Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

UBT: “Monogamy Is a Gift”

giftYou know you’re wading in deep bullshit when you see the title “The Unsparing Genius of Esther Perel.”

Oh please do spare us.

Sorry. “Leading Mindful Living Expert” and “Certified Yoga Therapist” Ira Israel broadcasts to The Good Men Project and Huffington Post that Esther Perel is nothing short of GENIUS. (Like picnics are a few sandwiches short. Or loads are a couple bricks short. Or casseroles are a few peas short…)

Maybe Ira lost oxygen to his brain attempting a double Buddhasana (Google it). How else can you explain?

“Esther Perel commands a much more expansive breadth of knowledge regarding relationships than anyone I have ever read, her insights are blistering, and the manner in which she has aggregated the academic literature and assimilated her clinical observations is nothing short of genius.”

Maybe you just haven’t read a lot, Ira?

Frankly, I couldn’t get past the douche-y first sentence. “For patients who wish to deconstruct the myth of romantic love I always recommend…”

I thought people went to therapists to learn to get along with their mother-in-laws better. Or fight fairly with their spouses. Or cope with their children’s drug habits. No. Apparently there is an entire segment of the therapy market that goes to Deconstruct Myths.

Do they sit around camp fires and read John Campbell? Are there hash brownies?

There’s Sartre!

Anthropologically she observes that the shift during the Industrial Revolution from village to city life caused the burden of selfhood to shift from the tribe to the individual. Just as Sartre posited that we are “confronted” by our relatively new freedoms, Ms. Perel notes that contemporary urban life places the onus on the individual to decide “how much we eat, sleep, work, and fuck.”

I hate when the tribe tells me what to do. The tribe is not the boss of me! But how will I ever deal with the Burden of Selfhood unless the tribe tells me how much to eat, sleep, work, and fuck? I can’t be expected to make decisions! Damn you freedom!

The UBT can’t take much more of this article. Just one Esther Perel concept at a time, otherwise the engine starts to melt.

..her work on infidelity which she reframes as “a desire to feel alive;” she claims that the majority of people who stray from their marriages have been faced with their own mortality in some way during the preceding three years and their affairs function as a temporary antidote against certain demise.

I’ve done some work on bank robbing, which I’ve reframed as a “desire to have money.” I’ve also done some work on hegemonic systems and colonial rule, which I’ve reframed as “I can take your stuff because I have guns and chicken pox.” And I’ve also done work on the stubborn existence of my squidgy midsection, which I’ve reframed as a “desire to eat carbohydrates.”

Esther and I should really compare scholarly notes some time! Over hash brownies!

Anyway, that’s not why I was writing. I just couldn’t skip over those nuggets without snarking. (I am avoiding the whole divorce is dignity over forgiveness shit. Those bitter chumps who can’t get over ONE SINGLE indiscretion! Otherwise my brain will explode.)

I wanted to deconstruct “Monogamy is a gift.”

What the fuck does that mean? Monogamy is a gift? What, you mean like a hostess gift you take to a party? Monogamy is a scented candle?

Monogamy is a commitment. You choose (oh damn those individual liberties!) exclusivity with your partner.

I’m not entirely sure why I find the “monogamy is a gift” argument offensive. I think there is this whiff of triviality, along with this monogamy as a dog treat imagery I have in my head.

Monogamy dangled over a hungry schnauzer.

“Have you been a good boy?”

Schnauzer: Pant! pant! GIVE ME THE TREAT!

“Are you deserving of the monogamy biscuit?”

Schnauzer grows more frantic, circles madly.

“Maybe I should give the biscuit to Ginger, the Australian shepherd instead? She’s been a good girl.”

NO! DON’T GIVE MY BISCUIT AWAY! (barks desperately.)

(Flings the biscuit.) “Here you go!”

(gobble, gobble…)

Do cheaters even WANT the monogamy biscuit? Only chumps want the monogamy biscuit. I gave the “gift” of my monogamy to my cheating ex. He accepted it as his right and due, and gave me a counterfeit “gift” in return.

Here’s what monogamous commitment looks like to me: I am so lucky to have you. I respect and admire you so much, I want to be yours. To be your partner, would be such an honor.

I want someone to feel that way about me. Not give me monogamy as a grudging gift, or a badly chosen one, like an itchy sweater from Aunt Mildred. I want a commitment that is shared happily and freely. And that has substance — through sickness and health, for richer for poorer.

You can’t do that? Fuck the biscuit.

This column ran previously. The UBT is trying to work its way towards choking down “What’s Wrong with Infidelity?” — EP in the Economist for fuck’s sake. Stay tuned.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Monogamy is a gift goes against everything else said where they argue the individual is all that matters… Because it implies that monogamy has value ….

    Blurgh. I don’t think I read this one in the archives and it boils me anew.

    • The real gift isn’t the monogamy but the *click-bait* that lines the pockets of the morally deprived website owner/s that allows drivel like this to further poison an already increasing number of disordered cheating souls.

      Monogamy = Commitment
      Click-Bait = Gift of $$$$

  • ..her work on infidelity which she reframes as “a desire to feel alive;” she claims that the majority of people who stray from their marriages have been faced with their own mortality in some way during the preceding three years and their affairs function as a temporary antidote against certain demise.

    Wow! My ex and my husband’s ex must have had HUNDREDS of near death experiences!

    Where do you find this drivel?

    • My X faced his own mortality after D-day.

      Reminds me of a philosophical speaker I heard about years ago who argued that Determinists were people worried about their own “finitude.” Yeah, because believing in things like the laws of nature (or monogamy) is due to our fear of death. SMH. I would need to inhale the gas from 10 Redi-whip cans before Esther Perel would make sense to me.

      • Hmmm…so, the Xhole faced mortality? Interesting – theory. Oh, but wait…it was me who had to agree to disconnect my 64 year old mother from life support 10 months before he left me for his whore. How come I didn’t go out and fuck the easy during my confrontation with mortality? I guess I didn’t have “the desire to feel alive”? X ran marathons every single month. I think he felt “alive” every time he crossed a finish line. Me, I was walking around sobbing over losing my mom, who certainly would have preferred to be alive.

        Such ridiculous drivel.

        • I had a marathon/triathalon cheater too. I was the chumpy husband who her friends thought was so great to support her athletic endeavors. All the while she was sleeping with one of the fellow competitors and doing hardly any parenting or house work or much of anything except training.

          I think the primary way in which cheaters are faced with their own mortality is the simple realization that they deserve more, that they are entitled to more, that marriage is just “too hard” and shouldn’t be so much work, and that more kibbles are desired and justified.

          • Buddy, I agree with you completely about the entitlement. Ex was only concerned about his running. He’d sign up for 3rd rate marathons so he could place 3rd in his age group (out of 5).

            Didn’t care that I out earned him and that he was in an entry level job for 19 years. I took promotions. He declined them because the boss was mean or he only wanted to be responsible for himself. My work and hobbies were centered around us. Making things better for us.

            I settled. Never again.

            • I also had a marathon cheater who later became a triathlon/marathon cheater.
              His life revolved around training, and his appearance.
              Family and marriage weren’t his priority and more of an annoyance.
              Never made plans for his family or do anything with his son, though he could make detailed plans for his next marathon, monthly workout, and daily nutritional supplements.

              My life in contrasts revolved around creating a happy home, family, holidays and making sure any plans made were around his workouts as not to disturb his routine.
              Creating family time and family memories weren’t important, only an annoyance that intruded on his “me” time.
              Explains why anytime he did spend with us he was complained and was obviously miserable.

