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Woe! “Marriage is a bed sheet that can never be straightened.”

Yes, you get an Alain de Botton twofer. Today we untangle “The stupidity and folly of adultery.”

Come on, guys. Don’t you want to know what the Great Intellectual of Our Age thinks about marriage and fidelity?

Deciphering the word salad, I believe what de Botton is trying to say (assuming he wrote this essay, because it’s just on his blog, without attribution…) is that marriage sucks. The lie isn’t adultery. No, the lie is marriage. No one can possibly be happy giving up the prerogative to fuck multiple people or, excuse me, “not miss out on some of life’s greatest and most significant pleasures.”

Hells bells. That we can live inside our “cosy cage” of marriage at all is a “miracle”!

Gosh, don’t invite this guy to your next wedding. Can you imagine the toast? “May you suffocate nobly in your cage!” As he ambles over drunkenly to grope the bridesmaids, not missing out on life’s significant pleasures.

If believing in the ideals of marriage is often naive, so too is believing that adultery can be an effective antidote to its many disappointments.

What is ultimately ‘wrong’ with adultery is its sheer dangerous optimism. While it may look at first sight like a cynical activity to engage in, adultery in fact betrays an absurdly hopeful conviction that one can somehow magically rearrange the difficulties and shortcomings of marriage through a lie. This is to misunderstand the facts of life. It is impossible to sleep with someone outside of marriage and not violently destroy the things one still cares about inside it – and yet, in case we get carried away with the charms of fidelity, it is equally impossible to remain utterly faithful in a marriage and yet not miss out on some of life’s greatest and most significant pleasures that lie outside the couple.

Yes, the problem with adultery isn’t the lying and ambient abuse, it’s not the STDs, or humiliating someone you purport to love (and stealing their assets) — no the problem is OPTIMISM. Cheaters are just too damn hopeful.

In short, as the adulterer forgets (to the huge cost of those they care about and who believe in them), there is no solution.

There is no answer to the tensions of marriage, if what one means by an ‘answer’ is a settlement in which no party suffers a loss, and in which every positive element can coexist with every other, without either causing or sustaining grievous damage.The three things people usually want in this sphere – love, sex and family – each affects and harms the others in devilish ways. Loving a person may inhibit the ability to have sex with him or her. Yet having a secret tryst can fatally endanger a relationship with a spouse who is loved but no longer excites. However, having children can imperil both love and sex, and yet neglecting the kids in order to focus on marriage or sexual thrills may threaten the health and mental stability of the next generation. The choice isn’t between happiness and grief; all that is on offer are different varieties of suffering.

How does loving someone “inhibit the ability to have sex with him or her”? WTF? Isn’t that a little window into de Button’s fuckupedness right there. Intimacy issues, anyone?

Once again, chumps, you failed to enchant. You’re the spouse who is “loved but no longer excites.”

He really paints a dreadful picture of marriage, doesn’t he? Love your children and you IMPERIL love and sex with your narcissist. I would write “spouse”, but seriously, the only fuckwits who think loving your children imperils the love you feel for your spouse are narcissists. NO KIBBLES FOR THE BABY!!!

The only alternative? “Neglect” the children and focus on the marriage. Yes, if you want to please your Crazy, just check the kiddos into an orphanage and work on your enchantment skills. Oops. Not good enough. He “loves you.” That’s a real boner killer.

Is it inconceivable for this person to imagine a world in which his needs and desires are not central? Could de Botton just grow the fuck up, already?

Periodically, frustration breeds an impulse to seek a utopian solution. Perhaps an open marriage would work. Or a policy of secrets. Or a renegotiation of the contract on a yearly basis. Or more child care. All such strategies are fated to fail, however, for the simple reason that loss is written into the rules of the situation. If we sleep around, we will put at risk our spouse’s love and the psychological health of our children. If we don’t sleep around, we will go stale and miss out on the excitement of new relationships. If we keep an affair secret, it will corrode us inside and stunt our capacity to receive another’s love. If we confess to infidelity, our partner will panic and never get over our sexual adventures (even if they meant nothing to us). If we focus all of our energies on our children, they will eventually abandon us to pursue their own lives, leaving us wretched and lonely. But if we ignore our children in favour of our own romantic pursuits as a couple, we will scar them and earn their unending resentment. Marriage is like a bed sheet that can never be straightened: when we seek to perfect or ameliorate one side of it, we will succeed only in further wrinkling and disturbing the others.

Woe! Marriage is like a bed sheet that can never be straightened! Doom! Doom!

Did you know the world will end if you can’t bounce quarters off your taut bedsheets?

“Loss is written into the rules”? Seriously, dude? I think you mean a loss of kibbles. Open relationships are not Utopian. They just mean that both people get to fuck around equally. Which means a kibble loss to you. Much better (ah Utopia!) if the spouse is duped into loving you exclusively, and shelves the kids (little kibble thieves), and devotes all their kibble production to YOU. Even if they are inferior kibbles of love, and not the sparkly kibbles of a new piece of ass. Why should you have to SHARE THE KIBBLES? WHY? WHY? Why is the bed sheet forever wrinkled? How did someone with a first rate education from Harrow and Cambridge ever graduate and write this sort of dreck? Would that wrinkled sheet metaphor get past a Freshman English composition class?

The only cure for infidelity is pessimism. We need new sadder vows to exchange with partners in order to stand a sincere chance of mutual fidelity over a lifetime. Certainly something far more cautionary and downbeat than the usual platitudes would be in order – for example:  ‘I promise to be disappointed by you and you alone. I promise to make you the sole repository of my regrets, rather than to distribute them widely through multiple affairs and a life of sexual Don Juanism. I have surveyed the different options for unhappiness, and it is you I have chosen to commit myself to.’ These are the sorts of generously pessimistic and kindly unromantic promises that couples should make to each other at the altar.

