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Esther Perel: Relationships and How They Shape Us

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  July 1, 2020

As human beings, relationships are fundamental to who we are. We know that relationships can be a big source of happiness and fulfillment in our lives but they can also be one of the major sources of stress. So, why is it that we often find relationships so hard?

In this conversation, I speak to arguably one of the world’s leading and most original thinkers on modern relationships, the wonderful, Esther Perel, who has long been on my dream guest list.

We talk about the many differences between relationships of the past and the relationships of now. How we are now all under pressure not only to have the perfect relationship, but also to portray this illusion to others as well.

Esther believes that it’s the quality of our relationships that determines the quality of our lives. And who we are is actually a combination of how we see ourselves and how others see us. We only really get to know ourselves through our interactions with others.

We talk about the idea that we are not one person but different with each person – and rather than being one-way, all interactions are reciprocal. We discuss the value of couples’ counselling and whether it’s something all relationships, healthy or otherwise, need. Reassuringly, we learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship, they all follow a rhythm of harmony, disharmony and repair.

Esther and I touch and expand on our own situations and how the family history and values you bring to a relationship or marriage impacts the dynamic between you. She talks us through how much the concept of marriage has changed over the past century, and how it’s a tall order to ask just one person in our lives to meet all of our needs – needs which once would have been shared across our extended families and communities.

This episode is a joyous celebration of all the relationships in our lives. It’s challenging, poignant but ultimately hugely practical. Esther offers some wonderful examples of practices we can all start implementing today, from rituals to build strength in our intimate relationships, to advice on reframing criticism or starting difficult conversations at work. The upshot? Rather than hoping others will change, we can be the change ourselves.

It was a great pleasure to speak with such an incredible lady and I know that you will get a lot of value from hearing what she has to say.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*

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Watch the video version of this interview – click below.

Connect with Esther:

Website     Instagram     Facebook     

Twitter     YouTube  

Esther’s podcasts:

Where should we begin?

How’s work?

Esther’s books:

Mating in Captivity: How to keep desire and passion alive in long-term relationships

The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

Esther’s TED talks:

The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

Rethinking fidelity….a talk for anyone who has ever loved

Further Learning:

Dr Chatterjee’s resources:


*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

†Disclosure: All books marked with a † are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We take part in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon’s website. You are not charged any extra by using these links to purchase books.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP