Intimacy, Emotional Baggage, Relationship Longevity, and More – Esther Perel (#271)

“The most powerful antidepressant is doing for other people.”

— Esther Perel

Psychotherapist Esther Perel (@estherperel) is back to answer your most requested questions.

The New York Times called her the most important game-changer in sexuality and relational health since Dr. Ruth.

Her TED talks on maintaining desire and rethinking infidelity have more than 17 million views, and she’s tested and been exposed to everything imaginable in 34 years of running her private therapy practice in New York City.

In this episode, Esther explains:

  • How to foster relationship longevity.
  • The most effective ways to improve communication in relationships.
  • How to deal with criticism.
  • Letting go of emotional baggage from past relationships.
  • How to know when to move on from a relationship that doesn’t seem to be working.
  • And much more.

Esther is the author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity, which has been translated into 26 languages, and her new book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity .

Her creative energy is focused on co-creating and hosting an Audible original audio series, Where Should We Begin.


You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Intimacy, Sex Drive, Relationship Longevity, and More - Esther Perel

Want to hear another episode with Esther Perel? — Listen to her first appearance on the podcast. In this conversation, we discuss polyamory, why happy people cheat, how to find (and convince) mentors who can change your life, what she’s learned from Holocaust survivors, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#241: The Relationship Episode: Sex, Love, Polyamory, Marriage, and More (with Esther Perel)

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Esther Perel:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Show Notes

  • Esther’s exercises, routines, and habits for fostering relationship longevity. [08:01]
  • How to lessen arguments in your marriage. [10:16]
  • How do we rid ourselves of negative emotions often generated by being in a relationship? [14:32]
  • What is the best way to move on past divorce and post-marriage depression? [15:52]
  • How do we overcome the anger and self-blame we feel when our partner has been unfaithful? [18:53]
  • Do you have to be young and stupid to find true love? Do most people in search of a relationship wind up “settling?” [23:29]
  • How do you know when a relationship is done? [26:27]
  • Can too much communication in a relationship hurt desire? [30:52]
  • What are the essential blocks to building a strong foundation between partners and establishing balance for longevity? [34:21]
  • Advice for millennials looking to bring romance and emotional intimacy back to dating. [38:30]
  • Young men and the mistakes they make during courtship. [42:29]
  • How to lessen conflict in a relationship. [45:33]
  • How can men effectively handle their sex drive? [52:20]
  • Advice for a couple looking to explore beyond the boundaries of monogamy. [54:22]
  • How does Esther help people accept themselves? [59:23]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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22 Replies to “Intimacy, Emotional Baggage, Relationship Longevity, and More – Esther Perel (#271)”

  1. Hi Tim,

    Your lead in quotes speak to me. Deeply.

    I have discovered that if you get lost in other people – by helping them – even for just a little bit every day, your life will change slowly and steadily. It’s like all the issues I had and depression and fears dissolved into love in those moments I was helping people from a genuine, fun space. When you starve the fear, it dies, and then, love arises, and depression is an impossibility in a loving being.

    Most folks are depressed because they resist. Resisting fear, grief, heck, anything. The resistance grows – individual’s choice – and the depression grows, mainly because the person focuses on themselves, serving themselves, figuring out how they will help themselves, and all these self-created obsessions, and self-focused ways, which ensures that their depression strengthens.

    But when you take the focus away from you, and move it to others, by assisting others in many ways – through business, job, personal life, whatever – the fear turns to love, and the anguish turns to fun, and when you do this regularly, something awesome happens; your problems begin to dissolve, as does your depression, Because when you focus lovingly on others you suck the life force out of self-centered, depressive energies.

    I love receiving cool things, like money, but my day is so not about getting and focusing on taking care of me, and so focused on serving others and having fun. Never been happier or more successful in my life.

    Thanks for sharing Tim.


  2. You accidentally put the first episode twice instead of the new one.

    Waiting to hear the new one,

    The first one was one of the best so far.



  3. Hello, a friendly observation I want to mention here. Both audios (this episode and Episode #241) are the exact same. If this was by design and not just a technical hiccup, then feel free to disregard my comment.

      1. Thanks for the heads up. We had a small tech glitch with the audio player on the blog — but all other feeds (iTunes, Stitcher, etc.) — are working correctly. We’ve fixed the tech issue and the player is now working correctly with the new episode. Enjoy!

  4. Bravo on bringing Esther back! Can you get her & Brene Brown in a room together? So many synergies, including “the story I’m making up right now.”

