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Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  8,686 ratings  ·  815 reviews

One of the world's most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.

Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples therapist, Perel examines the c

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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Harper (first published 2006)
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Will Liu Perel has a new book coming out in Oct 2017 called "The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity".

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kareem
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you're in a long-term relationship, or ever want to be in one, you must read this book.

It tells you how to have the security, stability, comfort, etc that are requirements for a healthy a LT relationship while at the same time creating the uncertainty, mystery, and risk that are requirements for passion.

The author is a therapist in NY and draws on cases to illustrate her points. It's engaging, the topic is fascinating, and Perel has some refreshingly smart suggestions for maintaining or rec
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Jeffrey
Apr 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Reconciling Cliche and Popular Sociology

On a crowded bus last week, my eight year old son couldn't help but inquire about the title of Esther Perel's debut book, "Mating in Captivity : Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic." What's "mating" mean, dad? And "cap-tiv-i-ty?" With numerous ears besides his own eager to hear my reply, I resorted to cheap humor that passed by him as surely as hot sex passes by Perel's patients throughout this book. "Mating." I told him, "is finding someone to love an
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Lynda
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sexuality
The author is a European, kink-and-alternative-lifestyle-friendly relationship therapist. It was quite refreshing to have her non-judgmental viewpoint on most issues of sexuality. She maintains throughout the book that in order to develop intimacy between two people, there needs to be some separateness. Which is a problem in this American society where our mate is supposed to be everything to us. There's a struggle in finding another person erotic and sexy when there's too much comfort and secur ...more
Emily Jane
May 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
I wanted this to be the answer to the last couple of fights I've had with my partner. The subtitle is "Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic", and so I'd hoped that this would help me understand why it is we fight with the one we love most, and how to prevent real problems before they happen. This is, after all, what the book promises to do.

But, unfortunately, it really falls short. Because while the author gives numerous anecdotal accounts of how this couple or that was able to reignite the f
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Stephanie Sun
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Joni is quite forthcoming in disclosing her sexual past... But when I ask her, 'What does sex mean to you? What are the feelings that accompany your desire? What do you seek in sex? What do you want to feel? To express? Where do you hold back?' she looks at me, perplexed. 'I have no idea,' she admits. 'No one's ever asked me that before.'"

No one's ever asked me that before.

Sex is simple—two people (occasionally more), in the same time, in the same place, with the same idea—that's all it is, all
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Shane Moore
Feb 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Reading this book I soon found myself questioning every aspect of my marriage. Apparently, I should be keeping my wife at a distance or we'll get bored with each other. Maybe I rely too much on verbal communication to express my feelings? Sure, things are great now, but am I setting the stage for an unhappy 2nd act? Would my wife be happier married to someone who doesn't speak English?

I quit. I don't need a book to make me second-guess and doubt the happiest aspect of my life.
E.C. McCarthy
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-women
This book is so much more erotically charged than the "50 Shades" fictional nonsense. Perel offers great insight into human desire -- for love, sex, connection, space -- and how we tend to thwart the very intimacy we crave by applying judgement to our desires. I haven't read a better reason to be hopeful that long term relationships can maintain, even increase, passion and desire than this --

"The counterargument to the law of diminishing returns is the principle that consistent investment leads
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Amir Tesla
This book aptly inspects the question: Why passion, desire, eroticism and sexuality follow a downward spiral after marriage. Many elements contributing to this issue are examined with real case studies and often with practical suggestions.

There are a lot of eye-opening and counter intuitive insights in the book that if practiced, will reignite the engine of passion in a married life.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, not just couples.
Nikki
Jun 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
I saw Esther Perel on The Colbert Report and as always, Colbert made the conversation interesting. I'm not one for self-help books or couple advice, but I was intrigued after that interview. I should have just stayed away.

The basis of this book appears to be "familiarity breeds contempt." Emotional distance, according to the author, equals a better sex life and therefore better marriage. I found this wholly contradictory and I could not get on board with her "therapy" message. Honestly Perel com
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Josie
Mar 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
When your entire book is based on the premise that intimacy kills desire, you've lost me. The idea that the closer you get to someone, the more comfortable with them, the safer you feel, the less attracted to them you are just seems ludicrous (and if that's true I feel like maybe you've got some solo therapy to do).

