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Esther Perel in the #MeToo Era

I really find it bizarre that cheater apologist Esther Perel is having a moment at exactly the same time as #MeToo. When the zeitgeist on workplace sexual hijinks is “Touch my ass and you’ll pull away with a bloody stump,” we’ve got this barmy Belgian defending sexual entitlement. (Perel, you’ll recall was the deep thinker who gave us the affair euphemisms “quest for aliveness” and “exuberant acts of defiance.”)

But hey, she’s got a new book to shill — “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.” Hats off to Perel’s publicist who must have balls the size of ostrich eggs.

Sorry Esther, a lot of HR departments already had a good rethink about infidelity. All those creepy married dudes who got handsy with the staff Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill O‘Reilly, ad infinitum… lost their jobs. I guess the quest for aliveness wasn’t worth the $32 million lawsuit settlement.

When you’ve made a name for yourself defending adulterers (the title of Zoe Heller’s review of Perel’s book in the New Yorker), railing against monogamy as “captivity,” and calling Americans puritanical, untangling sexual defiance from deviance must be tricky.

Not if you are a word salad savant like Perel.

“These are not sexually powerful men. Sexually powerful men seduce. They don’t harass. These are insecure men who leverage their social power” says Perel on the men felled by #MeToo. Enjoy the spin here:

How do you get around the obvious POWER DYNAMIC of sexual harassment? You call the men weak. Poof! They have no power. “These are not sexually powerful men” is entirely missing the point. They are abusing their power. Harvey Weinstein was a kingmaker in Hollywood. Of course he was HUGELY powerful. Which is exactly why he felt ENTITLED to harass women.

You asked Harvey Weinstein what he was doing whipping out his dick? He’d probably tell you, “I am a sexually powerful man seducing women.”

“These are insecure men who leverage their social power.” There is absolutely nothing “insecure” about forcing a woman to blow you. This isn’t some pencil-necked geek who can’t ask a girl to the prom. This is a man drunk on power.

Sexual abuse — whether it’s harassment or infidelity — is about ENTITLEMENT. Not sex or insecurity. (Cue the Timid Forest Creature excuses.) Entitlement — I get what I want, fuck you — Your pain/fear turns me on — The game is rigged in MY FAVOR — is the driving force behind abuse. Weak people don’t abuse. Bullies are not sad and misunderstood — they are narcissists who lack empathy for their victims.

Perel has made her career off of excusing entitlement and no one calls her out on it. (Well, Stephen Colbert had a good laugh at her expense. God bless him.)

Here’s Perel in the New Yorker, reviewed by Zoe Heller:

One reason, of course, that crises of infidelity attract such vampiric interest is that they lift the peacetime ban on judging other couples’ complex relations. For a moment, the wall of privacy around a marriage is breached and everyone gets to peer in and make assessments. The outrage and moral certainty expressed on such occasions can be comforting for the betrayed spouse, but they are largely “unhelpful,” according to Perel. In order to come to any adult reckoning with an affair, the betrayed must avoid wallowing too long in the warm bath of righteousness. For a period immediately following the revelation, a certain amount of wild rage and sanctimony is permissible, but after that the rigorous work of exploring the meaning and motives of an affair must begin.

Can’t you feel the empathy for chumps here? Moral certainty, wallowing, warm bath of righteousness, sanctimony.

The contempt isn’t even thinly veiled. Quit WALLOWING and GET OVER IT. It’s not what I did, it’s your reaction to it. Stop with the sanctimony.

Gosh, it all has a certain victim-shaming quality that I’m just sure victims of sexual harassment can’t relate to one bit.

But hey, the important takeaway here is to get down to the rigorous work of exploring your cheater’s motivations! That’s what matters! Not your pain. #littlepeopleannoyme #suckmydick #feelthemotivation

Those who show willingness to forgive infidelity risk being chastised by friends and relatives for their lack of gumption. Women, Perel notes, are under particular pressure these days to leave cheating spouses as a mark of their feminist “self-respect.”

