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It’s not an affair! It’s an act of “exuberant defiance.”

Esther Perel can bite me.

I know that’s not the level of erudite discourse called for when debunking a pre-eminent Belgian psychotherapist. Perel is the best-selling author of “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence.” I mean, who am I to quibble with “one of the world’s most original and insightful voices on personal and professional relationships“?

Who dares to question the great and powerful “organizational consultant to Fortune 500 companies”?

Do I have a “keen cross-cultural pulse”? No, I am a chump. Very average. My pulse is about 80 beats per minute.

Do I ever say “paradigm shift”? As a former think tank editor, I hate the language of turgid academic pretentiousness. I have a better grasp of English than Perel’s publicist.

“Esther shifts the paradigm of our approach to modern relationships. She is regularly sought around the world for her expertise in erotic intelligence, couples and family identity as well as corporate relationships and team collaboration.”

Okay, maybe I’m just jealous because Nike and Johnson & Johnson aren’t seeking me out for my erotic intelligence. (“Her clients and platforms include companies such as Nike, Johnson & Johnson…”) Alas, I’m on no one’s corporate retainer. And no one taps me on the shoulder at cocktail parties inquiring “Butt plug or dildo — which is more erotic?” Apparently. I don’t travel in the right circles.

Neither do I have long, silky blonde hair, or a European sex kitten persona, or a masters in art therapy. I’m a squidgy, middle-aged woman with weird hair and a masters in African history.

But I can say with utter authority:

Bite me, Esther. 

Bite my squishy, 47-year old, monogamous, married in captivity ass. I’ll inquire intelligently afterwards if that was erotic for you.

Why does Esther vex me so? She’s just the latest pseudo intellectual to make cheating cool. We’re all too judgy. We need to stop “demonizing” infidelity.

She’s written this lovely little essay on “Changing the View on Infidelity.” (Why not “shifting the paradigm,” Esther? Did you get an editor?)

And you all know what that means — it’s time again for the patented Universal Bullshit Translator.

A first step towards understanding why affairs happen with such frequency and across cultures, and towards understanding those involved in affairs, is a move away from demonizing the act itself, both in our personal lives and, for those of us in the mental health professions, in our work. In addition, rather than treat every affair as indicative of a deeply flawed relationship, we can consider the possibility that in some couples, this may not be the case.

Yeah, God forbid we demonize people who spend our 401Ks on Russian hookers or underage prostitutes on BackPage ads. Or demonize people who waste years of our life and risk our health. Or who break up our families. Or imperil our pregnancies. Or decimate our finances. Or compel us to paternity test our children. Or who leave us with trust issues, herpes, and a twitch. God, we suck. We’re so judgmental.

But Esther, you totally have a point on affairs as not being indicative of a “deeply flawed relationship.” The relationship has nothing to do with it. Affairs are indicative of deeply flawed individuals — cheaters.

In America, infidelity is described in terms of perpetrators and victims, damages and cost. We are far more tolerant of divorce with all the dissolutions of the family structure than of transgression. Although our society has become more sexually open in many ways, when it comes to monogamy, even the most liberal minds can remain intransigent. When discussing infidelity, we use the language of moral condemnation. And it isn’t only the act that’s reprehensible; the actor, too, is judged by the strictest standards. Adultery becomes a moral failing as we move to a description of character flaws: liar, cheater, philanderer, womanizer, slut. In this view, understanding an act of infidelity as a simple transgression or meaningless fling, or a quest for aliveness is an impossibility.

Boy, I never thought of it that way, Esther. When I discovered my ex-husband had been cheating on me during our entire relationship, and had financially defrauded me and moved me to a no-fault divorce state, I should have recognized this as a Quest for Aliveness! I suppose we must attribute my dim-witted reductionist view that pathological lying is a “character flaw” to the fact that, yes, I am an American (and of Puritan stock somewhere way back there).

Yes, I believe at some point in the narrative I have said that I am a “victim” of infidelity. Because I believe in victims, Esther. I think if someone holds you up at gunpoint and takes your wallet, you’re a victim of crime. I think if someone rapes you, you’re a victim of sexual assault. And I think if someone fucks around on you and risks your emotional and physical well-being that yes, you are a victim of infidelity (and probably emotional abuse as well. Most people don’t cheat without a good measure of lying, gaslighting, and blame-shifting). “Victim” implies that a bad person did a bad thing to you against your will. I put cheating in that column, but my mind is intransigent that way.

Am I tolerant of divorce? Hell no, Esther! I’ve had two of them. They sucked epically. But I’m more intolerant of being played for a chump. Nice little turnaround, there. It’s a mindfuck we’re all familiar with here at Chump Lady. It’s not what I did, it’s your reaction to it that’s the problem. It’s not the cheating that’s the problem! It’s your reaction — the divorce — that’s the problem. You live with a cheater, an addict, a person who won’t treat their mental illness — and you get back to me on that “dissolution of the family structure” shit. I raised my son mostly as a single parent and he’s turned out quite splendidly, thank you very much.

An affair sometimes captures an existential conflict within us: We seek safety and predictability, qualities that propel us toward committed relationships, but we also thrive on novelty and diversity. Modern romance promises, among other things, that it’s possible to meet these two opposing sets of needs in one place. If the relationship is successful, in theory, there is no need to look for anything elsewhere. Therefore, if one strays, there must be something missing. I’m not convinced.

Religious prohibitions aside, the meanings and motives of infidelity transcend monolithic interpretations, yet we therapists overwhelmingly respond to affairs with an entrenched set of beliefs and practices. The majority view is that affairs can never help a marriage or be accommodated; they are always harmful. Whether disclosed or hidden, lasting a night or a lifetime, they are bound to shake the very foundation of a relationship. They are potentially irreversible and can demand an immediate call to the lawyer.

Boy Esther, I WISH shrinks were telling people to call their lawyers. I thought that was against the whole shrink code of ethics of telling people what to do, and not arriving at these conclusions themselves. If there were a bunch of other monolithic interpreters of cheating as Bad and Something You Should Run Away From, it sure would make my job a lot easier.

The current view is that infidelity depletes intimacy and is a breach of trust and commitment, both emotional and sexual, that can never be fully recouped. Even the psychological literature focuses almost exclusively on the ravages of infidelity. I’d like to offer a view that challenges this premise and encompasses both growth and betrayal at the nexus of affairs.

Though affairs often result in deep emotional crisis, deception and betrayal are not the prime motivation.

Really? Deception isn’t the prime motivation? Than why keep this shit SECRET, Esther? If not for the power trip and the whole “you’re not the boss of me!” sexual hijinks? Cheaters just don’t think they’re going to get caught — but they’re quite happy to adopt one set of rules for their special selves and let us chumps do the monogamy thing. Newsflash — the “deep emotional crisis” is a reaction to being betrayed and deceived.

Right, but that’s not how the affair was intended. I didn’t intend to hurt you! Every chump has heard that, Esther. And you know what we concluded? That cheaters did the cost-benefit analysis on hurting us and fucking around won out over honesty every time.

I suggest we look at infidelity in terms of growth, autonomy, and the desire to reconnect with lost parts of ourselves. Perhaps affairs are also an expression of yearning and loss.

So when Anthony Weiner sent pictures of his junk on Twitter, this was an expression of “yearning and loss”? I just thought it was pervy, and really disrespectful to his wife, but I’m judgmental that way.

And autonomy is for single people, Esther. Interconnectedness, reliance, and trust are for those married saps who agreed to it.