The sole repository of my regrets? Yeah. No surprise you’re alone. What girl wouldn’t be charmed by “I promise to be disappointed by you and you alone”? De Botton — you’re failing to enchant. Step up your game, dude.

Thereafter, an affair would be a betrayal only of a reciprocal pledge to be disappointed in a particular way, not of an unrealistic hope. Spouses who had been cheated upon would no longer furiously complain that they had expected their partner to be happy with them per se. Instead they could more poignantly and justly cry, ‘I was relying on you to be loyal to the specific variety of disappointment which I represent.’

Too many people start off in relationships by putting the moral emphasis in the wrong place, smugly mocking the urge to stray as if it were something disgusting and unthinkable. But in truth, it is the ability to stay that is both wondrous and worthy of honour; it is not the norm. Fidelity is a heroic achievement. That a couple should be willing to watch their lives go by from within the cosy cage of marriage, without acting on extra-mural sexual impulses, is a miracle of civilisation and kindness for which daily gratitude is in order.

“Smugly mocking the urge to stray”? Raising my hand. You’re on to me de Botton. Fidelity is a heroic achievement? Well it probably would be for you. But for us other folks, the ones with empathy synapses — it’s not so difficult. To an emotional fuckwit like you? Yeah, I’m sure it’s advanced calculus. Maybe you better stick to the remedial course, du Botton. Kissing and heavy petting and don’t wade into the deeper waters of sex, love, and commitment.

“Daily gratitude is in order”? Now who’s being smug?

Spouses who remain faithful to each other should recognise the scale of the sacrifice they are making. There is nothing biologically ‘normal’ or cost-free about sexual renunciation. Fidelity deserves to be celebrated as a high point of the ethical imagination – ideally with some medals and the sounding of a public gong – rather than discounted as an unremarkable norm whose undermining by an affair should quickly provoke utter rage. A loyal marriage ought at all times to retain within it an awareness of the immense forbearance and pessimistic, stoic generosity which the two parties are showing one another in managing not to sleep around (or, for that matter, in refraining from killing each other). That is something to feel truly hopeful about.

There’s nothing biologically normal about sexual renunciation, by which I believe you mean monogamy? Well, let’s do the biologically normal thing and punch you in the face. Apparently you evolved to do that very thing — take punches to the face. I think you should set a course and do all the biologically normal things — poop in the open whenever you feel like it, quit wearing clothes, stop farming. You didn’t EVOLVE to do that. Did Darwin discover cufflinks?

Why is it the only thing you people seem to want to call on evolution for is the freedom to fuck around? Move your bowels in public? Not so much.

Fidelity deserves to be “celebrated as a high point of the ethical imagination”? What the fuck kind of word salad is THAT? You think fidelity is IMAGINARY? You’re saying people who manage monogamy are unicorns? Oh no, they do so with “immense forbearance and pessimistic, stoic generosity.” Kind of takes the fun out of the “celebration”, don’t you think? Describing us as a bunch of pinched, withholding, stoics who managed not to “kill each other.”

Gosh, you know a guy who gets the kind of smorgasbord of pussy that you advocate should be a lot more cheerful. I’m thinking someone’s unfounded rage at your infidelities (that didn’t mean anything! But are the very essence of life itself!) has got you blue. Sticky, small children stealing your kibbles. Wife failing to enchant. People thinking you’re douchey because you cheat. The whole system is fucked.

I know — why don’t you write a philosophical essay on an “emotional intelligence” blog and tell us all how we’re Doing It All Wrong? Throw in some images of classical art — that’ll make people think you’re cultured! Just like the Alhambra tiles and the Bach Mass references, people will know you went to good school’s on Daddy’s money and they’ll recognize your superiority. Because you’re so privileged and do TED talks and write books, you can rail at us and tell us why we’re all being so unfair with this monogamy shit.

I think your problem is like a wrinkled bed sheet that won’t straighten. Perhaps you could apply a hot iron to yourself.

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  • I like Alain and follow his gems on twitter… In his defense, he’s paid to provoke, albeit most of his posts are debatable. Anyway, here’s what I do agree with, also per his latest tweet:

    “@alaindebotton: An epidemic of loneliness created by the misguided idea that the only way to overcome loneliness is through romantic relationships.”

    N’est pas?

    • There are many ways to overcome loneliness. Friendship, volunteering, loving your children, pets, community involvement. But absolutely romantic relationships alleviate loneliness. Sometimes we don’t get that, or choose not to. But frankly, one of the most healing things for me post-infidelity was to have a fulfilling romantic relationship with my now husband.

      Of course, loneliness is overcome through romantic relationships. And it wouldn’t hurt so bad when they fail if there wasn’t some significance to the bond in the first place.

      It isn’t the ONLY way loneliness is overcome, but it’s certainly one way.

      • Notyou?
        I’m sure you have something to say about this. I’m referencing your comment from a week or so ago when you described the importance of being comfortable in your own skin in order to feel “okay” on your own, not bound by social myths that in order to find contentment, one should be in a romantic relationship. I think it’s relevant to this post. You said it more eloquently.

        • I don’t think they’re incompatible. Of course you should be comfortable in your own skin and okay on your own. I’m just saying, that doesn’t mean you have to rule out romantic relationships.

          De Botton takes an extraordinarily cynical view about love and marriage, which I don’t agree with. My message here at CL isn’t just leave a cheater — it’s GAIN A LIFE. And yes, if you want it, that life can include a romantic relationship. It can also not include one. But forswearing love, IMO seems every bit as dysfunctional as thinking it’s the end all and be all.

