Mating in Captivity book review married couple

9 Lessons About Love I Picked Up from “Mating in Captivity” by Esther Perel (Book Review)

Lust and love. Safety and risk. Trust and curiosity. Boredom and novelty. Monogamy and polyamory. Familiarity and excitement. Picking up dirty laundry and sex binge weekends. 24 hours in pajamas and wild nights out for months. Three children and rock climbing. Unpaid bills and erotic lingerie. If you associate the first words in the above sentences with marriage and the second with dating or hookups, welcome aboard. You are one of the millions of humans who struggle with the mess of modern-day relationships. 

Our (Somewhat) Broken View of Love

It is almost impossible never to have come across Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity since it is a widely popular book and highly acclaimed by leading newspaper book clubs and bestseller lists. It is a bestseller because it touches upon an important aspect of modern life in which expectancies from marriage grow and spouses are no longer seen as mere partners in the economics of a household and family. 

True, nowadays we want a lot more from a partner, for two reasons mostly. One is the brainwashing done by the mainstream media with the romanticized idealism of the “happily ever after” and the other is our own incapability to love as adults because we simply don’t know how to. We love as we have been taught in our families. Most adults, with rare exceptions, have more or less kept aspects of their small child persona when they show up as adult partners in a relationship. But regardless of the distorted stories about love we have been told or accepted, the hookup culture, the inability to articulate what we want unless we text message,  true love has a bit of that magical quality which is difficult to describe yet keeps bits of the romanticism and the deservingness of a small child inside. 

How to Rekindle a Relationship or a Stale Marriage 

“Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” is a book about all of this. Many problems in marriages or long-term  “serious” relationships come out from one of both partner’s inability to comprehend in themselves and the other, and manage and communicate their needs, wishes, and desires. 

But a huge part of the issues modern couples struggle with is down to pointing the mirror to the partner rather than turning it inwards for self-reflection. We expect from the partner to be our everything – we give them an impossible task which no one can fulfill. We want them to tick all the boxes in our expectation minds. We want them to act in a way, and when they don’t, we take that for a fault of character. 

Mating in Captivity book review old couple

Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

We all have our narrative of how to love. No two people have the same. Often, partners in marriage share a crime – they both have a dysfunctional pattern for bonding which attracts the other and glues to them like a fly to honey. Sometimes, marriage failure is due to accepting societal spousal roles without questioning whether they fit.

There is plenty to be said about the skyrocketing divorce rates and the declining marriage wows that marked the noughties and beyond. Happiness seems to remain an illusory quality for many marriages that involve an affair and fail in overcoming it. 

Can You Survive the Betrayal of the Affair?

What Esther Perel is talking about in “Mating in Captivity” is not the subject of serial affairs, a more complex problem, although it can fit in the context of this book partially. What she talks about is the affair that rocks an otherwise stable marriage. For some people, when the excitement of the novelty wears out, the easiest way to look for fun is outside of their marriage. Having an affair seems like a wonderful solution – there is someone new who can stir your juices, make your trip, entice you to look forward to meeting them, and, simultaneously – overwhelm you with guilt. 

An affair is not the only exit. Here is what other exits I took for myself and what you can from this book: 

  1. You CAN develop excitement within marriage. You just need to get creative. 
  2. When your partner has an affair it is never about you. It is never about you in the similar sense that nothing that anyone else does is about you. People have a subjective worldview and are driven by selfish reasons. Selfish doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad in this context. It can simply be related to the personal, the self. But in a way, it can mean selfish in the “bad way”, too, because it doesn’t take care of the relationship as a whole. An affair is a betrayal to the relationship more than it is a betrayal to the betrayed.  
  3. The more we know someone, or think we know someone, the less attracted we are to them.
  4. You can bring in novelty into our relationship or marriage by doing something new yourself or for yourself.
  5. The new thing that sparks erotic novelty doesn’t have to be sexual. 
  6. Your relationship is a whole with two parts. You don’t need to change the other for someone else to revive the relationship. 
  7. Not all relationships are meant to last. Sometimes the affair is the final red flag for the love that is long over. 
  8. You don’t need to feel obligated and continue the relationship after an affair. But it will do you an immense amount of good to know what went wrong and use those insights into a new relationship. 
  9. Some relationships have overcome the trauma of an affair. They are those that have grown stronger. It is possible. 