              • Oh so many similarities, although my X was a different kind of athletic, the intellectual type…

                I used to say that being married to him was like being married to an athlete that never retires. I made it work, taking on most of the home front and kiddo-related responsibilities… Giving him the gift of more time to focus on his demanding work because I believed we were a team.

                Then I found out that he spent a sizeable chunk of his time involved in extra-curricular activities with a gradwhore half his age…

                I am so very very grateful I live in a country where I could give him the ultimate parting gift… Divorce papers.

              • “Giving him the gift of more time to focus on because I believed we were a team.”

                that is the the key to their power and our demise

                so how to fix the picker without being paranoid?

                i think the key is to just observe actions, including reciprocal (or lack thereof) actions; and to ask for similar gifts and see how they respond.

                i came up with a saying about my cheater’s responses to my requests “anything but that. anytime but now.” rinse – repeat.

                that is, my cheater was 100% open to and supportive of my needs in theory, except right now at this moment, “anything but that” or “anytime but now”. When one consistently applies “anything but that ” and “anytime but now”, then it becomes ubiquitously non-reciprocating, and she really made zero effort to accommodate my needs or support me or care about me whatsoever.

              • So true Buddy, I spackled over him being so sure so quickly about “us” and about his lack of reciprocity… If I ever work up the courage to date again, these are two of the things I’ll be observing closely.

          • Every year his mother sent him a birthday card telling him he deserved to be happy.

            Even she told him she didn’t like the SlunT. Evidently I wasn’t good enough for him.

            The search is always on.

            • I can vouch that 9 miscarriages made me confront my mortality over the last 2 decades, over and over again, as well as the certainty that I am the end of my line. I never cheated, never wanted to.

              • Oh, Kiwichump–that is heartbreaking. Consider motherhood on your own (if that is your desire); frankly it’s easier parenting by one’s self than with a disordered parent. Hugs!

    • Anything qualifies as “facing your own mortality”. Have a kid? New job? Fender bender? Difficult bowel movement? It affected me! This is my reaction! The only known cure is cake and deceit!

      Bitch please.

        • But if it’s a “mid-life” crisis, how can someone be motivated to have an affair based on a sense of one’s own mortality? Mid-life implies you still have half your life to live. typical cheater logic.

  • I think I am going to give myself the gift of checking in tomorrow! I like my blood unboiled and my head out of the blender. Have fun with this today chumps. I just can’t do this today.

    • It’s always good to take some time for yourself. I’ll look for you tomorrow. I always love what you have to share. Take care.

  • My cheater would have loved this article. I think he was already in this mindset. Early on in the relationship I expressed how I wanted monogamy (AKA one sexual partner at a time). At the time when I said it, his reply was “So then YOU be monogamous.” I should have realized at the time he told just me to stick with it and didn’t really agree to both of us being monogamous. After the affair came to light he also said that he was being considerate of my feelings. That he was thinking of how I would feel if he ended things just a few months after we said we were exclusive. So instead he decided to go on that out of town trip and not tell me about his ex-girlfriend because he was thinking of my feelings! I guess he kept thinking of me and my feelings first when he kept seeing his ex-GF for years and got his one last trip for closure half-way through my pregnancy. Gee, thanks for thinking of me and pretending to give me the monogamy that I so desperately desired.

    • Wow. Yes, we don’t see it at the time, but they tell us exactly who they are early on. My ex wife told me she firmly believed in divorce. Then why the Hell did she wait 28 years if she was so unhappy? Because I was of use to her. She had her side guys so she kept me on. 🙁

      • Yep… Took 22 yrs of wasting my time to tell me he wasted HIS ’30’s’ as in I could have been a stud around here if it wasn’t for you and the three beautiful kids we created . but hey , it was always all about you so no change there… The ultimate selfishness and arrogance is mind boggoling . swearing on the kids lives he wasn’t leaving because of someone else was a special touch .

      • so true – we don’t see it at the time, but they tell us exactly who they are early on.

        Just prior to marriage, cheater said the one thing he would not tolerate was cheating. I bought into this statement hook, line and sinker. Thought I had a great guy that would never cheat on me. In hindsight, what he was saying was that he wouldn’t tolerate ME cheating – he never said he wouldn’t cheat. Boy did I interpret that the way I wanted to hear it….

        • bbc — YES YES YES

          KK said the same: “Cheating is the dealbreaker. I’m a firm believer that if a man is a cheater once, he is always a cheater. One and done — you’d be out the door immediately.”

          I did not realize at the time (or maybe I noticed it subliminally, but never paid it any conscious attention) that she did not include herself in that standard.

          • Same here. Cheaters say a lot of things in the beginning. Their brains have a hard time to catch up to their mouths.

            Get a load of some of these quotes my borderline-harlequin ex mentioned….

            “I would NEVER cheat on you because it’s not who I am.” – HA!
            “I love you with all my heart and soul” – HA!
            “I can’t believe you would accuse me of fucking your sister’s husband” – HA!
            “You complete me” – Are you fucking kidding me? Watch Jerry Maguire much?

            Esther Perel and her minions want the “desire to feel alive” with no consequences. So did Hitler and supremacists and hate groups alike.

              • I have the desire to feel alive while tap dancing on the traitor and the whore’s graves… Not gonna happen I’m afraid. Guess I’ll have to become a cheater then…sigh…

            • Mine too!!! He said he would never cheat. When I was suspicious he was so upset that I could even think he would do such a thing. I was so trusting….

            • My cheater said some of those same things.

              -“it’s not in my nature to cheat.”
              -“I prayed for you to come into my life.”
              -“you’re perfect for me.”

              I mean, if I told him that I prayed for him to come into his life and then just had a casual sleepover with an old guy friend that probably would not have gone over so well. Or maybe I should feel special since I’m the lucky woman who brought out the cheater in him since he’s never cheated before.

              • Oh I got that too. “I’d never cheat on you because I know what it feels like.” And to that lie he added harassing me until I gave up my one true male friend so it looked like he was really afraid of me cheating on him. Perfect deflection from his secret life of online dating, neighborhood hookups, prostitutes and porn.

        • I had been super clear about cheating as I was chumped in a previous long-term relationship. My X admitted that he cheated on a previous girlfriend, but he was young then, it was over 15 prior to meeting me, he’d learned from the experience and would never do this to me… Fast forward a decade and I stumble upon >500 between him and his mistress…

          Cure to him telling me “I can compartmentalize my life in a way that, as a woman, you probably can’t understand.”

          Funny how his ability to compartmentalize crumbled when, three weeks post-DDay, he realized that I moved out with copies of all our documents, had paid my lawyer’s retainer, and had wired half of our liquid assets to a new checking account in my name.

      • I agree that you can always see the traits that ultimately led to your marriages demise very early on in the relationship

        But, we all had our chump blinders on at the time

  • Can’t wait for UBT’s output of this Bobrow creature (editor for culture and style!!!) in The Economist. I’ll be sipping kale juice when I read its version of a refreshing way of talking about sex and uniquely narrow-minded takes on infidelity. Very curious about how it will get “hurt wife to empathise with her husband’s pride at his prowess at sexually satisfying his affair partner”. Us chumps never again will be smug, but Bobrow and Perel seem so smug.