  5. Listened on the way to work. Such great material. Esther though I’ll likely never have a chance to meet, I just wanted to say that these thoughts on the sexless relationships really help. Empathy is so important since we are always so focused on ourselves. Thanks for your POV and sharing.

  6. The email subject line I received was “The Sex Explodes: Part 2 – Tim Ferriss”. Apparently it really said “The Sex Episode” and I only see what I want to see.

    Excellent episode… Esther Perel sounds like she might be the coolest person alive?

  7. A quick comment, that I think it would be worthwhile to apply Dalio’s thoughts on “believability” here. What is it that might make Esther’s advice believable or not? The tell for me was in her first episode — she is riddled with anxiety. Do we know the cause? No. Might she be happier than she would otherwise be, but following her advice? Maybe. But we don’t know. It seems to me that we should be looking to people whose subjective experience of life is desirable – they have a sense of peace and contentment in their life. She doesn’t. Is she interesting? Yes! Adventurous, kind, intelligent? Yes! Is she someone who has figured out how to live? It seems doubtful.

    Might it be the case that the fashion of foregoing sacrifice and discipline in our relationships, pursuing instability and indulgence, is the cause not only of Esther’s needless suffering, but a contributor to the epidemic of depression and anxiety plaguing the developed world? A world which has shattered relationships at all levels — romantic relationships, family relationships as people live apart from the parents, aunts and uncles and life-long friends that once characterized our lives, the communities that people could once rely on. Might Esther’s advice actually be leading people to the misery of trying to have it all, trying to maximize rather than optimize?

    It would be really fascinating to find a counterpoint to Esther’s narrative. I don’t have one offhand. I think I have transitioned from her perspective and looking back — regret those choices. Perhaps our culture and Esther are miseducating people not to sacrifice, not to persist, making commitment unfashionable. A guest who provides a thoughtful counterpoint to Eshter’s view would be really interesting. My growing suspicion is that she is wrong. Offering an enticing but fundamentally flawed view.

    1. In this age of self absorption and infidelity apologists many fawn over Esther Perel’s message. It assuages the voice inside that props up the conviction of being “transformed” when in essence it’s narcissistic indulgence.

      How convenient.

      Yes. There are intellectual powerhouse counterpoints to Perel’s narrative.

      There are people with gravitas who stand for morals and integrity in interpersonal relationships rather than glib, titillating banter.

      Two people in particular come to mind.

      Tracy Schorn.

      Dr. George Simon.

      Tracy Schorn heads up, has written two books and has millions of readers.

      Dr. Simon is a known expert on character disturbance…in particular, narcissism, the illness of our times.

      Read their work.

      They’re the ones, the voices we ought to be hearing giving TED Talks on relationships.

      They’re the real deal.

      Thank you for writing.Your observations are astute, the loniusmobile.

      1. Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll take a look. I hope Tim or his team will too so readers can hear more perspectives.

  8. What an incredible wealth of spot on advice and information. Tim, would you please transcribe this? I’d love to read and save portions.

    Many thanks for your podcasts. They are a great.

  9. Hi Tim,

    My take home message: having empathy and bearing responsibility for your actions. It helps give the relationship a 360 degree perspective which, is great.

    I like the way she explained the concept of separateness and together; flexibility and adaptability. I also like the notion of ‘engaging with new experiences.’ It has given me insight on how to handle my personal relationship.

    Thank you thank you thank you

  10. Thanks for another amazingly insightful episode on relationships. Esther, I’m an English teacher and am struck by your facility with language and word choice, which probably comes from your multilingualism! Thank you for the very comforting advice, most of all because you always speak honestly about the human spirit.

  11. I loved this podcast. I didn’t know of Esther before now. If only everyone could hear her insights – what a world we could live in. Thank you, Tim, for the introduction.

  12. Hey Tim listened to both Jacko and Arianna, loved them both. Respect what you have done and doing and value your opinion. My question is if you were trying to learn as much about opening a Shopify store who would you sign up with. So many people trying to sell things hard to figure out who to trust. Thanks in advance for your help.

  13. Hey Tim! I love your newsletter so far.

    I would like to see you use medically supervised steroids for a few years and teach us about it. Like really teach us the biological, and medical stuff. Take care.

  14. Thank you Esther for answering the relationship questions so insightfully and special thanks for the thoughtful questions from Tim’s listeners. I will be asking my husband to listen to this episode.

  15. Tim, Esther’s work is truly underrated. As a police officer, one of the biggest crimes I encounter is domestic violence. Its really sad to see families completely torn apart because relationships go sour and lead to violence. Thanks for having her on your show. I had read books by her before I was a cop and now you have reminded me how important her work is.