As Perel explains, much of our adult sexuality, our current desires, the way we relate to others, how we perceive our self-worth—is the product of the way we were raised and the environment in which our sexuality developed.
Q&A with Esther Perel:
You’ve said that if you know how someone was raised, you can tell how they will be as a lover. Can you explain?
Consider a paradigm we’ve always known in modern psychology: Tell me how you are loved, and I’ll have a good idea of what may be some of your issues, your concerns, your worries, your aspirations, and how you love.
But this paradigm never got translated into: Tell me how you were loved and I will tell you how you MAKE love. How your emotional history is inscribed in the physicality of sex. How your body speaks a certain emotional biography.
For example, the question I often ask people is: How did you learn to love, and with whom? Were you allowed to want? Were you allowed to have needs growing up—or were you told, “What do you need that for?” Were you allowed to thrive? Were you allowed to experience pleasure—or was pleasure just a break between work sessions, a reward after a lot of effort? Were you allowed to cry—and were you allowed to cry out loud, or did you have to hide it? Were you allowed to laugh—out loud? Did you feel protected as a child by those who needed to protect you—or did you flee for protection? Did the people who were supposed to take care of you do so—or did you have to take care of your caregivers, becoming the parentified child?
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