I believe that not all affairs point directly at flaws in the marriage. Affairs are motivated by a myriad of forces— tainted love, revenge, unfulfilled longings, and plain old lust. Yet, as it happens, plenty of adulterers are reasonably content in their relationships. While sometimes the result delivers a devaluation of a couple’s emotional stock, at other times individual growth brings about a new energy to the marriage. In other words, infidelity can be an economy of addition.

Oh God please. Another proponent of the Affairs Can Make Your Marriage Stronger school of bullshit. Yeah, affairs can make your marriage stronger the same way shooting off your kneecaps improves your tennis game. Marriages are based on trust and respect. And when someone deceives you to get some strange, yeah, it does have a way of “devaluing” the ol’ “emotional stock.” It makes you sick with grief, Esther. It makes you puke, and lose sleep with mind movies, and run out for an STD test, and ask yourself every day if you can live with having been played, conspired against, and humiliated. It fucking SUCKS, Esther.

I’m glad adulterers are “reasonably content” in their relationships. Bully for them. After discovery, chumps are not content — they’re devastated. And it’s cold comfort to hear that gee, we don’t suck completely! Our cheaters were reasonably content! I mean, I couldn’t be a smorgasbord of pussy, but I was pretty okay. Good to know, Esther. Thanks!

The lamentations I hear most include feelings of loneliness and emotional deprivation. There comes a point when one no longer can tolerate feeling devalued and taken for granted. Lack of attention and the sense of having become a function rather than a person can instigate a wish for escape. Sexual boredom and frustration, or plain sexlessness, can lead to what Steven Mitchell dubs “acts of exuberant defiance.”

Cheaters feel devalued and taken for granted? Lonely and emotionally deprived? Then SPEAK UP! Have an honest conversation or call a divorce lawyer. Or do both. But there is no excuse for cheating. And dressing your Ashley Madison profile up as some kind of noble quest for self actualization is insulting. Acts of exuberant defiance?! Fuck that noise.

Yeah, the minute someone equates being married to me to be oppressed by a hegemonic monogamous regime — consider yourself unshackled. Your freedom will be granted immediately. Don’t disrespect me by fucking something strange and endangering my health. Just GO.

Sometimes, we seek the gaze of another not because we reject our partner, but because we are tired of ourselves. It isn’t our partner we aim to leave, rather the person we’ve become. Even more than the quest for a new lover we want a new self.

The men and women I work with invest more in love and happiness than ever before, yet in a cruel twist of fate it is this very model of love and sex that’s behind the exponential rise of infidelity and divorce. We ask one person to give us what an entire community once provided —and we live twice as long. It’s a tall order for a party of two.

This is your argument? Let’s blame cheating on longevity? How do you explain the people fucking around in their 20s and 30s? Or their whole lives? They don’t know when they’re going to die, they just cheat! My ex cheated through three entire marriages (probably more by now). Dude got lots of variety and fresh starts. And yet he couldn’t keep it in his pants.

But gee, I guess it takes a whole village to raise a marriage. WTF? What are you saying “We ask on person to give us what an entire community once provided”? People cheat because no one goes to the Elks club anymore? I think you’re reaching here, Esther. It doesn’t become an internationally recognized, foremost relationship expert to come up with such hare-brained theories.

Let me lay a theory on you — people cheat because of poor character and narcissism. That’s it. They’re perfectly happy to agree to a set of rules they have no intention of following because they’re special sausages. And they’re very happy to have the chumps in their life abide by monogamy and continue to extract value from chumps, because it serves their purposes to do so. That’s why the secrecy. It’s not shame or American puritanism or WTFever — it’s gaining advantage over another. It’s kibbles and centrality. It’s greed. It’s ugly, absurdly grandiose, and it hurts innocent people — yeah, VICTIMS.

No one forces anyone into monogamy, it’s not “a cruel twist of fate” — it’s a choice.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “but because we are tired of ourselves. It isn’t our partner we aim to leave, rather the person we’ve become. Even more than the quest for a new lover we want a new self.’


  • Thanks, as always, CL, for stating our case to the world. It may be a thankless job, but I feel it will get through to some.

    • This ^^^^. It’s SO ridiculously simple. Tracy, how you so rightfully stay incensed and make sense is such support for all of us. And yet…once again I get stuck at this one point – when these cretins behave as such, make these choices to deceive why, oh why, do we allow them grace when it comes to the kids? We wouldn’t want them around any other type of nasty bullies. So when does the shit sandwich get put down and the creeps eat all the crow?

  • “Yet, as it happens, plenty of adulterers are reasonably content in their relationships.” Yes, Ester, and why not? They get all the benefits of monogamy–someone sharing the chores, usually an additional source of income, live-in child care, the social benefits of marriage, someone to care for them when they are sick, and all the material assets accumulated as a couple, plus marital sex. AND they get to have affairs on the side, with all the excitement that comes from lying, cheating, sneaking around, betraying others. All that comes from what is, in essence, a huge act of taking advantage of someone who loves them, of putting themselves in a position where they get all the “added value” and their partners get all the damage.

    Affairs are wrong because the betrayed partner is forced to live a life without benefit of all the information about that life, about the greatly reduced value of the marital bond, and the full range of risks–emotional, familial, social, financial, legal and medical– that come with having a partner who is cheating. It is no different than a business partner taking the business assets to a casino, then whining when the deceived partner finds out.

    • “AND they get to have affairs on the side, with all the excitement that comes from lying, cheating, sneaking around, betraying others.” I’ve never really understood how anyone can find that type of behavior to be exciting or satisfying. Personally, I break into a cold sweat at the very thought of lying or dishonest behavior. I could not function knowing that I was purposely deceiving my husband…let alone get excited about it!! Awesome post as always, LovedaJackass ; )

      • One thing I used to love about my ex was the fact (??) that he could not tell a lie. He was of such high character, that he could not or would not tell a lie. I was really proud of him for that.
        Then he lied. And cheated. And I asked him, “This isn’t the first time you’ve lied to me, is it.” And with dead eyes, he simply replied, “No.”

        The biggest reaction I got out of him the whole time he lived at home after BD? I called him a “liar,” and a “scumbag.” It made him so angry.

        Well, stupid is a stupid does.

        • Yeah, what made the Jackass angry was being “accused” of what he actually did.

          • Ditto. “Since you have labelled me a liar and a cheat,” he said. My x cheater sent a letter to his attorney in which he stated that he “had to” start keeping a spreadsheet to keep track of our ‘relationship finances’ (term I never heard of “because on June 29, 2011 Muse accused me of stealing from her.” Nothing could be further from the truth: until Dday a year after that supposed occurence, for 16 years I trusted him with my life, my money, our house, my children, he was on my will, 401k etc. Sure wish I had REALIZED he was lying, cheating and stealing by taking financial advantage of my trust and love!

            • Relationship finances? What the hell is that? Is that filed under the “word salad” heading? Unbelievable. I hope you are OK. Any injuries after falling off your chair laughing?

          • They also hate it when you call their girlfriend a whore.

            for some reason. go figure.