    • What screams out in that article is that infidelity is intolerable at an instinctive level. So in the days of increased tolerance of all sorts of sexual practices, same sex couples, etc. it is still unbearable.
      Because it is a betrayal. Simple.
      Nowadays a lot of young people take time to decide to be exclusive. Once they have agreed on that, infidelity is a betrayal, whether you are married or not. You lied, you broke a promise.
      I find that attitude very encouraging. It shows this new generation understands tolerance and accepts many different lifestyles, but has an excellent moral compass. They don’t tolerate lies or betrayal.
      In fact when you live in a society where it is possible to divorce fairly quickly, where you needn’t be married in the first place so can end a relationship even faster, where you are free to be in a couple with someone of either gender, there are NO excuses for infidelity. We have all these hard won freedoms and no reasons to lie or hide. Those who do are abusing the system.

  • I’ll be candid — I asked myself many of those same questions about sex and intimacy, and grappled with many of those same issues.

    And never once did I entertain the thought of finding the answers outside of of the commitment I made to the Kunty Kibbler. My sense of self and code of behavior told me, “You cannot go back on your word. Any violation of the promise you made to yourself — yes, to YOURSELF — when you married KK would mean the destruction of who you are as a human being.”

    I wish more focus was placed on the statement that “(Ms. Perel) does not claim to have answers.” Maybe then cheaters would be so quick to take her statements as license to act on their own behalf, with no regard for the devastation those acts leave in their wake.

    But I doubt it.

    • Yes, what about the vow we took and the commitment we made. If monogamy doesn’t meet your needs, don’t get married or pledge fidelity to your partner and promise to forsake all others.

      • never,they can’t have the relationship they seek without doing that. They want us to be committed so they have to give the faux commitment illusion.
        If my ex said ” I really love you but I’m not going to commit and monogamy isn’t for me” it wouldn’t make me want to date him because he was soooo honest. I would of thought he was an asshole and it would of been over right there.

  • So much word salad.
    Did this write up come with cherry tomatoes and a packet of balsamic vinaigrette?
    Definitively from the if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance baffle them with bullshit department.

    Dang it, now I’m hungry.

  • Nothing inspires my confidence in a professional writer’s opinion of the value of a person’s expertise quite like an apparent total disregard for accurate grammar. Ira seems to have gotten so twitterpated about Esther that his fourth grade English lessons fell right out to make room for more glowing adjectives about infidelity.

    I don’t mean to be a grammar snob… I am just saying that a professional writer who isn’t good at writing doesn’t seem well-suited for a persuasive piece, so I remain unpersuaded. I don’t believe Perel is a genius. I believe Ira is a professional liar masquerading as a professional writer and Perel supports his crappy integrity as preferable to healthy adult behavior. She says what Ira wants to hear. How genius!

    By all appearances, Perel is, and has always been, a self-serving, entitled, monogamy-shaming advocate for dishonesty. She doesn’t advocate polyamory — that’s a stance I could respect. She openly supports the dishonesty required for infidelity/cheating. How can I believe the viewpoint of a person who is flat out telling me she believes lying is preferable to honesty?

    When someone tells you who they are, the goal is to believe them the first time, right? Perel is on her thousandth time. I believe her.

  • Characterizing monogamy as a “gift” also bolsters a mindfuck central the the RIC, namely, that monagamy is rare, unnatural, and you are unreasonable to expect it. Even from someone who promised you monogamy. Like a gift, they want you to think, you did not earn it, not even by the love and devotion and monagamy you brought to the marriage. And like an extravagant gift from a stranger, they need you to believe, you really don’t *deserve* it. For believing we deserve better is often what sparks a chump’s decision to leave.

        • So all we need to do is bring back Greek and Latin to elementary school education?

          Perhaps cheaters hear “monogamy” as mano a mano–hand to hand combat (which is what marriage to them often seems like).

  • Very appropriate “gift of monogamy” for this time of year. You either do it or you don’t. If you don’t, just admit it and live that life. It’s that simple. The problem is that cheaters like the advantages lying gives them, so they say they are monogamous but never really are. They’re just shitty people who’s lies we fell for.

    • So very true, “cheaters like the advantages lying gives them.” It’s all about entitlement and having the high of feeling they have the upper hand.

      Cheater told me early on that he married me because I reminded him of his mother. I was so flattered, because I loved his mother and thought she was such a sweet person. However, she was also a long-suffering chump, married to a complete asshole and she managed to support her unemployed, emotionally abusive narc for many decades. Yes, they do tell you early on who they are. We just don’t hear what they are really saying.

      Unlike his mother, I dumped my cheater. He counted on me always being like her, but my story has a triumphant ending. Leave a cheater, gain a life.

    • The Jesus cheaters are a special bunch aren’t they? My cheating ex wife was never religious in the slightest until she cheated and left me and our daughter..after that all her posts and emails ended with the hands in prayer emoji, whatever the hell that was supposed to mean..

      • OW was very religious and made the fact that she was “saved” known from the minute she met someone new. Thanks to my friends (who know the info no longer hurts me), I recently saw her prominently featured in a video from a new church in town. In it, she is gushing about the wonderful minister and the warm feeling she felt when he entered the room! I think my X is very familiar with that feeling. I thought about calling the minister’s wife, but I am sure OW has spun some story about what happened so convincingly that nothing I say would change a damn thing. But the sheer chutzpah of these Jesus cheaters is the stuff of legends. God as partner in crime is certainly not a concept I learned in Sunday school!

        • I hear you, Violet. God is brought in not only as their partner in crime, benevolently smiling on all that the cheaters do, but He is also brought up as disapproving and angry at the chump because the chump is judgmental and unforgiving. It all works that way in their disordered minds!

    • Boy, that guy gave a great answer. I also eventually came to the conclusion he states at the end, “The truth is that if you don’t save yourself from drowning, you’ll go under.”

  • Why is lying the absolute first resort of these people ? Its like if you fall for the basic lies ‘ are you on tinder?’ ‘I work late for the sake of the family ‘ …. ‘I do everything around here’. .. Then you’ll fall for anything. Thats why they appear to have ‘contempt’ for you at the end .

  • Perel (and Sartre): how to base a career on explaining to the world why you are an entitled asshole and should be able to do whatever you want (hint, the trick is to help people justify doing whatever they want).

  • “Do cheaters even WANT the monogamy biscuit? Only chumps want the monogamy biscuit.” Yes, cheaters want, expect and count on that monogamy biscuit as their rightful treat FROM us. And they know how much we value the monogamy biscuit. But they feel completely entitled to withhold that biscuit from us (You don’t DESERVE this biscuit…you can’t APPRECIATE this biscuit), or give us what we THINK is a monogamy biscuit, but in reality is bullshit and gas lighting rolled in what they SWEAR is monogamy frosting.

  • I love the assertion that the majority of people who stray have been faced with their own mortality in the previous 3 years. My cheater has never been faced with his mortality. In fact, I’m fairly certain he believes himself to be immortal!

    I, on the other hand, have faced my own mortality and it gave me no desire to stray. It just made me really freaking tired and sick.

    Who are these people? & where do they get their “facts”?

    • X did in fact learn of his degenerative medical condition in the year prior to his affair and I believe it was a factor in his betrayal, but certainly not in the way Perel describes it. Rather, X had always been a very vain and charming guy. The ladies loved him. When his looks began to fade and his physical prowess declined, he wasn’t getting the attention and adulation he had come to expect. OW was more than happy to give it to him. So, yes, X’s absolute need to be worshipped as the hero he was was one of the reasons for the affair. But it was a shitty, selfish and unethical reason, something to be condemned, not excused! Looking back, I now also firmly believe there were other affairs that he was able to hide through the years because of his constant travel and ability to be gone for long periods of time (while I worked a demanding job and raised four kids as a married single mother).