If you are struggling with keeping your marriage alive, if you want to redeem it after an affair, or if you are on the verge of committing one and in a desperate need of a quick solution, then you should get this book. It is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

Things that are kept stale, stagnant, without new energy – wither. It is so easy to do that when you get into the role of a long-term partner, parent, or breadwinner in a marriage. Recollecting the initial excitement and looking at our partner with new eyes is helpful. But nurturing the excitement within us by getting out of our comfort zone and, in turn, igniting the fires in the relationship, as well, is a rare find for modern companionships who want to rekindle the same love all over again, and many times in the future. 

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
Love with no Masks

How to Love Someone, Body and Soul (or Love, Shortly)

Yes. It’s that time of the year again and Christmas movies are on the repertoire.

A great time to talk about love, actually… shortly

When we first meet a new person, our eyes see their body. We see the body as an indicator of that person’s worth and attractiveness. We don’t do this only with the bodies of other people. We do it to ourselves, too. Instead of being grateful for the body we have as a container for consciousness, we only care about how we look in a particular piece of clothing.

The physical aspects which create the initial attraction are primarily associated with unmet psychological needs and unconscious biological reproductive instincts. Some of them are not even real attraction based on a deeper truth that exceeds the way someone looks.

Masks Falling at Christmas

Photo on

The mind creates many illusions about what is currently trending and popular. It is skilled to use the unmet needs and the unconscious reproductive instincts to manipulate us.

When we remove these silly surface masks, we get a deeper insight into others, as well as into ourselves, at the same time. This is how we unearth our passion, our awe with life and true internal beauty. This beauty can shine a bright light on any shape and any body.

How Love Makes us Whole

When we are in true internal harmony, we are only interested in whole persons. Whole persons own an individual true power. When we meet such a person, we are able to see clearly through the facade. We discover those whose life music is on the same level with our own soul journey.

Functional relationships have affinity and compatibility between the core values of the two lovers. The truth of these relationships is in the authentic “Me” and “You”, which ignite an inspirational spark of positive creativity that releases, heals and transforms.  

By growing toward a brighter vision, without losing ourselves into the illusion of the shape, we can see everything contained within us, and not only the bits that take us back to our unmet childhood needs – the sorely missed motherly love or the need for recognition and approval from the father. We are able to see clearly how is this connected to how we attract or repel people.

Evolving our DNA through the Way We Love

We have a part of our mom and a part of our dad united in us. Instead of staying lost in the unconscious needs, desires, drives and projections, and seeing only bodies, we can start finding greater meaning and depth in the people that come into our lives. Such people help us grow up to our full potential. They stand next to us during life’s ups and downs.  

DNA Molecular Structure

Photo by GlasgowAmateur on / CC BY-SA

There are deeper needs and wishes that have to do with what we aspire to than with what we have accumulated via cultural, biological and social programming.

When we expand our spiritual awareness out of our bodies, we bolster our biological conditioning written in the DNA and we build up our bodies with a different focus and different priorities. Our drive moves toward an essential goal and includes a broader scope of what we really are – a chunk of the cosmic unity brought to life through our bodies.



A Red Ribbon Letter to a Young Woman on Her Journey to Adulthood

Read this letter to a young woman you know in your life or to the young woman that still lives within you, even if you are a fully grown adult. Continue reading

pink gorilla

The Pink Gorilla at the Back of My Garden

This morning I went out in the back garden to pick up some basil for my pasta.

And – there she was. The pinkest gorilla I have ever seen! How do I know she was a lady? Pretty easy – she gave an arrogant look at my messy hair. Just like she knows better!

