Mating in Captivity: Esther Perel

8 years ago by

In Partnership With The Outnet

I first got in contact with Esther Perel through her fantastic, fun, and eye-opening Ted Talks. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon them (thought it’s not surprising, since her talks are total hits with more than 15 million views…), but it was probably one of these days where I was asking myself a million questions about how to love and how to be loved. I immediately got caught by her approach. In some ways, I could entirely relate to her – probably in part because of our European upbringings. In other ways, she was completely challenging the ideas I had about attraction and desire.

It pushed me to read her book and of course, to want to introduce you to her and to her work.

In this podcast, Esther Perel explains to us how she created her path, how she forged her opinions, travelling around the world and being in contact with other cultures. She also talks about her practice and responds all my questions about how to love and how to be loved…

[podcast_episode episode=”236467″ ]

pardon my french esther perel garance dore photo

pardon my french esther perel garance dore photo

On love in the 70’s…
I am the generation of the 70s. I am the first generation with the pill, and pre-AIDS! So we had 10 years of freedom that no other generation knew. So I understood contraception very well at a young age and for the first time there was a freedom that no one else experienced. One thing we did have was boyfriends, or what I like to call, sex with a plot! You know, there was a story! A story!! And you were enthralled by the story, not by the act. The story, the seduction, the flirtation, the poetry that we would write for each other, the serenades, the hours on the phone. That whole real intimate story was what we were involved in.

On Modern Sex Issues…
We’ve always been told when you love you desire, but no. It seems that it’s not so simple. Why does good intimacy not guarantee good sex? I love being loved but I also want to be wanted. Can we want what we already have? Why is the forbidden so erotic? Why is it that the generation that has contraception in their hands, pre-marital sex as a norm, permission to do what they want, doesn’t feel like doing it? Or not at home! They do it anywhere else, but not you know, with the person they’re supposed to do it with! What is this crisis of desire?

On the most common questions women have…
In relation to work, I would say that women’s major concerns have to do with asking for what they deserve. Period. Primarily around money, status, recognition, responsibility. If women still make 70% to the dollar, it is because they are afraid to ask: they don’t want to seem aggressive, or greedy, they want to be liked. That is still so entrenched. Number two, love. “Am I lovable, am I desirable? Would you cheat on me? Am I beautiful enough? Do you like another one more than me?”

On how insecurities change over time…
I relate to it, I’m not describing a different species. I’m very much a part of the whole thing. And you have the insecurities when you’re young, and you have the insecurities when you’re less young. As a conclusion I say, if I had the confidence of today with the looks of then! When I had the looks I felt very bad inside, and when I have lesser looks I actually feel quite good! Cause I have experience, maturity and I care a little bit less about – does everybody love me?

pardon my french ester perel garance dore photo

On the key to making your relationship work…
You can expect your partner to do a lot of things, but the idea that one person will satisfy all your needs, the same person will be the one with whom you take care of your dying mother and your babies, and your sex life, and your professional anxieties, and your internal turmoil, and your intellectual pursuits, and your creative endeavors, take this out of your mind! I think that part of what is difficult is the excessive amount of expectations. You understand that your partner will meet some of your needs: they may be sexual and erotic and intimate, or they may not.

On the pressure imposed on women in regards to romantic relationships…
It’s really, I think, a new form of oppression for the women, because it’s a complete bind, and a double message. Go out, do what you want, accomplish, achieve, be a success, actualize yourself, be a professional, be independent, find a man, find a man, find a man! And unless you find a man, there’s a hole in your life, there’s a hole in you! I really think this is, on a cultural, political level, it is the backlash on women in a pernicious way.

On being happy and single…
I think that we have been sold an ideal and your life is incomplete if you don’t have a romantic partner. I think New York in particular is a city where people can be extremely happy as singles because you have a rich life, you’re not a spinster sitting alone in your house, and you can have a real circle of friends. And actually, many people that are in couples in New York are way more isolated especially when they have young children, when it’s the worst time to be isolated, than people who are single and have a large and solid group of friends. But the people who are single with a solid group of friends are continuously still hoping and thinking that this is the holy grail, that this is the thing that completes a life, and I think it creates a misguided hunger. It’s an amazing experience to have a long romantic relationship, but it is not the only one for sure.

pardon my french ester perel garance dore photo

pardon my french esther peril garance more photo

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Looking to dive deeper? Check out this link to get Esther’s short list of questions to better understand your needs.