    • There probably are lots of cases of cheaters losing parents or having health scares prior to cheating, but it could just be coincidental. I have had 2 friends lose parents in the last 2 years & neither of them have had affairs (but their husbands did ?)
      Even if there is an association with the cheaters facing their mortality , it’s not an excuse. It’s just a catalyst, sparking off the “I have a right to feel sexy and young” attitude in an already narcissistic and selfish personality.

  • Men are not manogamous and women should be. My girlfriends better be faithful to me or they are history! Said asswipe. Note the pural of girlfriend. Km replied even the married ones? Doesnt matter they will think of me while doing their husbands. Spewed asswipe. What a moron. Apparently being a procurer of multiple snatches and racking up knotches on the sex masters belt is what he aspires to now. Totally black and white, no grey for this pod. Cheating is his claim to fame and he expects everyone to pat him on the back. Good grief! Thank the stars my moving day is tomorrow and i move along from his lala fantasy world of pods! He so thankful my daughter chose to live with me and not him so i wont be alone like he really cares. Code for how many bondage sessions can i have in the house if daughter lives here? Im a much better influence anyway. I really care he only acts like he does. But he doesnt. Only the screaming penis now matters. I had a really decent life with him and loved him more than myself for many years 27 years. Then the mask dropped. His loss. I gain a life it starts tomorrow! Fuck him. And esther fuck you too you brainless twat!

  • “I want someone to feel that way about me. Not give me monogamy as a grudging gift…”

    This^. Funny, now that you’ve said it CL I feel like there was always a hint of this in my previous marriage, that during the time she WAS faithful it was given grudgingly.

    • My ex watched every move I made for 24 years assuming everything was a cover-up of infidelity, even though I never cheated on her or wanted to, or cheated on anyone else.

      Guess what? It was her that cheated and eventually slept with one of my family members and blew up our family for good.

      The good news is that I figured out why I chose her as a partner and how and why I enabled her bad behavior.

      So in the end I grew so much as a person and got rid of the excess in the process

      • Same here. My ex was very jealous was always concerned about who I was looking at in public or talking to in the office. I was 100% faithful and it was her that cheated. Funny how they assume you’re like them with a wondering heart.

      • Yes it does Gypsy57. If cheaters give the “gift of monogamy” – then take it back – they are Indian givers.

        I gave my now ex-wife the symbolic gift of monogamy in the form of an engagement ring, which I am not allowed to take it back (I rightfully agree with this).

        But, if she was able to take-back her gift of monogamy to me, Shouldn’t I be able to take-back my symbolic gift of an engagement ring from her? Hypocritical drivel Esther Perel. I bet Esther has a drawer full of gifts that she would never part with. Twat.

        I don’t believe in ever taking any gift back that I give. Didn’t we all learn this is 1st grade?

  • She is so full of shit. Sorry sweetie, but pre-industrial societies faced their own mortality on a far greater scale than we do today. Yes, those were the days when pregnancy was often life threatening, when getting stabbed with a stick could lead to infection and sepsis, when a burst appendix was fatal. And while it’s true that tribal and more communal societies often have stronger social order and rules, she is naive if she thinks that only modern “sophisticated” people break rules. Narcissism isn’t a new invention, and people have been cheating assholes for as long as humans have been making commitments. The desire to infantilize groups of people along racial, cultural, or temporal lines really pisses me off, and tells me that that person is naive and sees themself as superior, which is a sure recipe for a fuckwit.

  • Monogamy is a gift? ?? Yep so are STIs and in some cases STIs are a gift that keep on giving. Thank god I never received that gift because I would probably be in prison right now. My child was a gift – lying Fucktard was NOT a gift – nope he serves as a daily reminder of what a true a-hole looks like. Suppose that’s a gift in itself if I was being extra giving today – how not to be an a-hole, thank goodness I come by it honestly. Lol!!

  • I think a lot of people implicitly have this mindset anyway, that monogamy is a “gift” that they bestow upon their partners if and only if they find them “deserving” according to an arbitrary set of subjective criteria.

    This mindset exists implicitly in a people, but the problem is that you can never tell because everyone says the same wedding vows, which promise lifelong fidelity.

    This is what’s scary. Perel is just giving academic credence to an attitude already held by many, but you can never tell because it’s either unspoken, or unrealized or held in an awful double standard.

    I learned far too late that my now-ex-wife thought I was “signing” a very different “contract” than I thought I was signing.

  • So Esther Perel has infiltrated TED Talks and now The Economist? Both very well respected and influential channels with educated audiences. I’d say she’s declared narrative war!

    Tracy – how will you retort? Don’t forget, you have an army of chumps behind you in this war of infidelity narratives.

    • I don’t have a strategy, other than blogging and book writing. I probably need a publicist. 🙂 But I’m not the only voice. I think it’s really important when you see bullshit like this — wherever you see it — COMMENT. Make your voice heard! I can’t change the narrative alone.

      The other thing is — in all cynicism — that message sells. It’s click bait. Ooh… we know cheating is wrong, but what if it isn’t?! Just like a header — we know cookies are fattening… but are they?

      Perel is preaching the cookie diet. Sure, stuff your gob and look and feel awesome! No consequences! No guilt!

      Only like with humans. Who have feelings. And there’s actual harm. But you know, hey, she’s “sophisticated.”

      I’m here preaching “eat your broccoli and like it!” Not click bait.

      • This is my bias, but I also think that, while we’re unlikely to persuade non-monogamy to choose monogamy, we can strongly advocate for transparency and honesty among the Perel-ites. If we could at least push the culture from sneakiness to honesty through grassroots effort, that would be huge.

      • There are so many of us chumps now, surely amongst us there must be someone with publicist or PR skills who could help elevate the message onto other channels?

        I definitely do comment whenever I see crap about infidelity. The Guardian (UK) had a divorce series a few weeks ago with daily articles, most about infidelity. I spent many hours of my life on the comments there!

        It always seems to be the same retorts though:

        “You can’t own another person! They don’t belong to you!” (Usually when I’ve said something like the AP shouldn’t have got involved with someone else’s husband);

        “Human beings are flawed! We’re all flawed! We all make mistakes!”

        Or getting confused about the difference between open relationships / polymory etc and monogamy: “Marriage and monogamy are so outdated! We can’t be expected to all want the same thing!” No, of course not. Not being monogamous, if everyone involved knows about it and is ok about it is fine. Lying and cheating is not. Bah.

        I rather like broccoli, btw.

    • Oh and I forgot to add TV… Esther Perel was a ‘special advisor’ on the TV show ‘The Affair’. Arrrgggghhhh! I said it and I’ll say it again, she’s declared narrative war! She’s like a virus, getting her message everywhere and trying to spread it.

  • “she claims that the majority of people who stray from their marriages have been faced with their own mortality in some way during the preceding three years and their affairs function as a *temporary antidote* against certain demise.”

    Yup Esther this says it all. “temporary antidote” – Nothing like preaching a band-aid fix. Twat.

    Here are some more *equivalent* “temporary antidotes” that destroys families just as cheating does. But Esther Perel doesn’t feel that “Infidelity” should be on that list…..hmmmm…..oh yeah, probably because she’s a cheater herself! Transparent Twat.