          • I actually wasn’t arguing this point, just adding another angle to it. Perhaps one of your future posts could be on one’s readiness for the next step in the process of losing a cheater. How do I know that I’m ready to consider a new romantic relationship? Should I spend a significant amount of time “on my own” in order to determine this? How important is having such relationship…?
            Nomar, you’re in correct in describing what makes Batton popular. He’s cynical, borderline inappropriate, sometimes silly (if anyone recalls his dumb Plato being the original self-help guru tweet), sometimes painfully uninsightful, but thought provoking, nevertheless. He’s not exactly a philosopher, but a culture critic, IMO.
            And yes, he probably has his own set of FOO issues…
            Sorry, didn’t mean to hijack the comments section.

        • Monika,

          I agree with Tracy that it is wonderful to have a good life partner. I also know that reality dictates not all of us are going to be successfully mated for the duration of our adult lives–for a variety of reasons beyond our control.

          And while other people can contribute, the can’t “make”‘ us happy. Ultimately we are responsible for own happiness. I believe that we need to identify and use our strengths and appreciate ourselves while working to eliminate or (at least minimize) the things about ourselves are weaknesses.

          This is what I meant by being comfortable in our own skin. Part of that comfort comes from knowing that while we are far from perfect so is everyone else. Doing our best and with honorable motivations is good enough.

          • ” Doing our best and with honorable motivations is good enough.”

            I should tape that to my mirror.

      • There are many ways to overcome loneliness. Friendship, volunteering, loving your children, pets, community involvement.

        Got two dogs, call relatives regularly (just hosted them staying here for a week too), read this site, just bought Komplete Ultimate 9, and I have a job.

        Trying to work sleep into all of this may be difficult after K9U gets here on Thursday.

      • I have a cat and some house plants now. I go to the gym, have coffee at Starbucks and talk to strangers while waiting in line at the grocery store. When someone needs help I make the offer to help – from insignificant to driving in a snow storm. I’m not lonely – I’d rather be alone right now than with a fuckwit who pretends to “like” me (I’d say love but that’s too strong). Maybe this guy had a bad divorce after he got caught fucking around and he’s just justifying his fuckedupedness? (I’m late to comment on these posts because I’m new to the site. When’s the TV show coming out?)

    • I’d have a hard time liking anyone whose thoughts on this issue are so incredibly fucked up. I mean, really, he’s very very messed up in his thinking when it comes to relationships. It’s like a huge ball of whack. He’s obliviously been damaged at some point, probably in adolescence or childhood, in terms of relationships. I’ve never read so much bullshit in one place. Truly.

    • Overcoming loneliness is not always easy, but it isn’t complicated. Romance is one way, as are family, friends, church, work, clubs, classes, dogs, etc.

      I suspect that AdB’s problem is that sociopaths *can’t* connect. The remain lonely because they love only themselves. I’m not inclined to allow this intellectual toe fungus to foist his neuroses off on me.

      Dude’s paid to provoke? Don’t need it. And if I did I’d find someone to annoy me who has some intellectual rigor and whose writing can’t be mistaken for that of a nelly schoolboy with severe untreated Asperger’s. Say, H.L. Mencken or CL’s fave, S. Fry. Either one of those hive-pokers would’ve smashed this gnat with a single declarative sentence.

      • Ok. A friend share a quote about loneliness yesterday:
        ” I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.”

        Why are people afraid to be alone, especially when they are in or coming out of relationships where they are/were alone and abandoned?

        • OMG-THIS!!!!
          “The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.”

        • Or said another way, I’d rather be miserable alone than be miserable with a cheater.

        • I don’t think always people feel afraid to be alone. I think if you have felt alone in a relationship then you may be wanting to fill a void. I felt alone in my relationship especially in the last year. I was very lonely. Being on my own took some getting used too. Even though I was feeling lonely in my marriage there was still some conversation and interaction. Someone to shop for and cook for beyond myself. I became an empty nester and turned fifty when we split up two years ago. I had been used to taking care of and having family around all the time. Now I live in a condo with my dog. I am finally feeling some peace and getting used to being on my own. Thankfully I was always independent. My husband went through a midlife crisis and chose cheat on me. I have taken the time over the last year and a bit to rebuild my own life. I have not jumped into any new relationships. Everyone keeps asking when I’m going to start dating. I’m not opposed to it but I do believe as lone as I’m not hiding in my bed with a blanket over my head that it will happen when it’s meant to.

      • “I suspect that AdB’s problem is that sociopaths *can’t* connect. ”

        I agree Nomar

  • The great philosophical crisis that so befuddles Mr. de Buffoon has just been solved by . . . Elegant Linens, PC:

    This dude’s inability to construct a solid syllogism (usually by assuming a false premise) is rivaled only by his penchant for crafting hilariously inappropriate metaphors.

  • And why does he think everyone has the “misguided idea that the only way to overcome loneliness is through romantic relationships”? I don’t know ANYONE who believes that. If I had to wager a bet, I’d say HE believes that and is trying hard to deny it, as in, he is projecting. I think this person is trying to work his psychological boo-boo out, via his public writing. He clearly needs to get therapy, and I don’t mean with Dr. Tammy. He needs a solid, not-New Agey, therapist. Someone who isn’t still out there fucking everyone and thinking it’s grand.

    • Carol,

      I think many, many people adhere to the “misguided idea that the only way to overcome loneliness is through romantic relationships.” AND I suspect that a lot more of them are men than are women.

      I don’t mean to offend the dudes on here, but women (despite our being maligned as being so much more emotional) seem to me to be much more realistic about and tolerant of partner imperfections than of imperfections in themselves. IMO

      • I think you’re probably right, notyou, but I also think that the exceptions are so numerous that it’s not all that useful as a generalization. Here’s my generalization — both men women who think “that the only way to overcome loneliness is through romantic relationships” are far more likely to cheat.

