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UBT: Esther Perel’s “Happy People Cheat”

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The world is going to hell in a hand basket. If the daily news cycle wasn’t enough to make you stick your head in an oven, consider this dystopian nightmare — Harmony, the sex robot. I was going to write about Harmony, and the man-children who prefer 72-lb crypto-fascist Barbies to actual women, but then you all kept bombing my in-box with Esther Perel’s latest piece of cheater-apologist garbage. (Speaking of crypto-fascist Barbies…) What’s a Chump Lady to do? All this crap depresses the hell out of me.

Between sex robots and Esther Perel I feel like a freaky anachronism. Perhaps I should start a colony for the ethically unhip, like Luddites, only more vanilla. Join me if you believe in respectful, loving relationships between equals! Or moth-eaten values like monogamy, trust, and commitment. Or that you can be a middle-aged squidgy woman and not a latex tarted-up pre-teen fembot with toppling-over tits and still be loved. Tracy, you crazy dreamer

Anyway… Esther Perel. I think I’ve UBT-ed the same word salad 1,537 times before. Affairs are exuberant acts of defiance… renegade luv-ahs… the exquisite lightness of being a vapid serial cheating sociopath… Whatever. I approached the Universal Bullshit Translator, but it just gave me the same stink-eye Maxine Waters gives at congressional hearings. This shit again? Unh-uh.

via GIPHY

So Chump Nation, I’m sparing you all having to read a 4,000-word Esther Perel essay in the Atlantic Monthly. And I’m also sparing the UBT’s transponders.  I’ve broken down Perel’s cheater-apologism-dressed-as-Euro-sophistication arguments here: (Next we’ll debunk.)

1. ) “Betrayal hurts,” but the real problem is your expectations about marriage.

2.) Chumps get the disproportionate share of attention in the infidelity discourse — their trauma, their hurt feelings, when gosh darn no one cares about the cheater and their motivations. (To which I say, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?)

3.) Affairs really have nothing to do with you, chumps!

4.) The cheater drama — a quest for self identity and “aliveness” — is equal to (and as valid) as chump trauma. More so, really.

5.) Affairs can make your relationship stronger!

6.) We all fail to understand Esther Perel.

Put your waders on while we wade deep into the bullshit…

1. ) “Betrayal hurts,” but the real problem is your expectations about marriage.

In fact, in a cruel twist of fate, it is precisely the expectation of domestic bliss that may set us up for infidelity. Once, we strayed because marriage was not supposed to deliver love and passion. Today, we stray because marriage fails to deliver the love and passion it promised. It’s not our desires that are different today, but the fact that we feel entitled—even obligated—to pursue them.

What the cheating of yesterday and today have in common is entitlement. Whether fucking around on your partner is a perk of the patriarchy or a girls-night-out warped expression of “feminism” — both require deceiving and endangering a chump. Expectations of “bliss” don’t set us up for infidelity — lousy character does. People are often disappointed. It’s what you choose to do about it.

I didn’t get a pony for my birthday. I had great expectations for one. Can I hit you with a lead pipe? I WAS PROMISED A PONY!

“Why do happy people cheat?” isn’t a difficult question, Esther. Duh, cake. It’s delicious.

Never before have our expectations of marriage taken on such epic proportions. We still want everything the traditional family was meant to provide—security, respectability, property, and children—but now we also want our partner to love us, to desire us, to be interested in us. We should be best friends and trusted confidants, and passionate lovers to boot.

We want our chosen one to offer stability, safety, predictability, and dependability. And we want that very same person to supply awe, mystery, adventure, and risk. We expect comfort and edge, familiarity and novelty, continuity and surprise. We have conjured up a new Olympus, where love will remain unconditional, intimacy enthralling, and sex oh so exciting, with one person, for the long haul. And the long haul keeps getting longer.

Now we get married and stop having sex with others. The conscious choice we make to rein in our sexual freedom is a testament to the seriousness of our commitment. By turning our back on other loves, we confirm the uniqueness of our “significant other”: “I have found The One. I can stop looking.” Our desire for others is supposed to miraculously evaporate, vanquished by the power of this singular attraction.

This is a bogus argument. Not everyone longs for the Strange Pussy Buffet. Some people actually achieve CONTENTMENT. It’s not cold fusion. Grown-ups have realistic ideas about marriage and fidelity, like 2 a.m. baby feedings are not sexy fun times. Like your mother getting cancer means less time for me. Like “reining in my sexual freedom” means not exposing my partner to venereal diseases. Or family-destroying levels of disrespect.

It’s not that grown-ups don’t find other people attractive, it’s that they’re actually BONDED to the people they married. It would hurt them to hurt their partner. The non-entitled have empathy. Assholes don’t.

Sure, people shouldn’t expect perfection from their relationships (hello cheaters) — they also shouldn’t lower their standards and accept abuse (hello chumps).

Perel seems to be making the It’s Not What I Did That’s the Problem, It’s Your Reaction to It argument.

It’s not the cheating, it’s our ridiculous expectation of monogamy.

Fuck that blameshifting shit.

2.) Chumps get the disproportionate share of attention in the infidelity discourse — their trauma, their hurt feelings, when gosh darn no one cares about the cheater and their motivations.

In contemporary discourse in the United States, affairs are primarily described in terms of the damage caused. Generally, there is much concern for the agony suffered by the betrayed. And agony it is—infidelity today isn’t just a violation of trust; it’s a shattering of the grand ambition of romantic love. It is a shock that makes us question our past, our future, and even our very identity. Indeed, the maelstrom of emotions unleashed in the wake of an affair can be so overwhelming that many psychologists turn to the field of trauma to explain the symptoms: obsessive rumination, hypervigilance, numbness and dissociation, inexplicable rages, uncontrollable panic.

In the focus on trauma and recovery, too little attention is given to the meanings and motives of affairs, to what we can learn from them. Strange as it may seem, affairs have a lot to teach us about marriage—what we expect, what we think we want, and what we feel entitled to. They reveal our personal and cultural attitudes about love, lust, and commitment—attitudes that have changed dramatically over the past 100 years.

“Too little attention is given to the meanings and motives of affairs.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? The ENTIRE infidelity discourse is devoted to cheaters and their point-of-view. Reconciliation is ASSUMED. And every. single. resource. untangles the aggrieved cheaters’ skeins of fuckupedness. Their hang-ups, their intimacy issues, what needs they weren’t getting met — moreover, the VAST majority of “help” out there BLAMES CHUMPS for these “unmet” needs.

Cheaters are NOT a sad, overlooked demographic in the infidelity narrative. Until my blog, the cheater hegemony WAS THE ONLY NARRATIVE.

And by the way, who the fuck is Esther Perel’s publicist? The daft Belgian with the one-year MA in art therapy from a third-rate teacher’s college is in the Economist, the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, and TED talks. Yeah, I don’t think your sad sausage cheater narrative lacks exposure.

By being skeptical of chump “trauma,” Perel is minimizing the abusive nature of infidelity.

Once the initial crisis subsides, it’s important to make space for exploring the subjective experience of an affair alongside the pain it can inflict. To this end, I’ve encouraged renegade lovers to tell me their story. I want to understand what the affair means for them.

(Let’s pause for a moment to hurl at “renegade lovers.”)

Really? Why is it “important”? Why should the chump give a flying fuck? Once again, Perel is assuming reconciliation. The only people who hang around for the self-serving psychobabble that passes for cheater “introspection” are hopium-huffing chumps — and the therapists who profit off them.

3.) Affairs really have nothing to do with you, chumps!

Intimate betrayal feels intensely personal—a direct attack in the most vulnerable place. And yet I often find myself asking jilted lovers to consider a question that seems ludicrous to them: What if the affair had nothing to do with you?

It seems ludicrous because it is ludicrous. Affairs have everything and nothing to do with the chump — yes, the cheater wasn’t thinking of you at all. AND THAT’S EXACTLY THE PROBLEM.

The biggest issue I have with Esther Perel is her dishonesty. Dispense with the sanitized euphemisms and say what cheating really is. It’s not Exuberant Acts of Defiance. It’s not a Quest for Self-Actualization that exists on some cheater-only plane. There are REAL COSTS to chumps.

Being cheated on is having your health risked. It’s getting STDs. It’s paternity testing your children. It’s gaslighting, blameshifting, and bald-faced lies. It’s theft of marital resources and missing monies. It’s your partner fucking someone else in your bed. It’s wasted years of your life and missed opportunity. It’s the last years of your fertility. It’s your retirement. I could go on and on (and when I do, you’ll find 16 million page views and stories on this one blog ALONE).

Blaming a failed marriage is easier than grappling with our existential conundrums, our longings, our ennui.

Hey, as long as you blame someone, cheater. Some blame the Failed Marriage. Perel blames your ennui. WTFever.

4.) The cheater drama — a quest for self identity and “aliveness” — is equal to (and as valid) as chump trauma. More so, really.

As children, we have the opportunity to play at other roles; as adults, we often find ourselves confined by the ones we’ve been assigned or the ones we have chosen. When we select a partner, we commit to a story. Yet we remain forever curious: What other stories could we have been part of? Affairs offer us a view of those other lives, a peek at the stranger within. Adultery is the revenge of the deserted possibilities.

Perel tells the story of “Priya” — a woman who wants some trucker dude to stick his hands down her pants so she feels “alive.” It’s like high school! Gosh, what other stories could Priya have been part of? Ooh, I know! How about the story where Priya’s chump divorces her, and Priya moves in with Bubba, and tattoos his name across her knuckles. She spends her days trying to convince everyone that really, she enjoys monster truck rallies. Bubba gives her permission to Just Be Her and loves her unconditionally! (He also gives her Hep C). Soon Priya learns that Bubba’s hands roam other women’s pants, but it’s okay. He’s just peeking at the stranger within.

“You think you had a relationship with Truck Man,” I tell her. “Actually, you had an intimate encounter with yourself, mediated by him. I don’t expect you to believe me right now, but you can terminate your relationship and keep some of what it gave you. You reconnected with an energy, a youthfulness. I know that it feels as if, in leaving him, you are severing a lifeline to all of that, but I want you to know that over time you will find that the otherness you crave also lives inside you.”

Chumps, you can all take comfort in the fact that your cheater has had an intimate encounter with themselves. You don’t need to tell them to go fuck themselves… because they have.

Trauma, schmauma. THEY RECONNECTED WITH THEIR YOUTHFUL ENERGY. And isn’t that what’s really matters? I’m glad my personal devastation was a growth experience for you.

5.) Affairs can make your relationship stronger!

Catastrophe has a way of propelling us into the essence of things. In the wake of devastating betrayals, so many couples tell me that they are having some of the deepest, most honest conversations of their entire relationship. Their history is laid bare—unfulfilled expectations, unspoken resentments, and unmet longings. Love is messy; infidelity, more so. But it is also a window, like none other, into the crevices of the human heart.

Often when a couple comes to me in the wake of an affair, it is clear to me that their first marriage is over. So I ask them: Would you like to create a second one together?

And… here we have the usual Reconciliation Industrial Complex bullshit. That cheaters will lay their hearts bare in therapy, and have deep, honest conversations with you. (Because a person who has conducted a double life for eons would NEVER snow you. Or play along with therapy to avoid the consequences of divorce. That. Never. Happens.)

Yes unicorns will appear from the misty mountain meadows and Our New Marriage Will Be Better Than Before! (Did I mention that Esther Perel has a NEW BOOK out? Which will tell you HOW! Just send your powdered unicorn horn, eye of newt, and three leprechaun scalps to HarperCollins for the cure.)

6.) We all fail to understand Esther Perel.

In taking a dual perspective on such an inflammatory subject, I’m aware that I risk being labeled “pro-affair,” or accused of possessing a compromised moral compass. Let me assure you that I do not approve of deception or take betrayal lightly. I sit with the devastation in my office every day. But the intricacies of love and desire don’t yield to simple categorizations of good and bad, victim and perpetrator. Not condemning does not mean condoning, and there is a world of difference between understanding and justifying. My role as a therapist is to create a space where the diversity of experiences can be explored with compassion. People stray for a multitude of reasons, I have discovered, and every time I think I have heard them all, a new variation emerges.

“Let me assure you that I do not approve of deception or take betrayal lightly.” I just tell chumps how to eat that shit sandwich like it’s pom frittes dipped in aioli. It’s not shit, it’s sophistication.

Esther, how about I judge you by the adjectives you use for cheaters versus chumps? Cheaters — alive, renegade, poetic… Chumps? Bitter, hurt, jilted. No value statements there. No sir.

The intricacies of armed robbery and greed don’t yield to simple categorizations of good and bad, victim and perpetrator. Not condemning pistol whipping old ladies does not mean condoning. People rob banks for a multitude of reasons, all of which mean jack shit to the person duct-taped to a chair and locked in a safe.

In Esther Perel’s world, infidelity is a victimless crime! There are no perpetrators, just poets.

Can you believe the poor woman who describes cheaters as being guilty of “love and desire” has been labeled “pro-affair”?

Esther — I think you’re a toxic quack and an attention whore. Let me assure you that I don’t take insulting media personalities lightly. I just think you should shut the fuck up. I’m not judging you, Esther — I’m taking a dual perspective on an inflammatory subject. Go fuck yourself in an exploration of compassion. Fuck yourself again for a multitude of reasons. May a new variation emerge.

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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.
  • I really can’t take any more of Esther Perez. I can’t even finish reading this. Also, I am sickened by Harmony and the people why created these robots and I am sickened by the people who use them. Garbage, trash, and shit is what’s out there these days and I have no desire to even think about sorting through this rubbish heap of disordered sub humans. Long live the single life.

    • If you’re sickened by these sexbots, imagine how the OM/W will feel. Imagine, twu wuv replaced by silicon and circuitry.

      • Dunchumpin, I think they feel just fine. After all, they are a disordered group as well. They get off on disorder.

        • Perhaps, but now they’ll have to come up with a new batch of lies they universally vomit up as wisdom. It may actually make conversing with the fuckheads more interesting for 15 minutes.

      • All Harmony and any of the other sexbots are are higher end pocket vaginas. Probably somewhere, some sad chump will think – “hey – I don’t care if he fucks a pocket sized anatomically correct (right down to pubes) piece of plastic OR a machine – it’s just his way of fantasizing without being unfaithful with a real human! And that’s hopium kool-aid, because pocket vaginas and sexbots are just a bus stop on the way to Cheaterville. Because it’s NEVER enough.

    • “I have no desire to even think about sorting through this rubbish heap of disordered sub humans. Long live the single life.”

      Right there with you! I cannot forsee a time in the future when I will ever trust someone again. As far as I can tell, all the good ones are taken, and I have come to believe that most of the “good” marriages are a sham.