She was picking up flowers, not at all surprised or frightened to see me.

She was more annoyed that I came to disturb her in the careful flower arrangement she was making. Little by little, my roses and lilies were vanishing in front of my nose. I have never seen something so pink in my life!

“Gosh, she must really love pink!” – I thought.

But I didn’t quite get where she found all that pink dye on her fur. It was a glittery disco-pink which didn’t go well with her deep brown eyes and her olive skin. I wondered who the hairdresser behind this horror look was.

I am sorry I didn’t have the time to ask her. Just as I turned my back on her, she jumped over the fence and disappeared.

You won’t believe what I found next to my favorite rose bush:

A twenty dollar bill!

Photo credit: edenpictures via / CC BY


Can Your Heart Predict the Future

Can Your Heart Predict the Future?

There are many secrets to the human heart. As we advance in sophisticated technological research methods and innovative software we can start unveiling at least some of them.

Heart – the vital organ of emotions has been a research topic in prominent studies but we are just in the last decade or so using new measures to explore the heart’s intuitive intelligence.

The heart is a part of our holistic body system. To understand how the heart perceives information which is out of the scope of the immediate human awareness, the researchers  McCraty, Atkinson, and Bradley used physiological measures such as skin conductance, EEG (electroencephalogram) and ECG (electrocardiogram) reports.

By showing 30 neutral and 15 emotionally stimulating images to the study population, they were trying to investigate whether the heart will react with changes in the above measures when faced with the option of future emotional stimuli.

How Your Heart Scans the Future

Surprisingly, the study results have confirmed that the heart receives emotional content seconds before the stimulative event occurs and reacts with an accelerated heart rate. Research results reported a gender difference, showing that female participants in the study had a mildly stronger response to the prestimulus.

Can Your Heart Predict the Future anatomy

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The accelerated heart rate is an intuitive response to future emotional stimuli. The heart processes the intuitive affect received in the shape of prestimulus information in almost the same way it does for processing standard sensory stimuli.

The research results were important evidence of an unusual phenomenon. Although we may think we react to only what is happening at the moment, this is not the complete truth. Our bodies’ perceptive tools continually scan the future, and so does the heart in the overall system.

Defining intuition is a challenge that is not supported by a unanimous scientific definition. Many disregard it as a fantastical metaphysical idea, trying to explain it with alternative definitions, mainly including mental brain concepts.

However, even the human neurological system is not that simple. Scientists are just starting to discover curious new findings of the “gut brain”, the surprising link between what we eat and how we feel physically, but also mentally and emotionally, as well as about the unknown physiological functions of cranial nerve sections.  We have plenty to learn as we thread ahead.

Exhausted by Life? Your Heart Suffers, Too

Researchers from the American Heart Association completed research on 26 people that belong to another age group than the one that typically partakes in heart research. These study participants were healthy individuals under the age of 40.

The research, unsurprisingly, revealed that, when people are overworked, they are weak, exhausted, easily irritated and demoralized. The cluster of symptoms was named “life exhaustion”.

Can Your Heart predict the Future Life exhaustion

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

People become tired of life, losing vitality. Lost vitality is another in the series of key factors that contribute to the growing psychosocial phenomena, including anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

What kind of conclusion about heart health can we make?

When we don’t listen to the heart’s intuitive wisdom, this vital organ gets severely neglected. A neglected heart suffers a greater risk of heart disease.

As it turns out, there are many studies that back up the proverbial wisdom to “listen to one’s heart” when making an important decision. If you are a fan of the brain logic only, you may want to consider including the heart as an additional weapon in your arsenal of life-managing skills.  

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
maths the language of the universe

Mathematics – the Imperfect Language of the Universe

“We give great value not only to the methods and the tools of science but also to the language of the universe we call mathematics.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Writing about the flaws of science in the age of fake news is like walking on eggshells. When supported by a public interview statement given by the celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, though, it is a far more comfortable challenge.

