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WONDER WOMEN WEEKLY: Esther Perel – modern love explained


There are few certain things in life and one of them this week’s Wonder Woman has figured out and turned into her own mission – interconnectedness. We are connected – there is no question about it, and after the pandemic, there is no way we can go back to the deception that our doings won’t affect someone on the other side of the planet. Or our neighbor.

Helping people develop healthy relationships, the daughter of two Polish-born Holocaust survivors Esther Perel has made a breakthrough in the way we talk about love. Meet the psychotherapist whose unconventional understanding of intimacy is saving relationships around the world.

True North

Named to Oprah Winfrey’s Supersoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders, Esther is a Belgian psychotherapist, podcast creator, and speaker emerging as a leading authority of modern-day relationships. She has over 35 years of experience running a private practice in New York, and her voice is recognized as one of the most insightful and original voices of modern relationships.

Unlike some other YouTube “authorities” her brand is not just a product of good marketing. She speaks nine languages and if you haven’t listened to her astounding speeches at conferences and TED talks, then you’ve missed out

A priceless piece of advice – if you are in a long-term relationship then Esther could be your true North in the rocky sea of romantic love. I have watched some of her videos in the turmoils and they always gave me great perspective and brought me peace of mind. To be fair, I adhere to them quite often – it’s like a vitamin booster of self-reflection and truthfulness without the sugary taste.

 Seriously, next time you find yourself asking  “Is this the right person – maybe there is someone better”, because say, you have a different understanding of what a tidy home means, go to Esther’s talks and interviews. She will ground your egocentric self, she will soothe the inner child who seeks adventures because your partner doesn’t have to be your best friend, confidant, lover, family, adrenaline booster, and soother all at once.

Her greatest influence for her vocation? Perel says she owes much of her perspective on relationships to her parents who have both survived the Holocaust – and their determination to embrace life fully. As a fact, she understands so well the duality of life, giving us the notion to implement it in romantic relationships.

“The one and only”

She debunks the idea of the soulmate but in a gentle it-makes-sense-now way. “The soulmate has always historically been God. One and only meant the divine. When you start to turn a human being into God-like, and you collapse the social and the spiritual, you set yourself up a little bit. Relationships are sustained by the community that they live in. Not being alone doesn’t mean being two”, says Perel.

The learning about intimacy she spreads out to her audience is so relevant in a world of countless possibilities  – we shouldn’t have such huge expectations of our partners. It’s obvious they can’t fulfill the purpose of what a whole village used to do before the industrial revolution. 

In a way, in a very gentle way actually, Perel urges us to be more accepting, grounded, present in the moment, and eloquent with our desires. Why is that important and groundbreaking? Well, how many times have social media, advertisements, or popular culture inclined that you deserve the best?

The work portraying a natural physical presence is shockingly powerful as an insight into the human desire for companionship while at the same time retaining the basic need of privacy.

That there is a better, imminent gratification of all your wantings, and you are free to leave and seek for it at any time. Esther would tell you otherwise, so listen carefully before you make a move you might regret in years. 

Honestly, how have I missed her talks in my early twenties when I left the first love for someone “more this and that” who eventually came to be a total chimera of my own unspoken desires. I found love again, yet there is a part in me that would always feel the tragedy of “killing” something serene and pure.

Age of paradox

How do you talk about sex and intimacy in a way that’s relevant to everyone, how do you solve the puzzle of intimate relationships with a sense of humor and breathtaking presence? With her firm blue eyes, cheeky smile and french accent Perel lays out the pitfalls and pressures that now come with romantic relationships without an ounce of cynicism. 

Maybe that’s the reason for her poignant speeches – what she says sounds so relevant, simple, and natural; it’s like reading a book with the feeling you have written this paragraph or sentence as it sounds so familiar and relevant.

We seem to be in a paradoxical age where we’ve become increasingly connected, yet more and more lonely. We look up to romantic love as a higher state of being, the same way we used to look for in the realm of the divine, which is transcendence and meaning, purpose, and ecstasy. In a time when major shifts are expected in order to keep sane and heal the planet, opinion-makers like Esther are the True North to liberation and freedom – it seems the time to pick well our side has come.

So what would it be – truth or deception?

Picture of Elena Sergova

Elena Sergova

Storyteller, journalist and freelance production fixer Elena has over 10 years of experience in Bulgarian lifestyle magazines (Amica, L'Europeo, Capital , InGlobo). Her on-field journalistic instincts mixed with experience in digital marketing, a go-getter attitude and Balkan recklessness make the solid compound of a successful production fixer journey.

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