    • “Mestress Peril” is crazy AF. I had a hard time reading this and it took several attempts to make it to the end. She is abberent AND abhorrent. What she says is fabricated horse shit. I’m in full agreement with CL that she should just STFU already. Beyond appalling. And I don’t know why I’m going all out on the A words. I swear I haven’t been sitting around reading the dictionary. I’m sure I’ve got some good B words….. you betcha. Can’t stand the sight or sound of her name anymore. I feel an overwhelming revulsion

    • My ex was soooo cruel after I stayed faithful to him for 36 years of marriage! I was physically beautiful all of those years despite his alienation toward me! I began to show wear and tear at the age of 55! He who was never handsome , never faithful, never committed began to judge my looks so harshly! He said I did not look feminine, he said I ate all the food,
      In the house, he said I was a terrible mother and wife, he said I was not good enough for him but he also said he did not want a divorce! He said he wanted me to move out of our paid off house after I helped to fix it up, and then he said he wanted to have an open relationship and did not want to share anything in retirement! He denied that I gave him my savings of $30,000 dollars to pay off the house! How does any women put up with that kind of abuse! How does any counselor send a woman back to the arms of a sociopath?

  • My skank’s affair had nothing to do with me, so she had me give him money, lend him my car, play with my kids, buy him food.
    Sadly, once I found out what they were doing he went deep into hiding. Sadder still, she didn’t.

    • I hear you, DunChumpin. In therapy, my wife and our MC both argued that the affair had nothing to do with me. So I asked, “Then why am I here?”

      Cue the blank stares, from both of them, followed by backpedaling and rationalizations.

      Oh, and to Esther Perel: Creating pseudo-intellectual euphemisms for infidelity is not a career. It’s a drinking game. The world is a worse place because of your existence. Fuck you.

      • Why JC… I think you have stumbled on the Friday Challenge (and a drinking game too!)… pseudo-intellectual euphemisms for infidelity 🙂

      • “the world is a worse place for your existence”. You’re speaking truth, my friend. I feel bad for whatever brand of human is married to Esther Perel. Although I have to imagine that you’d have to be a masochist to be married to that woman.

      • I would like to release my inner girl scout and roast marshmallows over Esther’s flaming skull…it would be a liberating and exciting adventure..

  • Re Point #3
    If the affair had nothing to do with me – why am I selling my house, downsizing to an apartment, losing half my assets, seeing a therapist for the first time in my life, learning legal concepts such as “post nuptial” and “divorce complaint” all while consoling three bereft young adult children (and sad dog) while trying to pick myself up off the floor? Why after 30 years as a team, am I filled with anxiety about my partner…and justifiable checking past credit card statements, calendars and phone bills.

    Affairs — and their associated secrets and lies — hurt families – they steal time, money, memories, and futures from the foundational block of human character and society.

    If your bank gave you fraudulent statements, took your money and then said “they were just trying to find themselves” you would call it a crime and seek reparation and never ever do business with that bank again.

    Esther Perel = EP = extremely painful to read and contemplate.She is confusing open/above ground exploration – both sexual and personal – in mid-life with underground cheating, lying, betrayal of people who the cheaters professed to love.

    BS Esther!

    • Great points TiredChump! I keep asking why the AP doesn’t have to pay for my legal bills for the divorce. After all, I’m just doing this so they can go off and find their new happiness together, it has nothing to do with me!

    • Wow tired chump this is my life. 3 young adults + sad dog and zero finances. Now we know it was for a young girl of asian descent it makes some sense but not the mind fuckery of those who feel entitled and arrogant enough to feel they are still the victim. And this is the adjective that EP promotes as a noble way out of these fuckwits dilemma of their own making. Mine is fond of telling the kids he us “disappointed ” that they are reducing their angst and worry to how mum can now look after 3 of them plus her on a part time wage now having been made homeless (at Christmas nice touch ) while looser dad was wining and dining his child bride. Yes so distasteful to mention money in a situation where kids are an irritating cost centre to someone who comands a huge salary.

  • I’m ashamed I share the same country of birth of this woman…
    And thanks to Chump Lady for the perfect UBT, again. I hope you never get tired, Tracy 😉

      • Chump Lady, you’re on fire 🔥

        My fave posts of yours are those like this one, where you call out people (like this whack job) on their BS.

        I love how you call a spade a spade.

        I love how you tear apart their word salad.

        I love that you are the voice of all the chumped out there. Saying it as it is, and keeping it real, always.

        You’re an absolute LEGEND!!! I wish had your way with words. Thank you for all your hard work and commitment. It is so greatly appreciated. 🙏🏼

      • I couldn’t even finish reading it pissed me off so bad. This woman is full of shit and sounds just like the rest of them. Here it is in a nutshell:
        You will justify wrong doing anyway you can. Like it or not there is a Heaven and a Hell, a set of Commandments that you follow to get your self through life. You don’t come by good thoughts or bad thoughts without influence either way. Thou shalt not commit Adultery is in the top 5 for a reason. YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO IT!!!! They heap up for themselves teachers for they have itching ears and these teachers tell them what they want to hear. When you are in the sin it shows in behavior, opinions and attitudes. Ester, please shove it up your ass!

      • CL

        I’m of French descent. Esther’s accent sounded like my late mother’s. When I first heard the TED talk I was walking my (French) Poodle outside. I literally had to replay a few minutes to make sure I had heard Perel correctly. The part about bitter/jilted chumps and the terrible sad uncontrollable problems of Cheaters, startled me.

        Then I imagined what my late mother would have said, while gesticulating wildly.

        “On NO! Is she for real? Well NOW I’ve Heard Everything!”
        (Mom swats air with hand, waves off the invisible bee & slaps table with incredulity. “Ca, c’est FINI!” )

        I stopped walking my oh so French Poodle. I now realize that was ALMOST as unfair as THE DOCTOR cheating & leaving for his latest adventure on the tundra, and the Alaskan Schmoopie.

        My poor dog. She can’t help being French and she can’t help being a dog…which reminds me….

        • Hold on folks. Why is my comment not posted under my screen name? Which is DOCTOR’s1stWife/3kids

          Turns out i’m a chump at this social media thing…I wrote my first name b/c you know, it asked. But I’m ^^^ this Chump!

          Sorry for the tangent

          • Doc’sWife — I did the same thing — just send a message to ChumpLady and ask her to either take down your post or change your name, for your privacy.

  • Maybe she just isn’t aware of the devastation that affairs cause!
    Families destroyed! How is that ok????

    Kindly allow her to live in her dreamworld.

    Hugs to all chumps and have a great day.
    We will survive because that takes guts.

  • A former co-worker told me what a big fan he was of EP, and tried to get me on board.

    Since we were co-workers, he had no idea about my chump life, my education courtesy of Chump Lady.

    As he was lavishing praise on Perel, I looked him in the eye and said, “You must want to cheat.”

    He said lots of word salad after that, but I don’t recall him saying “No, I don’t want to cheat.” And he has a very loving partner with whom he’s been in a relationship for years.

    • Sounds like it could be that he wants to cheat with YOU. Why else bring something like that up with a colleague, regardless of gender? Smells of groomer. Yucky.

      • Lol, no he would not want to cheat with me-he’s gay. But it does beg the question, why bring it up? My takeaway was that he thought EP is some kind of intellectual powerhouse. Look how clearly she explains and rationalizes selfish, destructive, disordered behavior!

        Ugh.

        • KManning,

          the co-worker talking about EP as if she’s got SUPER cool insights – may not be the would be cheater… he may be the chump

          trying to validate the choice to stay (AND FORGIVE, NOW!)

          • Or he’s just trying to get support for his past/current/future bad behavior. If K thinks it’s ok then it must be. He’s probably had the same discussion with others.

            • That’s what I thought too-fishing around “Cheating is okay, read all this great stuff by EP.”

              I told him EP is full of it. Cheating is bad, choice made with purpose by selfish, entitled brats.

  • I will happily join your group of boring people who have empathy, bond with their loved ones, and strive for contentment versus 24/7 blissfest. The first paragraphs before diving into the UBT spoke to my soul this morning.
    High fives to all us boring folks!

  • What a bitch. No idea at all of the damage caused and makes me think that she can’t ever have experienced infidelity herself.
    I seriously believe that it’s one of those experiences that you have to have gone through yourself before you have the right to make any judgement.

    • I don’t know why but I’m still impressed by EP’s utter disregard for personal responsibility and shifting blame to outdated societal notions of monogamy and unnatural suppression of biological and soul affirming urges. Good grief! Cheaters made promises and broke them, single handed LT inflicting devasting consequences on others. It’s that simple. Thank you CL for reminding us.

  • CL, please consider this a “yes” reply to your kind invitation to join you at a colony for real people. I tried to read the article on sexbots but couldn’t get through it; I kept trying to comprehend the psychology of a person who would prefer a robot for companionship and my brain cramped up.

    As for Esther Perel, I had never heard of her before I started reading your blog. And, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ignoring any of her work if I ever run across it. In this case, ignorance truly is bliss.

    CL, thank you for being the voice of sanity in a crazy, crazy, mixed-up world. During the shock and trauma of discovery/discard, the plain truth you speak was and is a life-preserver.

    • I’ve also stopped reading some other people whose work interested me because they work interactively with her. It made me lose respect for them and their work.

      • I first heard of her on an interview by Ira Glass on This American Life. 🙁

        It was poorly timed the week prior to dday when “we” realised we weren’t happy and agreed to go to counselling so I rushed to buy the book. 🙁 🙁

    • I haven’t read the article on sexbots but I have to wonder if they might not really be any worse than some of our EXs (Do they have man impersonators as well as the female ones).

  • I hate this whore. She gave the asshole I’m divorcing another leg to pretend the problem was me. That it wasn’t that he never wanted to talk to me, no matter how many times I asked and how many fucking letters I wrote or posts in my own blog telling him about myself. His red pill IC added another with the discourse about “finding happiness”.

    Perel’s main point is very clear: the only thing that matters is what the cheater wants, feels and desires. We are tools to provide them a magic experience. When she says that’s “OUR” expectations of marriage, she is talking for all cheaters, not chumps. And of course, if the marriage fails them, what are they going to do? Respect their partners? What for, if we are just chess pieces, cardboard representations of people, but not real people! Why would they care about tools? Fuck them all.

    • well, our MC screeched that the right to pursuit of happiness is so important that it’s enshrined in the Constitution, and if the affair makes him happy, by trying to stop him it amounts to abuse. When I told her that I equally have the right not to be lied and made a fool of, and he’s perfectly free to have as many affairs as he wants – just not as my husband, she looked at me with a face like a slapped bottom.

      Actually that ‘right’ appears in the Declaration of Independence. The irony! Independence beckons.

      • Please, please, please report that MC for that sick, twisted line on abuse. THAT which she said amounts to abuse!! Is she f*cking kidding?? She is NOT in her right mind and needs to be stopped as soon as possible, she is harmful. I can’t believe you had to go though that, on top of everything else!

  • I deeply appreciatte Dr. Omar Minwalla who is trying to change the narrative of infidelity calling it deep abuse and even torture!:

    “The problem is sexual acting out disorders are not just sexual behaviors (Minwalla, O., 2012), but are also abusive conduct patterns and complex pathologic systems, which often include elaborate deceptive compartmentalized sexual-relational realities and systems of abusive covert management (Jason, S., 2008; Minwalla, O., 2011; Minwalla, O., 2012). These are patterns of methodical planning over time, careful construction of manipulation of others and cognitive schemas well maintained in order to keep a compartmentalized reality protected from discovery (Jason, S., 2008). It takes pre-planning to sexually-act out in many instances, sometimes requiring days of strategizing against the integrity of vital relational stability and family infrastructure required for health. In fact, maintaining a compartmentalized sexual or relational reality within a family system and relational intimate life takes profound energy to orchestrate and maintain, requiring careful and skilled methodology. This is not simply impulsive or compulsive sexual behavior.

    A disorder of chronic lying in a family system is pathology and requires treatment, regardless of sexual acting out or not. Chronic patterns of establishing and maintaining a deceptive, compartmentalized sexual-relational system in an intimate relationship or family system, is pathology and harmful, which is more accurate in description then simply “compulsive pornography use”. The process of gaslighting an intimate partner (Jason, S., 2008), the process of intentional psychological manipulation of victim’s reality (Jason, S., 2008) or any human being over time is a form of emotional and psychological abuse and torture, eroding and damaging the victim’s survival instincts and intuition (Minwalla, O., 2011), regardless of sexual behaviors (Jason, S., 2008). Clearly, there exist many symptoms of pathology, beyond the single symptom of “lack of control of specific sexual behaviors” or “compulsivity”.”

    (You can read more on his website)

    Maybe someone should sue Perel for encouraging abuse,torture, and psychological domestic violence. Wouldn’t that be great?

    • Thank you for introducing Minwalla to me. It is something that I surely want to read more on. Right now, I am having great difficulty with my 33 year old son who continues to think that I am overreacting and that since the divorce occurred in November “I should get over it”. He does not understand that I, his mother, was a victim of “abuse,torture, and psychological domestic violence” all perpetrated by his father. Perel’s article is disgusting. In fact, her school of thought is a part of the ruin of our society. She should get together with my EX!

      • NMF: I’m so sorry that your son cannot validate you. One perspective I have is that I hope my kids never CAN appreciate with what I’m going through (e.g. I hope that they never suffer this fate.).

        For my kids, so-called friends, extended family members, neighbors etc. etc. etc. if anyone starts minimizing what I’m experiencing I shut that shit down right away. I refused to have any conversations about this with anyone who does not have my back 100%. As time has gone on the circle of individuals with whom I am willing to discuss this has become very small but to a person, those in the inner circle validate me and support me unconditionally.

        Huge hugs.

      • Bingo ! PTSD survivors! Would you tell someone after a traumatic car accident that killed thier family to get over it! It’s a life changing event!