    -Alcoholism
    -Drugs
    -Gambling
    -Porn addiction
    -Lying
    -Crime
    -Abuse

    • “she claims that the majority of people who stray from their marriages have been faced with their own mortality in some way during the preceding three years and their affairs function as a *temporary antidote* against certain demise.”

      I think there is something to that line of thinking. When I was still untangling the skein, one of the things my ex mentioned was that his affair started not long after he had a near-death experience. Apparently this triggered all kinds of thinking like “is this all there will ever be to my life?” and “is this as good as it gets” etc etc. Typical midlife thinking, I suppose. And then it all went downhill when he confided these thoughts to another woman instead of to his wife. So as not to worry me while I was pregnant, he said.

      • My idiot h said the same thing. Not that there was a near death experience but “Is this all there is? What is the meaning of life?” Really?! Everyone wonders. Then you get your shit together like an adult and look. If you need to leave you leave. You don’t fuck somebody’s emotions around while you try to find yourself in between some whore’s open legs!

  • Ughhhh, if I have to fuck slimy whores to “feel alive”, well, I’m just going to have to pass. If that is the only way you can bring meaningfulness to your existence, you have a much bigger problem than you can solve by whoring around.

    Brilliant, ester.

  • I do see monogamy as a gift. The gift I gave when I stood before God, family and friends and VOWED to love, honor and cherish, cleaving only unto EACH OTHER UNTIL DEATH DID US PART! That was my gift to him – a vow made in love and honesty. Guess the cheaters and apologists forget that part.

    Hopefully, if I ever am willing to make that gift of a vow again, it will be with a truly honorable man that gifts me with honesty and faith fullness, too

  • I can’t even go “there” today.

    But I will say this about Mr. Sparkles, he never renounced monogamy to me. To this day, he swears he was faithful (all evidence to the contrary). That while he may have done a million things online, he never put his penis anywhere “else” during our marriage. And, that he is TIRED of all his failed relationships and still desperately wants to find “the one”.

    Then I face palm myself and remember, I’m dealing with a sociopath. He is disordered – everything about him is disordered. He cannot manage his finances. He cannot maintain long-standing, intimate friendships or relationships. He cannot engage in meaningful, parental conversations with his children. He prioritizes NEW relationships over his children. By his reasoning, I “lied” to him because I sought to have the pre-nup upheld when I discovered he left me for the OW.

    Monogamy was never a conversation we had. I expected it because I married him. YET… I was marrying someone who walked out on two prior relationships/families. Did I really think I was getting someone normal? Were my expectations aligned with the reality in front of me?

    And therein lies the challenges for us Chumps, I think… not only do we need to fix our pickers, but we need to make sure that our DICTIONARIES are the same too. Words only matter between two people if the meanings are the same. Just like actions… they should be the same too. With a disordered person like my precious gem – they never were… and it took his leaving for the OW and my finding Chump Lady and Chump Nation to understand it.

    Rock on Chump Nation.

    • Great read! Thank you 🙂 I was so fortunate to find a therapist who was familiar with Narcissism and I spent the first six months of my recovery reading everything I could and filled journals of “ah ha!” moments. The comparisons were eerie and striking, and the abuse very real.

  • The “burden of selfhood” to determine how much to eat, sleep, work and fuck” is considerably lighter for those who sniff around after their howorkers I guess … two birds, one stone.

    And I would dearly like to see the empirical evidence to support Perel’s assertion that the *majority* of affairs are preceded by confronting one’s demise *3* years prior. The highlighted terms are so precise, as if anyone actually measured such a thing using a truly random sample of appropriate size to allow one to generalize to the human population rather than just pulled idiotic statements straight out of their ass.

    I think I must be feeling a bit cranky today. I think I need to join Capricorn somewhere else!

    • I think when you’re looking especially hard for something, you’ll find it. “Oh, you had persistent nosebleeds in 2013, and doctor google said a possible cause was leukemia, but it turned out to just be dry air? You poor dear, facing your own mortality like that must have been absolutely terrifying until you got a humidifier. I don’t blame you one bit for screwing your coworker in the face of such horrors.”

      • You first! I’m not sure passed out would improve my mood, but it would probably make every one else around me happier!!

  • Facing one’s mortality makes you cheat?

    When a young family member of mine nearly died in a car accident, I went to the fucking snake for comfort instead of cheating, even though he’d been freezing me out with the silent treatment for over a month by then.

    When I went through major surgery because of a cancer scare (if it had been cancer, I probably wouldn’t be here now), I tipped my hat to mortality and said let’s drink that good wine we’ve been saving for a special day once we find out whether I live or die…. I didn’t run out and cheat on the fuckwit snake.

    When my mother passed away suddenly…. Again… Hello mortality, but fuck no to cheating….

    What a load of horseshit dressed up as dessert.

    • Yep, normal people turn to their partners in the face of trauma. The disordered invent reasons why their partner is the source of their trauma.

  • Man,

    Do not have enough middle fingers for Esther. Always impressed how easily narcissists can easily dress up their bullshit adolescent agenda into some type of high falutin’ rationalized nonsense.

    I am a Buddhist, and I still tremble when I see the term “Leading Mindful Living Expert” . Yuck. I love that that Ira guy calls her insights “blistering”, as in they will literally give you herpes sores and blisters on your genitalia

  • CL, can you please comment on your comment about not wanting to get into ‘divorce as a mercy…one time cheating..:bitter chump….’
    I am so sorry if I am not catching that this is obvious sarcasm, but just wanting to make sure!! There are many chumps of serial cheaters but some chumps of one time cheaters…and some in betweens if there is such a ridiculous category. Can you clear up what you meant…sorry to not ‘get it’…

  • Saw an article on aplus.com about a woman who was SOO grateful for her ex-husbands girlfriend in her childs life. What do you make of that? I’ve seen these blog type things before but I’m really skeptical. These must be some very Special, sparkly circumstances! I just cant imagine being at all convivial with his affair-partner turned girlfriend. I dont rail against her to my child who has NO choice in who lives with her father but I think these people just think that everyone should be like them and why can’t we all just get along? Blah!

    • As far as I know, the circulating letter you’re talking about didn’t involve infidelity. I wouldn’t have a problem with it if my ex began dating someone new at this point who was particularly good to our son. That hypothetical person would have had no involvement in, or responsibility for, the blowing up of my life. I hold a VERY different opinion of the slimy OW, though. She decided to make a new baby with my ex and met my son for the first time a few weeks ago. She knew about my son and me the whole time she was screwing my ex, and our wellfair was of absolutely zero interest to her. She does not care about my son, and therefore she can go to hell. She will never get a pleasant little letter like that from me. She will never have my respect. She will never be family. It’s not about being bitter, it’s about clarity and boundaries.

      • It baffles me if I stop long enough to think about it: they both would have been much better served if they had simply moved on after all the “initial destruction” was finished.

        She could manage people’s impression of her so easily if she didn’t stay with him. “Mistakes were made. I’m in a better place now. I no longer speak to my ex-husband or my OM. I’ve moved on. I have a new boyfriend. Etc.”

        Compare that with whatever story she has to tell about how they met, why they aren’t married, why he has two children instead of one, why she didn’t meet his son for three years, why she chose to have a child with a man with his track record (and he chose to have a child with a woman with her track record).

        I know that she has lies and spin for all of this for people new to her life, and even those who told me that she “confessed” to them don’t have the whole truth. But enough people know enough of the truth that she must work overtime on impression management.