            • haha that is so true. they get more mad at you calling the OW a whore or homewrecker, then they do when the OW calls you a bitch and other names. so much for loyality huh. My XH MOW hates me so much, she can say anything to me, call me names, and disrespect me on the phone while he sits right there and listens AND allows her to say this shit to me, she straight up lies about what i say and do, and he allows all this to go on (and wonders why i dont want my children around his super wonderful loving girlfriend.) what did i do? what is my crime? i loved him. that is it.

              on the other hand, my XH also told my son, sometime before i kicked him out for not coming home. when my 20 year old son was talking to him and telling his dad that what did he want mom to do since he wasnt coming home and why was he acting this way to me. so XH tells my son, well if she is going to accuse me of it i might as well do it. it took me months to figure out he was talking about cheating, all i was accusing him was of not coming home and being a drunk ass.
              it kills me knowing he was cheating on me before i knew he was cheating on me. thank god i kicked him out anyways.

    • Fabulous post as always, LaJ.

      In reference to the comments by you, lovehonorcherish and Miss Sunshine, my STBX believes (?) he is a morally upright and decent human being. He has absolutely no qualms about telling full-on lies, lies of omission and half-truths, but was highly insulted and became enraged when I was unwilling to accept “his word.” As a counterpoint, he knew I was never comfortable lying and I hate when people lie to me. As I recently told someone – he is not a good person but he plays one on television.

        • Well, MovingLiquid, at least the stuttering is a clue! I rallied the troops from both his side of the family and mine…stbxh stood there and lied profusely and repeatedly to all of us without blinking a freakin’ eyelash! What exactly does that say about him and how he feels about the people who love him the most in this world? Pretty scary when you think about it : (

          • Yup, checked that box as well, lovehonorcherish. It’s — what’s the word? — CHILLING how easily and skillfully and often my ex lies. Still. Of course. Because I see now that the lying about the affair wasn’t the exception. Lying is a basic part of how ex operates in the world. Super creepy.

            Wouldn’t be an issue for me anymore except that he’s making lying seem like a normal thing with our daughter. I recently caught her in a lie. She said it was a secret her father had asked her to keep, about her missing school because he had taken her to a KISS concert and kept her out until 2 a.m. on a school night. He said that if she told me the truth about missing a half day of school, I might get mad.

            These fuckwit exes are a real co-parenting treat.

    • That literally happened to me. STBX used the company credit card for casino money, then told his business partner (he’s half owner) that it was “his money” he was using. Uh, no, it would be called embezzlement, dumb ass!

  • “Sometimes, we seek the gaze of another not because we reject our partner, but because we are tired of ourselves. It isn’t our partner we aim to leave, rather the person we’ve become. Even more than the quest for a new lover we want a new self.”

    She actually hit the nail on the head here.

    Rather than fix your own problems and exercise/go to therapy/find a new hobby/volunteer/plant a garden/redecorate the family room/travel to Fiji/do SOMETHING useful or meaningful, escape from your problems by screwing someone else. You won’t be a better person but I’m sure the sex (and the thrill of deceit) will be worth it.

    • I agree with you. Some of the things my ex said were basically that – although he was and remains far too self-unaware to realise what he was saying.

      He basically wanted to be a new person – and he needed a new host in order to achieve that, because he can’t figure things out for himself. Poor guy. Ha!

      • Agreed. And “needed a new host” is the perfect description of these parasites. Suck the life out of one and on to the next.

        • ^^This is so true. I watched my H get really bored with himself. I was out having some fun showing a prize dog – he wanted nothing to do with that anymore. Just stayed home. He had a nice sports car – never drove it. He got into his little Blackberry and never returned from it. Yeah, I agree they get bored with themselves. Not my circus no more.

  • Because I believe in victims, Ester. I think if someone holds you up at gunpoint and takes your wallet, you’re a victim of crime. I think if someone rapes you, you’re a victim of sexual assault.

    You see, there is where you got it all wrong, Tracy 🙂

    People who rob you are seeking to feel more alive and to be more fulfilled, and the adrenalin they produce while robbing you makes them feel more alive, and the money they take helps fulfill things like buying new rims for their truck.

    Same thing for rape: adrenalin = more alive, subduing and dominating a stranger and having orgasms doing it = fulfillment.

    You’re getting way too judgey in your puritanical old age 😉

    (note: my entire post was an attempt at satire in case that is not clear)

    • Well, it should also be pointed out that muggers and rapists were *reasonably content* before they mugged and raped. It just added a little missing zest to their lives. Or, excuse me, exuberant defiance. (I know there are laws against mugging and raping.)

    • On a side note, the fact that she describes having an affair as trying to find a “new self”, should send up red flags among developmental psychologists, shouldn’t it?

      I mean, isn’t that describing almost-textbook “poor ego integrity”?

      And would you want your daughter or son to marry somebody with poor ego integrity?

  • Check out what Esther says about couples she has worked with who are “reconciling.”

    She calls one betrayed spouse “bitter,” “sarcastic,” and assuming a “sense of moral superiority.” Her approach is to introduce “a neutral perspective that allows us to explore the motives and meaning of the affair.”

    Oh, but, according to Esther’s website, “The New York Times, in a cover story, named her the most important game changer on sexuality and relationships since Dr. Ruth” and she serves on the faculty of NYU and Columbia University!

    CL, I’m glad you are debunking these “non-judgmental,” word-salad mixing pseudo-intellectual babblers, like Esther Perl and Alain de Botton, who seem so open-minded, educated and credentialed, when, in fact, they are trying to rationalize and justify abuse. These types of “thinkers” are the most harmful, because they appeal to people who like to fancy themselves as intelligent, liberal-thinking, educated, forward-thinking and open-minded (I like to think of myself as this, too), as opposed to conservative, narrow-minded, traditionalist and backward. It has been the traditional conserviate religious right who have come out strongly and openly in favor of marriage and against adultery (though they may not practice this in real life), so I think a lot of liberal-leaning intellectual/creative types are afraid that they might come off as conservative, narrow-minded or judgmental if they make a stand against infidelity.

    • Well, she’d be hard pressed to challenge my lefty credentials. I studied history with African Marxists. I’m a granola-eating, liberal arts major married to a civil rights lawyer practicing in TEXAS. And I can inspect an organic farm and discuss biodynamics and Rudolph Steiner with you. Oh yeah, and my kid went to Waldorf schools and can knit socks. Oh, and Bernie Sanders is my crush object.

      Take me on, enlightened liberal people!

      • CL, I love that you’re a “lefty.” You’re fighting the good fight.

        I know infidelity has been around forever, and obviously people from all walks of life commit infidelity, but I’ve been thinking that perhaps seemingly intelligent, educated and “enlightened” folk (like my XH) might, whether consciously or unconsciously, choose infidelity as the form of abuse to inflict on their spouse, as opposed to physical abuse or even other forms of emotional abuse (though it took the affair for me to realize that he has been emotionally abusive to me throughout our marriage).

        Physical abuse is a crime, can leave scars and is generally deemed by our present society to be unacceptable and inexcusable. My XH knows that he can’t get away with physical abuse (though he did push me once when I was pregnant).

        Emotional abuse is easier to get away with, and more easily justifiable–one can come up with a lot of reasons as to why one had to yell, criticize, blame, etc., your spouse. Still, it might still be difficult to justify yelling obscenities at your spouse, people can hear you, and the behavior doesn’t make you look good.

        But affairs! You can you say (and convince yourself) that it was in the name of the some noble purpose, like true love and true happiness! How can you argue against love and happiness?

        CL, you mention the “zest” and “exuberant defiance” that muggers and rapists feel. I believe abusers, including rapists and other sexual predators, do feel some sort of “high” when they are abusing–which is not from the sex itself, but from the sense of power they feel over their victims. This “high” might contribute to the “high” that cheaters feel when they are in the affair, though they mistakenly and conveniently attribute this “high” to the romantic feelings they feel towards their AP.