      • NotMyFault – Oh how I have been there, and am still there to some extent.
        Married for 35 years to my narcissist – a rough road to be sure. NO ONE gets it unless they have walked in our shoes. I find myself still trying to grasp this reality when I’m disappointed in others’ reactions when learning of my divorce and the surrounding circumstances – lying, cheating, manipulation, etc, etc.
        My daughter was 34, and my son 30 when this whole divorce scenario reared its ugly head. My daughter was the one who suspected cheating right off the bat. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for her. After decades of emotionally abusive behavior from her father – it was “Good Riddance!” time for her. Ironically, she and her father have very similar personality types – she’s basically giving him a huge dose of his own medicine.
        My son, now 33 as well, is still trying to straddle the fence on this – as is his nature. Plus, I’ve come to learn that it is very typical for sons to want to side with their fathers in some way. I got the whole, “Just move on” thing as well.
        Things were further complicated by the fact that my ex decided to pull this shit just four months before my son’s wedding. Unbelievably selfish.
        So even though my son was a front and center witness, and recipient, of his father’s toxic behavior, he somehow wants me to share in the blame. His new wife is unfortunately not helping matters. She has absolutely NO clue what kind of monster her FIL really is – because naturally, he has only shown her the completely fake facade that he trots out for the rest of the world to see.
        She has been pushing her agenda on my son that there are two sides to every story, and that people who act like adults understand this. It is beyond arrogant, condescending and misinformed. She even wrote me this long, rambling email telling me to “choose love”. It was beyond the pale. I shared the email with my therapist who couldn’t believe how tone deaf it was.
        I have no doubt that my son and I would have been much further down the road to recovery without her interference and the pushing of her own agenda. It is infuriating!
        I’ve somehow been painted in her mind as some sort of obstructionist to family harmony! I have always been the “safe” parent – the one that the kids know they can occasionally freak out on and I’ll still be there for them – the safety net. My son and his wife live on the other side of the country – so all that my DIL saw was my son yelling at me from his side of the phone call – assuming that I was doing an equal amount of shouting – which I was not. Now she has convinced my son that they should have some sort of secret, separate life involving my ex that is kept away from me because I “can’t handle it”!!
        So now, needless to say, I have to try and unravel this whole mess very carefully. It’s going to be a challenge for sure – but I am up to the task. After all, I had 35 years of training in the battlefield that was my marriage – I can handle this!
        And Not My Fault – you can too! I feel you girlfriend – you are not alone!!

        • I am in the same boat with my 2 sons! I think that they might be worried about thier family inheritance more than your safety! After that many years of marriage you become a Golden Nest egg! Young other women are attracted to it as well$$$$$ The kids don’t understand that usually thier in the processs of hiding and spending down the assests by the time you the wife find out! So much ignorance on the part of persons looking in the glass wall!

    • Gaby, Thanks for this. I remember a couple of years before D-Day having a conversation with husband where I said how horrific it would be to get to our age ( late 50’s ) after decades of a seemingly happy marriage, to discover your husband has discarded you for a younger model.

      He agreed wholeheartedly and I felt safe. After D- Day, I discovered that at that very time I had that conversation, he was deeply embroiled in a relationship with a prostitute for two years.
      That is seriously disordered and fucked up. Abusive, because he knew how it would affect me but still he continued. Torture, yes. All of it.
      Weird, strange people all of them.

      • Be True.

        I had exactly the same thing. As my now ex worked abroad we had MANY conversations about trust and our relationship. He always reassured me and I trusted him.
        I had a close friend whose husband also worked abroad and we would sometimes imagine with horror what if our husbands left us for a younger model and left us, middle aged, menopausal, SAHMs for many years, no income, no jobs etc etc. I would tell my ex- about these conversations and he would reassure me again.
        Often I would make jokes about him returning to his Asian ‘girlfriends’ and he would act hurt and a bit annoyed as I had questioned his honour and I would feel bad and apologise for being mean but try to explain I was sometimes worried. He gave more reassurance.
        From the very start of his travels he was with an OW. Three eventually that I know of.
        When I reminded him of these conversations he just had nothing to say or would say ‘sorry, I know I messed up’ that was it. His five years of cheating, dating and porn was ‘messing up’. Highly disordered is my term. Abusive is another.
        Perel is like him. She speaks word salad but doesn’t and probably cannot get what it feels like to be betrayed in this way. I love the saying it’s like trying to explain relativity to cats. That’s how I felt with my ex-, he just didn’t get it. Still doesn’t.
        Cheaters will skim her stuff feeling smug. Chumps just can’t stomach this. I certainly couldn’t read it all. It makes me too angry.
        I need to go and take care of myself now. Detox from more of her bullshit. That’s one of the things I’ve learned through this. To put the focus back in myself and go make my life a good and happy one.
        And breathe….

      • Why going forward NO CONTACT is the key to truth and light. Don’t give these jerks any more insights into YOUR life. I tell myself that every single day!

        • Newmw-I know who-he left for 7 years older than you, Irene. She had money from her hubby who she was cheating on and living with him, her AP, in her hubby’s home. Plus he was going to get your ever-increasing teacher’s pension in the divorce. haha. and then he cheated on Irene with someone he thought had more $$ to give to him. haha. right now he is still stuck with Irene. It gets harder to find patsies as one ages. The young women don’t have the $$ and the older women are wiser. Now he is 70 years old and in a trap.

      • Its not a coincidence they do it on purpose. Find out what cuts you to the bone and go ahead and act it out.
        My version of indescresion was my friend told of a situation where the guy discarded his wife with the line ” i cant deal with this i only wanted a feed and a fuck. ” after i recounted this sorry tale and got the measured outrage from fucktard he issued me with the same sentiment soon after but worse. Apparently sex was merely a biological release ( cant make that shit up) and I’ll miss your cooking. Charming

    • Gaby

      Thanks for this. Wonderful! Fitting! True! Should be obvious, but common sense isn’t common.

      Ugh. Perel’s article is horrible. I couldn’t finish it. Blah blah blah. She’s clearly a dumbass. This dreck (coming from a MC !) clearly points to her own lack of: morality, empathy, insight, and wisdom, to say the least!
      Yeah. She’s good at twisting infidelity around. It’s sooo normal and healthy to pursue a double life all in the name of finding yourself, exploring your identity. Dontcha know, cheaters suffer so much being tied down to the unsuspecting, loyal ball and chains. Ya gotta feel for them putting up with all that commitment stuff. What a waste of a life.

      Again. It’s simple really. If you don’t want to be monogamous, don’t get or stay married (or be in a committed relationship)!!!!! What the fuck is wrong with people?!?! I can entertain her theories on self exploration, identity discovery, whatever she calls it – but don’t stay married while you do it. Simple. She keeps skirting the issue here. The affair ISNT about the committed partner i.e. Chumps. It’s about the lying, cheating, manipulative, devious, disordered freak getting whatever he/she wants, whenever he wants it, however he wants it. Does someone really have to explain this to Ester? The cheaters get off on deception, period. If they wanted to feel “alive” again, why not dump the boring partner (oh the suffering of ennui!) and get your life back! Screw every Tom, Dick, and Harry – freely. No.
      That’s not the same is it. There’s no joyfulness when the cheater isn’t cheating. I’ll say it again. There’s no joy for a cheater, no thrill for a cheater, when he’s not cheating. Duh!!!! Duh Ester – you lying, pathetic excuse for a therapist, and a woman.

    • I feel like a victim at a sentence reading, when the judge finally proclaims the accused as guilty.
      Same relief, it’s the feeling of justice being served, validating all the pain and suffering, promoting healing.

    • I’d also like to thank you for bringing the work of Omar Minwalla to the discussion. I hope those are excerpts from peer-reviewed journals you’ve listed…

  • 1) Esther, dear, am I supposed to pay for cheater’s epic proportions of debts with MY salary, inheritances and savings? I am not being blissful about it.

    2) Cheater has been spreading the word that “we grew apart”. But to expect a memo about this is “attention seeking”? Huh, Esther?

    3) There is an epically great amount of mature women chumps that have been dumped by sparkledicks for younger flatterfucks, in case your scientific analyses of marriage have not observed this phenomenon.

    4) Poor Sparkledick is soothing his trauma with more debts. But it’s just Estherian wisdom.

    5) I’ve not read anything about the invention of character transplants to strengthen marriages.

    6) If you ever run out of clients, Esther, you can always run for an office in a banana republic.

  • I hope this fake academic poseur reads your columns, though I suppose it’s doubtful that would alter her mindset; after all, there must be a big demographic of people who lap this crap up with their morning latte’s. So why would she change her thinking when this crap clearly sells books?

    Reading these phony arguments always gets me back to the fundamental question, “why do they even get married?” followed by “why don’t they just get a divorce” if cheaters need to have “multiple loves” to “feel alive,” and the answer of course is Cake. Which is to say, they are cowards. And many of them get an ego boost high from getting away with their deception.

    And really- “inexplicable rages?” Yes, thanks for making chumps look like borderline crazies. We are just so inexplicable in the way we got angry at being deceived by someone we trusted, loved, and sacrificed years of our lives being loyal to, and ourselves forsaking the opportunity to have “other” lives. Seems pretty “explicable” i.e. explainable, i.e. logical and natural and normal to me.

    Absolute tripe. Thank you CL for condensing it down as I’m sure I would vomit my morning coffee if I had to read the entire thing.

    • Absolutely agree.
      To think that sometimes I will read something profoundly validating about the abuse we all endured and want to forward to him, because it’s so well written that maybe, just maybe, he will see or at least be forced to confront another voice on the subject. But as soon as I start reading it with his eyes, words lose all meaning and I can tell exactly how empty to him sound the same words that are so powerful and exact to me. It’s frightening how well I can empathize with his distorted view of things and start question any message by it (a “talent” I cultivated to see his side of things and make them more acceptable to me – ugh).

  • So, I often listen to This American Life as I fall asleep. It’s interesting in a way that helps take my mind off of my worries, and I find Ira Glass to have a very calming voice.

    So, imagine my horror a few weeks ago as I was listening, and an interview with Esther herself came on! I don’t think I have to spell out the fact that this was *not* something I wanted to hear as I fell asleep! Come on, TAL. You’re better than this.

    • … or, at least, follow the Ester Perel podcast with a podcast interview with Chump Lady or someone equally articulate who is able to present an alternate point of view. Sadly, This American Life is Not better than this. Just another biased media source determined to indoctrinate us unsophisticated masses.

  • “Actually, you had an intimate encounter with yourself, mediated by him. I don’t expect you to believe me right now, but you can terminate your relationship and keep some of what it gave you. You reconnected with an energy, a youthfulness. I know that it feels as if, in leaving him, you are severing a lifeline to all of that, but I want you to know that over time you will find that the otherness you crave also lives inside you.”

    “Otherness” LOL – the satisfying the craving of A Bit of Strange is an “intimate encounter” that provides energy. Like a leech sucking blood. Very intimate and introspective. For the leech. It’s not the leech’s *fault*; it’s just its NATURE, you know…

    Or as Chump Lady says, water seeks its own level.

  • I work for a corporation that has a “brand”. They are very interested in the “brand”-maintaining it, bettering it and profiting from itt. It is one of the hard parts of working there as I am not that materialistic.

    Esther is only trying to make a buck. This is her brand. She found a “niche” in the market based on her whole f’d up idea of how “modern marriage” should be and she is forging ahead. It is only to make a profit off the backs of cheaters who will buy her book to help them justify their shitty behavior and reframe it as “sophisticated” as CL says. The shitty part is that chumps who have not seen the light will waste their cash on it and have the added bonus of feeling like crap afterwards.

  • On this twisted “logic” and EP’s false equivalency of cheater and chump pain, I have to agree 100% with #3 and TiredChump’s post….

    I suppose Ester Perel thinks I can look at the bright side and turn that frown upside down and maybe Ishould be grateful to my cheater for…

    1. Learning Excel skills to track 3 years of non-marital, non- family credit card charges (AKA strip clubs, trips, motels, hotels and meals with “women” who were helping him move into Self Actualization) so I could save $ and not have my attorney do it.

    2. Learning to get over fear of taking the stand against a vengeful liar. Courtrooms and judges should not be scary…see you faced a fear, like a check off my bucket list!

    3. Learing how to start a second (forced) career because I got $0 in support after Sad Sausage “lost” his high paying job.

    4. Learning how to not vomit when your life savings goes to attorneys, and your lying ex- not to mention the tidy sum he had already spent on exuberant defiance.

    5. Learing the legal world of divorce and that fairness is anything but fair and justice doesn’t always happen on this earth.

    6. Learing how to keep working and taking care of kids in trauma days of discovery and the frying pan whack to your brain upending 30 years of a life and 4 kids together.

    7. Learning that sometimes an annual GYN checkup is not enough. Emergency STD testing 🙁

    And the true blessings….

    8. Sometimes when searching for answers, your intuition tells you to ignore the RIC and you search harder and find CL and learn you are not alone and you have hope for the first time.

    9. You discover that the pain is finite and there is a better life, (but that does not mean I was not abused by a cheater and there are scars I did not deserve)

    10. I know my worth more than ever!

    Great Post Chump Lady. You are mighty and we need your voice and counter argument out there!!!

    • Yes, well said. So sorry that we had to learn those things. His continued lying cost me double in lawyer fees! At least we are rid of them.

  • I can no longer read her shit. Stop blaming the victim/survivor. The ones who were planning for a future & now have to rewrite that scenario with reduced circumstances. Being tested for STD’s, finding your cheating husband was on multiple dating sites, spent thousands of shared dollars, was bi-curious, treated you like shit because he was too lazy/gutless/pathetic to leave, is now dragging out the divorce. What did I learn from his affair/s? That I married a disordered fuckwit. What have you learnt Esther Perel? Jack shit.

  • #4: “an intimate encounter with yourself”; “the otherness you crave”

    Here’s a perspective on that one. My husband has autogynephilia, aka “in love with the idea of oneself as a woman.” At age 58, he disclosed to me that he now wanted “to act the part of a woman” in bed; he wanted “to be penetrated” (because, hey, that’s what being a woman is all about, being penetrated); he had to wear women’s lingerie to bed to feel desire–but what he was desiring was himself, in the guise of pretending to be a woman. When we had sex, he said he was now acting as a lesbian, but what he was really doing was making love to himself. His attention and love were not directed to me, his partner-wife, but to himself, as woman. Me and my sexual response were reduced to being examples of what women were like, so he could adopt my behaviors, and pretend he was feeling them. I became an audience member in his immersive theatre experience, but he was the actress as well as the director, the stage manager, the set designer, and the props manager.
    Yes, by golly, he was having “an intimate encounter with himself” with “the otherness [he] crave[d].

    I know this blog is all about changing the narrative around infidelity; what I experienced feels like a version of infidelity, except the other woman, the one who got moved in to my house and my bed, the one I was told by my husband I had to love if I wanted to stay in my marriage, is my husband. He has been involved in a series of emotional affairs with women over the years, but this one, the one he’s having with himself, is by far the most painful and far reaching, and it’s the proverbial straw.

    • This is infidelity, just like secret porn use is infidelity, specifically because he has a covert agenda sexually. It is good that you know about his situation, but he wasn’t being fully honest and he was using you on other levels.

      The concern with EAs is always that the EA is just the part you know about. There may be more, and he may be telling you enough to justify what he needs to get away with to hide those things. Maybe not, but in any case he sounds like he’s got an identity shift going on, and he may not be sharing all of it in any case.

      Sending strength.

      • “Identity shift.” After my almost three years of living with this that’s a narrative I’d like to change! Woman isn’t an “identity” to put on and take off, and it’s an insult to us to suggest it is. Woman is made up of these; a genetic component, an embodied existence in a female body (a real one, with all the functions, not just one remade to resemble one), female socialization to a gender role (whether one resists it or not), and experience. And believe me, the version of woman I’ve seen in the past three years comes straight from male versions of women: 50s housewife, lesbian lover, and fuck me doll. And it all comes accompanied by entitlement and the expectation of being accommodated, as in, he expects, I accommodate.
        But yes, some big changes in the ways in which we think of ourselves has and is occurring.