        It’s just so much more effort, and (of course) offensive to you, as well as to anyone in his or her life who was hoping they’d find someone with who they hadn’t destroyed one family and two marriages. Find someone with whom there weren’t “overlapping relationships.” Find someone who’s not still legally married! Start a family on a solid foundation instead of a cesspool.

        But, she chose the cesspool. It suits her.

  • Monogamy is a gift, eh? A gift you take take back at any time?

    Before the term was put out of use for being racist, people who gave a gift and then took it back were called “Indian givers.”

    Now we can just call them cheaters.

  • If all this BS about a cheaters mortality being a factor in screwing skanks, then why isn’t my broken down, sick and dying Ex out feeding his need right now for “aliveness?” That cheating asshole wore only the best clothes, drove the best cars, ran up and down the highway convincing Schmoopie he was “the man!” He would drop by to remind me during his affair that he “wouldn’t be forced to choose” and dressed to the nines! His ego was HUGE! I wish his Schmoopie could see him now! If it was a quest to “feel alive” then he could definitely use it now! He looks like an old homeless man. He rarely bathes, never gets a haircut! His previously neat “professor” beard is a nasty mess, stained from smoking too many cigars. He can barely walk without assistance and is rail thin. I wonder if his Schmoopie would want Mr. Loverboy now? Doubt it! Oh and all the expensive clothes are gone, traded for pajama pants and a robe with a dirty t-shirt. Does Esther believe that my Ex is glad that he had an affair so he could feel “alive?” I believe he is worse off because he has to live with himself knowing he did some pretty awful things to me and his kids. It did not enhance his life at all! He realized in the end what everyone had told him about Schmoopie, that she was just a garden variety whore who would dump him as soon as she ruined his marriage, reputation, finances etc. And she did!

  • The one thing that struck me was that they have these affairs when they think they are facing their mortality. There is a partial truth to that. The ex had psoriatic arthritis, needed many spinal and other surgeries and was always unwell. He took the psoriatic diagnosis hard and he had to go onto some scary medications by IV. Of course, he was never compliant and he was drinking the whole time (and I didn’t know it). He has said (but most of what he said were lies) that he didn’t feel he had much time left (poor me) and he wanted to “be happy”. So, I do think that ‘facing mortality’ is an excuse for some very bad behavior. The boring safe life with me didn’t look very attractive when fun schmoopie came into the picture. And what happened when I had cancer (I am ok now)? I didn’t run away. I didn’t fuck someone else. I wanted to be closer with my family, spend time with them, appreciate the good things I had. Monogamy, to me- it’s commitment, loyalty, being with your best friend- it doesn’t have the stink of betrayal, it doesn’t smell like another woman. It doesn’t give up your children for the OW. In some ways, even though I was the one who was cheated on (again and again) and the one who’s heart was eviscerated, I was the one who survived intact. I have my son, my family, my friends and my integrity. I can love with my whole heart. I’m hoping to have that opportunity again.

    • You’re right. Facing mortality is not an excuse for cheating. For crying out loud! We’re ALL facing mortality. WTF.

      He’s 71 so no midlife crisis there unless he lives until 142. I hope he does. And he thought he was bored with me? I pray for a big ole hairy male nurse that has to wipe his ass for a good 30 years.
      He’s not hot anymore or attractive. He’s not exciting anymore, he’s got no more race cars to race or big boats to cruise around. He made the biggest mistake of his life. Way to make sure you die alone dumb fuck. Hope the ugly piece of ass was worth it.

      Geez…I don’t get it.

  • Lostandfound, I can relate. During his affair I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was facing having the lower lobe of my left lung removed. My daughter called her Dad to see if he would at least return home to help me during recovery. His response was, “you kids will have to handle this.” The only other thing he did was contact his lawyer via email (cc to Schmoopie) to see where he would stand should I die! What a Prince! He did return shortly after my surgery under false reconciliation and dragged me around town trying to straighten out his taxes and finances. He then left again and I wasn’t getting better. Turns out I was full of MRSA! Had to be reopened again and that surgery was brutal as it involved cutting out ribs to clean the infection out of my lung! Didn’t hear from him at all until we found out he was in the hospital in Florida with….. YEP, MRSA! I wish I could say I will recover, but I was only cancer free for one year before cancer spread. I am resentful because he wasted nearly four years of my life and his when we were healthy on a whore. Now I can’t do much of anything, but Schmoopie is off scott free to screw someone else over! To say life isn’t fair is an understatement!

    • Dear Roberta, I am so sorry to read your comment. I wish I could make it better for you dear friend. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your children. ((((HUGS)))) xoxo
      There is a special place in hell for your ex. It wouldn’t matter what I chose to call him, it wouldn’t be worth it.

    • I’m so sorry, Roberta. I know we were all so happy that your prognosis looked good a year ago. You didn’t deserve this. Hugs.

      • Tempest, Maree and Thankful,Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it. I have come to terms with my end of life. It sucks, but those were the cards I got dealt. I will tell you that the stress caused by his antics triggered tons of physical problems. He and I were very healthy and active. My medical record for a woman in her late 50’s caused awe in my doctor’s office. I was on no medications at all and led an active lifestyle. I truly believe the chaos and stress from the ex and Schmoopie triggered something and I just deteriorated! But the ex wasn’t as healthy to begin with and this affair did not help. Stress can cause a lot of problems. I do feel robbed, but I was robbed of my life the day he decided to slide between the sheets with a whore!

        • Sending you love Roberta! You are a strong and beautiful woman, and have helped many of us here, with your truth, and clever comments. You’ve made me laugh out loud many times! I hope there’s a miracle for you, you deserve it. May you feel wrapped up in the loving arms of ChumpNation, a good place to be!

          • To all of you strong, smart, caring and witty folks st Chump Nation, Thank you for your kind words. Chumplady and all of you helped me get clarity about my marriage. It saved my sanity and still does. My advice to anyone who finds that their SO or spouse has cheated is to just get away from them and do NOT look back! Don’t discuss it with the cheater, don’t analyze your marriage and DO NOT be afraid to take that leap! Get a good lawyer, get the best deal you can for you and your kids and start to live your life to the fullest! I’ve had some wonderful experiences since my divorce and I don’t regret them. I do regret wasting time hating him and her. They occupied space in my mind rent free and it could have been time spent doing something else or learning something interesting! Cheaters aren’t interesting! They are concerned with their own “feelings” and self absorbed. Let them go and go have fun, really live!

            • Dear Roberta,
              Thank you for your contributions to CN–you matter! You inspire!

              I hope you will be gentle with yourself. I’m sorry for any pain. You are very brave and I admire that about you.

            • Roberta, I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. You’re a fighter and an inspiration and your comments, like the one above, have meant so much to me and helped me tremendously. I’m thinking about you!

              • Roberta, your comments and presence here have made my life better. Thank you. Best wishes to you.

    • Roberta, I’m so sorry to read about your diagnosis. You beat cheater cancer, and I’m wishing to God you could beat this too. Thanks for your wonderful voice in this community. (((Hugs)))

  • The reason indefinitely isn’t acceptable in our progressive culture while divorce, cohabitation, marrying later, etc is, is a tiny thing called CONSENT.

    Sseriously, after being betrayed, I’m allowed “pain” but calling it “trauma” is just too American, huh?

    While the article calls her humble for not talking about her long term monogamous marriage, I call it hypocritical. So mating in captivity is totally possible, I just shouldn’t expect it in my marriage?