    • Esther Needs-Some-Purell and Alain du Asswipe are just sociopaths dressed up in the Emperor’s New Clothes of shallow pretention and clouds of word salad. They impress other shallow, disordered, facades of human beings like themselves, but they are nothing more than smoke and mirrors hiding their true ugliness. Glitter on a turd, that’s what our society celebrates.

      • It’s funny, because Alain de Botton was one of my XH’s favorite writer.s Maybe Alain somehow inspired XH to pursue his personal happiness by chasing a 25-year old girl while I was at home taking care of a newborn.

    • It backs up the conclusion by some that too much intellect subtracts from common sense. I LOVE common sense, it has served me well.

    • She has no trouble judging chumps, though. That’s what puts her in the category of an abuser. She understands the cheater and justifies the cheating but sees the natural, human reaction to being betrayed and lied to as….bitter. Well, if I was in a contract with someone who agreed to put in equal resources, then reneged and put his resources elsewhere, then berated me for being hurt and angry, and finally wanted “his” half of the partnership when he hadn’t contributed equally…I’d be bitter too.

  • “There comes a point when one no longer can tolerate feeling devalued and taken for granted. Lack of attention and the sense of having become a function rather than a person can instigate a wish for escape.”

    Funny, this is exactly how I feel right now after my husband’s affair. Devalued. Taken for granted. Having become a function rather than a person. Wishing for escape.

    Somehow there’s a Bigger Purpose when my husband acts out in response to those (alleged) feelings, but when I respond to them I’m just being unsympathetic and small minded? Fuck that.

    • You forgot “bitter” and affecting a “sense of moral superiority” to the person who screwed you over.

      Because we all know that truly morally superior people react (to lies, cheating, squandering assets, and bringing home unwanted things like herpes and pubic lice by understanding that the person who lied to them, cheated on them, spent money on whores or affair partners and then infected them) by… understanding the cheater was just trying to find their new self.

      • well, that didn’t come out as well as intended… doh. Attempt 2:

        Because we all know that truly morally superior people react (to lies, cheating, squandering assets, and bringing home unwanted things like herpes and pubic lice) by… understanding the cheater was just trying to find their new self.

    • I was going to say the same thing, Free Vixen. When my ex was having his affair (and OK, looking back on everything, a lot of times pre-affair), he devalued me and took me for granted, didn’t pay much attention to me and treated me like a function rather than a person. And oh yeah, I was definitely sexually bored and frustrated a lot. So why wasn’t I out there having an affair? According to her, I was pretty much ENTITLED to!

      • I feel ya, Kira! Same thing on my end. I’m sorry he treated you that way. If he doesn’t see your light, he deserves to stay in the dark.

      • This is actually what I told Cheaterpants McDonkeyturd – that if during the marriage I had used his reasoning as an excuse for cheating I would have fucked half of the men on the planet by now. Amazing that! He could ignore me, not value me, not honor me, not respect me, and my solution to all of that was to try to work on fixing whatever the problem might have been – not to fuck the train conductor or the bus driver or the guy washing his car in the driveway next door.

    • This is how I felt the whole time I was with him, because he was so busy recruiting and hitting strange that he had little time to appreciate me. Devalued and taken for granted!?!? God, I want to smack her.

      Of course, since her fortune depends on her ability to peddle false hope, she has a vested interest in making our unsophisticated, judgmental views on infidelity the problem.

      • Yes, amazing that in her twisted world, the person who feels devalued is the one who is cheating. What does she supposed finding out that your partner is having sex, intimate discussions, romantic interludes and expensive tristes does to the chump?

  • Nailed it, LaJ-I am not mourning the loss of that relationship so much as what I could have done with those twenty years, and all that time and money. It has taken time and work, but at the end of it all, I choose me.

    So I am out, and grateful. Solo parenting a still traumatized kid, unemployed, knocking 46, in a strange new place, know hardly anyone, but skimming the edges of Meh.

    A solid argument, CL. As someone with two Liberal Arts masters, well done for not devolving to ad hominem in the face of her morally labrile theories. I get really sick of beng called an absolutist-ie believing in right and wrong, and acting like it. People who want to invent a grey area, then argue about its 50 shades just puzzle me.

    • I had forgotten this… one of the things my exH said me was that I always see things in black and white (during our false reconciliation), and this is why he could not talk to me.

      • Because he had to be the shiniest shade of grey, no doubt…..I know life is rarely simple, but right and wrong are constants. If people want to moosh around in the grey areas, they are welcome to it. It is wrong to abuse your family by lying to them, stealing their time and then blame the victims. Period. I think that is what mindfucks us chumps the most-we could never imagine doing something like that, never mind justifying it as an act of ‘exuberant defiance’.

        Grr….not so Meh, today.

  • exhuberant = Fuck you! Yeah! Fuck! You!
    defiance = You’re not the boss of me! You can’t MAKE me take Jr. to basketball practice! It’s BORING! I won’t take out the garbage! I hate it! I don’t have to run any errands! No! I will lie and cheat and steal and find someone to love me for me!

    • Come now, they’re only embracing their authentic self.

      It’s just a shame that the only way to do that is by becoming an openly flaming selfish asshole with little or no empathy for their own family 😉

    • Mine was angry with me for “making too much garbage.” Because then it had to be taken out. I guess the other woman ate all of her wrappers and cat litter and other household refuse. Maybe that’s why she’s so trashy…

  • “Adultery becomes a moral failing…..” Dammit I’m not cool. I always thought it was a moral failing, you know those pesky 10 commandments that you learn when your young aren’t ringing any bells for this woman. Even if you don’t subscribe to religion the 10 commandments were written long ago because there were fuckwits doing major ass stuff long, long before these enlightened asswipes came along. What’s next, thou shall be able to kill a person because thy exuberant defiance demands it. Ugh word salad at it’s ugliest.

    • Remember the old “Golden Rule?” That pretty much rolls all 10 commandments into a little package even the most lofty intellectuals can understand!

      • Agreed, Regina! It’s ironic how cheaters have no problem justifying their own cheating (“People aren’t meant to be monogamous”…”It’s ‘natural’ to want to have sex with many people”…”It’s in our genes”…ad nauseam) yet if the shoe was on the other foot, they are often the first to admit that they would have a HUGE problem being cheated ON!

        The Golden Rule pretty much puts us ALL on the same plane, whereas the cheater’s greatest fear is that (s)he is equal/fair in dealing with his/her life-partner.

  • Another pretentious sociopath spouting bullshit to make herself feel daring and important. Yawn. As for the crap about “clients including Fortune 500” companies, yeah, so, anyone can claim that — whether or not it’s true is another story. Hell, I personally have articles published online at and websites run by Electrolux and Novartis, so hey! I have Fortune 500 clients! Big whoop, as we said in elementary school. That certainly doesn’t mean my opinions or viewpoints mean anything more than anyone else’s.

    These sociopathic, more-enlightened-than-you types are a dime a dozen. They lie about everything, they spout crazy talk and they are full of endless bullshit. It’s sad that a sizable percentage of our society agrees with such bullshit, but as everyone here knows, there is no shortage of disordered, morally bankrupt people out there. Esther whats-her-face is just more glitter on a turd.