Add yours
  • sooooo excited to listen to this! Thank you, Garance! I love her book and her TED talk and find it so fascinating. I am very romantic (like you I imagine?) and love thinking about these kinds of things, different possibilities and ways of considering my relationships. Thank you also for bringing someone in who is a little unexpected here – not a fashion person, per se. xoxo!

  • i remember seeing her on ted. great interview! :)

  • Alexia June, 23 2016, 9:42 / Reply

    Thank you for this podcast! I am so happy you guys met and. Esther Perel’s work is amazing and truly life-changing. Thank you!!!!

  • Bonjour Garance, bonjour la team! Esther Perel semble avoir un propos super intéressant, mais je ne trouve pas le dispositif d’écoute du podcast dans votre article… où écouter la conversation? Merci par avance!

    PS: Garance j’adore ta tenue, cette jupe surtout!

  • Hi Gigi,
    We had a glitch but it should be available now!
    x Emily

  • In order that a relationship works you first need to find yourself know who you are do what you want… with your life than you can be happy with another person..and not wait from another person to give you what you can’t give to yourself….
    No one can give you what you can’t give to yourself !!!! your life is in your hand it’s up to you to make your dream…and don’t wait that someone will give you your dream..
    only than you can be happy with another person……
    Yael Guetta

  • Je ne trouve pas le lien vers le podcast sur la page ? Est-ce normal ?

  • Hi Laura,
    We had a glitch but it should be available now!
    x Emily

  • J’ai bien hâte d’entendre ce podcast… qui sera disponible quand? J’aime beaucoup Esther, j’espère que vous allez parler français!!

  • Hi Eunice,
    It’s available now! You should be able to see the player on the French side and the episode is also available on iTunes!


  • Dee Dee June, 23 2016, 11:47 / Reply

    My favorite podcast thus far! Fascinating. Thanks Garance!

  • What a great interview! I particularly love her advice on relationships, I definitely need to bear this in mind! Thanks for sharing x

  • Jessica June, 23 2016, 12:15 / Reply

    Esther is amazing, I saw her at a talk at the French alliance, and she’s always so insightful. I have to say Garance, that this is my favorite talk with her. You did a great job of interviewing her:))

  • I noticed that Garance is wearing a wedding ring ( as in — she’s not wearing an engagement ring but she is wearing a wedding band on that critical finger). Was there a “secret” wedding? Hmmmmmm

  • Lauren June, 23 2016, 5:19 / Reply

    Thank you, Garance. Just thank you! This was too good.

  • Clemence June, 23 2016, 6:36 / Reply

    Can’t wait to listen to this one!
    – Garance’s earrings look a-mazing, discrete but so classy, where are they from??

  • Oh this was so interesting to read. Yes today it is strange for women’s success there is still a ways to go, and the world at large women are still treated very very badly.

    Allie of

  • “…..Sur la facon dont le sentiment d’insecurite evolue avec le temps…” J’ai enfin atteint cette etape de ma vie ou les reflexions et le regard des autres ne m’atteignent plus.
    “L’exces de choses que l’on projette sur l’autre….” Dans mon couple, j’ai une devise : respecte le comme tu voudrais qu’il te respecte.

  • Dear Garance, I have never been looking forward to Thursdays more than now, knowing that new podcast od yours are going to be released. Ever since you started launching them, it has become my little ritual, hanging around the kitchen, cooking or drawing while listening. This time my husband asked me to put the volume up, so that he can listen as well. It was an amazing experience listening to such an insightful and smart conversation together with my life partner. Thank you so much for your work, it is really important to me, Please keep on going.

  • Fascinating! Thank you for introducing Esther. She definetly articulates thoughts we all have, but it is refreshing to understand that different types of love reflects differents aspects of you; that you can’t expect all from one single person. People would be more lightweight and free if that were a true believe/ understanding.

  • Léni ALEXIA June, 24 2016, 6:20 / Reply

    This is my favorite one so far <3

  • Thank you Garance! I recently read this as well as watched her TED talks and you tube interviews. She is a real visionary!

  • I think her points are very modern and really make sense.

  • How beautiful and exciting it is to share with us all these amazing conversations as you explore the world, its meaning and its context. The diversity of the people you host is just amazing, and it is for me at this time one of the most inspirational podcast i follow. What is great is that it follows the quest of our lives, sometimes light and just fashionable, others deeply disruptive and life changing, others enjoyable and inspirational!