The Problem with Scientific Bias

As a guest at the Stephen Colbert’s informal interview-lecture at Montclair Kimberley Academy, DeGrasse-Tyson used the words of the Nobel-prize winning mathematician  Eugene Wigner to bring us closer to the specific bias of the scientific logic:

“Having in mind that it is a product made in our heads, mathematics has inexplicably large usefulness in the universe. We haven’t discovered mathematics under a rock. It is a pure mental fabrication, and yet, it provides us with exact predictive descriptions and explanations about the universe.”

Neil considers maths and physics the basic elements of the language of the universe. The majority of academia would agree that they are the backbone of science.

However, while getting used to interpreting phenomena and events through this language, we forget about stepping out of the lines of established thinking.

The Self-limiting Rules of Science

An almost perfect illustration of the limiting frame of a single scientific language is spinning the phrase “thinking out of the box” into “thinking out of maths”.

DeGrasse-Tyson added that there was a problem with the outcome of a one-directional interpretation of the universe.

By getting accustomed to dismissing our intrinsic senses to investigate and discover new things we possess as children, we filtrate everything through the already digested knowledge.

We make hypotheses and generate assumptions on the basis of “how things should be” and “have always been” to draw conclusions about “how things could be”.

In this way, we damage the childlike curiosity in the mind of a fully grown adult.     

This is where Tyson cuts it short by remembering the libretto of the Broadway musical “Phantom of the opera”. He showcases his love of another phenomenal language – the language of music: “Leave your senses – is a replica from the musical”, he says and adds: One day, perhaps in another life, I too would love to write texts for Broadway musicals…”

Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.
emotional contagion: why does your Facebook feed turn into a war of words

Emotional Contagion: How Your Facebook Comments Feed Turns Into a War of Words

How often do you decide to stay out of a Facebook discussion? Is it because you don’t have anything to say? Or is it rather because Facebook discussions turn into a war of words so quickly so that even Gandhi cannot save them?

All you have to do is to look at just one long string of comments posted anywhere online. This is especially on point if the online space is specifically designed for socially sensitive issues. You will have reached the age of enlightenment as far as social media communication is concerned. 

Online public communication is often full of spite which doesn’t have anything to do anything with the concrete discussion topic.       

Part of the comments is well-argued. Commentators stick to the subject. On the other hand,  a huge volume of Facebook or other social media comments targets the author’s look or personality.

We often ad hominem attacks or vicious attacks of the author, the owner, or anyone in any way related to the text, the video, or the image from the subject topic.

How Social Media Trolls Nourish from Others’ Emotions

For a short amount of time, participants stay on topic. After a while, the comments start picking up their own pace and run out of control from the topic of social media or website feed. The more people take part, the more dissolved the topic.

emotional contagion social media reactions

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

It can get particularly messy when professional and semiprofessional trolls or flamers get involved.

The usual manner in which the rest of the audience replies to these online pyros is by publicly shaming them. However, instead of silencing them, trolls become a highly combustible material. Their flaming rhetoric gets even more attention, feeding upon itself.

The problem with trolling is that trolls feed on the attention of any kind. They can maintain the same solid position when opposed and when backed up.

Their only task is to be present, so both opposition and support do the job.

The trouble is that, when they do this, they appeal to an army of followers who are genuinely concerned about the subject topic. Many of those that are commenting involve in the communication because they need support or connection.

This is usually the tipping point at which instead of a discussion we get to witness a chaotic war of comments.   

The Science behind Emotional Epidemiology 

What is the dynamics behind the creation of these violent online spaces that take a life of their own?

The dynamics dwell upon emotional contagion. In social networks, emotions are contagious. Emotional contagion is a real phenomenon. “Real” emotions we share off-screen but also virtual emotional states can be transferred to others through the process of online emotional contagion.