    • Whew! I need to put on my hip boots to wade through this BS.
      So, I get it.. It is just all about him (or her) again…again.. again…forever…
      I bet she could justify anything…

      Hooray for the chumps who are really their “authentic” selves!

    • I don’t think she does it out of intellectual pretense, I think it’s all about selling her snake oil. If she can get the betrayed to believe that the REAL problem is their view on cheating, she can keep on making the big bucks.

      I’m waiting on the karma bus to roll over her ass….you know, the morning she walks into her house and finds her husband fucking some skank he met on the internet. She’ll be changing her tune.

      • I’m waiting on the karma bus to roll over her ass….you know, the morning she walks into her house and finds her husband fucking some skank he met on the internet. She’ll be changing her tune.

        This is it, right here. I have a gaggle of local ladies whom I don’t know but are acquainted with a friend if mine. These ladies became acquainted with OW because OW and XH continue to stalk me. Anyway the gaggle was all like the above article, so sophisticated and lobbying my friend to accept OW. All these ladies are married. None of them are impressive people. If their hubs cheated, left for OW and ingratiated ( groomed) their kids to love the OW, they would be melted sacks of brain matter. Fuck all of you apologists, I do wish it on my enemies.

  • The narcissists of the world must love this woman! a free ticket and all the psycho babble to back up their belief they deserve to screw any one at any time. Now they can simply throw this woman’s article in the victim’s face and spare themselves the emotional display of the victim. Like James said to me when I discovered he had only hidden his personal ad and not removed it when he forgot to sign out of his email on my laptop, “Everything was fine until you found the ad.”

    When I found the ad I went straight outside to confront him. He was using an excavator at the time, I was in high heels and a short skirt, tiptoeing through the mud to get to him. His response to my anger over finding out he had 8 women on the hook was, “he might not go looking elsewhere is he got head more often”.
    I was furious! I raised my voice to be heard over the loud engine of the excavator I yelled, “WELL, I MIGHT BE MORE APT TO SUCK YOUR COCK IF I KNEW WHERE IT HAD BEEN!!” he shut off the excavator at the word “apt” but I was unable to stop myself. I looked around to see all the neighbors frozen in position with their mouths agape, staring in our direction. I courtesied, waved and walked back into the house.
    My ex used the incident as proof of that I was a psycho bitch who made his life hell, showing all that emotion and all; when I should have been “motivated to try harder seeing as I knew I was in competition”.

    • I wonder if any if the neighbors knew where it had been? That should make the next block party or HOA meeting dicey! A dick sucking competition? Where do we sign up? Me first, me first!!

    • I am amazed you did not run him over with your truck!!

      WOW! I would have loved to have been there! You are truly a classy, sassy lady! Would have given you a standing ovation with pom-poms and confetti!

      Forge on…..

    • Yes, that’s a line we should all remember: “WELL, I MIGHT BE MORE APT TO SUCK YOUR COCK IF I KNEW WHERE IT HAD BEEN!!”

    • Sweet!

      Gotta love it when the cheater pretty much declares it a competition for him or her.

      “Really? You pull this shit and still think you’re a prize? Who the fuck do you think you are, God’s gift?”

      Good times.

  • I guess it takes a village of pussy to raise a dick, and a village of dick to raise a pussy according to this philosophy.

    I remember saying to mine:
    What about all the loads I was the recipient of over the 20+ years? What about all the times I was not in the mood or didn’t feel well & enthusiastically “filled your needs?” What about as a “load” recipient I have done more than my job, and how many hookers, ho-workers, bar flies, sluts, “massage therapists” etc. would it have taken you to get through all those years? And how many times would you have been “alone” with your “problem?” All that counts for nothing when it is a slam dunk easy tail for you to grab? Sure she’s all “horny” you only see her 2x a month Ever think about who is hauling your ashes between “rendezvous?” And don’t get the idea I delivered lackluster duty screws either, I was always attracted to my husband sexually.
    I think narcs come to think of it as our “job” to please them, and these others are giving out of charity, unbridled attraction, or some other reason that has more meaning. (And guys, don’t forget you wallet!)
    You know the really big “gift” is the one NOT giving themselves away in such an easy manner!! We are the hunks of gold!
    I informed him chances are good a woman that goes for a married man is looking for money. The “secret” bonds them. Usually, they don’t have to worry where he/she is when not with them like they would with a “single” person. (They are stuck at home) Most single guys will take someone to dinner, but you need a married man if you are hoping for a mortgage payment, apartment, car or jewelry, Single guys do not do these things unless they want to make a woman THEIRS, and even then sometimes not. Then you move in together or get married. Not very exciting.
    Also, I loved this challenge to BS by Chump Lady. I really loved the analogy of shooting off your knee caps to improve your tennis game!
    And so true again it is not cheating if it is not a secret. Everyone has this choice.
    News Flash! When I was cheated on, I was being treated like crap. I couldn’t do anything right, our sex was slam/bam & over, and our conversation minimal. I knew something was really wrong, but of course got the denials. What I am saying here is that whatever they are getting from the “other person” they no longer need from us!! This is what we are feeling, this vacuum of our spouses needs getting served elsewhere, and our needs are now not being met at all. Most of these “experts” seem to act like nothing is detracted from the primary relationship, which in truth it usually has serious deficits directly as a result of the cheating that did not exist before it started.
    I also believe people who are casual about monogamy are rarely someone who puts years or decades into a relationship. You can’t expect to get out of something what you never put in!! When you go from person to person, you don’t form the kind of attachment that rips your soul out when it is betrayed, and your expectation is greatly lowered. It’s just like “time to move on again” I never expected much anyway.
    These people belong together, then there would be no “victims.” Or perhaps they would be the victims of their own shallowness & wonder why they have a black book of hook-ups at the end of their life instead of a family & cherished memories.
    Can’t have both, sorry!

      • Yes, very well said. Especially, “I also believe people who are casual about monogamy are rarely someone who puts years or decades into a relationship. You can’t expect to get out of something what you never put in!! When you go from person to person, you don’t form the kind of attachment that rips your soul out when it is betrayed, and your expectation is greatly lowered. It’s just like ‘time to move on again’ I never expected much anyway.” If they are of the narcissist or other character-ordered variety, they don’t feel the same kind of bond that chumps feel. I’m sure they do feel anger when things don’t go there way and “hurt” if their hermetically sealed minds are momentarily cracked open by the truth.

  • One of the weirdest things my ex said to me after cheating on and abandoning me was “You must hate me, but I don’t hate you,” as if he was the better person. You see, he wasn’t being all judgmental, like I was. He didn’t hate me for raising the kids and staying home taking care of things while he traveled for weeks at a time with OW. He didn’t hate me for that. How nice. How enlightened! Cheaters are so much more evolved than chumps!

  • “Religious prohibitions aside…”

    When most (if not all) major religions of the world–e.g. Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–prohibit adultery, I find it incredibly arrogant of Mrs. Perel, to summarily dismiss millennias of wisdom with that statement. What is her source of revelation? Her own brains and experience? Those pale in comparison to the rich religious traditions she so quickly pushes aside and “corrects” with her perspective. She would have served her readers better if she had listened to her elders and paused long enough to question why so many major religions prohibit such behavior.

    This stuff is so toxic. It is saddening that she has people at Fortune 500 companies as her audience. Congratulations, Mrs. Percel, you are working to make soul rape hip! Such advice destroys cheater and chump alike. Glad to not to have such blood on my hands. May God have mercy on her soul!