        • I apologize for using a triggering term. I intended to be supportive of your feeling that your partner’s behavior is unfaithful to your union. I see now that my perspectives on gender are a bit different from yours and that impacted my attempt. I don’t have someone abusing me using gender as an excuse the way you do, so I wasn’t clear about how my words would come across on your side. I am now. Sorry about that.

          • I did understand and appreciate your support when I read your comment (and still do). It’s just that yes, the whole “gender identity” narrative out there right now is triggering to me–and I’m a former Director of a Women’s Studies Program. It took this close look at what my trans-declaring husband considers “woman,” and seeing the sexual aspect of his desire to be a woman (because he gets off sexually on it) to question what I’d been unthinkingly accepting. I do understand that gender dysphoria is real. I’ve just become gender critical on the trans issue.
            I’m sorry in return, for not thanking you.

    • Trying, Your story sounds like a particularly painful take on what we have all experienced. A true narcissist – able to have sex with himself instead of just gazing at himself in the pond. I am so sorry for what you are going through because it simply boggles the mind. ((Hugs))

    • TryingForMighty – Wow. You seriously cannot make up this shit! The really cool thing is that you just might have a movie on your hands. Because it’s so odd and disordered, but also because you emerge as the mighty one in spite of the abuse. Buy the rights! I’m sure somehow Esther would find a way to have the douchebag in your case be the “victim” after you make your millions, though. Hey – you were just exploring the financial options of expressing your pain and torment.

      As Tracy says: WTFever!! (((Hugs!)))

  • How quaint of Esther to imagine that cheaters have selves to encounter.

    No, Esther. They have swirling voids where stable structures such as a self, an ethical foundation, and a moral code should be.

    Meanwhile, I don’t know a single cheating victim who ever believed that marriage was ever meant to or could fulfill every need and desire at every moment forever. Nope. Most chumps stick around for far too long precisely because we know that life is complicated and comes with a goodly measure of struggle and pain, so we empathize with what we believe are cheater struggles, and we work hard to make our families and homes safe spaces in which to struggle while being loved. Chumps do have stable selves, ethics, values, and morals, so we can survive a whole lot of trouble without dissolving in the face of it. What it takes us too long to grasp is the reality of the swirling voids where the cheaters’ souls should be.

    But, at least we don’t romanticize the cheater void. We don’t theorize that the core emptiness is primordial poetry just on point of emerging from the ooze to evolve into some shiny, brilliant thing of surpassing beauty.

    Nah, even we aren’t quite that naive.

    How strange that a self-proclaimed expert on infidelity is.

    • Standing ovation, cashmere. X made some asshole comment about my fortitude when we were still stuck in the same house. I told him that I was stronger than he would ever be. You summed up the chump strength really well. We are solid people. Cheaters are not.

    • The most brilliant reply to this blog. Yes, people who don’t have stable selves or ethical cores will “act out” in order to claim or reclaim whatever they think they’ve lost or been denied. But there are a LOT less costly ways to do that than an affair, and the burden is on them to figure out who they are and what they want to be before they wreak havoc on someone else’s life.

      What she should be asking – if she wants to be a credible sociologist – is why and to what degree does U.S. culture encourage people to seek self actualization in ways that hurt others. We are very much an adolescent-minded society, and that is a problem.

    • She is right though about one thing. It’s our expectations that cause a lot of the pain. Once I began to expect Twatty Fuckface to be a lying whore, I felt a lot less anxiety then when I wondered if she was fucking underemployed geriatrics or not.

      • Well, yes, we do expect that our spouses are fundamentally human and have actual core selves. When we figure out the swirling void deal, it makes leaving the cheater behind a much more appealing proposition. But I would never deem it an unreasonable expectation that a spouse should have a stable self and some modicum of a moral system. The flaw is not that expectation. The flaw is that the cheater fails the “fundamentally human” test.

  • Tracey – thank you for continuing to put this woman in her place. I’m still in the mix of divorcing a fucked up narcissist and just don’t have the strength for all this right now. Just knowing that there’s a whole chump nation of caring supportive people out there who actually call bullshit on all this entitlement-is so comforting. I’ll get to the place you’re in someday soon but for now just – Thank You!

  • For me, Mr. Sparkles did not have a singular “affair”. He didn’t accidentally trip on his shoelace and fall into the vagina of sex worker with crabs. At least, I don’t think that is how it happened 🙂 He was NEVER FAITHFUL for the entire relationship and marriage. NEVER. This is someone who is character deficient and disordered. Straight up (well, actually, he’s “Bi” in some ads)…

    Mr. Sparkles METHODICALLY and INTENTIONALLY:

    – searched personal ads on multiple web sites hunting for women, couples, groups to have sex with while I was making dinner for the family

    – took the time to crop me and our newborn son from a baptism photo so he could use it for placing his own personal ads ‘cuz he liked how he looked in his suit

    – opened a separate bank account without telling me and then hid the extra “bonus” check he apparently got every month from work (kids don’t need college funds, ya know)

    – got a burner phone and put it in the name of his daughter so the bills could come to the house (he’s lazy)

    – sat through MC six times and then decided HE didn’t have a problem, it was me and our sexless marriage (but he was able to manufacture a few tears…)

    – fucked his X-wife every time he went to see his kids out of state (WTF?!?!?)

    – lied to my face DAILY… “love you babe, have a great day”… (wonder how many others got the same text each morning)

    – came home one day and blew up the family for a woman 10 years younger with 2 kids but gobs of money (don’t worry CN, I shut that shit down!)

    – continues to this day, while in a new “monogamous” relationship, slutting around the Internet with his own ads and his non-traditional sexual proclivities (Thank God I’m no longer “her”)

    But you’re right, EP. It must be me and puritanical notions of marriage. FUCK YOU.

    Love you all CN… and CL… how you fight this fight through the years is amazing… thank you.

    • +1 awesome post, all so very familiar though I never found out many of the details of my Ex’s secret life, if you can call that kind of gutter existence a “life”.

      How does an intellectual like EP explain systematic decades-long duplicity in rosy terms? It cannot be justified. They are con men, grifters, and fakes.

      And yes, every morning, I got a peck on the cheek, “love you!!” and same nightly before going to bed, and after I walked upstairs to the bedroom he whipped out the cell phone that I paid for him to have for over ten years, to use it to hookup with “others.” Does that make him deep and wounded? No, it makes him a lying douche who was using me.

      • WisedUp, I had the same. I remember so well a time when in passing he kissed me on the forehead and said ” you’re my sweet heart “.
        D-Day was a few weeks later and the texts I read from him to the whore made me realise just how manipulated I was. Vile.

  • Last year when my marriage started to end I sent loads of infidelity info to my estranged husband including Esther’s Ted talk. Which did he find most useful? Of course the one that reframed poor character into a heroic search for self. Ms. Esther Perel. You can reframe any bad behavior (as evidenced by Donald Trump being elected) but a moral compass does not lie.
    When I was high on hopium I watched her TED talk, listened to interviews and read her book. I wanted to understand how I got to where I was; a suddenly single mom to a 2 1/2 year old and a 2 month old. I don’t need years of research to tell me common sense. He came from a bad home, he modeled his dads behavior, years of passive aggressive behavior and teenage angst was never corrected. He never became an adult. He’s an entitled man child. I should’ve known he was a gamble but he’s good at impression management and portrayed himself a certain way to get a naive chump. I got swindled by a Carnie type asshole that’s all.

    • You may have got swindled, but now you’ve got your future of freedom without an entitled fuckwit to stab you in the back and try to make you thank him for it.

      I know it is hard with the little ones… the upside is the only “normal” they know is with you. The douchebag dad hasn’t had a chance to imprint on them. Blessings in disguise.

      Hang in there… get a lawyer… get a settlement and get a divorce. You and your kids deserve a new day.

  • “Chumps, you can all take comfort in the fact that your cheater has had an intimate encounter with themselves. You don’t need to tell them to go fuck themselves… because they have.”

    This + rainbow puking gnome has been my smile this morning. Thank you, Tracy. <3

  • All hail Chump Lady! I knew your perspective would be spot on! The entire article devalued the chump and made affairs exciting. Hell it made me wish I had one.

    One part of the article that particularly struck a cord with me was that the affair has nothing to do with the chump. Basically the cheater is not thinking of you. No shit! But in the article Priya is having an affair with someone she would NEVER date. This is stated as if it should make the chump feel better. She isn’t thinking about you, but she thinks even less of trucker man! She is destroying your life for someone she would never date, and let’s not forget she married you! You are one lucky chump!

  • So, my curiosity was piqued and I did some googling of Esther Perel and browsed her website.

    She has written a new book called “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity “. Basically her argument is that affairs open up the problems in the marriage and force couples to discuss what is wrong with the marriage.

    This whole argument is BS! Again it blames the chump, forces him or her to eat cake, while pick-me dancing.

    Been there. Done that. Will NOT EVER do that again.

    • Problems in my marriage with my serial cheating X….. entitlement. He said he was allowed ‘caveats’ in his marriage. Wtf. I didn’t like pointing out to him that the serial issue in ALL of his long term relationships was HIM. He cheated in every relationship he has had. My agency was learning about that at the 5 yr mark and spackling💥

      What I wouldn’t do the smack the former 30yr me….

    • EP must go through boots and shovels faster than a rabbit with diarrhea can run. That one article was an impressive mound of BS. I can’t imagine a book full of that manure.

  • Point #4 should alone be the highlight to chumps to gtfo of a relationship with the cheater. If cheaters need external validation to get their endorphins flowing and “Feel Alive!!!” they are looking to fill the empty black hole within themselves from the outside. (Emotionally healthy people to from Within themselves to fill the hole.) Chumps- it is NOT your job to make these parasites whole.

    The lack of empathy of a cheater has them repeatedly failing the marshmallow test. That’s a bad trait for establishing a committed relationship. Cheater’s marshmallows could be financial, sexual, or drug-related betrayals in their primary relationships with their SOs and kids. When they go cold turkey on their vice of choice, they assuredly jump on the wagon for a substitute. Nothing will fill their vacuous Needs.

    Thanks CL for putting this clown to task. My spidey sense about her is she is a huge cheater herself who is desperately trying to get buy-in that being a moral loser is fab.

  • Maybe I’m not intellectually capable of picking up what she’s laying down (THANK CHRIST!) but doesn’t she admit that it’s all about selfish entitlement?

    “It’s not our desires that are different today, but the fact that we feel entitled—even obligated—to pursue them.”

    Her argument on this point seems to be: “We feel entitled. Entitlement is powerful. Therefore, we must indulge that entitlement, and see where it leads us.”

    EXCEPT . . . as CL points out over and over again, that argument doesn’t work in most other areas of life. We do not advocate indulging impulses to take money that doesn’t belong to us, or squeeze the body parts of a hottie walking past, or drive wrecklessly to get us to that place we just HAVE to be, etc.

    Only in the areas of marital commitment and trust between partners do people like Esther believe there should be exceptions. All in the name of . . . what? Personal growth? Being honest with one’s self? Acknowledging that one person cannot fulfill 100% of another’s needs?

    Speaking strictly for myself, I never expected 100% of my needs to be fulfilled when I married KK. Only infants have to have 100% of their needs met. I willingly accepted that committing to her meant leaving certain areas of life unfulfilled. She apparently didn’t.

    • Situational Ethics, like being a little bit pregnant….

      How I cringe at people who embody this shit. “Run away!! It’s got HUGE fangs!” Which is what chumps didn’t do when they saw the Cristo red sheeting covering the landscape of their relationships with cheaters.

  • Entitled people cheat. People of low character cheat. People who have no morals cheat. People who don’t give a shit about their spouse cheat. It doesn’t help with all the pro cheater writings. The FOG made me do it. I remember the lifetime movie channel days and how she would cry about the content of the show. I was always uncomfortable with a lot of them. The lost married woman who found her soulmate. Never showing the collateral damage she created fucking around on her husband! Media is 100 percent with the cheaters. Once caught they google their excuses. Have memory loss. Never really their fault. I am pretty sure, if I hooked up with a young 20 something in my 40s(like she did), I would have very vivid memories of the events. But not her….. turns out it was traumatic and she can’t remember! These people are not normal…… can they change? Maybe…. doubtful

  • I think I need to have this tattooed somewhere. “Follow the money.” Esther would not be doing this if she was not being paid big bucks. Every single time you click on anything like Facebook or Twitter they make money from you so that is why I am not going to click on anything that has her name on it other than this blog which I hope makes $1 billion dollars.

    • Our pal, gwyneth “I’m so much more evolved than you, I’m not divorcing but rather, Consciously Uncoupling” Paltrow, had Ester speak at her Goop conference a few months ago. Are we surprised? This (Paltrow) is a woman who tells us to steam our vaginas even though gynaecologists all agree that doing so is unhealthy and even dangerous, and that water molecules change when we say nice words to them, even though scientists agree this is bunk. Ester is just one more charlatan to who Paltrow gives a platform…

  • The psudosophisticated tripe this woman spouts is enough to turn the stomach of even the staunchest reader, if said reader actually has a conscience and something resembling good character.

    It occurs to me that she has to be someone with a personality disorder. Looking at her theme, what does she tout?……… Lack of true connection. Only a shallow person doesn’t understand deep bonding. Obviously, she doesn’t or she would not be so casual about betrayal.

    Honesty, is the next to bite the dust, no need to inform your loving spouse of your taste for strange. Deception rules in her universe, apparently.

    What else do we see here? Well, epic gaslighting coupled with word salad, a cluster “B”s best friend.

    Next up….?DARVO in spades. Chump Nation, quit feeling sorry for yourselves. Your pain is nothing compared to the cheaters. How dare we keep them down! Why, it’s abuse, I tell you, abuse! Not to ignore the most abused person of all, sad sausage Esther Perel.

    Moving on to the biggie…… enough entitlement to float the Queen Mary. Well yes, you can have anything you want, and on someone else’s back. You are just that fabulous. And fabulous people never have to take responsibility for any of their actions.

    And the last, glorifying the many faces of the refrain, Me, Me, Me, Me! And justifying such selfishness with another heaping helping of word salad.

    Enough to make a person barf right along with that elf.

    • Just the mere fact she thinks she is so brilliant that she can go proudly against the grain of social mores reeks of sociopathy, combined with a narcissist ‘s delusions of grandeur.

  • Actually, I think she does a very good job of explaining exactly why selfish, self centered, entitled jerks who lack empathy cheat. Their expectations of marriage were not met.

    Meanwhile, emotionally mature people who actually know how to love understand that marriage is not always sunshine and roses. Relationships take work because the other person wants to be loved too. The other person also has needs. Sometimes compromise is needed.