Don’t you just hate all those feminists with their self-respect agendas? Here’s a new idea deserving of a TED talk — Stand by your man! Reframe his fucking around as natural and monogamy as complicated. Nothing patriarchal about that, no sir!

I suppose Perel’s defense to the femi-nazi self respect diktat is that women are free to be entitled assholes just like men. Hey, ladies go get drunk on power and seduce a coworker. Progress!

Excuse me now, I have to go draw my warm bath of righteousness and have a wallow. Toodles.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, whoisjohngalt “Esther_Perel_in_Boston”

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  • Welcome to America where the name of the game is to sell your soul for a piece of the American pie. Greedy people. They don’t have morals, don’t care who they hurt, their end goal is the dollar sign. Which ever way will lead them there. They’re no worse then a prostitute.

    There is another such person out there who claims divorces should be easy and she is even more in love with her ex now and why are not we? Dig a little deeper after reading the article and find her cute book for sale “The Happy Divorce”. More prostitution.

      • CL,

        If by equitable, you mean: the cheater has to reimburse every person, every dime they spent on cheater and spouses’ wedding as well as take care of their financial responsibilities for their spouse and children, I’m all in.

        LuckyChump

        PS: Sorry for the run on sentence

        • Indeed. I’ve already been mentally and emotionally destroyed. My physical health was put at risk for half year of contracting STDs. And now that I start the divorce process I realize I will be financial ruined as well.

          I’d love to find me some ‘equitable’

          • No fault divorce has been a joke. There is always someone “at fault.” It does NOT take 2 to tango….it takes only 1- a cheater to ruin a marriage.

            The cheater should be forced by law to pay a “cheater” penalty to the betrayed- to cover:
            Counseling
            New housing
            STD treatments
            And emotional damages (which are as bad as physical damages).

        • Gaaaah! I just read the article you posted Mijo. Her ex sounds like a chump and she sounds BPD. How do you go to to someone’s house and “catch a mouse?” Seriously. Is that a euphemism for post-marital sex, or is it a metaphor for their heavily one-sided relatonship? What grown woman consistently dates for a month or two, then spends days in bed sobbing when it doesn’t work out? While bragging about her ability to control her ex and keep him single.

        • I read that article. She is sooo superior to bitter bunnies because her ex is still at her beck and call. She mentions her many dates and boyfriends, but not his. I wonder if he actually had a girlfriend in the mix would it be so amicable? If I were dating him… well I wouldn’t because he’s too enmeshed in propping her up.

      • I agree…I’m back to the therapists nugget of wisdom many years ago…it should be much harder to get married and much easier to divorce.

  • Yeah, all that about the “reasons” behind the affair is just another way to say the chump had it coming…which is a lie. What is behind it is bad character, the cheaters. Enough understood.

  • “But hey, the important takeaway here is get down the rigorous work of exploring your cheater’s motivations!”

    I think there’s a bit more going on here. I think part of what EP would like to world to take away is:

    Once you start doing the rigorous work of exploring the meaning and motives of an affair, it will start to make some kind of sense. And once it makes sense, you can give yourself permission to have your own “quest for aliveness” and “exuberant acts of defiance.” And once more people start giving primacy to their own desires and acting on them, there will be more happy people, and the world by necessity will become a happier and better place.

    If this is true, sign me up for the first shuttle to Mars. I have no desire to be a part of that world.

    And on the topic of the #metoo era . . .

    In the midst of the victim postings regarding Weinstein, Ailes, O’Reilly, etc. the Kunty Kibbler posted the following about me on her FB page:

    “My former partner, after I left him, slut-shamed me to family, friends, and in public forums. #metoo”

    Knowing that my teen daughters are able to see this (while admittedly not knowing whether they actually did) severely tests the limits of my ability to gray rock, keep calm, and let the truth reveal itself over time via their own fuckedupedness.