When people are emotionally afflicted they feel the same emotions as someone who is nearby. Emotional contagion can take place without the participants’ awareness of how this happened. On massive social networks, there is even something called global emotional synchrony.

emotional contagion on social media: global emotional synchrony

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The Ripple Effect of On-Screen Emotional Contagion

Emotional contagion finds its partial support in a series of real field experiments.

Data collected from a large-scale experiment conducted in a real-world social network over 20 years indicates that long-term affective states or moods such as depression or happiness can transfer between members in the social network.  

The network, which can be anything starting from a neighborhood, company, marriage to a group of friends contained clusters of happy people, in which the happiness stretched as far as three degrees of distance. Three degrees of distance can, for example, include a scenario of a friend of a friend of a friend.

Those surrounded by the largest number of happy people, as well as those who held central positions in the network were the happiest. The outcome was not only due to people’s tendency to make friends with people who share similar personalities. The research has shown that happiness clusters formed as a result of the spreading of happiness.  People carrying the same “virus” show behavioral mimicry, too.  

You can now measure your own propensity towards getting the emotion virus. Knowing that you can get the disease is an important emotional intelligence tool. Even if you are susceptible to getting the cold, your own awareness can help you put some water to the fire next time you meet with a violent Facebook feed. 

Stories about Dogs and People participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Unless I've bought them as hardcover/paperback editions, I read most books on the Kindle app, but reading them on a Kindle device is a much better experience.

3 Surprising Tips to Help You Master Communication at Work

The consumer-related and production-oriented business world we live in makes it difficult to discover the power of quietude and receptiveness to the environment. Taking action is so championed that most people find it extremely complicated to sit calm and do nothing, at least on the outside.

Perhaps this is so because most job descriptions include doing something; although call-center agents may disagree with me – just how many times they have needed to sit calmly through a client’s angry rant understanding that doing nothing is the best possible “doing” under the current circumstances?

I am sure they will be the ones who do not only know what I am trying to say here, but also the most adept at adding to it. Call-center agents and other service professionals feel free to help!

For others, you may just find these three (in)actions to drastically improve your world of office (and other) communications.

I am talking about listening, presence and response.

1.Listening vs Hearing

Talks with clients,  informal Skype communication, mobile ringing, new emails arriving, water supplies being filled up, and on top of everything, the car service calls to say that your car will not be ready by Friday as the dealership failed to deliver the necessary spare part you desperately need by the weekend.

And you promised your daughter that you will finally take her to visit her best friend who lives in the other part of the town!

By taking so much in, it is strenuous to keep a part of your energy for listening. You can only hear, and not really listen. Some people call this active listening.

This name is the best description for the illusive passivity of the quality. If you learn the difference between listening and hearing, you will know how to act from a point of understanding an essential human need shared by people everywhere.

All people have the need to be deeply heard. Active listening includes presence with all five senses. And, no, this does not mean that you should go and randomly kiss, stare or smell your colleagues!

It means that you are fully aware of the environment and the changes in the person you talk to so that you know the best way to read the message and respond. Even if you are not able to understand or fulfill all wishes and requests made by others, at least you will know that you have accommodated a genuine human need for connection.

There is great power in listening. Use it wisely!

2.Presence vs Presentation

Listening brings us to the second powerful (in)action. They both have something in common and this relates to the five senses mentioned before.

To be fully present and available for another human being you need to be able to refrain from self-presentation for a minute. When you make a space for other people to present and be themselves, you are fulfilling the crucial human need for acceptance.

Presence does not mean being in the same office or agreeing to attend a meeting and share a conference room.

True presence means being with another human through all that they are, without any judgment. It means calm presence with no nasty sighs, ambiguous looks, eyes-rolling or turning your back on an open conversation and leaving the office.

First of all, full presence needs to happen inside us, so that we can give it to another.

3.Response vs Reaction

The third and all-encompassing quality for all three inaction power tools goes a step further.

By employing the first two “passive” qualities you will be able to act in the best possible way.