      • ” . . . women (despite our being maligned as being so much more emotional) seem to me to be much more realistic about and tolerant of partner imperfections than of imperfections in themselves.”

        I think this is true too. That explains why I’ve seen women with 300 lb men, who don’t groom properly and skip showers, and the wife is fretting over being a little over-weight. We pick on ourselves more than anyone else does.

  • I find this article somewhat redeeming…I’d much rather hear drastic negative opinions on getting married than a litany of excuses why cheating is okay. If a future cheater reads this and relates to it (however deeply, deeply disturbing it actually is), maybe it will stop them from ruining a chump’s life. Give them ridiculous excuses not to get married, not ridiculous excuses to get married then cheat.

    • I didn’t get the vibe he was being negative towards marriage. He came across to me as being very annoyed that people who get married expect fidelity and if we’d just take his more realistic vows, then maybe we wouldn’t be so utterly disappointed when our narc cheated on us.

      IMHO, that article was like a gigantic divining rod looking for the nirvanic state of cake, but maybe that’s just me.

      • You are right. Sometimes I mistakenly assume people like this think logically (if marriage is disappointing to you, don’t get married). But he doesn’t say that anywhere.

  • The bed sheet analogy could be used to argue against practically anything humans do, so it’s a pointless distraction. For instance, having a job is unnatural because it doesn’t allow one to use as much time on personal hobbies, thus leaving a person empty and unfulfilled each day. And also tired which is a feeling to be avoided at any cost. Likewise, having a lively social life means not using as much time and energy on work or evening college classes. Therefore, that too is unnatural. And consider that going to school doesn’t allow one to use that time to work or to spend it with family and friends creating lasting memories. School too then is a waste of time and is unnatural.

    The whole analogy is stupid and a waste of time. The key is living in harmony with one’s personal values. Doing so often requires balancing time and resources used for various pursuits. That is part of being a grown up, gasp! And honestly, the point the guy dances around is that cheaters have the core value of selfishness. If cheating was so natural and healthy then it seems like cheating would benefit other people besides the cheater, but no, let’s make marriage wrong because selfish and disordered people suck at being grown ups. I really think mankind would be happier if we just catered to those types. That way they can feel justified in doing whatever the hell they want whenever the hell they want to. Because they are special and deep thinking which is why average people like chumps cannot grasp the superiority of their ways. Besides, those advanced-thinking types of selfish, juvenile people are what healthy, safe, and successful societies are made of. NOT.

  • I think this guy is just one of those people who cannot fathom the idea of screwing one person for the rest of their lives. Now, I think there are a lot of people like that, and they do the honest thing and stay bachelors/bachelor.

    People like this really are in crisis — they really cannot find an answer. They want the wife and kids and family, but they want strange on the regular.

    I guess I cant relate — Im married 10 years, horrible marriage actually, but never once had the inclination or desire to cheat.

    Its a curse I suppose for these types, but moreso for those who marry them.

    • In the recesses of my mind, I remember hearing something the great basketball player and notorious womanizer, Wilt Chamberlain, said about the idealized lifestyle extolled in this article. He said, “With all of you men out there who think that having a thousand different ladies is pretty cool, I have learned in my life I’ve found out that having one woman a thousand different times is much more satisfying.” (Taken from Religious communities have known this truth for thousands of years…takes an arrogant, ignorant, and irresponsible talking-head to think he/she has found something better. Thing about reality…you can only deny it so long…even if it is moral reality.

  • This article has so many holes in it, it might as well be a doily!

    Especially the part where he argues that there isn’t enough of him to devote to family, children, and his selfish ways of wanting to fuck around! It’s like… “Really? Is sleeping with other people that high up there on your list?” Sounds like the dude just wants to sleep with someone. Period. I can’t imagine him being in a loving relationship as he writes nonsensical drivel like this!

    I would point to all the respectable fathers that were just celebrated on Father’s Day. They are able to play the roles of Father, Husband, Adult, Caregiver, etc. without throwing a tantrum.

  • Just want to go all Alice Miller on this guy’s ass, and find out what it it about French child rearing that produces assholes like this guy; the sitting PrimeMinister; the rapey guy–Domenic Struass-Kahn. (When i couldn’t remember DSM’s name I google French Diplomat sexual assault–lots & LOTS of hits on different names….). Why??

    So in the same way that the famous psychiatrist Alice Miller both decronstructed the experience of childhood with a narcissistic parent (the Drama of the Gifted Child–gifted as in singled out to meet only the parent’s needs;) and her amazing books on German childrearing and their production the the early 20th c. German/Austrian psyche, e.g., Adolph Hitler (all bow to the Godwin moment.–More seriously–what psycho dynamic enabled entire countries follow these Nazi monsters?

  • I will put this as simply as possible. This TURD isn’t “getting any” on the regular and did not receive enough hugs as a child!!!!! My guess is that his negative attitude and deeply troubled relationship ideals is standing in the way of any partner (male or female) becoming intimate with him on any bedsheets or no bedsheets at all!!!!! One sentence from this backward thinking idiot would turn me off and send me looking for the nearest exit door!

    My guess is he has plenty of material for couch time with a good therapist!!!!

  • Thanks again, CL, for giving me an idea of the kind of cr*p that XH must be reading and filling his mind with, as he has read all of de Botton’s books and must be reading his blog, too! I also feel a little sorry for de Botton’s wife (I think he is married).

  • Very telling that this douchebag compares faithfulness to the “impossibility” of making a bed. You know who finds making a bed impossible? Teenagers. VERY mature. Uh, not.

    Actually, in fairness to the three teenagers I’ve raised, they know that making a bed is possible. They just don’t want to do it. And their honesty about such matters far exceeds the word salad misdirection spewed by this whinging wanker.

