Esther Perel on life after Covid: ‘People will want to reconnect with eros’

The acclaimed sex and relationships therapist talks pandemic breakups, the psychological toll of working from home and why she still feels like an outsider in America

A global pandemic tends to strain interpersonal relationships, and the world’s most famous couples therapist, Esther Perel, has been working to save as many as she can – or at least help us understand why they’re failing.

“We know that disasters and crises often function like relationship accelerators,” she tells me over Zoom, speaking from the office of her New York apartment. “A disaster heightens our sense of mortality, of precariousness, of ‘life is short’. And when life is short, you may say suddenly, ‘Let’s move in together, let’s have a child, let’s get married.’ Like, ‘What am I waiting for?’” But you might also say: “If life is short, I’m not doing this for another 20 years.”

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