    The whole “for better or for worse” part of the marriage vows is really a warning. There will be the for worse parts, and you are still obligated to follow through on your vows when that happens. You don’t get a pass just because you didn’t get the pony. That being said, I don’t think it means you have to suffer abuse. At that point the covenant has been broken and you are allowed to protect yourself. What cheaters suffer isn’t abuse, its the chumps who suffer that.

    • Got that right, Chumpinrecovery! My Woody sent me a Perel article after DDay1 when he was trying to help me understand how his “just-friends” “emotional” affair was making him a better man. Several DDays later, I finally understood that this wonderful fellow had actually been leading a secret life of several emotional affairs with married women over a period of years, topped off by a 16-month fucking affair with my niece. He sure found himself! Turns out he’s an empty shell!

      Basically Perel is validating the narcissist who has to look into the adoring eyes of new supply to feel self-worth. The truth is THEY SUCK.

  • Oh, yeah … “what we expect, what we think we want, and what we feel entitled to” … that’s it! That must be the problem! Hey can I try that one out the next time I get pulled over?

    “I’m sorry officer… the real problem here is that you expect and “think” you want me to drive the speed limit. Why do you feel entitled to force the speed limit upon me?” Why have any rules… you are so limited in your enlightenment; furthermore you fail to see the freedom in anarchy!” Seems to me I could make that line of reasoning work to MY advantage in just about any situation – fucking brilliant! There’s just that one pesky little problem… convincing everyone else that their expectations are the problem.

    “As children, we have the opportunity to play at other roles; as adults, we often find ourselves confined by the ones we’ve been assigned or the ones we have chosen. When we select a partner, we commit to a story” … 🤔 and I guess that’s why we call it COMMITMENT! So essentially Esther is admitting cheaters are the equivalent of children … now THAT I agree with!

    “My role as a therapist is to create a space where the diversity of experiences can be explored with compassion.” …Hey, if I declare myself the queen of England do I get to play dress up, live in castles and call myself a queen? Does Pearl actually have a license, or does she just declare herself a “Therapist”?

    • LOL, good points, Got-a-brain. As you, and UXWorld, and others have pointed out: she admits that cheaters are undeveloped, entitled asshats! …Except she doesn’t put it that way. They’re children…but in a magical, whimsical way…or, they’re entitled…but in a powerful, self-realizing way. Yes, let’s all try out this rosy, delusional way of living and see how it goes…

      Children need to grow into adults (I know, I’m murdering fairies and wonder), and entitlement by its very definition is selfish/demanding…and oftentimes baseless (i.e. saying that today’s youths are entitled — not exactly a positive commentary!) Giving credence to people floating through life and taking what they want without any regard to others is self-indulgent madness.

        • But…but…CAKE! Seriously, I so agree with you. I think my STBX loved me as much as he was capable of loving anyone (besides himself). In 38 years of marriage, I don’t think he was ever faithful. It was always about the sex for him. I provided image management. Found about an affair after six years of marriage. Gave him a second chance. Found out about strippers after 38 years of marriage. I shudder to think what else I don’t know about. Today’s blog really struck a nerve.

    • LOL!!!! Got-a-brain…”As children, we have the opportunity to play at other roles; as adults, we often find ourselves confined by the ones we’ve been assigned or the ones we have chosen. When we select a partner, we commit to a story” … 🤔 and I guess that’s why we call it COMMITMENT!

      Absolutely! I don’t know about the rest of the world (and I’m starting to seriously wonder) but even as a child, I was taught very early to honor commitments. In that respect, I often joke that I was born 30 since I never felt the need or desire to behave like a “rebellious youth.” (Why would I when behaving honorably allowed me to do pretty much everything I really wanted to do anyway? Oh, yeah. …maybe because the things I actually wanted in life WERE honorable. Duh.)

      I think my biggest shock was learning just how few people truly valued honesty, commitment, and (most of all) honor. Don’t get me wrong. I knew there were people out there who didn’t share my values or at least, didn’t value those character traits as much as I did, but the shear numbers of people with a complete lack of regard or experience with honor scare the bejezus outta me.

  • Wow. Perel’s words for swine are pretty amazing. The gem that stuck out for me is, “As children, we have the opportunity to play at other roles; as adults, we often find ourselves confined by the ones we’ve been assigned or the ones we have chosen. When we select a partner, we commit to a story. Yet we remain forever curious: What other stories could we have been part of? Affairs offer us a view of those other lives . . .”

    As a parent, I spent years teaching my children that not all roles are okay to play. No, you cannot play the tyrant and take all the toys from the other tot. No, you cannot tell Maria you’ll go to her birthday party and then not show up because Anna invited you to go roller skating at the last minute. No, you cannot take the money your sibling left on his desk and claim “finders keepers.” Childhood is not a world where anything goes. People of character learn to behave during childhood, and they do not regress to selfish, double-dealing, theft when adult life turns out to be hard or disappointing. Pretending to be a fire fighter, a vet, a puppy, and a butterfly is not the same thing as lying to Mom, stealing Dad’s tools (and breaking them), or throwing a screaming tantrum because no one will let you eat ice cream for dinner. Shitty behavior is simply shitty behavior. At any age.

    • Amen, Eilonwy. I hate when people idealize childhood in its entirety. A lot of this time is spent learning how to behave socially/in respect to other people — learning the whole Golden Rule thing, and growing up to become good, loving, whole adults. Should we try our best to retain the sense of wonder and imagination from childhood? Sure! The other, selfish “id” behaviors? Those need to be worked on and worked out, otherwise our world will become a pretty awful place.

    • Exactly. This is its earliest origin in a nutshell.

      It’s striking too how Perel just casually slips in there “When we select a partner, we commit to a story.” How incredibly weird just that one line is. I didn’t commit to a “story” of who I was when I got married. It reveals she really doesn’t possess an integrated identity yet. And that she’s obtusely okay with that. Even a flighty teenager wouldn’t simply admit they’re experimenting with how their basic identity fits within the world. Yet Perel does, implying it’s even as a permanent state of life, and then projects it upon everyone else as well. She exists not only as a perpetual adolescent trying on different aspects of her identity for the feeling and reflections they may generate for her, she is oblivious that this is a developmental step everyone else has already long ago mastered. We don’t settle on a story when we decide to get married…we settle on an identity (having discovered in adolescence that our values are indeed our own) and only THEN become serious about finding a partner we feel matches it. This is a breathtaking revelation by Perel that this malleable uncertain identity she exists as is such a given in her world view.

      But of course we chumps all know it to be dead-on true of cheaters. They lack a singular outward identity, certainly one that has successfully integrates their varied attributes. So they are one thing one moment in one set of circumstances, and another thing the next. And the gross contradictions don’t bother them, because they know no other way of being. For them it feels like consistency (being two or more different things) because they’ve always known that their “identity” is “actor who gets egocentric needs met”. And as Perel reveals, they think that’s normal.

      It begins with the developmental failures you described in early childhood and then lacking the tools those developments would have provided (ability to see others as equivalent beings, ability to then manage impulses in line with such equivalence, etc) they carry those deficiencies into adolescence where they then fail to have any character and values to discover as representing themselves except the continued egocentric pursuit of wants. Thus, their “identity” is as Perel reveals: whatever “story” works for the moment. And what right does anyone have to stop one from being who they are?

      • “Whatever story works for the moment” “perteual adolescent…..” Implying it’s a permanent stage of life” “fail to have any character or values” “continued egocentric pursuit of their wants” You captured the essence of the cheater perfectly!

      • “Whatever story works for the moment” “perteual adolescent…..” Implying it’s a permanent stage of life” “fail to have any character or values” “continued egocentric pursuit of their wants” You captured the essence of the cheater perfectly! S

    • After I sell my book to Hollywood. 😉

      I don’t know. A TED talk is not something I’m clamoring to do. Considering doing podcasts, but I’m spread rather thin at the moment.

      • Any other chumps with professional cred who would be willing to do a a TED talk? Tempest, maybe? Not like any of us have other things to do, I know. And I guess professional cred isn’t required if we’re to learn anything from Esther Perel.

        Also, I’d love a podcast!

    • We have nominated Tracy twice in the past; time for a new round of nominations. I’ll post details in an hour after my class (as you need additional information for the nomination form).

    • NOMINATE CL for a Ted Talk. Rally the troops; let’s do a rapid fire nomination process by tomorrow!!

      Here’s the link: https://speaker-nominations.ted.com/

      Info you need:
      Tracy Schorn
      info@chumplady.com
      U.S.

      Info about speaker: Author, Writer, Blogger about Infidelity and Divorce (Huffington Post articles, http://www.chumplady.com). Her blog has over 16 (!!) million page views of her blogsite.

      What might the Ted Talk be about? [use your own words, but the effect of infidelity on partners, family; psychological traits that predict infidelity and/or serial cheating, etc.]

      Under which of the following categories? Social Sciences

      Has this person spoken publicly before? If so, where? Yes, presentation at the University of Texas at Austin, October 2014 & November 2015

      Links to online video: [videocast] http://www.vidoyen.com/profiles/tracy-schorn

      Please provide any links to articles or web pages about the speaker: [instead of just chumplady.com, pick one of your favorite HuffPo or archive posts so that we have a variety of webpages being sent to the Ted Talks nominating board]

      • Ohhhh, I am so doing this Tempest. Tracy deserves a TED talk as another platform to spread her words of wisdom. Without CL, I would not be where I am today. My therapist was/is good, but it’s CL & CN that resonated with me and helped me recognize and truly understand what exactly was happening to me/my life. Bless you all. <3

      • Tracy, I’d love to join in. First, though, I saw what you said about having a lot on your plate. Do you want to be nominated? If so, what topic(s) do you feel comfortable speaking about?

        My first thought for a Tracy topic was “Taking the reins: How to leave a cheater and gain a life”. Then I imagine you taking about how once a person has lied to you about a partnership commitment, it is ok to withdraw your promises, accommodations, and support. I imagine you explaining that it is ok for a person to want fidelity, and that a partner can choose to be honest before being unfaithful, and if the partner doesn’t choose that route, it is reasonable that there are consequences, no matter how much the partner doesn’t like that. Stuff like that.

        In short, I see you as a professional cheerleader for chumps. 🙂

        • I’m sure Tracy will weigh in, but I did check with her before posting any info for the Ted Talk nomination.

          She’s not keen on public speaking, so it will be our turn to be her cheerleader if she’s accepted ; ).

        • Tracy I’m sure would come up with her own catchy title, but I like: “From Marginalized to Mighty: How Chumplady Flipped the Script on Cheaters and is Leading a Revolution.”

      • I tried to put in my nomination, but it requires a phone number and a city.

        I would assume that Tracy would not want her phone number made public.

        Thoughts?
        I’d love to hear her do a Ted Talk!

  • It’s all fun and games until Esther is cheated on. Let’s remember this article shall we. Because that day will come. That woman has a target on her back. How many narcissists are out there dying to stick it to ol’ Esther (no sexual pun intended) and show how clever they are by cheating on the very woman who has asserted that cheating is to be expected? Then she will come crawling for the sympathy without any remorse for her complicity.

    • I suspect Ester has been cheated on. And the only way she could feel okay about staying with a cheater was to convince herself that she was above bourgeois reactions like pain and jealousy. My friends who were the most ardent defenders of Bill Clinton during MonicaGate were Chumps who told themselves that they were so much more worldly and multidimensional that puritanical ol’ me who was openly disgusted by my cheater and all cheaters.

      • Same take, but from a cheater’s perspective: he said five years ago, and said it again recently, too, that he would possibly be okay if *I* cheated and even got pregnant by it!!! because “we are not fifteen anymore, where if you cheat, I leave, it’s not that simple, life is more complex”.
        Granted, his answer was prompted by my asking about what i consider a very extreme scenario, just to test his reactions, but boy, that dude is whack in the head!!!

  • My comments:

    Esther Perel is dangerous because she’s intelligent, and includes nuggets of truth in what she says. Consider the following quotes:

    “I do not approve of deception or take betrayal lightly. I sit with the devastation in my office every day.”

    So she gets that betrayal hurts. So do we.

    “…affairs are primarily described in terms of the damage caused. Generally, there is much concern for the agony suffered by the betrayed. And agony it is—infidelity today isn’t just a violation of trust; it’s a shattering of the grand ambition of romantic love. It is a shock that makes us question our past, our future, and even our very identity. Indeed, the maelstrom of emotions unleashed in the wake of an affair can be so overwhelming that many psychologists turn to the field of trauma to explain the symptoms: obsessive rumination, hypervigilance, numbness and dissociation, inexplicable rages, uncontrollable panic.”

    Again, yes, affairs hurt. So much that they are comparable to radical trauma like brutal combat. Marital betrayal is comparably stressful to seeing one’s fellow soldier destroyed in gruesome ways by the cruel machinations of war, as based on the aftereffects. Many of us here haven’t put it quite that eloquently.

    “We want our chosen one to offer stability, safety, predictability, and dependability. And we want that very same person to supply awe, mystery, adventure, and risk. We expect comfort and edge, familiarity and novelty, continuity and surprise.”

    Here, she points out one of the paradoxes of the expectations of marriage, and the real problem that leads many cheaters to stray. In a word, the familiar is less erotic than the unfamiliar (hence the slang term ‘getting a little strange’, often followed by reference to genitals).

    Then she takes these true statements, and wraps them around other ideas, couching them in legitimacy. That’s the danger here. Change the lexicon, start calling cheaters things like ‘renegade lovers’, calling cheating an ‘exuberant act of defiance’, that legitimizes it, or at least takes some of the sting out of it, in the same way that robbing a bank could be called ‘enforced wealth redistribution’ or arson for hire to collect insurance money could be called ‘capitalization by rapid oxidation’. As JC says above, that’s a drinking game, not a career (and here I’m using career as a euphemism for what Esther Perel does to make money.)

    And then, this: “Yet we remain forever curious: What other stories could we have been part of? Affairs offer us a view of those other lives, a peek at the stranger within. Adultery is the revenge of the deserted possibilities.”

    We make choices all the time. I really like cheese, ice cream, and cake (literal cake). But it it an act of ‘exuberant defiance’ for me to eat these foods until I’m morbidly obese? We all are constantly called on to make moral choices. We can help a stranger in need with a flat tire, or drive on by to get home and catch the football game. We can let a person know they dropped a $20 bill, or hope they don’t notice so we can pick it up. In each case, one choice is objectively better for us, and one choice is objectively better for the other person. The calculus of which choice is better overall is complex, but is best guided by an adult, moral compass, and Perel seems to completely miss this point. Imagine her being an analyst to a brutal dictator. “So, Generalissimo, when you fire bombed that orphanage, what were you really doing? Were you mad at your older brother for taking a toy you liked when you were three? Good, I’m glad we figured out what was behind that. What atrocity can we analyze next?”