      • Yeah, I was unaware that women who shit on thier partners and vows by actually being a slut are exempt from slut shaming! She acts as if she had no choice in the matter don’t cha know! It boggles the mind! Talk about bending the rules of marriage. These cheaters will do anything to sugar coat their crappy behavior! Last time I checked if you are going to act like a slut then you will be labeled a slut!

            • This is not about being a slut. It’s about being a liar and a cheater. I don’t give a rat’s ass what my ex does with his penis, who/what he sticks it in, or what gifts are exchanged in the process now that we are NOT MARRIED.

            • Precisely, Heat Death.
              A lot of APs are whores, though. They’re after the cheater for financial gain, a stable financial situation ( that they imagine they’ll get from an irresponsible cheater, fat chance…), gifts, holidays, etc. all paid for by the couple’s and the family’s assets. They are the worst whores, male or female APs alike.

    • UX – really shitty piece for you to swallow but KK seems to have missed the whole point about the #metoo campaign. maybe someone should comment on her FB post and explain that when one sleeps around and that is being mentioned factually – that is not harassment but stating the facts.

      #metoo would have been if she was slut-shamed or lost her job due to her refusing to give out sex. BUT she didn’t have that particular problem – did she? it’s more #EtTu in her case.

      • Kathleen..Fuck her my first thought but then I was busy wallowing in a “warm bath of righteousness.” I wish the pain that I have been through on her. There is nothing “warm” about being betrayed by a loved one. What she does not talk about is the lies, STD’s, the pain, the children, the chaos, ruined finances. It is not just the sex.

        I want to slap her. I want her to explain it to my kids, I want her to tell me how I will live, if I will ever retire and how to clean up the real mes. I want her to come and hold my hand while I get tested for STD’s. I want her to answer the phone at 3:00 AM just so I can hear another adult voice. I want her to tell me how to walk upright again, drive me to my therapist appointment. I want her to pay my liquor bill….I want to slap her 🙂

        • Spoonriver

          Thank you! After 34 years my ex narc left me for OWhore… Never looked back.

          She should feel the pain & humiliation we go
          through. She’s a disgusting human being.

          HUGS to you 🤗

    • I have been a proud feminist since the ’70’s, and I am completely over this trend of condemning the belief that both men AND women should be held accountable for their past sexual misconduct! I do not use the phrases “slut” and “whore” to condemn voluntary and mutually consensual acts, which cause no harm to others. I labelling, and hence judging, sluts like your X!

      I recently was chastised for “slut shaming” a female adulterer, by a group of self-proclaimed “progressive” young women. I responded that there are indeed sluts and whores, both male and female. The sexual misconduct itself reveals the underlying character of an individual. My use of the phrase is the method by which I make clear I do not condone such behavior.

      When an person deliberately and voluntarily uses their sexual conduct without regard or concern to the damage caused to others, that person is a slut. If such conduct results in financial gain to the individual, the term whore is appropriate. I use the term interchangeably, but there is a distinction.

      What concerns me greatly is precisely what happened to you. By taking the position that the use of the terms “slut” or “whore” is always unacceptable, the perpetrator becomes the self-identified victim, and the actual victims becomes the wrong doer. This refusal to acknowledge that sexual misconduct exists amounts to nothing more than implicit acceptance wrongful behavior.

      It is true that these terms can be used improperly to condemn acceptable and consensual sexual conduct. It does not follow, however, that the use of those terms is always unacceptable. Sorry, but the Jesus cheater OW, who deliberately fucked my X for financial gain is a whore of the first degree. X, on the other hand, who eagerly accepted the backseat trysts is a slut. See how easy that is?

      But we seem to be at a point culturally where reprehensible sexual conduct is not to be judged or challenged, for any reason. To me, one of the best indicator’s of a person’s character is whether they are honest enough to honor their marriage vows. If a person cannot even respect that most basic and fundamental promise to their spouse, why in the world would I trust them in other areas? So yes, I will continue to judge both sexes by their past sexual misdeeds. And this old feminist will also continue to “slut shame” men and women who serve to be so shamed.