  • I love Esther Perel’s sandals! Where are they from?

  • wow ! quelle grande dame ! quelle message de liberté.
    merci à elle et à vous de nous la faire connaître.

  • Nicky Caron June, 25 2016, 8:55 / Reply

    Amazing podcast, very interesting and super inspiring! I would love it if there were more talks like this on the podcast <3

  • melissa lee June, 25 2016, 10:07 / Reply

    I think most of us have split off from our original selves in childhood for a variety of reason’s and this split is the place we identify with and the life we create comes from this split, including how we look for mates, as soon as we know we are split individuals we can start the process of finding our way back to our original divine state, and then everything comes from a whole place.

  • Une belle inspiration, à transmettre à nos jeunes générations. Je suis toujours un peu triste de voir des femmes qui ne sont pas encore mûres et qui n’ont pas encore conscience de leur pouvoir de séduction, se lancer dans des relations qui finissent par leur briser le coeur. Pour aimer il faut savoir se comprendre soi même et comprendre l’autre pour pouvoir donner sans rien attendre en retour…

  • Ja Soon Kim June, 26 2016, 12:07 / Reply

    That was the most enlightening, helpful and instelligent conversation I’ve heard in a long time.
    Thank you so much for your courage to invite her, talk to her and ask questions.
    I’ve also watched her TED talk – simply brilliant.

  • Thank you so much for this podcast! This is my favorite one so far. I love Esther and her work. I think she is really fascinating and beautiful person. I was very happy to learn more about her background and life.

  • The most quality podcast of Pardon My French so far!!!!! Have emailed the podcast to friends and bought Esthers book. Thank you

  • Garance, this was definitely my favorite episode so far! I LOVED Esther’s book and always recommend it to all my friends. Now if only I could get my boyfriend to read it, haha :)

  • Vanessa June, 28 2016, 9:51 / Reply

    Two of my very favorites in the same room! Love this conversation so.

  • Gillian June, 30 2016, 9:02 / Reply

    Hi Garance, I’ve just finished listening to this podcast and I love it. So many ideas to chew on.

    I love your website by the way and the contributions from everyone. It’s all helping shape me into the woman I want to be. It’s almost like daily medication – something that centres me and reminds me that I am a happy, beautiful person. Thank you!

  • Indeed, a great interview! Thank you so much. Shared with my friends. I want to read her book now.

  • Elle est super intéressante, merci pour la découverte ! Et quel background commun avec DVF, c’est dingue. Je finis d’écouter le podcast (je peux les suivre quand ce sont des francophones qui parlent hahaha), ensuite j’irai voir ses TED et je finirai par le livre. J’adore, quelle énergie de vie, quelle passion !

  • Fantastic interview! I rewound a few times and wrote some of the gems down. It seems so common sense, but the fact that we can’t ask that our partners be EVERYTHING is so true! Thank you for this series.

  • Merci. Très très très intéressante. Pertinente, drôle, juste, intelligente, s’exprime dans un anglais parfait… Une femme inspirée et inspirante.

  • Merci Garance pour ce podcast, c’est l’une des meilleure interview je pense. Esther a des points de vue très intéressants du coup je vais écouter ses TED’s, j’aime aussi beaucoup sa voix ;)

  • Amazing interview, so succinct, smart and necessary.

  • Amazing reportage, one of the most interesting and accurate that I’ve heard about this subject that really reflects how we should be thinking, not just about our relationships but our life as a hole.

    Thanks Garance and Esther!!

  • Very inspiring!! So many things to resonate with… Would love to be around someone like this the whole time…

  • Ana Leonor August, 18 2016, 11:10 / Reply

    Oh My God, best podcast ever! Thank you Garance for bringing her to us!

  • Dear Garance,

    I really enjoyed this podcast! To be honest I had stopped listening to your podcasts for quite a while because I was missing some “concrete” info. In quite a few podcasts your friends or your other guests only talked about their biography. That can be interesting from time to time but what I really like is when your guests talk about a topic rather than themselves.

    This episode was especially interesting. One part was an eye-opener for me: One must not expect his partner to be the person for everything (best friend, best companion for the art gallery, best sportspartner etc.). I feel like a lot of people (including myself) often expect too much out of one person. Better spread those “needs” among different people :)

    So please more of experts and more podcast revolving about specific topics!
    Keep up the good work.

    Lots of love from Germany!

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