Esther Perel on the Difference Between Sexuality and Eroticism

Esther Perel on the Difference Between Sexuality and Eroticism

by BIG THINK EDITORS

7 MONTHS AGO 127 19 5 23

It’s fair to say that Esther Perel probably doesn’t subscribe to the Bloodhound Gang school of sexuality.

Perel, a world-renowned psychologist and relationship expert, is author of the best-selling book Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic IntelligenceShe defines the division between sexuality and eroticism as similar to the difference between animals and human beings:

“Animals have sex and it is the nature, it is the primary urge, it is the instinct, it is procreative. [Humans] have an erotic life. We transform sexuality. We socialize sexuality through our imagination. And the central agent of the erotic act is our creativity, our imagination, or ability to renew, our ability to anticipate… We can envision the act without having to actually enact it. And it is the cultivation of pleasure for its own sake.”

Eroticism implies sex as a vibrant and transcendent experience. Perel calls it “a place you go inside yourself with another.” The fuel for this transcendent travel is one’s own individual creativity. And it’s through the exploration of erotic imagination that fantasies arise. Your boundaries become widened and new realities are forged. Thus, the focus of eroticism and erotic intelligence is not “doing sex” but rather “the meaning of sex.” Transcendence is that meaning.

Perel also points to novelty as another important piece of the sexual/erotic divide. Novelty, she explains, is not about wild positions, but rather what you as a participant bring to the experience: emotion, lust, passion, spirit. This combination of novelty and creativity are imperative for maintaining a healthy relationship. 

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