    • As somebody who happens to work for a Fortune 500 company, I am drawing a blank trying to understand how this message fits within the niche of “organizational consultant” (whatever that means? Project management or something?) or within the culture of most larger companies.

      I can’t imagine my company doing it. Managers have suddenly vanished (after rumors of affairs with subordinates were circulating. They were rumors, so I don’t know if they were let go for that reason, but? ), I don’t get the idea “embrace your selfish inner asshole” is on the agenda. Heck, they spend a good deal of time trying to convince people to do volunteer work in their communities.

      • It’s a paradigm shift in your crotchless undies. Attitude adjustment. It’s wrong , we know it’s wrong. But hey, if you don’t get caught and it benefits the organization (the cheater) than it’s acceptable. Just cover your tracks so the IRS can’t target you OR BETTER YET…find a suitable scape goat (the chump) to throw under the bus when shit goes down.

        …..that’s how we were motivated by such speakers. Lots of smoke and mirrors. Tons of word salad.

        • Wow, we don’t have anybody like this. Seriously. If there is a “whatever it takes as long as it benefits the bottom line on next quarter’s income statement, and you don’t get caught” thing going on, it’s so covert and exclusive nobody I know knows about it, let alone…. public speeches and presentations? I am swamped with the constant drumming that we are in no-way supposed to be doing anything that might cause people to mistrust ourselves or the company. I have about zero chance of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for example, and yet I know what it is, I know many, many examples of what constitutes violating it, and this has been drilled into my DNA–lol. That being said, some folks in another country did get us fined for such violations within the last few years, but it wasn’t because the message was “It’s OK”. The message was most assuredly it’s not ever OK. Better to lose a contract than be indicted and have people question our integrity.

          • I agree. I don’t work for a Fortune 500 company but think what happens when a CEO is exposed as a liar and a cheat. Not to say they always get fired, but the organization goes into “scandal management” mode. People get fired for offensive social media posts, so I can’t imagine standing up in front of the middle management or the stockholders and encouraging “erotic” liberation of married people via affairs.

            • If they haven’t found a fall guy, then yes those execs are fired. I’ve seen many take their golden parachute and leave without incident. I’ve seen many assigned to “special projects”.

          • I think this is true for most large companies. I also have a very difficult time believing she worked for Nike in any significant way, and certainly not in the capacity in which she is voicing her opinion about cheating. That company is all about image and cheating is not compatible with their brand message!

      • That one floored me too, TH. I mean……really? Is encouraging hook-ups among co-workers something she encourages to build comradery?

        • Before the changes in GAAP accounting for recognizing revenues and expenditures, there was a lot of creative accounting used by most big and small publicly held companies.

          It’s harder now to do creative finance. It is still done though. Sometimes in collusion with a particular client.

          What is her shtick to promote herself as a corporate motivational speaker? I have no idea. I DO know that people who like to bend rules in one area, tend to bend them in other areas.

          The best fit I could think of for such a person with her talents might be a group love thing. There are many people you work with who have hidden agendas because knowledge is power. Narcs like power and control. Maybe her message is more grooming for chumps or adding normalcy to the masks of cheaters.

          • In fact I do remember an incident that a new CEO came in and wanted to completely clear house. He brought in a speaker for his top level mgt on how to get “buy-in” from subordinates for the major downsizing. Ironically, when we mid mgrs were given the spiel by upper mgt, the phrase, paradigm shift, was used a lot. This was many yrs ago.

            I also know that many upper level mgrs go to training with such speakers to learn how to essentially mindfuck potential customers. How else do you become the master of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) without such an expert to teach you?

  • My cheating ex GAVE me her book to read when we were still together and I was under the impression that I was in a monogamous relationship…..grooming me like a f’ing pedophile grooms a child, to excuse his need for “sexual expression” through group sex, and making me feel like a philistine for getting quite simply grossed out and laughing at the stupidity of it all. I remember reading Esther’s book and just simply being exhausted by the overanalysis, the coddling, the shifting sands of what is considered decent human behavior.

    I agree, CL–fuck this lady.

  • Not to knock other women named Esther, but my exH’s OWife shares the name.
    I think I will always have to take a second to not rush to judgment when I hear it.

    • I always think of Aunt Esther on “Sanford & Son”:

      abilities, syncronicity, etc, etc.

      Back in the real world, she was a woman in her mid 40s who had never held a job more than 3 years (she was married to me when she established the 3-year job record before having a total meltdown on that job–don’t know all the details, but the versions of the story I was given don’t compute, so?). Our marriage was also her 2nd failed marriage, and I discovered in the aftermath (arguing) of the second d-day that she had either cheated or was planning on cheating in every single long-term relationship she had ever had when it ended.

      So that’s a pretty long struggle for her to find her “authentic self”. LOL.

      God Bless her. I hope she does find herself (maybe while taking selfies in front of the mirror as she was fond of doing, and believe me I when I say I am being kind in not pointing out more faults–which I incidentally never brought up–than were necessary to make my point). I am skeptical that zebra is going to grow spots instead of stripes, but what do I know?

      • “they didn’t do this specifically to hurt you. They did this to feel alive and to reconnect to their ‘authentic selves’”

        I actually think this is a story cheaters tell themselves because they know they’ve done something gravely wrong and can’t even take the first step towards actually feeling the guilt and shame normal people experience when they do something of this magnitude.

        I agree that Ester Perel plays right into the hands of the people who tell themselves these stories. I think she has tailored a message specifically for that group. It’s a cynical career move, I reckon.

        In other news, my cheating ex is now living in fear because her affair partner’s wife has just found out about the affair (bear in mind that my ex and I have been divorced for two years). She is sending threatening text messages to my ex. Can’t say I blame her.

        So long as my daughter is spared from any sort of confrontation, I’m happy.

        • I don’t doubt that cheaters see themselves want to “reconnect to their ‘authentic selves'” because so far, nothing has worked to fill the immense hole in their souls.” I’m not surprised that they fantasize that they had such an “authentic self” before the marriage or relationship and that moving forward (to inject some word salad), switching partners or multiple partners or cake on every side is the answer to their emptiness. I am quite sure that they all feel totally justified and that they blame us chumps for their plight. But, on the other hand, they lie at every turn, even to themselves.

    • I love Wayne & Tamara! They are the ONLY other advice columnists that don’t place the blame of an affair on the chumped.

    • Awesome! How refreshing to hear a pair of marriage counselors who don’t peddle false hope when it comes to cheating. Thanks so much for sharing that!

      • I liked this part, especially: “[A]s humans, we want love from someone who loves us to the exclusion of all others. Infidelity is the proof we don’t have what we most deeply crave…
        People need to hear they don’t have to put up with a spouse who violates the most basic tenet of the marriage contract. Strong reasons from religion, law, and cognitive science support leaving. If one person knows the other won’t leave no matter what, then that party has enslaved the other.”

  • This shit is unreal… Wow. Rather than help people to aspire to the discovering their potential to become better human beings, (a standard goal of therapy) Ester challenges her cohorts to normalize indecency and ‘lower the bar’ on morality. I’m so sick of our cultures’ glamorizations of this shit. What’s next? ‘The benefits (and sexiness) of beating your spouse’?!?

