Esther Perel has taken the world by storm with her thought-provoking, revolutionary way of viewing the challenges couples face. In her podcast, Where should we begin? she brings us behind the scenes to witness truth-telling, soul-baring therapy sessions she has with her clients. Esther Perel’s quotes alone open the door to seeing relationships in a brand new light.
Perel has also authored two compelling books. Here are some of my favorite Esther Perel quotes, along with thoughts on why I find them so impactful:
1. Esther Perel urges us to listen in.
“Listen. Just listen. You don’t have to agree. Just see if you can understand that there’s another person who has a completely different experience of the same reality.” – Esther Perel.
How simple yet profound this is! So many disagreements in my life have come from not listening to what the other person is saying. Instead of listening, I’ve found myself thinking about what I will say next.
Listening carefully can prevent conflict altogether.
2. Perel encourages us to broaden our support system.
“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 and emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?”
This quote hit me. It’s hard to imagine living the way our ancestors did long ago, where an entire village supported us along the way.
Now, with our tech-based lives, we find ourselves isolated. I appreciate her view.
We need to build a community for many reasons – including that it’s the healthiest thing we can do for our relationships.
3. Perel states that trust is the baseline from which we can flourish.
“The more we trust, the farther we are able to venture.” – Esther Perel.
How many times was I held back in my life because I didn’t have the trust in myself or my partner that I needed?
Esther Perel states that trust is critical for exploring ourselves and our partners. Our relationships depend on it.
4. She teaches us that a secure relationship is a balancing act.
“Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness.” ―
Finding the right balance between these two is an ongoing challenge. Recognizing that it’s okay to need both is both validating and grounding.
5. Esther Perel reminds us that in choosing a partner, we’re choosing a story.
“When you pick a partner, you pick a story. So what kind of story are you going to write? You are the editors of your life stories. Write well and edit often. And remember … a life story is not a love story. You can love a lot more people than you can make a life with.” – Esther Perel.
Ahhhh! This quote is a good one. So true.
I like the idea of “writing well and editing often.” It’s our story, and we are authoring and creating every day.
6. She teaches that we’ll never know our partner completely. And that’s a good thing!
“The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency in the most positive sense. There is freedom in knowing that our relationships must continue to grow in order to thrive, and we must make the endeavors to help them grow.” – Esther Perel.
It’s impossible for us to get bored.
Our partner has many layers inside, and there’s so much to discover.
We must remain open to the unfolding of each other and our relationship.
7. She says that keeping a sense of autonomy is key to keeping the spark alive:
“It’s hard to feel attracted to someone who has abandoned her sense of autonomy.”
Perel often talks about the relationship between love and sexual intimacy and says they exist as parallel narratives. The attraction piece thrives when there exists a sense of mystery and autonomy.
8. Perel states that being chosen is an exhilarating part of falling in love.
“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.
Regardless of all the effort we place on validating ourselves, there is pure excitement to be discovered in knowing that someone has chosen you to be their partner.
Our partner is the one person who sees all sides of us, and feeling chosen inspires a deep validation that we belong and that we are important.
9. This Esther Perel quote teaches that eroticism thrives on creating space and distance.
“Erotic intelligence is about creating distance, then bringing that space to life.” – Esther Perel.
Perel validates our need for independence and for eroticism.
The more secure we are within ourselves, the more we can tolerate the fullness of each other’s need to be who we are.
The essence of who we are is the driving force of eroticism. And we can’t begin to recognize it in each other if we have no space to see.
10. Esther Perel stresses the importance of continually reinventing yourself.
“You can have the same relationship with a thousand people, or you can have a thousand different relationships with a single person. It’s up to you to decide. The ones who maintain a vibrant, fulfilling relationship are those who understand how to reinvent themselves and actively create and build their relationships, and so they keep the energy alive.” – Esther Perel.
There are so many layers to every person. This quote liberates the reader to enjoy the unveiling of those layers. It supports the idea that having a continually evolving relationship is a great way for it to remain vital.
11. All couples have many sides to their relationship. You only see one.
“Couples may show only a specific side of their life in public—usually, the happy one. You’re seeing only the good moments that someone has chosen to show. What you don’t see: the bickering, the blow-out arguments, or the boring nights spent at home.” – Esther Perel.
Don’t hold unrealistic expectations of your relationship based on how you see other couples behave.
There’s so much you don’t know about other relationships. It’s important to remember that.
12. She reminds us that love and commitment represent a new beginning:
“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.”
Blending love and commitment is a ticket to an exciting adventure. We can choose to feel vibrant and alive in our relationship and within ourselves. And, our relationships offer us the opportunity to explore more of who we are.
(This story was originally published on March 6, 2021, and has been updated for clarity and thoroughness.)
Do you like these Esther Perel quotes? Do any, in particular, resonate more? Let me know!
Also, please forward to anyone you know who enjoys learning about relationships and growth.
To continue this conversation about relationships, check out this story on soulmates.
Are you open to seeing the idea of love in a brand new way? Check out these quotes from The Mastery of Love.
And what about love languages? So much to learn! Click to learn more.