Gemma Glover and Emma Marsland were awe-struck by the psychotherapist Esther Perel at SXSW18. Here’s why.

EMMA: Esther Perel is a Rockstar. A speaker of nine languages, she possesses the kind of mental acuity and clarity (not even speaking her mother tongue) that few of us could aspire to.

Her talk revolved around the importance of nurturing our most precious relationships in order to preserve the highest quality of life. She reminded us to appreciate, fully, what our ‘other’ does for us and to take stock of how we bring ourselves to our relationship, when we’re truly engaged and when we disconnect.

At a tech festival this felt so apt. Yet surprising. For days I heard differing opinions on how tech will make a difference in our relationships, ranging from: it’s going to be catastrophic for human relationships worldwide, to no it’s not you just need to talk to your Uber driver, to the suggestion that your autonomous car will be able to predict and accommodate all your emotional needs.

As Esther puts it, “the survival of the family is dependent on the happiness of the couple”. As the definition of families shifts and friends become as important as our biological relatives, then maybe if we heed this advice maybe we could start to rebuild the communities that once raised a village. Rather than relying on one person to provide a village-worth of resources or, antithetically relying on platforms to provide that community. Maybe.

Her job is to help people help change their lives. We should listen.

GEMMA: Esther Perel, a Belgian Psychotherapist keynote session made me really think about the term ‘relationship’ and what it means it really means as Perel says “the quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life.”

I think ‘Relationship’ is a subject we need to talk about more, but not just talking about the positives but the negatives as well. Perel says, “we have to talk about stuff that we’ve never talked about and that we don’t know how to talk about.”

How often do you see people sharing their relationship struggles on social media? It’s all curated with filters and edited versions of the truth but I think we should change this and share both the highs and lows.

Perel says “Often we therapists get to hear these conversations but we don’t get to share them with the world” but I think we can help change the filtered to the real.

Perel’s podcast ‘Where Shall We Begin’ features couples sharing their most intimate feelings and emotions about their relationships, she says “we created the podcast to be a virtual village” which I thought was very interesting as to me a virtual village means anyone can access it and the feeling of a close community.

Esther shared many words of wisdom…

“Conversations are the heart of a relationship”

“Instead of texting, pick up the phone”

Both of these hit me the most as they are such simple nuggets of advice yet so easy for forget.

The final message Perel ended with was “relationships are your stories, write well and edit often” which left a huge impact on me and something we can all relate to.


Full coverage of SXSW 2018:

SXSW Day 1: Empower Displaced People Through Technology. 

SXSW Day 2: Google as the Translator Between Humans and Machines.

SXSW Day 3: What Does the Internet Look Like Without Screens?

SXSW Day 4: Are Driverless Cars Really a Thing?