    The only concrete piece of advice or counseling she offers is getting to the root of the need for the affair, which is honestly like duh. And what does she advise when the answer isn’t “I had a near death experience”???

    • While reading this article I thought, they cheat because they have an experience that made them question their mortality. ?????????

      I thought to myself; my cheater had not had such an incident. But then when I thought about it I realized no he had not had just one over the years he had had several, and they were all because he is stupid.

      These are the standouts over the last ten years of our marriage.
      1, Being caught in a rip (strong current) while swimming on a guys weekend away, Yet others later relayed to me that they were puzzled as to how he had gotten into trouble as the beach was relatively safe but he was lucky he got assistance from one of the young guys. Cheater could not shut up about this incident on returning home.
      2, Being sideswiped by a truck while riding his pushbike during peak hour on a three lane road, as the fourth lane ended he felt that the truck should give way to him and didn’t. The police officer who took his statement basically told him he was a moron and that next time they advise he use the footpath.
      3. Being hit in the head with a skateboard and robbed in a public toilet. Resulting in not only 5 weeks off work due to claims of trauma and short term memory loss but also a further 6 months on reduced duties which also meant reduced income. Three days after returning to full time he was fired. I learned on D’Day this was a hook up gone wrong and that he not only lied to me, his work, and the police. But he also intended to claim compensation from the government for the things taken, including his wedding and engagement ring.
      Near death or not you cannot help stupid.

    • Great comment, Jess. And good point about the “exceptionalism” of EP. She gets the monogamous marriage, but the commoners don’t?

      I’m also doubting she’s monogamous as much as she promotes the “aliveness” of cheating.

  • Monogamy is a gift! It is from where I stand. You cannot earn monogamy any more than your actions can cause another to cheat. You give it freely, willingly out of a desire to be solely with another. I highly prize monogamy, and I do not doubt that one day I will meet someone who is worthy of it. I gave this gift to my cheater, but he saw no value in it and gave me a dodgy knock off version in return. But now as I look back over the 20 yrs we were together, his monogamy was not unlike the other crapy gifts I received.

    I recall only once getting a card on Valentine’s day. Never any flowers.
    For two years for birthday and mothers day I was given facial cleanser and moisturiser that I could buy at the store with my groceries.
    On two occasions I was given a bottle of perfume for Christmas, and If I said I liked it, I got the same thing for my Birthday three months later.
    One birthday I was given a spirit level and socket set, to encourage my creative side as I had an interest in restoring furniture. He was highly offended when I pointed out I was female, and his gift was not acceptable.
    Often due to financial constraints anniversary gifts would be the outlay on a new household item needed.
    The cheater would often triangulate others in on any significant items to help reduce the cost.
    Our last Christmas together he gave me a copy of the Beverly Hillbillies on DVD. Not a box set just one 6 episode DVD.
    I once asked for a charm bracelet for my birthday and what arrived I can only now wonder if it was something he was regifting (it was a little masculine).
    Like our marriage, there were some good things, but I now know they were designed to pull me back in, Like the two gifts that have always made me uneasy as they arrived at a time when we were financially struggling; 5 cut diamonds unset valued at roughly $100 each. and a 9 piece outdoor table setting. Gifts that he had chosen to buy with his work bonuses because he loved me.
    Because showing he loved me by staying faithful, being financially responsible and engaging with me and our kids was beyond him.

  • I’ve also done some work on hegemonic systems and colonial rule, which I’ve reframed as “I can take your stuff because I have guns and chicken pox.” And I’ve also done work on the stubborn existence of my squidgy midsection, which I’ve reframed as a “desire to eat carbohydrates.”

    This has got to be one of your best columns, Tracy! I have cramps in my jaws from laughing so hard…

  • Jess, there is no REAL valid reason why, only flimsy excuses and justifications they come up with in their pea brains!

  • CL, I know you mentioned in the past that Perel had followed you on some deal, like Twitter or something or “friended” you . Something like that.
    Has she ever commented on how she feels about the way you are so good at ridiculing her?
    When I read your stuff, like this one, I wonder how she feels, if she gets it at all.
    Same with this Ira guy.
    I know a number of folks like these people. Esther has some type of bogus degree in play therapy, as I recall, from some little known institution that sounds like, perhaps, it grants a degree after one fills out an application and sends some $$.
    I know, also, that she claims some affiliation with Columbia University, but research shows that her husband is some type of adjunct there or something, not her.
    But, perhaps she is smart enough to understand the skewering you have often put her through. I just wonder if she ever tries to argue with you or persuade you or suck up to you so you will take it easy on her.
    When I watch her on Youtube, TED talks, I just get the creeps. Lots of new age jargon, little real analysis, little insight into things etc.
    Yet, her audience, much like this Ira fellow, eats her crap right up.
    Remember that Rebekah Gordon woman, the one who , after marrying her affair partner, that drone like Coast Guard officer, low on testosterone at an early age? Or some of the sex therapists and other “relationship expert” types that you find on HuffPo? I wish there was some follow up on Rebekah. She talked about her husband’s ( the cheater) kids as if they were just excess baggage. Not a fucking clue how she had hurt them. A fucking NPD, just like the guy.
    I wish I could just slap the shit out of those smug, stupid asswipes. They are running around feeling superior, so evolved ” Love is complicated”. This shit kills me.
    I would love to do a run by pie in the face deal to Esther, as she struts around on stage with that fucked up Belgian accent.

    • Oh , shit. I took a look at Ira. Now I understand. Hope I do not turn into stone or a pillar of salt or something.
      Samson could have used that jawbone.

  • I don’t have anything against open marriages. I don’t have anything against couples agreeing to tolerate the occasional fling, or even encourage it. I actually agree that a lot of people weren’t meant to be content with only one person for their whole lives.

    I do have a HUGE problem with someone who promises to do one thing and then does another. Or who promises to not do something and then does it anyway. Or who lies to their partner to gain an advantage over them.

    If you think marriage is ‘captivity’ then just don’t do it. Easy.

  • I have a hard time swallowing this ‘facing one’s mortality’ and ‘desire to feel alive,’ explanation for most adulterers’ infidelity. (In studying existentialism and humanistic psychology in depth while in graduate school, I don’t recall coming across the literature that promoted committing adultery as a way to alleviate existential angst or achieving self-actualization to which Perel seems to allude, perhaps indirectly.) In facing my own mortality, I think about promoting, nurturing, and teaching my offspring (as well as others), and I am not Mother Teresa. I am just an average person who cares about others. Am I unusual in trying to face my own mortality this way?

    My STBX, however, probably supported Perel’s assertion (that people conduct an affair to feel alive) when he decided to try to impregnate his affair partner and also use our children’s college money to buy sex with prostitutes.

    My STBX, who tried to convince the Court to prevent me from seeing our children the day he filed for divorce and complained about father’s rights being denied him, has decided to take yet another vacation with new girlfriend in an exotic destination over winter break (on the money that is owed our children in child support) instead of seeing our children, although he sees our children only approx. 15% of total custodial time. (I sometimes weep for our children.) If facing one’s own mortality involves caring about one’s children’s welfare, then the father of my children isn’t really facing his own mortality. He’s just being selfish, entitled, dishonest, and irresponsible.

    • Holy hell RockStarWife our cheaters truly were cut from the same cloth. The fricken bastard told me I should find a boyfriend and have another child and just give him the one I had with him. Makes sense to the disordered. WTF – I didn’t realize I could just give away a human that came from me and be done with it ?. Mine sees our son who he lives his WHOLE life for and is all that matters to him around the same 15 % and he is entitled to more thank but gawd he doesn’t exercise those rights – he’s pretty busy didn’t you know? What an asshole – he likes to freak out about $300.00 cleats for our son because it dips into his vacation fund.

