We read Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel.

The book is about the conflict between intimacy and sex, and how to be in a long term relationship and keep sexual interest high at the same time. The author provides insights on how to keep desire and eroticism alive based on her experience working with couples of varying backgrounds and dynamics.

Why we chose it

Mating in Captivity seemed like a good choice to learn more about how we can rather grow together as a couple than grow apart as the relationship matures. And we were also looking forward to some actionable advice on how to keep things from going stale in the bedroom.

Both of us had our fair share of long-term relationships. We are familiar with the common challenge of keeping things exciting in the bedroom. Mating in Captivity seemed like a good choice to learn about why this happens and how to avoid this as the relationship matures.

Key takeaways

Love and desire do not always go hand-in-hand. Love is about interdependence, comfort, and security. Desire/eroticism, however, is about mystery and a healthy degree of separateness. It thrives in the space between the self and the other.

Actionable advice

The book was full of little tidbits and ideas on how to better keep the sex going through different stages of the relationship. Three main actionable advice we think can be great for you:

1. Maintain healthy boundaries

Have your own things in life and keep your personal identity. Every now and then, travel alone, go on a girls/guys night out, work on your own personal project. You might be sharing a home or a family together, but you do not need to always share your office, your gym, your holiday, and all of your friends with each other. While love seeks closeness, erotic desire needs space to thrive.

2. Take care of yourself and look attractive

It is great that you have found the love of your life, but do not let yourself get too comfortable you stop taking care of yourself! Perel does a good job describing how a lot of people get excited when they see how other people drool over their partner. It gives them the necessary distance to see how desirable their partner is. This, in turn, makes them want their partner more.

3. Do not be afraid to let go and try new things in bed

How one is in bed is not necessarily reflective of how one is in daily life and the values one has in life. Explore each other’s raw and primal side in the bedroom. Feel fine about being rough, or being submissive, or to role-play. Set-up a new email address to flirt with each other, create alter-egos, ask your partner to pay for sex. Sex, in essence, is about objectification.

How we liked it

Fun: 8/10 | Thought-provoking: 9/10 | Actionable: 8/10

We’d definitely recommend this book to any couple in any stage of the relationship. It’s a great book to ignite interesting conversations. Or it could be an interesting read for a single person too – it’ll make you reflect on your previous relationships and perhaps re-evaluate why things went as they did.