I am sure you can remember a time when, instead of waiting for the person who talks to you to finish the sentence, you are already creating an answer in your head.

One needs to be very careful – this often happens later in the stage of (business or any other) relationships, when assumptions, expectations and learned behavior take the place of real-time connection.

A response is exactly in that space which shows up between the questions and the answer.

If you find a way of processing all that has come in without jumping into action with both feet, you have mastered the vital communication skill – response instead of reaction.

The response comes from an authentic space that happens in the now.

A Bonus Tip: All these power tools are valid for you, too. Do not forget: first of all, listen, be present and responsive for your own sake.

A Bonus Bonus Tip: Be patient in your attempts to become a master office communicator. Remember – borderline obnoxiousness is not included in this article, as for some people even Buddha-like communication skills will not be enough.

So, give yourself some slack and a pat on the back for each day of progress!

Call-center wizards – bring on the comments!

Photo credit: International Information Program (IIP) / CC BY-ND

3 Actions Leaders Can Take to Create a Pleasant Workplace

How to Turn Your Colleagues Into Angels

What does work have to do with angels? Well, at least close to the holidays, it is easier to see the symbolism of the heavenly beings. The workplace does not have much in common with the winged creatures, yet it does so with angelic qualities.

People are not always angels. Work included. It seems that work atmosphere can often bring devilish qualities to people who have displayed the golden side of their character.

The expression may sound funny, and you may laugh it all you like, but promoting angelic qualities in employees makes for success. Constructive behavior improves, develops and brings the riches closer.

How to behave constructively?

1.Build and nurture positive relationships.

This one is an oldie, but a goodie. Employees who have better relationships with their supervisors are less likely to develop counterproductive behavior. Ah, but there are so many things that come under the hat of “positive relationships”. You may think you cannot manage all. If there is only one thing you can start doing just now in this direction, choose equivalence of power.  Make wise decisions on how you use your position. Distribution of power that goes both ways is most successful.

2.Create a sense of justice.

The sense of justice is very subjective. We do like to define and measure what is just or justified, but the feeling of justice is very personal. There is a lot of research on justice. Most of it is connected with behaviors, and less is about personality traits or about organizational climate. These are two things that need to be looked into further.

It is very likely that the dynamics of the space occupied – the workplace will contribute to one person’s sense of justice. One would act differently in war and in peace.

This is especially important as counterproductive work behavior is contagious. It is the “If they can do it, I can do it” thinking.

Counterproductivity is present in groups with less developed consciousness prone to primitive behavior. Primitive behavior is to the benefit of the individual, and not to the collective. It can often be to other members’ disadvantage. The less developed the group consciousness, the more are success and intelligence related to abuse of power, violence, and destructive actions towards people or property.

3.Trust and direct.

The atmosphere of trust and direction is one without resistance. When you trust and direct you assume and expect co-operation from others. If you suspect and delegate, you assume and expect animosity and resistance.

Can you notice the difference in the wording? In the latter situation, you further yourself from the other person and the responsibility. You “throw” something at them. The first choice of words is related to positive reinforcement and the second to retribution.

This is often the reason why performance management programs fail. It is the essence of “You can make people do, but you cannot make people want”. Promoting angelic qualities is only possible if you make people want. Force and penalties do not work.

Staying away from making people do, does not mean putting up with behavior which is violent or abusive to people, work equipment or property. It is simply an understanding what works and what doesn’t.

This comes as a perfect place to point out the one thing you should avoid doing:

Please do not make a lot of effort if your collaborator is low on conscientiousness and empathy. People low on the trait of conscientiousness at work are more likely to develop counterproductive behavior. One needn’t expect from them a lot of awareness about a righteous exchange and collective contribution to the group.

At the end, this last point strikes the importance of selection and recruitment. If development, change and promotion of angelic group qualities is something that you want to see at your workplace, a good place to start is by recruiting conscientious employees.

Happy holidays!

Featured Photo Credit: Free the Image via / CC BY