Mating in Captivity: Book Review

Image by Matthew Paulson via Creative Commons.

Emotional intimacy can suffocate sexual excitement. Sometimes, it’s important to objectify the one you love. Verbal communication is often less effective than the language of the body.

These are a few of the counterintuitive and challenging ideas in Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel’s fascinating book about sexuality in long-term relationships.

The author is a therapist and an expert on human sexual connection. In her book, she describes some of the couples she’s worked with, the problems facing them, and how she helped them find solutions.

Perel explains that as we become more emotionally intimate with a partner, the distance between us shrinks until we become less and less distinct from one another. The problem is that eroticism and arousal are dependent on a certain amount of mystery and separateness. When we allow emotional intimacy to erase the distance between us and our lover, it smothers the flame of attraction.

In long-term relationships, we’re drawn in two directions. We crave stability, but we also crave novelty. These opposing desires often create issues. After all, can we desire what we already have? How can we balance the search for sexual adventure with the desire to deeply know one partner?

This book is essential for anyone who’s interested in human sexuality, especially in how sex plays out in long-term relationships. A great pre-Valentine’s Day read!