On Again/Off Again

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In this episode of Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel we meet a couple whose tumultuous relationship has existed on and off for almost 20 years. As a child, he learned to survive by dimming all his needs. Including that of connection. She’s clear she wants to be with him but doesn’t know how to break their pattern. Is his desire to be with her enough to break the cycle of choosing the familiar pain of loneliness over connection?
In On Again/Off Again, Esther poses the moving question, if you turned this wildcard into a wild dream, what would that look like? We hear their story of flaws and missed expectations shift toward a story of aspiration, hope, and defiance of a system that tells them they aren’t capable.


What to listen for in this episode of Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel.

  • As a society, we associate the construct of marriage with the idea of love. As a Black couple, we hear marriage represents so much more to them. It’s not only loving but a political statement, rebellion, affirmation of worth, and stability. What do you associate with the institution of marriage?
  • You choose how to tell your origin story. You can focus on the darkness of childhood experiences or bring emphasis to the light and possibility for growth and change. What do you choose to lead with when sharing your story with others?
  • 'Surface conversation' can serve as a vehicle to facilitate vulnerability. Consider this seemingly paradoxical statement. Have you used small talk as a tool to share something deeply personal?
  • He shares his recent history of survival and barely making ends meet. A long-term (or even medium-term) plan does not exist when you live in survival mode. This emotional state robs you of the ability to visualize a future for yourself and your relationships. Have you experienced this fight or flight state? How did you move from reactivity to proactivity?

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