        • Beautifully said. I will continue to call her both a whore and a slut for as long as I feel it necessary. “To me, one of the best indicator’s of a person’s character is whether they are honest enough to honor their marriage vows.” Both have no integrity at all.

      • I’ve always called the OW who knew my husband was married and had met me…..a slut and a whore. I don’t care what anyone thinks because this is what I think of her. I won’t even say her real name out loud . I borrowed ‘Slut Puppet’ from someone here and that fits perfectly.

        • I believe I coined the term “slut puppet” to accurately describe the slut Whose strings were so easily pulled by the Ex Durt. She lied to my face about her relationship with the ex, and screwed him in our bed when I was at work after letting her stay overnight in my house. A slut puppet doing the bidding of a sociopath.

        • I refuse to say Schmoopie’s name out loud either. It’s a very pretentious name and she doesn’t live up to it at all. If she comes up when I am talking to the kids she is just “her” or as my daughter calls her “person”. Sometimes it’s “she who must not be named”. Ex was concerned about her reputation thinking that I was going to go around telling everyone who she was. He needn’t have worried because I don’t ever use her real name.

      • No fault divorce has been a joke. There is always someone “at fault.” It does NOT take 2 to tango….it takes only 1- a cheater to ruin a marriage.

        The cheater should be forced by law to pay a “cheater” penalty to the betrayed- to cover:
        Counseling
        New housing
        STD treatments
        And emotional damages (which are as bad as physical damages).

    • Imagine that… a cheater in search of kibbles at your expense! If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s no fucking unicorn!

      Fuck her! Refuse to throw any angry kibbles in her direction! Turn that shit around on her by maintaining MEH.

    • Her warped version of hiding under true victims of harassment and assault proves she has the decency of selfish pig. They will use anyone or thing for their glorification and promotion. It is a whole other level of disgusting.

      You stay away and above her. Come here and get it off your chest. Sanctuary in the midst well of their chaos. ✊️

    • Oh, it’s their favorite game. Playing the victim card, getting sympathy – because they can’t admit defeat. They can’t admit losing control. Impression management is the only thing they can do now. #kibbles

    • Even if she didn’t deserve it (which she did), it s hardly a #metoo equivalent to unwanted sexual advances. I supposed if she hadn’t done all of the shitty things she did, she might be a victim of defamation, but that is a different category so #metoo doesn’t really apply.

    • We should also stop star shaming the sun, and killer shaming Charles Manson and tyrant shaming Kim Jung Un.

      Funny thing about the exploring the reasons thing is I bet we all did that. And they lied to us about it, and then changed the lie and moved the goal post. I guess giving an ever changing list of false reasons why they cheated is a lot easier than saying honestly, that they are broken, evil people.

      • Amen! Exploring reasons that are fluid, morphing, elastic, gelatinous, obscure, etc.. Those aren’t reasons, they’re excuses. I got a new reason the other day… “You wouldn’t let me put Christmas presents under the tree until Christmas Eve. I grew up putting them there wrapped as we got them and leaving them there. I didn’t say anything but that’s another reason I built up resentment…” Huh? Really? I don’t remember ever being that inflexible. And even if I did insist we wait, that’s a reason to go find your old high school boyfriend from 30 years ago on facebook and fuck him? Just can’t make this shit up…

        • When I first found out, I focused on the cause of the resentment. What I realized was that the truth in her statement wasn’t that, but rather, what she left out. When she feels a negative emotions, she cheats. The fact they feel resentment over everything is because they can’t regulate their emotions. The fact they are compelled to cheat when they feel resentment is because they are hardwired to be evil scumbags. Fuck her, fuck them, fuck everyone who justifies their evil behavior. May they all lose in court and in life.

