Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

Listen to the incomparable therapist Esther Perel counsel real couples as they reveal the most intimate, personal, and complicated details of the conflicts that have brought them to her door. This season Esther speaks to a constellation of new relationships: A couple wrestling with the guilt they feel over the happiness their infidelity created. Another trying to make space for their queerness in an outwardly appearing hetero relationship. A set of friends trying to sort out if their childhood friendship needs to continue into adulthood. And Esther checks back in with couples from seasons past to see where they are now as she creates a space for us to hear our own lives and struggles articulated in the stories of others. So....where should we begin?

Episodes

May 19, 2022 58 min

When Esther first met with them two years ago, they’d recently opened up the marriage. At the time only she had ventured out, and after a lifetime of feeling her sexuality wasn’t her own, she felt an awakening. But at what expense? Her newfound freedom seemed to result in his misery. This time around, they are both exploring elsewhere, but the subject of their non-monogamy takes a backseat to other foundational stories within their...

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He’s in a new relationship and wants it to be exclusive, but he can’t get a read on his partner's feelings. It’s hard for him to have an open honest conversation about his needs without feeling weak, especially when he’s met with silence from her. Esther encourages him to feel confident in his vulnerability and to not mistake having needs for “neediness.”

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May 5, 2022 57 min

What starts as a story of sexual incompatibility and a difference in life goals for these two women takes a wildly unexpected turn during this session. Esther finds herself witness to a fantasy ritual unlike anything she’s experienced before in her work.

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April 28, 2022 56 min

They were married, divorced, and then married again. And with four kids between them, tensions run high. They fight about everything: the chores, the cats, who gets to tell who what to do. They come into the session with one story and Esther helps them write an alternate version.

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Her new boyfriend’s wife died four years ago. Reminders of her are all over his house, from her clothes in the closet to her photos on the wall. It makes the caller feel uncomfortable and inadequate. She wonders if there’s room in his house — or his heart — for her.

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January 13, 2022 19 min

In another episode of Esther Calling, he worries his desire for a serious relationship is putting women off. But early in their phone call, it becomes clear to Esther that he’s talking about a particular woman from his past. He describes his feelings for that woman as “intense”, whereas she was more ambivalent. Esther and the caller explore the question: when is yearning for someone’s unreciprocated feelings more about pride and ge...

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December 30, 2021 58 min

As Esther says, love is at once an affirmation and a transcendence of who we are. But when one partner grows up as the child taking care of his mother is it any surprise that he experiences the romantic needs of his partner as a repeat of that same responsibility rather than an affirmation of love. 

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December 23, 2021 66 min

She has no boundaries, he’s walled off. And their opposing communication styles cause immediate tension in this explosive session. So much so, that Esther finds herself adding to the chorus of angry voices. There might only be three people in this session, but Esther realizes she needs at least three more chairs for the in-laws whose voices and opinions are always playing in the background of this marriage. 

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December 16, 2021 17 min

You are invited to an intimate evening with Esther Perel. In place of this week's session we gather for a few rounds of Where Should We Begin, A Game of Stories. Over the last year to curtail the loneliness and isolation we all felt, Esther and team created a game out of the questions you often hear her ask on the podcast. So please come play a few rounds with her anonymously, of course.

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Before they got together, he identified as straight and they identified as gay. What does it mean to make space for their queer identity while they date a straight man? And is that possible as they move into a more serious phase of their relationship?

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December 2, 2021 53 min

For the first time on the podcast, Esther invites a couple back to her office for a second session. 10 years ago, his first wife took her own life. A year later he met his current wife and she became an overnight stepmother to four children. Three years after they first spoke to Esther, she asks them what has changed? Have they been able to revive and sustain their love despite all of the obstacles? Listen to the original episode f...

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November 25, 2021 59 min

In a Where Should We Begin first, Esther sits down with two friends. They’ve been close for so long they feel like brothers, with all of the baggage that comes with family but none of the certainty. There are things that go unspoken between them, issues they have skimmed over in their two decades of friendship. Esther creates the space for the conversation they didn't know quite where to begin. This session was recorded in coll...

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November 18, 2021 19 min

In this second episode of Esther Calling, we meet a woman who feels she is losing her best friend. The caller feels that her friend is rushing into a marriage to someone she doesn’t approve of. During the call Esther talks her through a new way to see their relationship and where to go from here.

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November 11, 2021 19 min

This time there is no couch, but instead an unexpected phone call from Esther to a woman who is struggling with the differences between her and her partner's upbringing. He grew up in a comfortable suburb, she grew up having less, much less. She loves her boyfriend but wants to get past the resentment she feels towards the opportunities he’s had. Esther helps her think through how these differences might also play into new stre...

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October 19, 2021 2 min

A new season of Where Should We Begin?

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Married for ten years and co-owners for seven, they bring their home dynamic to work with them. Their employees are sick of the fights and the struggles for power and control, and so are they. Meanwhile, she also worries their roles at their gym have been divided along gender lines.


This is one of Esther's favorite episodes from How's Work?, her show about the invisible forces that shape workplace dynamics, connections, and ...

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He’s a doctor, she works for the government. Her job is one thing on paper, and another thing in secret. He wants to leave his job, but doesn’t know how. When their busy careers come crashing to a halt because of the pandemic, they face a new reality at home. Who gets to be the one to leave a job during uncertain times? And can they rely on their 19 year marriage for stability and support?


This is one of Esther's favorite episod...

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April 6, 2021 57 min

Today we're sharing the first episode from season 2 of Esther's other podcast, How's Work? In it Esther focuses on the hard conversations we're afraid to have in our jobs, bringing a new perspective to the invisible forces that shape workplace dynamics, connections, and conflict through one-time therapy sessions with coworkers, cofounders, and colleagues.

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September 10, 2020 54 min

They've been on and off for almost 20 years. While she takes cares of his and their child, she wants to know that he's also there for her. He's been battling depression for years. And the shame that comes with it.

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September 3, 2020 48 min

Their whole relationship is based on one big misunderstanding, with infidelity and blame on both sides. Years later, they still can't see the other's perspective.

Programming note: This conversation was recorded after the COVID-19 lockdown.

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