    • I won’t be surprised if in further writings AdB goes on to compare fidelity to the “impossibility” of washing a pan on which you’ve heated a frozen pizza, putting away laundry, or not getting pee on the floor around the toilet.


      • It is not impossible nor even difficult to make a *perfect* bed.
        Ask any Drill Sergeant!! 😉

        • It is impossible to make a perfect bed with a 20 lb cat jumping in the middle of it, ask me how I know, heh 🙂 what is that lump in the middle of the bed?

          • Making beds can be difficult when dealing with pet and children whilst making it.

            but it is far less frustrating now I no longer have to empty bit of tree from the corners of the fitted sheets.
            Dumb ass use to hang them on the line like a trawling net to catch every bit of crap that fell from the two large overhead trees.
            I like being on my own, no real sense of loneliness here, three kids, two dogs, one cat, and chump nation.

    • Yes, great point, nomar!
      Poor me! If it’s difficult or I don’t want to do it then it’s unnatural and impossible! Haha!

      • You guys should attack his post with your comments, it would be interesting if he responded to your strong arguments.

          • Typical. Like I said, this guy is in love with himself. Yep, you tend to be lonely when you “don’t want to accept comments.”

  • Ok, all I can think about when I read any of this idiot drivel are derivations of his name; du button, du bottom, du baboon, du moron, du buffoon, etc. Infantile? Yes. Completely appropriate? YES!!!

    What a dipshit!

  • Yes, I failed to enchant my husband. But you know, he had to save a married 24 year old from work from her horrible husband, slay that dragon. Of course to do so meant that he had to throw his wife and children under the bus. She was so enchanting! She was 24 and that is the enchantment. I was 46, so no way to compete, at least in his eyes. I posted this before, and told him the same, Where was my knight in shining armor to save me from my truly horrible dragon husband?? Oh yeah, I wouldn’t have noticed him as I was an un-echanting moron who was faithful to her husband. Yeah and fuck fairy-tales. LOL. I prefer the truth, and nothing but the truth, but even 4 years out he “can’t remember” all the details. whatever. He is acting strange again and I will do as some of these mighty peeps here and body slam him with a lawyer if he even appears to be cheating. See, I too told him straight up before we married 10 years ago that if he ever cheated, I was out the door. If I hadn’t had a 4 year old, I would have been, and if I had only had CL. I faithfully read her everyday, and so love the comments that all of you regulars post. My mother recently died of cancer and so the money that I get from the sale of her estate is going into a separate checking account that doesn’t have his name on it. That’s what she wanted me to do so that I could leave if necessary. I plan on doing that if it plays out like it appears at the moment. What is it about people with PHD’s that makes them loose their morales. Mine used to make our oldest son read out of the book The Moral Compass. After the affair I told him that until he had memorized and read it himself not to ask either boy to read out of it. He hasn’t asked them since in 4 years and he hasn’t read it either. Imagine that! I took the name unicorn but it fits since I’m in false R with the asshole. BTW, they don’t exist.

    • “My mother recently died of cancer and so the money that I get from the sale of her estate is going into a separate checking account that doesn’t have his name on it”

      My condolences on your mother’s death, unicorn. This struck a chord with me as the very same thing happened to my wife — the difference is she “lent” the money to her fuckbuddy. The subject never came up while she was alive, but I’m pretty sure this is not what her mother wanted her to do.

  • Oh! This is amazing! At last I understand! Now I see why my STBX was just complaining today about how “ungrateful” I am. I should have been awarding him medals and sounding triumphant gongs of appreciation for every day he didn’t cheat on me!

    But no, wait. He WAS cheating. Shouldn’t that absolve me of gratitude for his faithfulness? I’m just supposed to accept the inevitable and natural disappointment, right? But hang on — I WAS faithful. I was a virgin when I met him who’d “saved myself for my husband,” so technically I was suffering the terrible punishment of monogamy MY ENTIRE LIFE. So where’s MY medal, eh? I want a gong!

    • So where’s MY medal, eh? I want a gong!”


      I have a warped sense of humor so please bear with me:

      How about when you recover getting a new and improved “dong”…one which knows how to find it’s way home and stay there…preferably attached to a dude who appreciates the fact that while you may not always be *enchanting,* you ARE always a faithful, honorable, and good woman?

  • Alain is an insufferably pompous narcissist. It’s unbearable to even read that pretentious, word salad bullshit. They are nothing but farts issuing from his mouth, because he is a GIANT ASSHOLE..

    And quite frankly, after looking him up and reading some more about him (I could not find any mention of a wife anywhere) and looking at his pictures, I really, really doubt that he has ever provided a woman with “some of life’s greatest and most significant pleasures.” Just sayin’.

      • That is one weird article. He describes himself repeatedly as a “girlie man.” You know, my ex was married to me (a woman) for 20 years, and we have a son as well. Doesn’t mean much.

        • It is a weird article. I’m thinking the “girlie man/people assume I’m gay” thing is a pre-emptive defence he’s been using for a while. Saying something before other people do takes the sting out. I would be surprised if he wasn’t straight, but that’s just because I would expect a gay man to be better looking. HA!

          • Actually, in my original post, I wasn’t really thinking about him being gay, I was thinking that he’s probably really lousy in the sack, and though he seems to think he’s God’s gift to women, what with all that talk of “life’s greatest pleasures,” my guess is he’s far too self absorbed and insecure to actually pleasure a partner much. Plus, he doesn’t seem to LIKE women too well.

            Anyone who feels the need to write so much about how much sexual variety and excitement he requires probably is compensating for something, is my thought.

            • WTF?
              I just read the above article and this block has to be batting for both teams.