  • YES! You did an article on Esther Perel! I am sooo happy you did. She is so full of it. Every time I come across an article of hers (I could be wrong but I think she gave a TED talk) I don’t want to read it but I just can’t believe how she leaves out the downside to infidelity. I really think she has her career because she gets paid to tell adulterers what they want to hear. And she positions herself as a sophisticated liberated intellectual (she speaks six languages) so whatever she says *must* be correct. Hate her, hate her, hate her. Love you Chump Lady! Thank you. I want you to get a TED talk instead.

  • Going to read all the comments later, got to go work again but had to say this:

    “Sexual boredom and frustration, or plain sexlessness, can lead to what Steven Mitchell dubs “acts of exuberant defiance.”

    This is some fucked up shit, my cheating ex refused to have sex with me for five fucking years claiming he couldn’t come, he refused to do therapy, he refused to entertain the idea that his massive porn viewing might be a issue. He took some pills whenever I became adamant and then basically said “see I tried” & also told me I was too aggressive, I should wait for him to initiate. So many excuses and tears. And I believed he tried and I contemplated divorce but hung in cos I loved him, totally stupid. A therapist said to me, just because he couldn’t do that one thing he cut you off, if he loved you wouldn’t he have had sex with you to give you happiness. She was dead on, it was a control thing along with his fucked up sex shit and the porn. BUT that didn’t stop him hooking up with someone else so she could get him off. Fuck me, no fuck Esther and her sexual frustration excuse, if I concluded I couldn’t live without it then I would have divorced his ass. Ex denied me intimacy and got it somewhere else but didn’t want a divorce so the bastard finally fucked me once while still lying that he hadn’t fucked the OW, one time in five years and gave me an STI as his parting bullshit reconciliation gift.

  • Years ago, I was trained and volunteered as a counselor of victims of rape. One of the foundational tenets of that training is that rape is not about sex – it is about power and control – in the same way that beating a woman is about power and control. Sex is simply the weapon that is used. Infidelity is about creating and/or maintaining a power dynamic within the relationship – it is not about the sex – that is simply the weapon used.

    Infidelity is not a cry for help – that is bullshit on toast. Saying “Help” or seeking out help is a fucking cry for help. Infidelity is a statement of contempt, disrespect and resentment. The secrecy (and in some cases, even the non-secrecy) is used to diminish and thereby control (and punish) the Chump.

    Maybe there needs to be a version of Julius Caesar where instead of Brutus stabbing Julius Caesar in the back, Brutus fucks Caesar’s wife, in Caesar’s house in Caesar’s bed, while good ole Jules stands there bleeding from his back. That’s probably too subtle for the likes of the very lofty Ms. Perel, her ilk and her followers.

    • “Infidelity is a statement of contempt, disrespect and resentment. The secrecy (and in some cases, even the non-secrecy) is used to diminish and thereby control (and punish) the Chump.”

      Hard to read because I know it’s true. Hard to admit he hated me that much.

    • “Infidelity is a statement of contempt, disrespect and resentment. The secrecy (and in some cases, even the non-secrecy) is used to diminish and thereby control (and punish) the Chump.” Well Princess, I have focused greatly on my ex-wife’s narcissism and adolescent selfish approach to her cheating, but have never named the all out nasty “fuck you” element of it.

      The resentment part: Resentment is a silent banking of discontentment that you’d hope in a healthy relationship would be brought up and dealt with. I know it is not easy to do. A cheater can just clam up and leave and never do the hard work of bringing up issues that may well be valid. They never have to challenge their view of how the marriage is hurting because they are cowards.

  • Dear Linda,
    Great article. You encapsulated so much in the one article. I especially liked the imagery your words evoked.

  • Sorry, my previous comment should have been addressed to Tracy. Got myself mixed up with another post.

  • “In this view, understanding an act of infidelity as a simple transgression or meaningless fling, or a quest for aliveness is an impossibility.”

    This would send anyone who has experienced infidelity into an apoplectic fit. A simple transgression? Meaningless fling?

    Stupid shit cheater apologists say.

  • I tweeted the article to Esther Perel.

    She replied “my heart goes out to you – my article does not directly apply to your situation, as your experience goes way beyond infidelity.”

    I’m curious what she thinks my experience was that went “beyond” infidelity? When I compare my experience — 1.5 years of marriage and chumpdom to that of my husband’s 22 years of life with a serial cheater — I consider that I got off rather light.

    Maybe it’s easier to sympathize with cheaters in the abstract? But when you actually catalog the crimes they commit, well, perhaps it’s harder to be sympathetic? Or just lump them in some other category altogether of Really Bad People Who Did Things Worse Than Only Cheat?

    I invited her to share her POV with the blog. Hope she takes me up on it.

    • I guess her theories only apply those cases where the infidelity is a simple, harmless fling, and not full-on infidelity.

      And yeah…it’s a lot easier to blather out that garbage when you don’t consider the poor chumps on the flip side of their attempts at self-realization.

      • My 2 cents is that her definition of “infidelity” is a mythical unicorn variety of betrayal where no one gets hurt. Ergo, a chump experiencing and expressing devastating consequences as a result of “exuberant defiance” is not a victim of infidelity but rather some other action described by a different word. A word that she hasn’t written a book about diminishing the inherent aggression and cruelty of what “infidelity” actually means.

        I hope Esther does reply here, especially as to what she means by “beyond infidelity.” Does she think all of the trauma described here on Chump Lady is somehow not directly related to the act of infidelity?

    • Weird. Way beyond infidelity?
      Seems just about all of us here were victims of the garden variety infidelity. Cheating, lying, gas lighting, blaming etc.
      More vague communication from Esther.
      Look, if a person is a world renowned whatever and on the faculty of NYU, why can’t this women express herself more
      Exuberant defiance? WTF does that even mean? How do these folks keep coming up with this stuff?

    • It gets down to this: Esther condones lying to the person closest to you. How awesome and sexy.

  • I guess some people lap this stuff up. Word salad , again.
    I think these writers, the ones who sound like this woman in terms of their prose, really they to sound as if they are very smart and evolved. The best writers, IMO, use plain , straight forward language,
    Again, what is so difficult about the concept that it is just fine to seek variety and new partners but there is a fundamental difference between doing it honestly and doing it at the expense of another.
    Look, the betrayed spouse is relying on an agreement between the two partners, undoubtedly foregoing similar opportunities in order to perform according to the explicit terms of the contract.
    I would think that a bored, unfulfilled partner( or whatever other weird term one wants to use for the cheater'(( an “exuberant defying whatever”)) could simply approach his or her partner and inform the person that the deal is now off. How does doing that stand in the way of the cheater fulfilling his or her destiny blah.
    This is not a difficult concept. One can have all the variety one can attract, but, simply, do it in the open so the person you pledged fidelity to can act with full information.
    I am sorry, but this failure to address the dishonesty and theft of time is a recurring theme with these folks writing about affairs being okay.
    As CL points out, this dishonesty not only robs the other person of control, but puts the victim at a very real risk of disease, paternity fraud, and financial damage.
    Even if you take out the emotional damage ( as the over reaction is , of course, entirely volitional and a sign of the victims lack of evolution) , cheating always poses a health risk etc to the victim. What possible justification can there be for that?
    CL. you are just too smart for this woman. It is a pleasure to read you carve her up with wit and ridicule. It must be like shooting fish in a barrel when you come across stuff like this.
    Do you really believe big time Fortune 500 companies utilize this woman’s services in any capacity? I find that claim, frankly, incredible. Perhaps she did some paer shredding for them or some janitorial work at one time. I do not believe any successful US company would consult with her. That must be BS.