      Even better high roller ex (who is always broke to pay child support) would probably sell our child for $100.00 because didn’t you know? After you dump you kids college fund to the tune of $20,000.00 in a slot machine it just HAS to pay.

      I told him he should marry his dead brother’s widow whore and pay to have skanks tubes reverse maybe he could get it right the second time round although I did tell him that I would be highly concerned that the child would be missing a chromosome that makes people decent so it may not be in his best to bred with a skank but I still have my fingers crossed ?

  • Hey, Ira. Before you link Empty-Headed Esther with John-Paul Sartre, you might read a little Sartre. Self-absorbed? Arguably. But also plainly a person who concluded that our choices matter, and short-term happiness has very little to do with morality.

    I suggest you start with Sartre’s most famous play, *No Exit* (Huis Clos). The three characters are locked together in hell, all claiming to be there unjustly. Until they wear each other down confess and we discover every one of them is there for . . . infidelity. Joseph beat and cheated on his wife; Inès seduced her cousin’s wife while living with them; and Estelle had an affair and then killed the resulting child, prompting the child’s father to commit suicide. Lovely people, right? Because nothing says “exuberant aliveness” like domestic violence, infanticide, and inciting suicide.

    Sartre’s idea of the very just punishment of such folks? Eternity with other cheaters. C’est magnifique!

  • No time to read all the comments but I think there was a typo somewhere. Cheaters don’t do what they do because of fear of their mortality. They do it because they have no morality.

    • Just so you all know, I faced my mortality and was given a 29% chance of being alive and well in five years. Eight years later I am alive and well. All that came after the divorce from the Fucktard, and that was best. No one needs a shithead to mess with their recovery from serious illness. I never had to face my morality because I’ve never hosed a person in my life. High road, ever step, and just dance away from the ugly. Hear the music and step on down the road to a better place.

  • I think monogamy (me) is a gift I give to someone I love.

    The alternative for me would not be secretive polygamy, aka “cheating.” The alternative for me would be no romantic/sexual relationship at all if I didn’t feel like giving myself. When I give myself as a gift, it is always discriminately and monogamously and has been rarely. And I expect the same in return. Or no Stephanie for you.

    I value monogamy as an individual, as much as I value the right to expect monogamy. I don’t care what the group thinks about infidelity. I don’t belong to a group, I belong to me. I am happy to participate in a group for as long as I feel like. I only want monogamy from an individual who agrees that their monogamy is a gift given freely and discriminately to me. I do no harm to any other individual and therefore not to any group of individuals.

  • I learned on a RIC site that The Coward cheated because mid-life. And reminders of death. And depression. And liminality, blah blah blah.

    Then I remembered that The Coward had been trying for a long time–since the time we were dating in our 20’s–to get with a blonde. Lots of different blondes! And I’d swept it all under the rug, well before mid-life. And then I realized I was just a garden variety chump, and he was a common idiot, and I would need to do a little self-examination. And I did, and things are much better without an asshole in my house.

  • OMG… CL, I am struggling to choke down the referenced “What’s Wrong with Infidelity?” article. I will pray for the UBT to survive…

  • Guess what, I’ve had a REAL near-death experience: people thought I was gone, I talked with Angels, and the whole nine yards. Still didn’t lead to cheating. There is no connection between near-death and cheatingvexcept that poor widdle cheaters might fear death…. like most of everyone else on the planet. Ironically, studies show that if you’ve had a real NDE ( near death experience) you’re LESS likely to fear death. Because you know your consciousness can survive bodily hurt.
    Cheaters are essentially selfish and they lack compassion. The mindfuck and gaslighting that follows confirms this.
    People like Perel should preface their babble with the disclosure that they personally don’t mind being cheated on. Fine for them, go get cheated on to your hearts content. But stop pontificating about the situation of others – of people with morals, compassion, and loyalty who are in exclusive relationships. You can’t cheat on an exclusive partnering commitment and call it anything but “cheating.”
    Btw I’m wondering if Ira Israel is a fake persona. I’m Jewish and this ” Jewish sounding” name is actually not a real-sounding name to me. Maybe Perel is cheating her readers with a fake persona. I wouldn’t put it past her. Cheaters cheat.

    • “People like Perel should preface their babble with the disclosure that they personally don’t mind being cheated on.”

      I love this! The truth would show through or slip out like a big fart.

  • Perel, Bader, and Schnarch are a line of psychotherapists and psychologists who believe that the humans are ontologically separate individuals who must embrace their individual needs and maintain a sense differentiation of self, their capacity to autonomously “self-sooth,”or self-become-alive in order to have relationships. That is a lot of self. In short, they eschew too much intimacy, too much vulnerability, too much connection, what they call emotional enmeshment, and support something that really never leads to authentic-being-with-another. What they seem to be saying is that distance, a separation of my self from the other is what we need for connection. It is a horrible philosophy. On one hand, yes, we cannot have good relationships if we are emotionally distant or clingy, but the answer is not this weird sense of individuality where if I am able to get myself straight within my own skin apart from the other, pursue my fantasies away from the other, then I can then bring my true self back or hold on to myself when I face the other. There is a mustard seed of truth in what they say, but they have the wrong story. We need to find our self in the context with the other. That is, we need to step up and be honest, real, PRESENT WITH THE OTHER. The other folds back into own own experience of our selves…seeing them and being seen by them. They (Perel et. al.) do not understand attachment theory and how it relates to adult love and sexuality, they do not understand presence, attunement, resonance, and what real connection and real eros means, they do not understand intersubjectivity. What I am talking about is well-illustrated by modern psychoanalytic, neuro-affective, interpersonal neurobiological sciences, and these inter-discipline areas of science are all saying: We are not individual selves as much as we are social selves wired for connection. Yes, we must be intentional, take responsibility, learn to self regulate as much as we can, but also realize that all of that is coherent only in juxtaposition of the self-with-other. So, you feel the need to be alive? Turn toward your spouse and be present, in the moment, and be curious about what is happening and tell your story of who you are, things you feel, things you yearn for, but also pay attention for a moment to who they are, and who they are in this very moment in part as a response to how you just brought yourself to them. Notice how what you just did (being open, authentic, wholehearted) and also shifting your attention their way with curiosity affected them, and in turn YOU. Sexiness IS THIS INTERDEPENDENT, INTERSUBJECTIVE PRESENCE. Jeeze, look up Tantric. Not new stuff. It also may be the moment of truth that tells you both that this isn’t working and maybe let’s get off the horse. Either way, some truth will emerge. I don’t have time for Perel’s intellectual, postmodern justification for infidelity. I don’t cheat on my wife because I can’t stand what it would do to her. She matters to me. This is not some obligation or abstract moral code. I am not losing a part of myself. Rather, I am honoring the part of myself that comes alive in thinking about her well-being….which is a big part of my well-being, of who I am, of what brings me alive. Am I attracted to others? Of course. Am I denying myself what I need and instead condemned to be in a trap of monogamy? Not when I shift my attention to the gift of what I get when I turn my heart toward her. If I am not feeling alive and ever feel like I’ve lost myself in a boring relationship, I will tell her I am struggling to keep my attention and my heart toward her. We can sort it out with our good intentions toward each other. We will say YES to the difficulty, and to each other.

  • >