              This has naturally made a number of Australian friends suspicious about my proclaimed heterosexuality. _ If you have to proclaim it your not hetro, Aussie blocks are pretty good at picking those are and those who aren’t.

              From early adolescence through to my early 30s, my most intense feelings of love were towards women who had no interest in loving me back – girls who already had boyfriends or preferred not to let sex spoil a valuable friendship._ If you preferred to hang with those of the opposite sex who where unattainable that left you in your comfort zone because Chicks make great mates, because there is no way you are ever getting it up for them.

              My STBX use to joke when we first got together that he had a Harem of women friends who where all great mates!

              When I was 31, I met my wife, who outwardly conformed to my ideal type in every way. I have a clearly defined type of woman that I like: practical, down-to-earth, intelligent women who aren’t necessarily intellectual, but have a great deal of common sense. This is, no doubt, to counter my tendencies to abstraction and over-intellectualisation. Physically and mentally, I like boyishness (shortish hair, no make-up, courage, endurance) to contrast with my own girlishness. _ WTF? WTF? WTF? I would love to see a write up on the wife.
              This guy and my STBX could be twins, just because you are in a marriage and have fathered children does not mean that you are HETRO, and no wonder he is sharing all of his philosophical insight because he is so fucked up and delusional by doing so helps him to rationalize this shit in his head.
              If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, It’s not a fucking horse.

            • That makes a lot of sense. Two things occurred to me 1) Despite the talk, I cant see that a life of Don Juanism is a possibility for him. Male cheaters seem to fall into two main camps: affair artists and whore customers. I think he’d have to go with option 2..Neither group actually likes women. 2) The whole thing abt how well he gets on with women rings false. It sounds much more that he dislikes (feels superior to) most men and believes this shld make him the natural recipient of female admiration. Reminds me of the Bell Jar, where Sylvia Plath says something like you can always tell a woman hater, because they stick to the nearest available woman like glue.

  • du Botton has made a small fortune on pop philosophy books, since pop philosophy pays a whole lot better than actual philosophy. Personally, I think he’s “taking the mickey” out of scholarly language, i.e. mocking it while using its own idioms. In other words, the word salad is deliberate, and we’re supposed to be able to figure out that he’s deliberately trying to obfuscate his meaning–and sometimes say completely contradictory assertions.

    However, all that is me being kind. You know, chumpy. 😛

    Here’s my decoding of his article. However, given that du Botton probably gets paid by either the word or inch, the following won’t make him more than a couple of pence.

    1) Adultery is a really destructive way to deal with the tensions inherent in marriage/family.
    2) Marriage/family involves trade-offs.
    3) Trade-offs create tension because it is impossible to have everything all the time.
    4) One trade-off is that between the stability of monogamous sex and the “excitement” of promiscuity.
    5) Humans (men in particular) are hard-wired to be promiscuous.
    6) Adultery is used to dissipate the tension inherent in this trade-off, since it promises both the stability of monogamous sex and the excitement of promiscuity.
    7) Unfortunately, adultery will completely destroy the marriage because it shatters the foundation for monogamous sex.
    8) Thus, adultery is a bad idea. QED.

    This accounts for the majority of the article, and there’s nothing really new here. The rest of the article tries to examine why marriage causes these tensions in the first place. Here, du Botton retreats into his earlier article’s position that marriage is essentially hopelessly naive in its optimism that two people can commit to each other emotionally and physically for the rest of their lives. His answer is to make marriage vows less idealistic and more realistic–a cynical ploy that he runs up as a straw man.

    Again, there’s nothing new in du Botton’s critique of marriage. At its heart, du Botton’s claims rest on the assumption that marriage is inherently flawed because it promises fulfillment which it cannot deliver. That’s because you can’t have it all. 😉

    And certainly you can’t have it all if you’re coming from du Botton’s hedonistic perspective. That’s why he references Buddhism’s take on suffering. Trade-offs mean that you don’t get 100% of everything. There has to be loss, hence suffering.

    Unfortunately, pure hedonism isn’t practical anyway. Pleasure always involves cost. du Botton looks at sex as a biological imperative that grants us quite a bit of pleasure. He doesn’t look at the costs of sex except from the perspective of betrayal, yet sex carries biological consequences: pregnancy, STDs.

    Eating is a biological imperative, too, and it is a pleasurable act. We all of us love food that tastes good, but eating carries costs, too. Too much and we get fat. We get dental caries. Eating one kind of food over another, because the first food gives us pleasure where the second does not–that can lead to poor nutrition.

    In the all-or-nothing world of du Botton, the trade-offs are all negatives because they involve loss. Epicurious, however, would see the trade-offs as all good. They each of them promise moderate pleasure. You don’t get all of the all, but you get most of the all.

    The adult recognizes this, and finds the trade-offs beneficial. It’s one reason why married people tend to outlive single people. Married people are generally more content, for a given quality of contentedness.

    du Botton, however, is arguing from the position of the child who wants to eat all the candy all the time.

    What’s interesting is how du Botton

    • Ooops! Editing issue. The last fragment should be deleted. 😛

      Also, for those who think du Botton has FOO issues, they’re likely right. du Botton’s father made much money. Enough money that du Botton’s first million was peanuts to his daddy. I suspect that most of us here, if we made a million off of a book sale, would have very proud parents. 😉

    • Spot on, kb.
      Concise. Accurate. USEFUL….. as opposed to this poor guy’s effusive ramblings.

      He obviously didn’t take Economics 101 either. Right after the concepts of finite resources, prioritizing resources, and the law of supply and demand, it moves right on to “opportunity cost” quickly. If people don’t believe the laws of economics apply to relationship decisions, they needs to think again.

