The Doctor's Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D.


How To Have Successful Relationships with Esther Perel

Ep. 471

Modern love comes with an unprecedented list of expectations. Relationships can of course be a source of amazing connection and joy, but they can also be really hard. We want our partner to be our best friend, lover, confidant, coworker, therapist, and so much more. We want from one person what an entire village used to provide. To take it a step further, we want a soul mate; we want in another human what we used to look for in the realm of the divine. We want that person to help us become the best version of ourselves. I’ve been extremely lucky in my life with my career and friendships, but romantic relationships haven’t come easy for me. I was thrilled to take a deeper look at this part of my life in this episode with my dear friend Esther Perel.

Psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author Esther Perel is recognized as one of today’s most insightful and original voices on modern relationships. Fluent in nine languages, she helms a therapy practice in New York City and serves as an organizational consultant for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Her celebrated TED Talks have garnered more than 30 million views and her bestselling books, Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs, are global phenomena translated into nearly 30 languages. Esther is also an executive producer and host of the popular podcasts Where Should We Begin? and How’s Work? Her latest project is Where Should We Begin - A Game of Stories with Esther Perel.

Here are more of the details from our interview: 

  • Our expectations of romantic relationships have drastically changed over time (4:08)     
  • Our childhood sets us up for difficulty in romantic relationships (7:08)    
  • Why we choose partners who activate our own specific issues (11:19)    
  • What drives couples to divorce and why the end of a relationship does not necessarily equate to failure (15:02)  
  • What brings couples to couples therapy today vs. in past decades (19:40)     
  • Four relationship killers (27:10)       
  • What makes a relationship successful? (28:32) 
  • The card game that Esther created during the pandemic to incorporate lightness and play into our relationships  (35:06)  
  • How our relationship to giving and receiving impacts our relationships (45:55)  
  • Esther’s main nuggets of wisdom from her work with couples (54:24)

Learn more about Esther Perel at and her new card game, Where Should We Begin - A Game of Stories at

Follow Esther on Facebook @Esther.Perel, on Instagram @EstherPerelOfficial, and on Twitter @EstherPerel.

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