    • Absolutely agree. For me it always comes down to this: I made life-altering decisions based on what I believed to be true in my life. When I found out a lot of that wasn’t true it meant that those decisions caused me enormous amounts of stress and trouble, particularly financially (and that is a long term problem now).

      Throw in the emotional fuckery, dealing with kids falling apart, the realisation that dickwad could have given me all sorts of diseases and yeah, this is about anything other than basic truth, honesty and straightforwardness.

      You want to fuck around? Talk to your partner and say open marriage or divorce. But somehow that rarely happens.

  • I think her corporate sponsors are not paying her to encourage infidelity.

    More likely she champions the exuberant defiance of office tower warriors piddling in the stairwell, of refrigerator raiders liberating your lunch from the canteen, of renegades by the water cooler muttering obscenities with each impassioned breath, of exhibitionists pressing flesh to glass 30 floors above the street….

    You know, stuff that makes the workplace rewarding.

    • I would bet a fair amount of money that Nike orJohnson and Johnson have never enlisted this woman’s advice or services for things concerning relationships or eroticism .

  • There’s a stigma about being a victim of infidelity. To announce youself as a victim, is announce you’re not that smart, or that you asked for it. It takes courage to admit that you’ve been chumped. Being chumped is not sexy.

    Every chump knows they could get strange at any given moment. Cheating is too easy, especially now a days.

    To become a cheater has little qualification…short fat, tall slim, educated or undecated….all that it requires is the ability to dumpster dive into the world of cheater nirvana. Cheater Nirvana, is a world of Ashely Madison, Craig’s list, hookers, strip joints. But not to be outdone by cheater services, there are plenty of soccer moms and dads, office colleagues, and “business travel” that is chock full of cheating opportunity.

    To add to cheater nirvana, there are flakey intellectuals who write books on how cheaters are good people. It’s like free crack cocaine.

    Esther Perel, sells intellectual crack.

    • “Esther Perel, sells intellectual crack.”

      Concise and Brilliant. Thank you.

  • I had a discussion today with a fellow chump who is very precious and special to me. I was just so blown away by what she had to say about Perel’s “village” that I asked her if I could share it on CL. She agreed. Here is my attempt to combine a string of her text messages. I own all typos:

    I can’t get to get to the website at work, and I sure as heck am not gonna take time from my own village to complain on CL about the idea behind Ester’s. But the more I think about this imaginary village, the more it seems not to hold. If at the core is this idea that we expect one person to do what we used to expect an entire village to do, then shouldn’t we focus on building better villages to keep our primary relationships intact? If our relationship fills our need for stability but not excitement (not my particular problem – just a hypothetical) then what exactly am I supposed to do? Hit up my partner for excitement or my village? What if my village isn’t very exciting? What if my own brand of excitement is too risky and my partner and my village say ‘no’, am I entitled to change either? How does that not upset either the partner or the village which I am supposedly conversely supporting as well? Is either going to celebrate my exuberant defiance?

    It takes a village to raise a CHILD. Keyword: child. We all invest in one-way relationships with children. We all give them candy and kiss their boo-boos and expect nothing in return. But in grown-up world, villages are only as good as the interdependencies that maximize the number of win-wins. We give politeness expecting politeness. Well, this ‘village’ that supports my adult self presumably expects some support back from me. Heck, even the local bartender wants a tip. So in my adult village, I get. But I also have to give. I have to give support in return. Or excitement. Or stability. Or predictability. Whatever the need of the moment is. Whatever complex interplay that keeps the whole thing standing another day. But what if instead of offering support where needed, instead I’m exuberantly defying, and fucking my villager’s mate? How long is my village gonna last?

    This whole thing rests on a fairytale idea of a village that we create only for children (or other complete defendants). Not adults. Never adults, actually. But some adults never fully transition from being the child and receiving the benefits of the child and try to drag this village along with them into adulthood. Like a binky. Who gets that deal? Nobody. Only in love, do we find people who give us precious moments of being able to purely receive. Precious moments. Then reality kicks in. And that’s okay. Because without a village of grown ups, how are the actual children ever going to make it? They’re not.

  • Oh good golly CL – your followup today is hilarious in it’s truth. Honestly, I’m glad that she’s following you – perhaps she’ll peek inside the site and recognize all the pain poor character causes. Our point of view is more than valid. Financial, physical, emotional, sexual, verbal abuse = abuse, pure and simple.

  • The point she seems to be missing is that it’s about CONSENT. If you ravage me in bed and I consented, it’s a hot sexual liaison. If I didn’t consent, it’s rape, and it’s devastating. Similarly, if I am your partner and you ravage someone ELSE in bed and I consented, it’s a healthy, open relationship. If I didn’t consent, it’s infidelity … and it is similarly devastating.

  • I haven’t read all the comments yet, but wanted to add that I (long ago) read her “Mating in Captivity” book. It basically says “Humans need sexual variety by nature, so for monogamy to work, you need to role-play during sex – dress-up and basically pretend to be other people.’ That is such a sad viewpoint, and it’s not even true. Sooo sad.

  • Esther Perel can bite me, too.

    I loved this blog. Thank you for calling her out. Corporations pay for this drivel? Is it a weekend seminar in Vegas, employees only?

    Butt plugs! One of the stbx’s sites had links to butt plugs. It made me nauseous. After your post, it makes me laugh.

  • “Though affairs often result in deep emotional crisis, deception and betrayal are not the prime motivation.”
    -Esther Perel

    Cheater: Hey, we have ants in our house.
    Partner: Wow, that’s terrible. Maybe we should place some ant traps or call an exterminator.
    Cheater: Hmmm, Let me get back to you on that.
    Cheater: (it’s more efficient to just burn the house down, where are those matches?)

    Partner: (sifting though the ashes of a former home) What the hell happened?
    Cheater: I have no idea, but look on the bright side, our ant problems are history.

  • I stumbled upon this while looking for works by Esther Perel and was horrified. Perel’s research and writing comes from a place of thoughtfulness, growth, and understanding. She searches for meaning in ambiguity instead of placing a good/bad label on complicated relationships. Your writing is pure hate and bitterness toward your ex, which is reductive and doesn’t add to the conversation at all.

    • That Esther has “clients that are Fortune 500 companies” was a typo. What she meant to say was that she gained her hypothesis from a Fortune Cookie. Her apologies for the misprint.

    • Oh honey, do you need some goggles to see through Esther’s bullshit? I hope you take a look at today’s blog post, inspired by your comment. If you’re a betrayed spouse, you’ll come to see that Chump Lady radiates clarity and self-respect. It only looks like bitterness through the lens of denial. (Been there.) If you’re a cheater, you’ll dive head first into the narcissistic Esther Perell Kool-Aid and happily drown there before you admit that maybe you’re just an asshole.

  • CL is a great blog. Just ran across the Esther post today, and….man, she’s a douche. She’s just a cheater apologist. Total BS. Tracy is 100% spot on.

  • I can feel your pain from here. But this screams of someone who has never been in an abusive relationship. Exuberant defiance can be a result of years of emotional abuse. Look into covert narcissists. These abusive types can withhold intimacy to achieve control over their partner. Very sad stuff. And you could just leave right? Well that’s the cycle of abuse, your abuser has control over you, typically isolating and financial control. Then when you try to leave they love bomb you and promise they will change, rise and repeat. You most likely have to experience this kind of relationship to understand it, be grateful you cannot resonate with the concept of a deviant affair.

    Much love XX

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