How to Think More About Sex

Author Alain de Botton
Read January 16, 2021
Pages 192
Categories Sex Feminism Psychology
People Freud
Links LibraryThing

A simple book about sex, love and relationships. Most of it is fairly common thoughtwork and some is based on Freud’s work.

Ideas at a glance

Lessons for long-term relationships from Manet

Manet does not invent the charms of asparagus, but rather reminds us of the qualities that we knew but overlook.

Edouard Manet - A Bundle of Asparagus, 1880
Edouard Manet - A Bundle of Asparagus, 1880


  1. Given how common it is to be strange, it is regrettable how seldom the realities of sexual life make it into the public realm.

    p. 4

  2. Despite our best efforts to clean it of its perculiarities, sex will never be either simple or nice in the ways we might like it to be. It is not fundamentally democratic or kind; it is bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation. It refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may, sev has a recurring tendency to wreck havoc across our lives: it leads us to destroy our relationships, threatens our productivity and comples us to stay up too late in nightclubs talking to people whom we don’t like but whose exposed midriffs we nevertheless strongly with to touch.

    p. 7

  3. Great sex, like happiness more generally, may be the precious and sublime exception.

    p. 10

  4. The more colesly we analyse what we consider ‘sexy’, the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human being who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.

    p. 44

  5. … the paucity of sex within established relationships typically has to do with the difficulty of shifting registers between the everyday and the erotic.

    p. 89

  6. It is not a new person we require, but a new way of perceiving a familiar one.

    p. 95

  7. Hence the metaphysical importance of hotels.

    p. 97

  8. To rescue a long-term relationship from complacency and boredom, we might learn to effect on our spouse much the same imaginative transformation that Manet performed on his vegetables.

    p. 102

  9. Pornoggraphy, like alcohol and ddrugs, undermines our abiliity to encure certain kinds of suffering which we have to experience if we are to direct our lives properly.

    p. 132

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