      • After reading de Button’s resume, and your comments about Econ 101, I’m reminded of a fellow grad student in one of my courses. We were reading Foucault, and this grad student was a returning student who was picking up a MA for fun, since he had a challenging career he enjoyed very much. At any rate, he said that he was blown away by how much Foucault knew–how smart he was, how insightful, how amazingly well he brought together so many disparate fields of knowledge–and then he came to Foucault’s discussion of economics. At that time, he nearly threw the book against the wall, since it was clear that Foucault had absolutely no real understanding of economics. Sure, he knew the words, but he didn’t understand the concepts, no matter how good Foucault sounded.

        At that point, he called bullshit on the entire book. 😛

        • Good call. Foucault brought together many fields of knowledge that he knew fuck-all about.

  • Alain, another Peter fucking Pan!

    Isn’t it amazing how intellectuals can construct arguments to justify ANY behaviour?

    And yawn yawn, is it just me or are those TED talks just getting a little tired and worn at this stage.

  • “Marriage is like a bedsheet that can never be straightened.”

    Yes, this is true. Marriage, like the rest of life, is inherently imperfect. But the ability to find contentment, and even joy in its imperfections is a true gift. People who have that gift (or is it a learned skill?) know that there is a rich life to be found under the comfort of that imperfect bedsheet. Hell, they can even laugh at the absurdity of it.

    But for others, there is no comfort there. This bedsheet is imperfect. I must BURN it.

    Yup, that’ll do it. Good luck on your quest for basic sanity.

  • The guy is entertaining, I’ll give him that. Kudos to those fine institution of higher learning that empowered this person to put his crazy out on display.

  • Yeah, I read that yesterday when my morbid curiosity got the better of me, and I googled the guy.

    I found it odd that he called remaining faithful “Heroic”. It never seemed heroic.

    But then I remembered, “This is the guy who said you can only trust people you can’t trust”.

    • PS. Maybe if he was from the Southern United States instead of being Swiss/British or whatever he would have written:

      Fidelity is a heroic achievement. That a couple should be willing to watch their lives go by from within the cosy cage of marriage, without acting on extra-mural sexual impulses, is a miracle of civilisation and kindness for which daily gratitude is in order. bless their hearts ?

      He’s a smug asshole 🙂

  • Please excuse me while I retch into the corner. This dude is a pitiful navel-gazing twat.

    This photo from his official website is creepier than creepy – what normal man sleeps in side-by-side twin beds with a pair of weird crocheted stuffed animals in the second bed???

    Betcha he’s not in a relationship of any kind, nor getting the sex he so desperately feels he is entitled to… Blech!

    • I respectfully disagree. He’s not as disgruntled as he seems. He’s just found a niche market that appreaciates extreme sarcasm, a little pretension and pseudo intellectualism. Although he probably fancies himself as an actual intellectual, who knows. Otherwise, he’s been married for a while, 2 kids, probably an asshole, probably foo issues… good writer.

      • I tend to agree with you, Monika, though I can’t say I’m terribly impressed by his writing.

  • A-Ha. I was right. he’s just a widdle boy, trying to get mommy’s attention, still. And another mommy. And another mommy. And another mommy….

    “My parents weren’t interested in their children, so we [+ sister] were left to our own devices with the close relationship that kids can apparently only develop when they aren’t fighting for their parents’ attention. …

    “Nevertheless, not having a good relationship with my mother was a problem. She had a hard time being a maternal figure and wasn’t able to give me the confidence that I believe a boy needs to succeed with women in adolescence. So I was cripplingly shy in the seducing role till quite late on in my teens, and worried far too much about being rejected. …

    “From early adolescence through to my early 30s, my most intense feelings of love were towards women who had no interest in loving me back …

    “Once I was in a big relationship, literature ceased to be a useful guide to what to expect. All it prepared me for was an image of continuous, unreal perfection, a “happy love” – essentially without any movement or action.”

    Guy lays it all on the line in that article. He was abandoned by his mother. Romantically & sexually insecure. Managed by “book larnin’ ” . Married and (surprise!) discovered that marriage did not live up to the portrayal in movies and books. Voila! a reason to cheat…. Idiot.

    He’s an educated less psycho, and non-violent version of that douche who shot all those people in Isla Vista.

    I don’t think he likes women at all. We’re just “specimens” to experiment on.

    • “He’s an educated less psycho, and non-violent version of that douche who shot all those people in Isla Vista. ”

      It’s funny you mention that, because I thought the exact same thing. Alain de butt’s writings reminded me strongly of that crazy psycho in Isla Vista as well. Both sociopaths who hate women, is the vibe I get.

      • He doesn’t hate women, he just prefers they look and act like men.

        The man has opted for the convention of marriage, yet is somehow now using the word salad to justify extra marital activity as par for the course.

        this guy has cake, eats cake, and lives of the proceeds of telling the tale.

  • Lately CL has been on a roll… calling out cheater apologists on their prolific and extra soupy Bull Shit.

    We need a structured format for assessing these dim wits (and active cheaters whom we know) while simultaneously having great fun.

    Perhaps a version of “Bullshit Bingo” based on how many stupid, trite, or nonsensical excuses people make for infidelity in a single conversation or essay?

    Everyone else has a version:

    Yep, I could see adding “Chump Bingo” or “Stupid Shit Cheaters Say Bingo” to this ‘prestigious’ list. 😉

    • Ooh! I’ll play!
      –My wife and I have an *arrangement*
      –It Just Happened

  • WTF? This guy is warped! And this part is particularly fucked up:

    (snip) “…our sexual adventures (even if they meant nothing to us).”

    Really? They meant “nothing”?! But I thought they were “…life’s greatest and most significant pleasures.”

    Yeesh. Good thing he’s SO against marriage–no doubt he’d be a typical gaslighting, crazymaking, asshole, jerk of a husband. (Wonder what he actually *says* while he’s trying to bed his victims?)