    • I want to punch her fucken throat. How dare she. Yours and her circumstances completely aside, to be so desperate to jump on the “bandwagon”, sympathy kibble Seeking, to draw such THIN associations between her experience and the experience of people who have actually been afraid for their welfare, held over a barrel, physically assaulted, sexually abused is fucking insulting. Fuck her.

      You, my friend, are better placed to be joining the ranks of #metoo not THAT fool.

      And while I’m here. Esther Perel can Also fuck off. Fuck all the way off.

    • Of course KK would post that garbage. Of course she would. God forbid she let it go. *She* left you. And yet she’s still hung up on how you speak of her. She’s really sad she lost her best victim, UX. She spent a lot of time and energy grooming you to be the perfect fool for her bad behavior. I really think she expected you to be a good little boy and take that adultery like with a smile. I wonder exactly how you might have acted that would have pleased her. She might have preferred you’d died. Now that’s make her the ultimate martyr. Short of that if you’d just kept your fucking mouth shut. I haven’t kept up with your latest, UX. Are you getting laid yet? How’s she liking that. Fuck that whore – slut — bitch.

    • if it is O.K. to have affairs then why do these slutbags go to such lengths to tell “massive LIES” to hide their vile actions , use DECEPTION to hide what they are really doing ? why don’t they say “i am going to slutwhores for a fuckfest , see you later” . or “for the sake of honesty in our marriage , i found a fuckbuddy on Craigs List , i’ll be back in an hour “. never going to happen , why ? because they are liars and cheats , and have no integrity . if there was an ounce of honesty and integrity in the marriage none of these affairs would happen ,they would talk about their feelings long before they would be thinking up “massive lies” to hide their sneaking and cheating . WTF?

    • #metoo only applies if you were sexually harassed or abused by somebody. Saying somebody cheated on you when they actually did is just stating facts.
      If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck it’s a fucking duck….
      ergo if she walks like a slut and fucks like a slut she’s a slut.
      Sorry you have to see somebody contort a survivors’ movement to espouse her agenda

  • So, if I get this right, Perel claims that the harassers and abusers being outed by the #metoo movement are ‘not sexually powerful men’ but are ‘insecure’. ‘Sexually powerful men seduce.’

    I guess the logical follow up to this is that if Harvey Weinstein and his ilk had been sexually powerful men, they would have seduced the women around them instead of coercing them into sexual acts. Does she think that that makes it ethical, or acceptable?

    Putting aside the idea that in a position of power over someone, it’s not really possible to have an equitable sexual relationship with them, her point of view still implies that once a man successfully seduces a woman, they can have sex, despite the moral or emotional consequences. He might be married to someone else, as might she, but if he seduces her, then it’s all fine and dandy. I don’t buy that idea, and never will.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

    • She’s probably right, in the end, that people abuse their power because they are insecure. Doesn’t matter, though. It’s not my job to coddle the insecure through abuse.

      • That’s speculation. Research points to what Dr. George Simon argues — people who abuse power (character disordered people) aren’t insecure. They feel awesome about themselves. They’re narcissistic and lack empathy. Bullies aren’t insecure, they actually feel superior to the people they abuse.

        • Saying that abusers and bullies are insecure makes them sound weak. Like they deserve our understanding and compassion. It implies that if we are compassionate enough we can break through to their insecure personas. Then we can reason with them and make them understand what they’re doing. I spent so much time in emotional pain because I was trying to “understand” him, when I should have been getting away from him. My mom said it best when she told me, “I don’t buy this crap that he doesn’t understand what he’s doing. He understands completely. He’s doing it on purpose.” It was a slap in the face at the time, but what I needed to wake up.

          • You all are right, of course. I guess my overarching point is that it doesn’t really matter why a person harms you, it only matters that the person harms you. No amount of pitiable-ness makes it necessary or important or advisable to continue letting a person harm you.

