Reality vs the Erotic

“So I think that the unknown is inherent to desire. But faced with the unknown, people can have a few responses: you can stay open to it and welcome the persistent mystery of your partner or you can respond with anxiety. And for me, the question is the issue of certainty. You know, I think love is never certain. It is inherent that the potential of loss is part of love. And if you want to pretend to create an illusion of certainty then you will often collapse the ingredients that make for the erotic–which is surprise, difference, novelty, imagination, and all of those things, and that’s when you see that people are no longer able to do what Pamela describes very well, to respect that individuality…for me, the issue is really more anxiety over that space. You know we believe in permanence in the West, we think there is such a thing as certainty, we think there is such a thing as reality, and sometimes I wonder when you up for reality instead of passion maybe you’ve just traded one fiction for another.”

—Quote from Esther Perel at 1 hour and 3 minutes into this lecture………

I think Ester’s quote above is so profound that people at the roundtable discussion have no idea how to take it in or truly respond. A key for insight into how she came to that knowledge could be here:

6 minute talk by Esther Perel where she touches on how the proximity to death is intimately connected with a sense of aliveness and eroticism:


In my life experience, I have found that “love is never certain” and that “the potential of loss as an inherent part of love” are both important links to understanding the erotic (especially within).

My favorite line in this whole quote is when she says, “sometimes I wonder when you up for reality instead of passion maybe you’ve just traded one fiction for another.”

If we want to awaken and to experience sexual passion and joy, then maintaining flexibility, creativity, and open-mindedness are important.  All the things that Esther Perel mentions in her quote and in the roundtable discussion are important.


***I talk a little more about Esther Perel’s principles of passion (specifically from her fabulous book, “Mating In Captivity,”)  during the last 15 minutes of this lecture that I gave to students in 2011.

Questions? Contact me at

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Remember, I want to help you live the healthiest life possible! –GreenLightHeidi

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