and it is physically and psychologically safe, there's not a whole lot that is categorically "bad." Of course, each individual and each couple will negotiate out what they are/are not willing to try.

    It's about ferreting out those (sometimes deeply-held) beliefs that create unnecessary limitations. In unlocking those structures, a whole burst of creative energy is released. In the human experience, vitality is creativity, expressed.

    It's that vitality that many of us long for five/seven/fifteen years down the road... and the good news is that it never left. It's just that, mostly subconsciously, we unnecessarily stopped cultivating the conditions where our sexual creativity can thrive. Unlocking erotic intelligence is about bringing awareness to those unexamined beliefs and opening up (and acting on) the actual possibilities of what we can share with our beloved in bed (or anywhere else you wanna get it on!).

    If the flame in your marriage has died down and you are keen to understand why that might have happened (in hopes of changing how you do relationship to make it different/better), I recommend you pick this book up, open your mind and let your fantasies fly!...more info
  • Very nice, makes you think in the right direction
    Great book, I recommend it to anyone, even if you don't "need" to read it.
    Written in a very nice, Sex-and-the-City-like, style. Explains a lot of things in a way you probably haven't thought of them before. Makes you think about yourself, your desire, your relashionship and how you may be damaging it....more info
  • Reconciling insights with cliches
    Mating in Captivity is purportedly about sexless marriages and stays on track mostly. The author does use case studies that go more to the erotic impulse in general even though the cases are from couples. While some of the material repeats usual conclusions about loss of sexual interest in a long-term marriage such as arrival of children and that shift in focus, it does have some insights into other causes. Most interesting to this reviewer was the link between a relationship to one's mother as determining what one's relationship to a spouse will be. A more superficial cause such as a spouse getting fat or becoming generally unattractive is not even explored, however. This seemed to be an omission due to a woman's point of view. It assumes people operate from a psychological context only and not an aesthetic one.

    The author also equates a long-term relationship to a marriage. Without her discussing this statement further one wonders if she discounts the commitment couples make in a marriage as opposed to keeping someone dangling while other options are open. ...more info
  • It's worth it...

    This is an excelent book, despite that it doesn't give you practices or advices to solve the problem as I thought in the fist place, but it gives you a new perspective of a problem very common and it makes you realise your problems and mistakes. Each person can make a conclusion from this book and make important changes in their life. It's very good....more info
  • A provocative read
    As a guide for "mating in captivity", this book transcends its title. Written for the mainstream in an easy, flowing style, Ms. Perel tackles complex issues concerning sex, passion, and eroticism within long term relationships. She presents a narrative that exposes various aspects of case histories in her therapy practice that encompasses cultural, gender, and age differences. Offering diverse measures that creatively tackle the problems presented, she assists her patients in discovering their own erotic needs as well as their partners'. This is not a manual, it is more a playful treatise on eroticism in which Ms. Perel examines its complexity and the role it plays in maintaining sexual passion alive. Thankfully, she does not provide therapy that encourages only closeness/intimacy as the answer to a fuller sexual experience. Her book offers a creative approach to discovering the renewal of sexual, physical, passion that can parallel the intimacy that might already be established within the relationship. She presents `the erotic' as being central to the whole person rather than it being only a component of sex---and that finding the key to it within ourselves will ultimately unlock the sexual stalemate that oftentimes occurs within longstanding committed relationships. Her book proposes a fresh view that taps into the erotic energy that feeds our creative selves and permeates our life. For those that that want to re-vamp or re-claim sex within their committed relationships and to all that want to participate in a full and passionate life, this book is for you. ...more info
  • Inteligent original and creative
    This book is inteligent, insightful and creative. It is so humand and makes so much sense. Esther Perel was able to tease out how basic human needs for security and adventure play out in long term relationships. The more secure we are with an intimate partener the less adventure/ tension is in the relationship. How can sexuality survive that paradox?