    In the final analysis, I see Perel akin to a criminologist, one who studies the quirks and irregularities that make a criminal capable of hurting others without regard, but she has then fallen to the level of romanticizing the criminals, speaking of them in euphemisms, and functionally trying to legitimize them, if not glorify them. It’s kind of pathetic, really, but apparently it seems to resonate with ‘criminal’ types, and nets her a lot of income.

    Don’t misunderstand me – there is value (from an external point of view) in trying to understand why people cheat. If I were a pastor or any type of counselor, I would be very happy to be armed with an understanding of why partners are willing to cheat on their marriages, and appropriate tools to help them avoid that temptation and work through their issues. To get those tools requires a discussion of what motivates cheating – ideas like sexuality inside a long term marriage getting stale, the cheater exploring possibilities that they aren’t supposed to take per societal convention, all of those are roads to understand cheating, and much of Perel’s writing seems to address these issues. But when she uses them to try and legitimize cheating, to make it sound brave, bold, or adventurous (if a little seedy), she does humanity a gross disservice.

    All that said, from the chump’s perspective, it’s not worth untangling the skein. The only question that matters is – cheater did X, and probably will do X again, if not worse. Is this acceptable to you? And if not, what are you going to do about it? I don’t suspect that analyzing the details of another exuberant act of defiance from their renegade lover is high on their list of priorities at all.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

    • Well said Aeronaut. That’s exactly my problem with Esther Perel. It’s not that she explores these questions–I’m a therapist too, and I do have to treat cheaters fairly often–it’s that she makes it sound sexy. Whether she is conscious of it or not, she DOES lend it some legitimacy. These are questions people should grapple with BEFORE marriage, not after. And if they are, well, have some balls and leave instead of eating cake.

    • “Esther Perel is dangerous because she’s intelligent, and includes nuggets of truth in what she says.”

      Exactly! The primary basis of all gaslighting, grooming, sales jobs, and really any convincing deception, is the shred of truth at the root of it. Spot on, Aeronaut.

    • Bingo, aeronaut. Well said. I’m reading Perel’s piece now, and several of her assertions and premises are unobjectionable from a chump’s point of view. It’s the romanticizing, that little pinch of sexy sizzle, that’s disappointing. And the implication of moral equivalency, which she doesn’t quite dispel with her dutiful acknowledgment of the chump’s pain. “Yes, cheating maims. But cheaters are on a super-sexy journey!” Who doesn’t want to go on a super-sexy journey of self-discovery? Who can blame them? Just ignore the human remains lining the path to self-discovery and enlightenment.

      Anyway — nicely done.

    • Nailed it. This is exactly the rationalization employed to convince the world that chumps are the problem.

      It comes down to a simple equation: given the option of hurting you or hurting me, which side are you on?

  • Oh my, darling dear E. P. My husband sent me her Ted Talk to understand his perspective. It started with it’s not you bla bla bla, then he changed his mind and told me that the affair partener was fitter, more beautiful, nothing to do with me at all, that he deserved a better life, he loves me, he loves her, he loves his parents, our children, he loves nature. I believe that he got contaminated with E. P. iron logic. He told me that my love and acceptance will make me get over by his past, present, and future mistakes. If only my love is strong enough. But I got bored and I said it’s time to cut the crap: I don’t love you, spare me, go fuck yourself.

  • At the risk of admitting that I don’t think STBX is all bad, I do believe that he would find Ester Perel to be full of shit. Based on a lot of what he has said and done over the last few months, I believe that, at the very least, he understands that he is not entitled to cake although he was slow to give it up. He did chose between me and her and he chose her. I think he made a bad choice, but he certainly made the easier choice. He likes to believe he did that for me as much as for himself. He knows that he wasn’t very nice to me these last few years and he wants to spare me future pain because he knows if he sticks with me he will either stray again or resent me for those “choices not made”. Fixing character is hard work and he just doesn’t have it in him. He isn’t happy with the way things turned out, he can’t fix it, but he is trying to minimize the damage. That being said, he still insists on sticking with the slut who conspired with him to tear our family apart. I would be happier if he would at least ditch her and go find a new girlfriend I could like better after we are good and divorced. I guess I can’t dictate what he does with his life, however. He would rather I didn’t hurt, but his needs still comes first.

    I am not making this up. He has more or less told me all of the above on several occasions. He has also apologized for many of the mean things he has said and done. He told me the other night that he wishes he had done something to work on our marriage five years ago before he strayed. He said that a part of him still loves me and the divorce makes him sad, but it is too late now because he is too attached to her. Maybe it’s just image management because he doesn’t want me to hate him, but he is right. I am better off without a man who is attached to someone else. That doesn’t mean that I have to thank him for leaving the way he did. He could have chosen to work on his character instead of cheating. He could have focused on improving our relationship instead of looking for strange. Or, he could have shown me some respect and divorced me as soon as he decided that I couldn’t meet all of his needs. I am disappointed in him, but I have come to understand that he will always disappoint me. He isn’t the man I thought he was. He knows that too and would rather start over with someone he hasn’t disappointed yet. He can’t feel loved by someone he has disappointed. I still think that someday he will disappoint her and/or she will disappoint him. Then what? He will have to figure that out on his own, however. Not my problem. Meanwhile, maybe I can find a mature man who is centered and self-assured enough to know how to make a commitment.

    • “[H]e could have shown me some respect and divorced me as soon as he decided that I couldn’t meet all of his needs. I am disappointed in him, but I have come to understand that he will always disappoint me.”

      Part of what took me so long to get to the point of admitting the need for divorce was the slow realization that I would always be disappointed. I mean, how do you just continue loving someone who would devastate you so deeply (and knowingly bring a child into the picture)? And the lack of respect for granting me the ability to choose to divorce him before this got too deep…it’s either cowardice or cake, neither of which is an acceptable explanation. Just…utter disappointment. You take someone like this and turn them out into the world — to APs and potential countless others — and, rest assured, disappointment will ensue. No one will be able to fill their void, and so it’s inevitable. This is the point at which we realize that we must protect ourselves, our children. These people will continue to let you down as they chase/fight their personal windmills. Not acceptable.

  • If murder were legal, lots of people would do it. Most people would know at some level that it’s wrong. Murderers would be looked down on. But many celebrities would do it anyway and get splashed across the headlines for it. The equivalent of Esther Perel apologists would appear to explain why we shouldn’t judge murderers. (“They weren’t thinking of you, they were exploring themselves.”) And a few voices of reason, drowned in the general hypocrisy, trying to shout “Hey? Isn’t murder wrong?”

  • I only have one response…FUCK Esther Perel. I KNOW STBX used her flawed “logic” as the basis for justifying his shitty behavior. Just like he did with Dan Savage and his “monogamish” shit. He said “let’s renegotiate our marriage contract” BS. He thought he had brainwashed me successfully for 26 years, and was SO surprised when I said NO, a thousand times no.

  • I have to ask, why is it so unpopular to want monogamy? I feel like Esther and the RIC crew are constantly wanting to justify this question and yet, what it really comes down to is integrity. If you want strange, if you want to have a renegade love affair with yourself mediated by a truck driver, why not just admit as much TO YOURSELF and then don’t dupe someone into believing that what you really want is monogamy, stability, reliability, etc.

    I think what Esther should really start looking into is why cheaters have such a hard time being honest with themselves, let alone others. That is the real conundrum here. All I see and hear from Perel is word salad. Dog turd wrapped in new age sparkle dust.

    • “I think what Esther should really start looking into is why cheaters have such a hard time being honest with themselves, let alone others.”

      YES! I am seeing the delusion in my X as well, as he makes himself the victim of anxiety (the result of things HE did), a “mean” ex wife (say one not entirely nice thing, and I’m threatening his life), etc. Oh, but he has a new girlfriend (may or may not have started seeing her before divorce was final, BUT has supposedly been working on himself). Really, why drag someone into it? I can understand these people trying and failing ONCE, but many cheaters seem to keep getting themselves into commitments that they later proceed to shit all over. So it seems that it would either be that they get off on duping others, or they’re plain INSANE (probably due to lack of introspection, trying the same thing over and over again, thinking it will work). I don’t get it either!!!

      • Chump on it,
        They never grew up , they can’t make a decision and stick with it because they might miss out on something. Isn’t this what Esther is saying? ‘Yet we remain forever curious…..what other stories might we have been part of…..’ My idiot cheater was always looking for better everything, never satisfied. They can’t commit and accept what they have chosen; gosh they might be missing out on something or someone better. It’s a childlike jealousy and envy that someone has it better than they do. It’s all part of their narcissistic personality that needs constant validation …. me, me me! They don’t see the blessings they already possess. They can’t see beauty, not in their children, qtheir wife’s love, their grandchildren or in themselves. They are simply damaged people who go around looking for someone to make them feel worthy. Esther is selling her ‘stichk’ using a lot of claptrap trying to sound knowledgeable. We know what adultry is, its adultry! We know what cheating is its cheating. Take a hike Esther we aren’t buying your ‘ Stichk’.

    • NewChump, I am sorry to hear you are going through this trauma. It’s impossible to try to understand how anyone could abandon their wife and children especially with a baby on the way. How do these AP’s look in the mirror? They are so stupid they don’t recognize a guy that’s capable of such callous behavior will treat her similarly when he’s not feeling so”alive”. This man is just completely without and any scrap of decency. My heart goes out to you and your girls. I hope you have support from your family and friends to help you through. CN is a good place to seek encouragement and support so keep posting. Lots of hugs. ❤️❤️❤️

      • Thank you so much for your response! It has really been an uphill battle but thanks to CL and the many posts I have read thus far it has helped me alot. I’m afraid of being 28 and a single mother of three daughters! I never imagined my life would turn out this way but unfortunately it is what it is! Thank you for your encouragement🤗

  • I had the most disgusting exchange in the Facebook comments of the Atlantic article. I commented on some jerks comments, offering my opinion to her generalization of chumps and in turn was called an asshole. Here’s the rundown:

    Jerk #1: Well you can certainly tell who is carrying a lifelong grudge over being cheated on from the comments. It must be nice to live in such a black and white world.

    Me: Yup, I guess you can say I’m carrying a grudge or would you have me call my husband who cheated on me and left me during cancer a good person?

    Jerk #1: yes, by all means survive cancer and live the rest of your life bitter

    Me: Didn’t say I was bitter. But please do not expect me to think that he is a good person. When you marry a person, you make a promise to be there for them in good times or bad. He cheated on me when I needed him the most. I offered him understanding and forgiveness. He walked out while I was going through chemo treatments to work on his happiness. I hope he’s happy. Because if he did all that for nothing, then that is just a person who lacks character.

    Jerk #2: look, I appreciate where you’re coming from, but not every person who cheats has the same reasons or is a bad person. Your husband was a dick, and did a shitty thing, but saying everyone who does something you don’t approve of is a bad person and a narcissist is also shitty. Nobody wants you to be nice about what happened to you. They want you to stop being an asshole to everyone else. If you can survive cancer, you can survive that too, and maybe give yourself room to forgive. Not everyone is the same. And good people are still capable of dick moves but can be overall decent human beings.

    Me: cheating is a cowards way out of dealing with issues or out of the relationship. Put on your grown up pants and deal with the problems or leave the relationship.

    Also, when was I an asshole? And btw, did you not read the part where I offered forgiveness and understanding? That’s a lot to offer to someone who has absolutely no consideration for someone they married and had a child with.

    The thing about cheating is it’s a completely selfish act. You are doing something that benefits only yourself and usually brings short term pleasure. And then on top of that you have to lie and sneak to cover it up. None of that is healthy behavior. And it sets up a toxic environment in the relationship. Not to mention that you are potentially exposing your spouse to STDs. None of those things are actions of a decent person, no matter what the reason is.

    Jerk #2: Ok. You are entitled to think what you like, and also it’s ok to be wrong. You’re attacking entire swaths of people you couldn’t possibly know and getting in anyone’s face who dares disagree, going to the extent of replying directly to a comment under an article that wasn’t in any way aimed at you. That’s asshole behaviour. Maybe that’s why your husband cheated? I know I’d hate it if my partner badgered me over imagined slights. Have a great night.

    At this point I stopped responding since it because clear to me that jerk #2 was a cheater. Victim blaming? And she was calling me the asshole?

    • Definitely don’t make a blanket judgement, Cancer Chump, by saying “cheating is cheating is cheating.” I don’t know, every single time I drop a piece of toast, it hits the ground. Jelly side down, sometimes. Gravity is gravity is gravity. Don’t you love the circular reasoning? If you you call cheaters cheaters, they might cheat. I also love how saying cheaters are cheaters qualifies you, unequivocally, as being an asshole. LOL. Linguistic hypocrisy for miles.

      • I personally love it where she accuses me of badgering my husband over imagined slights. Oh yes, I completely imagined it when he ignored me during chemo treatments or when he argued with me over the importance of his holiday work party over my chemo treatment and yes, I must have imagined all those happy hours where he couldn’t so much as a text to say where he was or if he was going to be late for dinner. Yes indeed, I completely imagined the utter lack of respect he had for me and our marriage.

        You had no idea how much I wanted to respond to her again and call her out for what she really was, a cheating bitch. But instead, I held my head high and walked away.

        You’re right, never call a cheater a cheater or a liar a liar. That’s when you are sure to get a rage out of them.

        • Ah, Cancer Chump, you beat me to the badgering for imagined slights thing. And the calling you an asshole for speaking the truth thing. I think that with all that minimizing and bitter bunny name calling, you definitely found yourself a cheater there in Jerk #2. Cool blameshifting move, too.

        • Imagined slights. Yes for years I tried to believe those were “imagined slights”. Oh he’s just grumpy because he is stressed. That was constructive criticism. He doesn’t really think I fall short as a wife. He isn’t cheating on me. I am just imagining that due to my own insecurity. Well, now he has left me for a selfish self centered home wrecker. Hard to brush off that slight as “imagined”.

    • Jerk = troll. Trolls are a waste of energy. Don’t judge anything about yourself based on their spewing of vitriol while calling it truth-telling.

  • I find it completely reprehensible that cheaters and these RIC types try to explain away adultry as some sort of sophisticated claptrap. Not only do cheaters betray us chumps but they betray their families. Many chumps here, comment they are left with young children even babies to raise with limited income and resources. Some of the children mentioned were born while the cheater was out whoring around. How does Esther justify a father or mother walking out on his/her child “as a quest for self identity and Aliveness” what about the devastation inflicted on these vulnerable children? Did they ask to be born only to be abandoned for such nonsense ? How does she square this abhorrent shameful behaviour except for what it really is “a quest for extramarital sex at everyone and anyone’s expense”. Cheaters are self-absorbed assholes who never grew up and never will. Truth be told “Adultry” leaves a trail of traumatized and often damaged children, broken extended families, financial burdens, and mental abuse. There is no excuse or explanation plain and simply put its just abhorrent evil behaviour. Me thinks Esther is in need of a soul!