The idea that you should talk/share less, flirt with other men to create "safe" jealousy, and perhaps open your marriage up to other partners or dating other people....it just hardly
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Eli Nunez
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Enlightening. This is one of those books that make you better, educated, happier, confident and much more if you read this with a very very open mind. Doesn't give you advise nor tell you what's better, it just sets you free... I love it! Finished it in two days. Couldn't stop reading. Totally influencing my life right now.
Taka
Interesting, but not very practical--

The main argument of the book is this: intimacy begets comfort and boredom, distance unpredictability and excitement. Pretty commonsensical stuff, but when applied to marriage, it can be a powerful principle.

Most couples experience an increase in boredom as they become intimate and comfortable with each other and they start to yearn for the excitement. This transition is not only emotional but biological: a man's testosterone levels plummet after his wife giv
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Blair
May 28, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author's thesis is that relationships require a gap for a spark to cross, or that too much intimacy kills sex.

I stopped reading after getting fed up with the name dropping, failure to back up her claims, and offering conflicting, and potentially damaging advice, in her book regarding relationships.

If you want a pop-sci self-help book that encourages infidelity, you might find comfort in this book. Otherwise I'd recommend staying away from this one.
Azita Rassi
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very well written book with bold and more or less original ideas, but if you want to read it, don’t go for the audiobook. The author has an excellent command of written English, but her very strong Belgian accent makes following the text a hassle. It’s unfortunate that the task of creating the audiobook was not assigned to a professional reader.
Francesca Marciano
May 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting, repetitive, it could've been condensed in one hundred pages, but that is the problem with these kind of books, they keep hammering the same concept over and over with slight variations. I saw Esther Poser's talk on Ted, which was very entertaining and the book just expands that.
Jonathan Maas
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
80% of this is solid advice, the remaining 20% is there to get headlines - and to help the couples rethink themselves

I first learned about Esther Perel from a friend, and then from the New Yorker, where she is supposedly 'rethinking infidelity.'

Is she? Yes - but she's not telling anyone to cheat either. Perel just recognizes that there is a lot of unhappiness in monogamous couples, and a lot of sexual dysfunction.

So though she doesn't tell them to cheat, she may tell them to at least look in tha
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John Ryan
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: relationship
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 ero
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Juvoni
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, audiobook
A cutting statement that rings, “Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did[..]”, points to a problem and the balance that the author aims to bring more guidance around in the frame of long-term committed relationships. To maintain the sparks, Perel says there is a need to balance Love, which is about having, with Desire, which is about wanting, and creating a sense of oneness for deep emotional connection, without possessing of the other person. Autonomy and individ ...more
Irina Subredu
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
"Marea iluzie a iubirii împărtășite constă în faptul că noi credem că partenerii noștri ne aparțin".

("dragostea caută apropiere, dar dorința necesită distanță").
Linda Vituma
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Iedvesmota jaunam posmam savā dzīvē. Posmam, kurā vairs neesmu mazu bērnu mamma. Posmam, kurā mācos baudīt un ļauties, spēlēties un piedzīvot. Posmam, kurā beidzot varu piedzīvot sevi briedumā. Karls Gustavs Jungs esot teicis, ka dzīve sākoties tikai pēc 40 gadu vecuma, jo līdz tam tas, ko darām, ir vien izpēte. Patiesi, patiesi - man šķiet, ka viņam ir taisnība.
Darian Onaciu
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my first book on relationships and it was a very good one.
I'm looking forward to reading her second book, "The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity".

If you're interested in the topic I highly recommend her two TED talks:
Rethinking Infidelity - a talk for anyone who has ever loved
and
The secret to desire in a long-term relationship
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
She makes many good points, but she doesn’t address the actual needs of intimacy for women as real. It’s not the fault of living in the modern world where couples depend mainly on each other. The needs are and remain the same, whether we are Bedouin or sophisticated lawyers in New York. Her client Adele wants to be appreciated as she is, appreciated as a woman, and it doesn’t necessarily involve sex. But it seems that our author sees that as asking a lot. What Adele longs for as a woman can be e ...more
Chris
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How does one begin a review of a book about eroticism in long-term relationships? And, more personally, how does a single man currently outside a long-term relationship do so? I have no idea, so I'll just say that this is an excellent introduction into an incredibly complex topic.