    From a couple therapist....more info
  • Mating in Captivity
    This is a mind-blowing book that shakes your comfort zone to the core. If I had only had this information sooner. I am now in the 24th year of my marriage and it's hard to wind back the years and gain understanding about where we are now in our relationship and how we got there. However, this book gives me insight I have been unable to find anywhere else.Thank you Esther Perel!...more info
  • A lifechanging book for women and men
    Perel's message is that good intimacy doesn't necessarily lead to good sex. In fact, closeness can dull our sexual appetites if we abandon the need for excitement and adventure in the need for predictability, comfort, and safety. So the dilemma is (in her terms) how do we put the X back in sex?

    I love that she doesn't offer us easy how-tos. She tackles the complexities of sexual desire as an art rather than a series of steps you can count and measure. As she relates stories from the partnerships she's encountered in her two decades as a therapist, she makes it evident that great sex is about much more than just frequency of intercourse--it incorporates all the emotional joy and angst that go into living together: honesty and deception, affairs, commitment, arguments, overwork, excitement, mythbusting, parenthood. Perel suggests we each create a secret garden where we can enjoy our unique erotic blooming. Reading this brilliant, graceful book will help you cultivate your garden.

    The Return of Desire: A Guide to Rediscovering Your Sexual Passion...more info
  • Great insights from both sides of conflict, w/o recommending drugs!
    I've skimmed a number of popular books published in the last few years on the problem of sexless marriage, and this is by far most interesting contribution to date. First, there is no recommendations for drug therapy anywhere in the book. Second, the author frequently brings into the discussion a European-influenced view of some particularly American style predilictions and assumptions reguarding sex, parenthood, gender politics, and relationship expectations.

    Her fundamental premise is that eroticisim requires seprateness, and in the course of building and sustaining security, we can frequently lose the "me" and "you" in us. But even more important, she sees the very contemporary marital impulse toward an egalitarian union -- while great for chores and child care -- can be a neutralizer in the bedroom.

    You may or may not find strands of your own dilemma in her case histories, but you will not walk away from them empty handed, either.

    There are many aspects of the book which are highly nuanced, and won't survive well in the O'Reilly world of broadcast media interviews. I can just hear some producer-fed talking head asking something like, "You advocate couples go to Vegas for swinging? Why?" (She doesn't). So don't pay attention to that noise. This is an intellegent, respectful, contemplative work of original thinking that confronts a subject too often approached with superlatives and pabulum.

    Buy one for yourself and one for your best friend -- more than likely, they're suffering, too....more info
  • For Chicks Only
    I found little new in Esther Perel's "Mating in Captivity." The book, written from a strictly female perspective, emphasizes ways to keep a relationship physically fresh and thus emotionally intimate. Ms. Perel uses case studies from her own practice, as well as her personal philosophy, to drive home her point: women need to use their minds and bodies to keep their men. It's all been written before. I would have been much more interested if the book could have provided new insights regarding the culture of marriage, that is what it really means to "mate in captivity," as the title suggests. ...more info
  • Astonishing
    I hate self-help books. I'm a Master's candidate in psychology and my relationship was deteriorating fast. I'd been living in a passionateless environment with lots of affection and familiarity. It was causing amazing problems. This book was the most intelligent thing I'd ever read, and it was concise, clear, amusing, and devoid of rediculous jargon and quizzes and self-help steps. It has situations in it that are real and applicable.

    If you are having problems, buy this book. It can only help. ...more info
  • Excellent book for scoping out relationships!
    This book is excitingly the reader many wonderful and useful tips at stepping up relationships to the place you have always wanted to achieve. Highly recommended....more info
  • Very good.
    This book is helpful to all people single, dating or married. The theme of autonomy within relationships is very important for people to understand and would help if it is truly practiced. As a member of the mental health field, I plan on recommending this book to colleagues, clients and friends. ...more info
  • Captivating
    Great book. I the other reviews serve to give you an idea about this book. The perspective she offers is different than what current norms suggest, yet it's curiously obvious and makes sense....more info