    • “…our sexual adventures (even if they meant nothing to us).”

      I noticed this, too. He favors adultery because of it’s great significance, yet says spouses shouldn’t get angry over it because it’s actually insignificant. Sorry, can’t have it both ways. Basically, he has no real argument to support adultery. He just wants the freedom to do whatever he wants without consequence.

    • WOW,
      reading todays installment of CL has hit home,

      Excuses given directly to me and to others for my husbands extra marital behavior.

      He loves it but he hates it.
      It was only physical not intimate.
      I was curious. …..“…our sexual adventures (even if they meant nothing to us).”
      It intrigued me…..“…life’s greatest and most significant pleasures.”
      He compartmentalized it in his head as it did not mean anything.
      I’m not Gay! I’m just not attracted to women, (gee when did you work that out before or after we said I do).
      This guy is not your average apologist/cheater he is much darker. He denounces marriage like a bondage that is forced upon those who seek the fairy tale. The need to look the part while living a parallel life with all its freedoms.

      I think I need to go an channel my emotions in a positive way…… time for some yard work I think.

      • Oh and my STBX can understand why I am angry at his infidelity.

        He just does not get it and retaliates with anger if raise the issue. sound familiar?

  • I have a really really simple solution for this dude and sociopaths like him– Don’t. Get. Married.

    Wow, there we are, problem solved, and without all those pesky confusing long words that would make me look important and intellectual and all.

    • Exactly. He’s fretting over how vows should be worded when he, of all people, should never make vows to anyone.

  • I have an idea.
    How about a draw where the first prize winner gets to kick M. deBotton in the “gosses”.
    The second prize winner gets to be the second person to kick M. deBotton in the “gosses”.

  • For me this guy is super creepy and seems very needy. There is nothing attractive about him either look wise or writing wise. He seems to be socially inept. Actually there are many things about him that remind me of the Creep I spent time with. Interesting, thanks for posting these two Posts CL, it has brought to light very similar characteristics between Alain and the Creep I was with, lots of social awkwardness and crazy writing that makes no sense and actually becomes funny in it’s total detachment from any kind of grounded point of view!

  • CL,

    If anything, this “intellectual”‘s words simply show how absurd and selfish the mind of the cheater is, mixed in with a ridiculous amount of blame-shifting. Blame the kids for the breakdown of the marriage? SHAME ON YOU (and some choice German curse words too…let’s see…”Drecksau” is a good one)! I know who to blame for the breakdown of my marriage, and it’s not my little ones!

    Seems like the big thing this guy seems to forget is that marriage takes work, and that work often deals with kids, jobs, and other things that may or may not be under your control. Oh, and it takes compromise too, you know, the whole idea of having a happy medium for both spouses. One spouse doesn’t get to change the other spouse into their vision of a “perfect mate” without their own personal identity.

    I don’t know if this person’s writings were “officially” run through the UBT for this post, but thank you CL, the UBT is still an invention that should win awards!

  • Okay, I admit I’ve read this post in a hurry while waiting for my Chinese takeout… subsequently missing quite a few points CL has made…

    “Did Darwin discover cufflinks?” really brings it home for me. Or as my grandmother used to say “We’re not animals, we’re people.”
    “There’s nothing biologically normal about sexual renunciation, by which I believe you mean monogamy? Well, let’s do the biologically normal thing and punch you in the face. Apparently you evolved to do that very thing — take punches to the face. I think you should set a course and do all the biologically normal things — poop in the open whenever you feel like it, quit wearing clothes, stop farming. You didn’t EVOLVE to do that. Did Darwin discover cufflinks?”

  • I interpreted this essay very differently than you did, dear Chump Lady, despite your awesomeness. Certainly it is a very French and jaundiced look at marriage which I do not fully agree with, but at least it acknowledges that sometimes marriage simply takes some grit to get through.

    I think as people who were cheated upon, many of us you were accused of not being “fun” while we were raising kids, dealing with the flu and keeping the household finances glued together. Excuse me cheaters, sometimes this worthwhile institution is not always romantic, not always about you and is simply hard. In other words, I partially agree with Monsieur Whatshisname .

    As much I want to strangle anyone making the argument that polygamy is evolutionary “natural” (amen…that would mean we *should* poop in the open) , at times monogamy takes forbearance.

    Also, thank goodness it identifies infidelity as trying to solve a problem with a messed up fantasy. I was flummoxed by my cheating ex wife’s logic when I uncovered the whole devestating years-long affair: marriage is overrated, true life long love is impossible she said… yet she had fallen in love with another man she wanted to be with for the rest of her life. This craziness made the heartbreak even deeper for some reason.

  • it seems the more privilege and education a man has access to, the more leisure time he spends rationalizing his choices. not by ethics – no that would be too pedestrian. by “concepts” and “word salad essays”, bolstered by their fellow alumni/frat bros who attend the mostly men’s ivy league clubs in large cities. especially if they are a “futurist” or “forward thinker”, cause being decent is just too simple and for the common folk. they can’t fathom that being a futurist might actually mean we all become more educated and civil to each other, that the Star Trek future they want is actually possible, sans the captain’s alien banging. every single “futurist” i’ve met, along with “conscious activists”, have been expert word manipulators who try to make you feel stupid for thinking monogamy is natural. they rail and snark and browbeat until they smugly believe they’ve made their point, along with the rah rah of their fellow dipshits.

    do not buy the hype. i have worked next to these bozos and every single one is full of shit. soon, everyone will have a TED talk so take no notice of that “credential”. this is the epitome of Emporer’s New Clothes – “you can’t get it because you don’t get it”. there is nothing in academia to validate these bullshit claims. nothing. this is all mental jerking off, hoping that some woman is dumb enough to buy this load of crap and play along, until she clues in.

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