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?


March 11, 2023 59 mins
In this session Esther counsels a couple torn apart by the war in Ukraine. Young sons divided between a mother who leaves for the sake of her youngest. And a father who stays with the oldest for the sake of their country.  This episode was done in partnership with The International Trauma Studies Program and One Ukraine.  (Ukrainian and English language transcripts available at http://www.estherperel.com/love-in-war-en) Learn mor...
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We first met them three seasons ago in the painful aftermath of an infidelity. She was diagnosed with an STD during a routine visit to her OBGYN, leading to the revelation that her husband had been visiting sex workers. Four years later, they’re still together, but old wounds persist. Transcripts for this episode are available at https://www.estherperel.com/podcasts/wswb-s5-episode10. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcas...
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June 23, 2022 27 mins
In this latest episode of Esther Calling, we meet a young woman looking for advice on how to stand up for herself in a fraught and traumatic relationship with her mother. She worries the trauma and violence she experienced in upbringing is dictating how she responds to authority figures elsewhere in her life. The transcript for this episode is available at https://www.estherperel.com/podcasts/wswb-esther-calling-i-need-her-to-see-...
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June 16, 2022 27 mins
In this episode of Esther Calling, Esther meets a man who’s never been in a relationship for more than five months. As he approaches age 40, he knows the reason lies with him, and not the women he’s dating. Esther encourages him to look back and see if the clues can be found in his early parental relationships. Perhaps the work starts there. The transcript for this episode is available at https://www.estherperel.com/podcasts/wswb-...
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June 9, 2022 56 mins
Esther says in this session, “a love story is between two people, a marriage engages an entire community of people.“ Here we see how that plays out when the relationship in question is the result of an affair; when it means the dissolution of two prior marriages and the breaking up families. How does this couple write their own two-person love story when there’s "an entire community of people" with a stake in the plot? The transcri...
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June 2, 2022 25 mins
He prides himself on being an empathic confidante to his friends…but is it to a fault? In this episode of Esther Calling, we meet a man fed up with being the container for his friends’ relationship woes. But, he wonders, can I put up barriers without losing the intimacy of those friendships? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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She longs for a child, but her partner isn’t there yet, and as a trans woman she already faces other barriers to parenthood. She worries she’s letting her partner’s indecision dictate her own future happiness. She and Esther navigate the delicate dance between exerting her own wishes within the relationship, without letting the pressure shut down the conversation altogether. The transcript for this episode is available at https://...
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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.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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May 5, 2022 57 mins
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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April 28, 2022 56 mins
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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January 13, 2022 19 mins
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 mins
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.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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December 23, 2021 66 mins
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.  Learn more about your a...
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December 16, 2021 17 mins
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podc...
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December 9, 2021 57 mins
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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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December 2, 2021 53 mins
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 mins
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 collabor...
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November 18, 2021 19 mins
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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