The core issue that Perel addresses is the inherent tension between what are arguably our two greatest needs in a long-term romantic relationship: continued sexual chemistry and emotional safety. Because the former requ
...more
João Martins
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
It never ceases to amaze me how people insist on planning and preparing for the most trivial things in their lives, and then completely neglect all of the psychological and scientific information for the things that they themselves consider to be the most important or long-term in their lives, like their relationships.

This book tackles the notion of eroticism and domesticity - how they interact and play out in longer term relationships. It discusses how sexual desire can fade over time, the reas
...more
Betty
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thoughtful, progressive examination of romantic relationship dynamics that thankfully doesn't traffic in gender essentialism or cliches. A lot of the advice boils down to "don't lose your self or your individuality in a relationship", focusing on the importance of creating and maintaining space, and using tons of case studies to demonstrate this in myriad ways. Perel grew up in Belgium and has lived and practiced all over the world, so she's able to bring an insight to particularly Ame ...more
Tim Pendry
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone not entirely happy with their lot
Now this really could be a life-changing book if it hit the right person at the right time. The thesis is simple and powerful and the only problem with the book is that the personal stories pad out a simple message.

What Perel does is undermine the more dumb-ass aspects of the Anglo-Saxon approach to psychological fidelity and relationships in favour of a more European view that permits play, calculated deceit and fantasy in a way that is really quite shocking to contemporary femino-liberalism.
...more
Joni
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this several years ago and remember it being a paradigm shifter for me. The main thing I took away from it is that we expect too much from our spouse, who is, after all, only one person. He/she cannot be our "best friend," confidant, protector, object of our frustration, safety net, and also passionate lover.

I am now going back to re-read because I've been reminded of it while I am reading "Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships."

In that book,
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Michael Siliski
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Esther Perel brings a thoughtful, intellectual perspective balanced by real-world experience and judgment to modern human relationships and sexuality.
* Takes the view that we put too much burden on our marriages these days. One person has to be everything... whereas it used to be that multiple people would fulfill different roles.
* Argues that intimacy can be the enemy of eroticism (somewhat counter to the prevailing orthodoxy, as I understand it), and that couples need to exist as separate peop
...more
Kerri Anne
Dec 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Nonsense. The only way I can figure this book became an "international best seller" is because so often sensational sentences are mistaken for logical/interesting/valid ones.

Infidelity (or the threat of it) as a tool for marriage strengthening? Go fuck yourself, Perel.

[Negative stars! Anti-stars! Drop this book off a pier with cement shoes stars!]
Alice
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I went into this book expecting not to like it, based on a previous review I had heard about it- saying that the premise was that you can’t maintain both eroticism and stability in a marriage.

I was pleased to learn that is not the premise of the book.

I got a few takeaways:

First, like anything else in a relationship, there is a constant tension between connection and differentiation (when it comes to sex, the author calls these points of tension the erotic and the domestic). We have a desire fo
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Adding page number & other edits 10 39 Oct 18, 2018 01:15AM  
  • The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People
  • The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment
  • Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies
  • Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships
  • Full Exposure: Opening Up to Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression
  • Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray
  • We Love Each Other, But . . .: Simple Secrets to Strengthen Your Relationship and Make Love Last
  • The New Male Sexuality
  • Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships
  • Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written
  • Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage
  • Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century
  • A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire
  • Moregasm: Babeland's Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex
  • She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
  • The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido: A Couple's Guide
  • Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time
  • Who's Been Sleeping in Your Head?: The Secret World of Sexual Fantasy
814 followers
Esther Perel is recognized as one of the world’s most original and insightful voices on personal and professional relationships. She is the best-selling author of Mating in Captivity Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, translated into 25 languages. Fluent in nine of them, the Belgian native is a practicing psychotherapist, celebrated speaker and organizational consultant to Fortune 500 companies. The N ...more
“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. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning. They know that they have years in which to deepen their connection, to experiment, to regress, and even to fail. They see their relationship as something alive and ongoing, not a fait accompli. It’s a story that they are writing together, one with many chapters, and neither partner knows how it will end. There’s always a place they haven’t gone yet, always something about the other still to be discovered.” 65 likes
“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?” 59 likes
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