The Golden Condom

And Other Essays on Love Lost and Found

In The Golden Condom, Safer interweaves her own experiences with those of a variety of memorable people, including her patients, telling a series of tales that investigates the types of relationships, both healthy and toxic, that most of us don’t escape life without experiencing at least once, including traumatic friendships, love after loss, unrequited or obsessional love, and more.

“What we DON’T talk about when we talk about love”

–Metro US

“Jeanne Safer reaches for the root of love in The Golden Condom

–Vanity Fair

The Golden Condom is one of those brilliant, generous, and captivating psychology books, that will almost certainly free readers from the limits they have unknowingly set for themselves.”

— Simon Van Booy, Author of Father’s Day and The Secret Lives of People in Love

“We live in a time of paradox: As sexual and emotional arrangements become ever more complicated, our culture insists on recycling antiquated myths about what love should be rather than what it is. Deeply informed and intensely intimate, The Golden Condom is a unique and necessary contribution to the popular literature on modern relationships. Drawing on a lifetime of experience, Jeanne Safer puts forth a wise, expansive vision of romance in all its variations, reminding us that love is earned more commonly than it’s found, and lasts even when it’s gone.”

-Kate Bolick, author of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own

“Jeanne Safer is like a best friend, a gifted therapist and an enchanting storyteller rolled into one. In a culture that romanticizes the idea of unconditional love, Safer reminds us that relationships are inherently contractual. Better yet, she shows is that it is within those contracts that genuine compassion and affection can truly–even ecstatically—flourish. This book is both a warm fuzzy and a sharp kick in the pants. Don’t let it far from your side.”

– Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects Of Discussion


“There is no subject in the world more thrilling, terrible, or complicated than love in all its manifestations. I hope that these essays will illuminate your experiences of love in your own life.”

Another book on love? No emotion has transfixed, perplexed, devastated, and inspired humanity more than this one, and none has been more exhaustively dissected. Nonetheless, I believe that the lovers whose intimate voices you will hear in these pages have something unique to contribute.

The Golden Condom Author Interview

What’s a golden condom, and what’s that gilded banana doing on the cover of your book?

The title and the cover image of The Golden Condom pay homage to the cheeky DIY project I created when I was nineteen as a revenge gift that I mailed to a man who richly deserved it. In my essay about my hopeless love affair with him, I describe how I made it (who knew that gold spray paint made latex expand to thrice its size?), and the utterly unexpected consequences of sending it to him. A real banana posed for that photograph. Love Lost and Found refers to the emotional progression of the essays in the book, from love that makes you miserable to love that fulfills you, and everything in between.

There are thousands and thousands of books about love. What’s unique about yours?

I bring over four decades of experience as a psychoanalyst, and six decades of personal experience struggling with many varieties of love in my own life. The people you will meet in The Golden Condom—my interview subjects and my patients—and the stories they tell, are absolutely fascinating. Readers can identify with them, and learn about their own experiences of love from reading these stories.

Is romantic passion the only kind of love you write about?

No, it’s not. There are intriguing and revelatory essays about friendship, mentors and proteges, and patients and therapists, in my book.

What was it like to re-read your diary and write about your own teenage love affair?

It was one of the most powerful, painful, and meaningful things I have ever done. Seeing those words in my own handwriting brought that period of my life back to me with overwhelming intensity; I had a dialogue with my younger self, hearing her voice, and ultimately understanding and working through aspects of my life that I had buried for almost fifty years. I have gained immeasurable insights into the nature of passionate, unrequited love that I want to share with my readers. And an important perk is that my relationship with the recipient of the world’s only custom-made golden condom no longer haunts me.

What were the most important things you learned from writing The Golden Condom?

I discovered the close connection between sexual passion and intimate friendship, the deep needs that compel people to pursue relationships that will never be reciprocal—and the good news that you don’t have to do that forever. One of the deepest delights of writing this book was discovering how people found lasting love for the first time later in life. It can be done!

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“The Golden Condom really resonated for me—more than anything else I have encountered before.”

“I have only just finished part one of The Golden Condom, but I’ve been so moved I wanted to write you. I am so happy that I’ve finally found something that matches my own experience and provides me a sense of validation. I am relieved to know that others have been on the same roller-coaster of earth-shattering heartbreak and unwavering devotion and passion. I’m grateful to know that my experience with obsessive/unrequited love is not near as isolated as it has often felt, as the stories are hauntingly similar to my own. Thank you for reliving your personal pain and putting it out there to share with the world. I will be forever grateful.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve read 100+ pages of a book in one night.”

“This book made me feel normal.”

“You manage to deliver so much expertise in such a helpful, empathetic tone, perfectly blending personal and professional guidance. As a young reader, I found myself cognizant of the unbearable pain these experiences can incite, yet somehow uplifted enough to be excited about, rather than anxious over, the emotional depth life contains. The Golden Condom is an extremely inspiring, affecting, and engaging book.”

“I was completely riveted by the stories, the insight, the warm tone and beautiful writing, And how I loved how you concluded the book!”

“After reading  The Golden Condom, I exclaimed “my whole love life makes sense!” I couldn’t believe how much of what you shared about your own personal experiences mirrored my own. What makes the book so compelling and valuable is that love in all its forms is a universal experience that few of us understand.”