    • You are spot on! My STBX left me and the kids (7,4) when I lost my job, and found out I was pregnant for his howorker and hasn’t been back since… I am due 10/24/17 and fear that yes I will be doing this whole this alone. My kids miss their father and always tell me they want him home and ask why did he have to go and I have no words for them other than console then and try to make them happy. One nights I cry because I never envisioned my life to turn out this way and I grieve for the baby I am carrying that will more than likely lack a true relationship with her father just as her two older sisters had at least some time to create when he was here… He and others like my husband are evil plain and simple, there is no getting around the hard core facts, he ran off with another woman all while I thought our marriage was fine! Even concieved my baby during our wedding anniversary which was around the time he started his relationship with her! So spare me with my husband need for finding himself in a quest to feel alive! He ruines our family is what he did! Publish that Esther !! Cheaters ruin people’s lives! Writers like Esther are delusional and I think she’s a narc herself! She has zero clue about what she speaks on, lacks empathy and I’d love one day that she would experience the raw, painful, soul crushing experience infidelity does to the BS, families and the children involved then maybe she would publish something worth reading!

      • NewChump, I am sorry to hear you are going through this trauma. It’s impossible to try to understand how anyone could abandon their wife and children especially with a baby on the way. How do these AP’s look in the mirror? They are so stupid they don’t recognize a guy that’s capable of such callous behavior will treat her similarly when he’s not feeling so”alive”. This man is just completely without and any scrap of decency. My heart goes out to you and your girls. I hope you have support from your family and friends to help you through. CN is a good place to seek encouragement and support so keep posting. Lots of hugs. ❤️❤️❤️

      • This won’t make you feel better now, but I believe that your baby is the lucky one. She will never have a relationship with her father and won’t feel the sting of betrayal in the same way you and your older daughters do.

    • Wow I really need to spell check before I post my comment… I am terribly embarrassed! Trust me, I write way better than this lol

      • Very true. I guess I grew up fatherless and my concern was bringing children into the world without their father. But what can you do when its out of your control???

  • This reminds me how my ex called the affair her private information to share, not mine. That’s right, she had an affair and it’s her business, not mine and I’m not allowed to talk about it because (I guess now that I read this post) I had nothing to do with it. Hmmm.

    • Just because she tore your world apart through betrayal and deception that doesn’t mean you have a right to tarnish her reputation by talking about it.

      • I got a version of this. My lofty “Knight of Columbus” 4th degree guy looked indignantly at me and said; “I have confessed and been forgiven for all my sins, I DON’T HAVE TO TELL THEM to you.”

        He was actually slightly disgusted with me that I wanted the truth. Actually disgusted with my crudeness.

        He loved but didn’t understand that confession part of the Catholic religion. It’s NOT get a clean slate day and start over cheating tomorrow.

  • Beware of BUTT MONKEYS like Esther Perel.

    What is a butt monkey you say? A silly or ineffectual person.

    Let me give you an example of her mighty buttness:

    She says -“Let me assure you that I do not approve of deception or take betrayal lightly. I sit with the devastation in my office every day. BUTT the intricacies of love and desire don’t yield to simple categorizations of good and bad, victim and perpetrator.”

    If someone uses “but” like that in their writings, you know they are full of well … buttstuff.

  • While I was unconscious, having a seizure and dying on my bedroom floor, it’s reassuring to know that my wife was actually improving our marriage by fucking our minister at his house. Thank you for the insight.

  • Thanks for taking her on — again!

    Does anyone else think that Esther Perel’s essay would get a failing grade in an academic situation? She never proves her thesis.

    While it is great click bait, a more accurate title might be “why do happy people (in committed relationships) want more”, “why do happy people risk ruining their good marriages”, or “why do happy people have sex with unfit partners in order to feel alive”. It’s not a mystery…there a numerous reasons including clinic diagnosis.

    Where is the proof that cheaters learn how to have a better relationship, have stronger marriages or become enlightened? Chumps are the ones that learn better communication and evolve.

    • Ugh.

      I’m not buying the whole happy partners cheat BS. Theyre not happy, ever. Never ever. Like my monster said “nothing’s ever enough.” And “I guess I’m good at it.”!!! And “I’m never HAPPY”. He said it loud and clear. Verbatim.

      This nonsense is fucking with our minds, plain and simple. It’s actually even more insulting to chumps.
      “I was happy with you chump. And even though you made me happy, I still cheated on you.”
      Thanks Ester, now we can’t even try to figure out how to fix the cheating riddle of WHY WHY WHY our spouses cheat. They were happy, yet they cheated is equivalent to a no-win resolution/solution for the great cheating conundrum. BULLSHIT!!!!

      Happy people are content. Happy people don’t seek to make others unhappy.

      This lady really pisses me off!

    • There seem to be quite a few of these “more highly evolved” types, like Esther. They spew pure garbage and try to sound so intelligent and evolved. And, there are a lot of folks take in by them and the word salad that, as CL points out, is really a bunch of crap when analyzed. But, it always has that catchy ring to it.
      What does Perel say about the mistreatment so many of us experience from our cheater? Is treating the faithful spouse like a piece of shit part of their search for whatever the fuck she says they are doing?
      This always seems to get glossed over, or left out. I was treated with contempt, disdain, cruelty etc. mind boggling abuse. I was left to care for our kids unaided many, many nights to the point I was exhausted, after working all day and one of the kids had severe disabilities and health problems.
      So, why doe =s she never address this attendant abuse?
      Maybe because it refutes her theory that these are just poor snowflakes searching to recapture something. if that was the case, then why abuse as part of the additional abuse of infidelity itself?

  • Most cheaters are simply succumbing to the testosterone in their bodies. All they can think of is f***ing, as if they are hormonal teenagers. They should all be given sex toys that fulfill their desires, set to run continuously, for hours daily. They can’t unplug them or disconnect from them, and the toys run and run and run until their tiny little d***s are bleeding stumps, because that’s all that matters to them.

    Maybe then they’ll realize what they’ve done to their marriage partners.

    Or do I sound bitter???

  • I have been a lurker for a few months and I have to say this has to be one of the best tear- into -someone’s- ass readings I have read!!! CL your my hero! I am so tired as a new chump reading articles from people like Ester who lack a bit of sense in the damaging crap they spew for chumps to read… I’m learning day by day to take alot of what I read with a grain of salt except for this blog!

    ““Too little attention is given to the meanings and motives of affairs.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? The ENTIRE infidelity discourse is devoted to cheaters and their point-of-view. Reconciliation is ASSUMED. And every. single. resource. untangles the aggrieved cheaters’ skeins of fuckupedness. Their hang-ups, their intimacy issues, what needs they weren’t getting met — moreover, the VAST majority of “help” out there BLAMES CHUMPS for these “unmet” needs.

    Cheaters are NOT a sad, overlooked demographic in the infidelity narrative. Until my blog, the cheater hegemony WAS THE ONLY NARRATIVE.”

    This is 10000% true!!!! I am so tired of the unrealistic and painful narratives that portray the cheater as a sad sausage while us chumps are to blame for the demise of our relationships due to the CHEATER CHEATING!!! Thank you CL as usual a great read to bookmark!

  • Pretty much everything about EP’s arguments bugs the heck out of me, so I’ll focus on the one I hate most: that your cheating allowed you a “peak of the stranger within.”

    As I’ve pointed out repeatedly to my cheating husband, I was in the same shitty marriage you were. Did he think I liked going to bed with a guy who is 30 pounds overweight, snores so loud you can hear it on the ground floor, and hasn’t changed his “do” since 1990? I’ve got a stranger within who would have loved to peek at what life “could have been,” instead of trying for 30 years to fix the life that was. But I kept working at it because, well dang, that’s what I promised to do. Twice – at the marriage and at the vow renewal.

    He promised too, but apparently that wasn’t strong enough to keep him from wanting to take a peek at the stranger within [peeking at the skankoho within the townhouse two towns away, that is].

    • Haha! I said the same thing to asshole too! As if they alone are in a shitty marriage. My God! Nowhere did I find Renegade Lovers in my neighborhood, bars, websites, office or on trips!

      How did your asshole reply? I got dead silence because the wife appliance was malfunctioning.

      • I wish I could have gotten dead silence. At some point all chumps realize that both people were in the same marriage and if it was crappy for one of them, it was crappy for both of them….probably a little more for the chump since cheaters tend to treat you quite shitty as a precursor to the “the discard.”

        After my ex tried to blameshift his affair on me and tell me the “marriage was over anyway” even though I didn’t get the memo; I reminded him that if the marriage was crappy for him, it wasn’t any better for me since we were both in the same marriage. I told him that it wasn’t like I had never been propositioned on a number of occasions by other men and yet it never crossed my mind to cheat, so his argument was crap.

        He came back with “Fine, if you want to cheat then you should just cheat.” As someone said “It’s better to be silent and be thought the fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

    • That is the thing, too. We were robbed of opportunities for a better partner by virtue of our abiding by our vows. Think we did not have similar dissatisfactions in our marriages or that we did not have similar opportunities to cheat?
      I bet many of us were at least as attractive ,If not more so, than our cheating spouses. I am smarter, more fit, better facial features etc. I had myriad chances to upgrade, as I bet many of us did. But, I was not looking to. I was content and committed.
      Until the end, that is. After years of abuse wit a Cluster B, I was, actually, glad she cheated giving me an out.
      You live with one of these disordered assholes for any length of time and they will cause early death.

      • Exactly divorce is what SAVED us after years of subtle abuse! I believe in the end the contempt, rage and anger toward us is aimed at robbing us of our future happiness that they know we will have without them!

  • Please no more Ester BS…… I’ve had all I can take! She’s a loon and we all know it!
    I couldn’t even bear to read this one!

  • EP is the worst!! Thank God CL & CN are here speaking the freaking truth!! I am so tired of hearing I was to blame for my POS SAXH and his affairs. Yeah…I get it, he was sad…unhappy. Wonder why the thousands he spent on strip clubs, porn, Viagra, Ashley Madison & Happy Endings didn’t make him happy? “See everything I had to do to try to be happy and come home to you?? I didn’t think divorce was an option…” What the fuck ever. CAKE was the only option for that POS. EP needs to wander off a cliff & quit writing this garbage!

    **CL thank you for wading through her BS to keep us sane!**

  • This fluffy thinking, truth inverting, explicitly undefinable thought system has seeped into every aspect of culture and is a serious threat to the survival of humanity and human sanity. Ester Perel is a prime example of this where the obsessive normalization of sick perversion is insisted on and where lies are truth and you better not question it lest you be labeled an unsophisticated idiot or some kind of bigot. All of this creepy normalization of narcissistic perversion and the obsessive insistence on the inversion of truth is all brought to you by post structuralist post modern”neo-liberal” bull hock. Alfred Kinsey, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault.

  • “The cheater wasn’t thinking of you at all”
    ⬆️
    He said OW felt bad about taking him away from our little child, ( I am sure she did not know about the child in utero).
    I said, “What about me?”
    He said, “We never talked about you.”
    I am certain of that!

    I remember that stinging a lot on DDay.

  • “affairs are primarily described in terms of the damage caused. Generally, there is much concern for the agony suffered by the betrayed.”

    Anybody care to share where this happens because apart from here all I hear is the reason I got an F I’m marriage is that it’s my fault. Yes I was standing in the way of her happiness. Yes HE fulfilled her “intimate moment with herself.” It was MY stupid expectations that marriage meant fidelity.

    Still, thounds of £’s later and my sons inheritance and future robbed, she’s finally found her happiness.

    Totally worth it.

  • This response is an instant classic. Thank you CL for saying what we all feel better than anyone. I especially like the closing instruction to Ms. Perel, bitter, jilted thing that I am!

  • For some therapists (who are supposedly mental health professionals), “labeling” someone with a mental health diagnosis is “bad.”

    In reality it’s just bad FOR BUSINESS. Truth be damned. If someone is disordered and paying you, you don’t want to hurt their wittle feewings. If you actually detect and diagnose a personality disorder and then inform the client, you have to be very skilled as well as very prepared to never see them again.

    There’s also the distinct possibility that the therapist is similarly disordered – which adds to the inability to detect it, much less deal with it in a therapeutic way.

    Narcissistic therapists? Probably not as rare as one would hope. Like cheaters.

  • Chump lady you are so right! The meta message of EP and her industry -the message behind the message – is that entitled behavior isn’t harmful. The evil in this message is insidious and it’s a lie. You speak the truth and that makes you a hero to me.

  • My gut feeling is that Esther is on the back foot.

    She has had to up the bullshit ante considerably, and there are notes of defensiveness there that please me no end.

    The Chump Nation message is starting to bite.

  • BTW Maxine Waters is one of my new sheros… She cuts through BS like a hot knife through butter, gives zero fcuks and takes no shit…le sigh!

    As for Ester perel? Up hers!

    • My stbx sent me her Ted talk the same week CL ran it through the UBT. Well if ever I needed a sign that was it! I said further fcuk this shit! I’m done. Done.

  • Tracy I loved the Maxine Waters visual to accompany another post where you hit it out of the park !

    Congresswoman Waters was addressing Steve Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury. He redlined many in southern California, earning millions through his bank OneWest. And guess who dumped his first wife for a younger,Hollywood version ? Such a fine character…

    Here’s to all chumps reclaiming our time !

  • I’m pro sex bot. It will get some people out of the dating pool that probably don’t belong there. My screen name is a nod toward sex bots, in a “just kidding” sort of way. (Like I don’t need this BS-I can always go get a “Man-Bot”).

    Going forward, I just don’t see much of a market left for the RIC unless they are going to “sell” longer-term, committed relationships in which both sides stick to pre-determined agreements. “Super Marriages”, if you will.

    Things have changed to such an extent that settling for not-so-super-marriages and being a casualty of cake are becoming increasingly unnecessary. We have conveniences that reduce the need for household help, we have reproductive control, it’s acceptable to single parent, we have dual incomes, and now we have sex bots. Although these things aren’t easy and arriving at them, especially when such was not planned, they are ‘do-able’. What’s the point of even bothering with marriage unless it’s going to be a Super-Marriage, IMHO? Heck, now you don’t even need an SO for sex!

    So, although I agree with some of her points about how marriage has changed over the millennia , I disagree with what I interpreted as her solution. I don’t see the solution at all being as being resignation to the idea that people cheat and some sort of acknowledgement that a Super-Marriage is unrealistic. I instead see the solution as not settling for anything less than a Super-Marriage. This solution reduces the platitudes of the cheater and their apologists to rubble.

    If Cheater needs to go find himself/herself, they can leave first. In no way should their freedom come at someone else’s expense.

    • Although these things aren’t easy and arriving at them, especially when such was not planned, they are ‘do-able’.

      Should be
      Although these things aren’t easy and arriving at them, especially when such was not planned, can be incredibly difficult, they are, none-the-less ‘do-able’.

      • Everything you’ve written = Occam’s Razor.

