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Mating in Captivity [Kindle Edition]

Esther Perel
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)

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Book Description

One of the world’s most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.

Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire. Through case studies and lively discussion, Perel demonstrates how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships. Wise, witty, and as revelatory as it is straightforward, Mating in Captivity is a sensational book that will transform the way you live and love.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Developed originally from an article she wrote on "erotic intelligence," psychotherapist Perel's first book sets forth a thesis for today's couples that is as revelatory as it is straightforward. Languishing desire in a relationship actually results from all the factors people look for in love and marriage: grounding, meaning, continuity. Partnerships are supposed to provide "a bulwark against the vicissitudes of modern life," Perel notes, and in one person we turn for all the emotional connections that the greater society (church, community, family) can no longer provide. Habit and certainty kill desire, yet how to live comfortably with the elements of unpredictability and risk that are necessary for healthy eroticism? Perel supports her nicely accessible work with case studies of couples both heterosexual and gay, spanning all ages, with kids and without, in an attempt to cure what ails their sex life. Some of the proposals Perel recommends for rekindling eroticism involve cultivating separateness (e.g., autonomy) in a relationship rather than closeness (entrapment); exploring dynamics of power and control (i.e., submission, spanking); and learning to surrender to a "sexual ruthlessness" that liberates us from shame and guilt. In short, Perel sanctions fantasy and play and offers the estranged modern couple a unique richness of experience. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Well argued points written with considerable eloquence.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 461 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0340943750
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000UODXP0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,537 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
447 of 492 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but disagreed with one part October 9, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Because the author's ideas are provocative, this won't be an easy read. It wasn't for me, but an interesting read nonetheless. The author challenged all my beliefs about love and how relationships really work and I liked being challenged. She made me think in ways I had never before.

For example, her discussion on how desire needs distance -- but intimacy needs closeness -- and how these two conflict with each other in long-term relationships is dead on! But the author believes -- and I agree -- that it's possible to achieve both even if it seems impossible. She explains how this is possible without cornering you into believing only one method is the right way. There is no right way. Instead she shows how couples have managed to achieve this in their own way and discusses the pros and cons of each.

I also appreciated her discussion on how sexual fantasies differ from everyday fantasies. If you fantasize about the perfect job or the perfect mate, it's because you want these things to happen in reality. However, if you have a sexual fantasy about being raped, it doesn't mean that you want this to happen in reality. There's an element to your fantasy that is your true desire and in your sexual fantasies, you are in complete control about how this plays out.

So if I liked this book so much, why only 3 stars instead of 5? It's because there's a part where the author agrees with a client that it's respectful to withhold telling the truth about an affair. I've heard this argument before and I strongly disagree. I think it's disrespectful to decide for someone else (who's not your child) what they can and cannot handle. Withholding the truth is not about respect, it's about fear. If you told the truth, that person could leave you or retaliate in another way.
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374 of 415 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing: a couples therapist finds the sex in sex September 21, 2006
Format:Hardcover
Everyone knows that familiarity breeds contempt. Especially if familiarity comes with a wedding ring attached. A book about sex in marriage --- now there's a thin book!

But here comes Esther Perel to suggest that we --- men and women alike --- have it wrong. Good sex doesn't have to end when the hormones cool. Lust doesn't have to devolve into companionship. You can be a mom and a sex kitten. And as for "intimacy"....in the bedroom, a little goes a long way.

Who is this wild woman? A therapist in New York who's been working with couples and families for two decades. Belgian-born, to Holocaust survivors. Married (to her original husband). Two kids. Speaks eight languages --- including common sense.

Not for Perel a how-to book of ridiculous exercises you can practice to rekindle the passion you once knew. If she had her way, you'd never consult a manual again. You might, however, write a dirty letter about all the hot things you'd like to do to your partner --- or that you'd like done to you. Or maybe you should start two e-mail accounts just for the sexual dialogue between you and your mate.

But she's the mother of your child!

But he's the guy who only gets his kicks from online porn!

Perel has heard all that. Many times. She's not fooled --- underneath those smart New York rationalizations are hearts that still want to believe in hot sex with someone you know. The problem, she says, lie in the unspoken assumptions of most marriages.

Like: To love is to merge. Wrong. Merging is what happens when you see the Other as your security. That's death to sex. Good sex requires a spark. A spark requires a gap. Cross the gap, feel the sizzle. No gap? The best you can hope for is a cuddle.
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76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Esther Perel's Mating in Captivity is a book for helping marriages that are going well in every way but sexuality. The author wisely notes that the expectations of modern marriages are such that one's spouse is to fulfill one in every way. She posits that good sex and companionship exist on a continuum of tradeoffs between closeness and distances. The strength of this book is that it is thought-provoking. The challenge of this book is that its ideas are the author's, backed up by her experiences with her clients alone, with a narrow focus on a single topic.

Being a graduate student in sociology, I will admit a bias for the likes of John Gottman's work in part because it's based on social science research. Perel's research is not - its subjects are her clients, and selected accordingly. Another reviewer writes that Perel uses the word "perhaps" very often - she does. This book is full of speculation and opinion. Clinician based research means that her ideas work well for her clients - as far as she knows - but anyone who has sought a therapist knows that it can be very difficult to find a therapist that one works well with. Would she be a good match for you? Maybe, maybe not.

Her writing is good, and there are a couple "aha!" moments in the book. She discusses how sex is viewed in contradictory terms, and that women in particular struggle with the baggage of being "good" and being sexy. She argues that lovers need to rediscover the creativity that led them to pursue their spouses in the first place, and to think of them more as lovers and less like the wife or husband-role with the cultural baggage that comes with this. In the introduction, Perel writes that she uses the word "marriage" to refer to "all long-term emotional commitments".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars If you view like a seasonal accessory, this book is for you.
This book is best for the elite set of people who can afford and feel compelled to change out spouses as readily as wardrobes from season to season. Read more
Published 18 hours ago by Catharine Ciric
3.0 out of 5 stars for simple minded
for simple minded people
Published 3 days ago by caroline Ducrocq
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
Right up my alley and read at the most opportune time. Struck all my cords. Excellent. Just excellent. Worth your time.
Published 4 days ago by noelle
5.0 out of 5 stars She manages to normalize things like jealousy and a wandering eye...
Groundbreaking. She very eloquently addresses some tough questions about relationships, in ways that are a lot more down-to-earth than a lot of writers and therapists. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Timothy F. Norton Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars A different way of looking at your other.
This was recommended by my counselor when I started a new relationship. This provides an alternate way of thinking about love and sex that stretched my appreciation for both. Read more
Published 5 days ago by MissNi
5.0 out of 5 stars Well overdue!
This book addresses the underlying subjects and roots to why marriages are failing! The author approaches the subject without the western biases that have made erotic taboo and... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Leah Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 9 days ago by bryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Author has intelligent and articulate insight and advice on important...
Provocative but true, thoughtful and helpful. Author has intelligent and articulate insight and advice on important matters.
Published 15 days ago by Tlschraeder
5.0 out of 5 stars worth reading
very thought provoking
Published 16 days ago by Tech Chick 31
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent and thoughtful
I found the book excellent in explaining how we 'tick' as couples. And very thoughtful as to how we need to treat, nurture and groom our relationships.
Published 19 days ago by Pat_Los_Gatos
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More About the Author

Esther Perel is recognized as one of the world's most original and insightful voices on couples and sexuality across cultures. She is a celebrated speaker sought around the globe for her expertise in emotional and erotic intelligence, work-life balance, cross-cultural relations, conflict resolution and identity of modern marriage and family. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT certified sex therapist, a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.


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