January 19, 2019

Love and Relationships with Esther Perel

“My first question has to do with your idea that the couple has never before been such a central unit in our social organization. Why is that the case?

Because never in the history of family life was the emotional well-being of the couple relevant to the survival of the family. The couple could be miserable for thirty years, you were stuck for life, you married once—and if you didn’t like it, you could hope for an early death of your partner. Marriage was a pragmatic institution. You need to have it, but, once you’re in it, it’s not a great thing, and certainly not for the women.

And then we added romantic needs to the pairing, the need for belonging and for companionship. We have gone up the Maslow ladder of needs, and now we are bringing our need for self-actualization to the marriage. We keep wanting more. We are asking from one person what once an entire village used to provide.

Do you think people are aware of any of this when they go looking for a partner? We’re looking for “the one,” even if we’re a little bit cynical about that idea—

No, we’re not cynical at all.”

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