        This is why I think cheating is psychopathic. It’s not really about twu wuv. It’s about power and manipulation and getting away with something.

  • What EP is saying is socially irresponsible. She shoule be put into a straightjacket , muzzled and thrown into a mental asylum. All
    Her books should be burned . Call me evil, but it would be nice if her SO turned out to be a closet cross dressing serial cheater. Yeah chumps like me are bitter and revengeful. It’s how we move on! Tracy, thank you for your tireless battle against such subversivs and morally bankrupt figures and their equally disgusting essays dressed up as social discourses. Sonetimes CN seems the only sane place in this dark world . Call me bitter , frigid, inflexible it’s fine with me. Because it shows me who u really are.

    • Thank you for posting a way to find this documentary!

      I was able to watch the trailer, and hopefully will be able to catch the entire film at some point.

      One thing the clip pointed out is how playful they were as a couple; the gentle, loving gestures, and the ability to laugh that they shared. They somehow seemed to retain a bit of childlike enthusiasm and no doubt this contributed to both their longevity and their overall happiness.

      I must say, it made me a bit teary; thinking about what I was never going to have; a long life with someone, growing old after a life invested together.

      However, I am fast approaching 60 and my wonderful new fella is in his middle 60s. Finding love at this point was unexpected and delightful.
      (I am quite certain my ex will never find what he’s looking for because, like so many others, he thinks it’s “out there” instead of in that place where his heart should be, and he’s pushing 70 now.)

      While health issues predict that my beloved and I won’t have decades together, we will certainly make the most of the time we DO have.

      Life isn’t always easy after being chumped and losing everything, but life is certainly better without my cheater in it. Even when I was on my own, (once I got over the initial shock, threw him out and had minimal contact with him), I felt better and in a weird way, happier than I had for a long time. (In between spewing emotional tears at random people at regular intervals!)

      I was no longer being poisoned by him, is the way I think about it.

      He can go on with his “exuberant, bad self” now that he doesn’t have a wife to hold him back from all that “self-exploration”…

  • I’m new to this discussion and I don’t really understand. I looked through the tags and stuff, and it seems like Esther is a repeated source of ire. That’s fine, I don’t know much about her or her work. I’m interested in this topic (and arrived at her article and now here) not because of my experiences, but because of what I’ve seen in my family – I actually have pause to be in an ltr because of what I’ve seen and experienced.

    At the same time, I don’t understand the nature of the critique, separate from whether or not Perel’s argument in particular is appealing. Cheating is incredibly common. I don’t see any research to link that behavior to a bereft character or any concrete mental illness. Similarly for most things that break up relationships and marriages – in fact, research on the state of marriages amongst more recent marriages (GenX and after) has a really optimistic set of findings but only for the middle class and up, so it really seems like other factors are at least part of the discussion.

    My question is, why is it problematic to think of the cause of infidelity as being systemic, as Perel seems to do in the Atlantic article? I’m not sure the cheater having done something bad or even being a bad person excludes outright the notion that the way we conduct relationships – our expectations, examples, etc. – is also lacking.

    • In her book CL used the brilliant analogy of imagining a cheater’s behaviour as if it was that of a business partner.

      A partner that engages in gross deception, and uses business assets for personal pleasure without any agreement-and then when caught insisting that an audit is not necessary, indeed offensive, and that you should in fact invest more in the business, because you wouldn’t want to break up the partnership, would you?

      We would never accept such behaviour from someone we ran a business with, and no reasonable person would expect us to. Why should we accept it in our couple?

    • Gino

      I’m going to be Straight up with you.
      Why are you commenting on and reading this blog? Hmm. “You don’t understand the nature of this critique”!!! Are you daft man? It’s rather simple. This is a blog and support system for victims of cheating spouses, the betrayed. We were victimized by the character impaired. The long, drawn out, pseudo intellectualization of EP’s article was about excusing cheating. Sorry if you couldn’t read between the lines of her BS, but it’s clear to us.
      Ugh. There’s loads of “research to link that behavior to bereft character or mental illness”. Blah blah. You aren’t rational; you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you don’t believe cheating is immoral, (because you state “cheating is common”, which is irrelevant), then we are wasting our time trying to explain basic morals, values, and decent behavior to you in the confines of committed relationships.
      I’m not going to get into your attempt at over intellectualizing in your last paragraph, a la EP speak. Sound like you two went to the same school.
      Gino. Cheating is deception. Cheating is manipulative. Cheating is lying. Cheating is destructive and selfish.
      What makes you think that that kind of behavior isn’t indicative of a character impairment? I really have no words for you. You are obviously either in EP’s camp, a troll (i.e. Disordered character, cheater trying to irritate us, or just a dumb ass). My vote is all three.
      Now here’s some aggression for you.
      GO FUCK YOURSELF

    • Gino, I am a fairly pleasant Brit who believes in things like good manners and courtesy. You wouldn’t find me aggressive in real life.

      So please believe me when I tell you that this, being betrayed by someone who I thought loved me and I discovered that I did not really know very well, is the most traumatic thing that will ever happen to me. Ever. I cannot tell you of the agony, the humiliation, the loss. Of everything. I lost my security, my sense of being worth loving, my home, my lifestyle, my psychologically secure children. No cancer, death can touch it. TEN YEARS later, I think about it obsessively.

      Why? Because death and cancer is not personal. It isn’t done ‘to me’, its an act of God.

      This was intensely personal, and I discovered how little ‘I’ mattered. On the outside, its all fine. I have a smaller house, a better job, a more peaceful life, I am still liked by my community, my kids are fine – I hope. I am talking on the secret inside.

      I think you have to be cheated on to get just how much this hurts. My family was destroyed by acts of profound disrespect, and I don’t get the sympathy of a widow.

      • You could say Gino, I invested wholeheartedly with all my resources, into the Patsy family.

        He wanted to diversify his portfolio. But keep the original investment and the services and input of Patsy. To do that, he had to pretend the original investment, start up new investments on the quiet, to lie and keep secrets, hide assets and accounts.

        How is that not defrauding me?

  • Gino:

    “Cheating is incredibly common.”

    Yes. Doesn’t make it right, though. And I also don’t know how reliable or valid those ‘surveys’ are that give us the alleged data on rates of infidelity. A lot of people lie about a lot of things.

    “I don’t see any research to link that behavior to a bereft character or any concrete mental illness.”

    That’s because we don’t usually do scientific research into ‘bereft character’, as that’s a moral judgement. Moral judgements are our own. You have made some in your post. Knock yourself out. It’s a free country.

    No one here is arguing that cheating is associated with any ‘concrete’ mental illness. But our combined experiences – and those of other people, including clinicians and researchers like George Simon and Lundy Bancroft – show enormous overlapping links between cheating and Cluster B personality disorders, especially narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. Cluster Bs are very difficult to treat therapeutically because they are shifting sand: they have very little fixed interior furniture, and they have enormous needs for attention and validation – more than usually any one person can meet.

    Not all cheaters fall into these camps. But a hell of a lot of them do.

    So you think perhaps we need to have a discussion about our expectations in relationships as a contributing factor to cheating – that the way we conduct relationships is lacking, and contributes to infidelity?

    You’re right. We have these expectations of fidelity, on account of standing up and making vows in front of people to that effect. And then one person decides unilaterally that these don’t matter any more, and exposes the other person to financial, physical and emotional damage because they chose to have sex with someone else.

    CHOSE, Gino. A whole series of choices are involved, in fact.

    Would you like to add to the discussion – perhaps point out to us all where our expectations have been lacking, and have in fact propelled our cheaters into the arms of others?

    Go right ahead.

    • I feel like you took my post as an attack. Make no mistake, my inquiry is innocent.

      I don’t think I said that cheating was “right”. Also, I think you misunderstood what I was saying about a cheater being bereft of character – that was a direct response to the comments here, which are really aggressive (and, without being disrespectful, similar in aggression to your response to me).

      I gotta say, I in no way want to, or did I intend to point out, where your expectations could be improved. I don’t know the answers to those questions, and maybe your view of virtuosity in marriage is completely correct.

      What I was asking about is whether or not it is a good idea to deal with this common issue systemically or via the limited individualistic framework that typifies most other pop-critique of individual mental illness and dating/sex/relationship analysis in general.

      But hey, if you want to respond to me like I’m the cheater just because I had a question, that’s your call. 😉

      • I am always suspicious of sweetly reasonable new contributors who don’t tell us anything about their own experience, and who start to lecture us on our Nasty, Nasty Attitudes.

        Bunny for your bitterness?

      • Gino,

        I’ll take it a face value that your comment is innocent.

        Here’s my take on it.

        You cannot be a “good person” while simultaneously causing egregious harm to the person you took a vow to honor and protect. (People say “Hitler loved his dogs, you know, so he wasn’t ALL BAD!”)

        Because ADULTERY, for all its fun and exciting defiance flying in the face of repressive, prudish, social convention (I’m channeling Ms. Perel now 😉 ) is, as other posters have said, a series of conscious choices where they continually put their fun/pleasure/satisfaction/relief from boredom ABOVE OUR VERY WELL-BEING.

        There are many ways to get one’s needs met that don’t involve betraying an innocent person.
        An individual with character handles things differently.

        You know, they act with integrity ‘n’ stuff.

  • Gino, do you know why people on this blog are aggressive? They’ve been really, really burned. In some cases, literally. We have people here whose ex-partners killed a child in retaliation. Some of them have been beaten and terrorised. Some of them have been infected with persistent STDs with other unpleasant sequelae.

    This is a place where they can come and share that, and no one tells them they’re being ‘aggressive’. That’s because everyone here has been through the same kind of terrible betrayal, just with different frills.

    But hey, if you want to respond to me like I don’t have a right to be angry, that’s your call. 😉

    “What I was asking about is whether or not it is a good idea to deal with this common issue systemically or via the limited individualistic framework that typifies most other pop-critique of individual mental illness and dating/sex/relationship analysis in general.”

    Fair enough. I think we may need some real-time examples to understand.

    Would you like to share with us how your experience of being cheated on was the result of either a systemic problem, or your limited individualistic framework?

    • I’m not trying to get into some comment board argument here, so I’m just gonna stop posting (although I’ll keep reading – the article was entertaining!). I had a question. In between angry missives, some sort of answer came through so that’s what I’ll take away. Maybe I don’t want to share my experiences my first time posting on a blog I found out about yesterday.

      • Fair enough.

        Look, Gino – no offense, but this blog isn’t a petri dish for you to observe. It is quite seriously the only place a lot of us have to come, online or in reality, where we get understanding and a total lack of being-put-straight by people who think we are making too big a deal out of things.

        I thought Chump Lady made that very clear in her post: the narrative is dominated by the RIC, the Perels, the Switzerland friends, and the crappy marriage counsellors.

        If you are a chump, contribute from the heart. But by your own admission, you’re not. So observe by all means, but don’t engage in passive-aggressive crap that tries to set us straight on our expectations, or our limited individualistic frameworks.

        Try a Reconciliation Industrial Complex blog instead. They will all agree with you.

  • tracy, i frickn love you. you are so so spot on with everything you have to say on this topic and more. you had me laughing out loud. how do you do it, week in, week out, after so many years? you’re an absolute classic xo

  • “Often when a couple comes to me in the wake of an affair, it is clear to me that their first marriage is over. So I ask them: Would you like to create a second one together?”

    When I found out about my then-husband 14 month long affair with a gradwhore, it indeed boiled down to this: My marriage is dead, it’s been dead for at least 14 months… Do I want to continue with this person who cheated on me? I had no good choices: either divorce and devastate the family I so badly wanted for our kiddo, but teach her how incredibly respect, truth, and trust are to relationships or stay and sacrifice my pride to keep the family together, knowing moving forward with a proven lying cheating coward as a husband.

    Three weeks post-Dday, I had a new apartment, a lawyer lined up and had wire 1/2 of our liquid assets. His family told me they were hoping for a miracle, that if we’d go to a therapist we might be able to work it out. I took him to a therapist, one that is specialized in post-divorce parenting. When the therapist asked us why we were there, I told her that I was there because we shared a child and had to learn how to better communicate and collaborate to parent her as best as possible. My then-husband told the therapist that he was there to “help chumptitude resolve her trust issues.”

    So glad I divorced him post-Dday#1!

  • One thing Ms. Perel got right is that the “affair” is about THEM, not necessarily about us, nor our marriage to them.

    • Sorry, hit “Reply” too soon.

      Not that their actions don’t affect us dramatically. But Tracy says it like it is when she says they aren’t thinking about us at all. I think most of them are like that; compartmentalizing their behavior, like we don’t even exist.

      Personally, I believe most of them aren’t out to hurt us, per se. They just don’t give a crap whether they do or they don’t. We’re not important enough for them to rein it in.

      And–they stupidly figure they’ll never get caught.

  • PLEASE ALL, nominate Chump Lady for a Ted Talk. When they asked me what her qualifications were, this is the bit that I now wish I had put:

    What does any of this have to do with being a chump?

    Absolutely nothing really. Anyone can be chumped. It’s a rainbow nation. What distinguishes me is that I can write decently, draw cartoons, and have created this blog, which has over 16 million views. My Chump Lady columns are regularly featured at Huffington Post Divorce and the blog was named one of the top 10 relationship blogs for 2013 by Babble, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co. In 2015, the blog got a book deal with Running Press (Hachette) — and was released in spring 2016 — 240 pages of advice, snark, and full-color cartoons. “Chump Lady” is represented by the Carol Mann literary agency in New York and by the Paradigm Talent Agency in California.

    But do you have any sort of background in psychology that makes you an expert in infidelity?

    No. I’m an expert at being a chump. I lived it. But being of an analytical mind (years spent deciphering bullshit as a think tank editor) prepared me for parsing cheater word salad. And I studied history with African Marxists, who have a tremendous amount to say about oppression and decolonizing one’s mind.

  • NOMINATE CL for a Ted Talk. Rally the troops; let’s do a rapid fire nomination process by tomorrow!!

    Here’s the link: https://speaker-nominations.ted.com/

    Info you need:
    Tracy Schorn
    info@chumplady.com
    U.S.

    Info about speaker: Author, Writer, Blogger about Infidelity and Divorce (Huffington Post articles, http://www.chumplady.com). Her blog has over 16 (!!) million page views of her blogsite.

    What might the Ted Talk be about? [use your own words, but the effect of infidelity on partners, family; psychological traits that predict infidelity and/or serial cheating, etc.]

    Under which of the following categories? Social Sciences

    Has this person spoken publicly before? If so, where? Yes, presentation at the University of Texas at Austin, October 2014 & November 2015

    Links to online video: [videocast] http://www.vidoyen.com/profiles/tracy-schorn

    Please provide any links to articles or web pages about the speaker: [instead of just chumplady.com, pick one of your favorite HuffPo or archive posts so that we have a variety of webpages being sent to the Ted Talks nominating board]

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