            When it comes to adults (and adult-sized people in some cases) it’s ok to stop spending energy on a person who is suffering if you can’t control the source of the suffering and the suffering person is not going to stop harming you.

            • You are right, Amiisfree. No matter what the cause, the most important thing is to protect yourself by getting out of the situation.

          • I prefer to think that ex is weak. Being emotionally weak is not an attractive attribute so good riddance.

        • It is a dangerous myth that bullies are insecure. It leads us to feel if we are nicer to them we can help them. Bullies actually have very high self esteem. Read Dan Olweus on bullying.

        • The research absolutely supports that bullies have HIGH self-esteem, not low. Bullies are most often high-status, but itching to either advance or keep that status. They do so by trying to step on others (their victims).

          Lulutoo rightly recommends Olweus; I can also recommend Baumeister, who was the first to point out that the self-esteem movement was creating monsters.

          • Its so hard to believe though that someone who uses their power over others has a healthy mind and doesn’t have something more going on in their psyche than a sense of entitlement. I experienced this in the workplace many years ago when I was a law student. My university had arranged a summer work placement at the criminal court. I had been working on a very slow moving fraud case and asked the manager if I could be transferred to another case involving more witnesses and legal arguments. He readily agreed and as I thanked him and went to leave his office he told me the whole team were meeting at the local wine bar that lunchtime and I was invited. I later mentioned it to a couple of the other team members who knew nothing about it. It became apparent that he’d only invited me. I didn’t go and after lunch to spare any awkwardness I apologised for not going and said I’d had to take an important call from home. He was furious and made life unbearable for me for weeks forcing me to stay working on the fraud trial. Thankfully another court manager replaced him eventually.

            • Natalia, it sounds like you did the right thing, even though you had to deal with his retaliation afterwards. Glad you’re out of that situation now!

              • Thank you Lyn. Yes its good to be out of that now but sadly wasn’t the only time something like this happened. When I was newly qualified as a barrister and looking for a position a guy (married) I’d worked with a few times promised to put a,word in for me at his place. As I thanked him he joked, “See, and I haven’t even asked you to sleep with me…….yet.”
                Before going into the law I was previously a nurse, as was my sister, wasn’t much different in that profession either. So good to have a light shining on such things now. As women we just accepted men behave in such ways. Hopefully they’re thinking twice more now.

        • Dan Savage made a similarly offensive argument. He speculated that people like Weinstein and Louis CK are not conventionally attractive men, so they have to abuse their power to get women. This is blatantly ridiculous. Both of these men could attract women, or pay someone to voluntarily fulfill their sexual desires. It was the very fact that these women’s participation was involuntary that excited them. And there are plenty of attractive men, capable of getting their desires met for “free” who coerce and rape victims.

          Before all this, i had a mild crush on Louis CK, mostly for his charisma and genius sense of humor. And it’s clear to me that the women he manipulated into witnessing his “self-flagellation” also admired him. There are plenty of women who would have happily indulged his exhibitionist fantasies. But I think he absolutely knew what he was doing was wrong, and the involuntary shared shame of it was the turn-on for him. He has made clear that he felt entitled to act that way, with no consideration of the impact on his targets, then justified the behavior to by assuming if they did not leave the situation, they must have agreed to it implicitly.

    • What Perel is describing would apply to a grotesque ogre, forced to live in a forest, so repulsive, with zero chance of any form of relationship, that the only chance they’d have, is clubbing the victim and dragging her to their lair.

      These guys are not insecure weaklings, who have no other recourse than to forcibly take what they want. They are absolutely capable of seduction. I’m sure they have successfully applied the art of seduction when it suited them, but other times it suits them to wield their power and club a victim or twenty.

    • Why would anyone listen to this idiot? Perel is nothing but a talking head- worthless as herpes on a hooker!

    • Why would anyone take this twat seriously? Perel is a worthless talking head. A dime a dozen in the US. Worthless as herpes on a whore!

  • When I married, I did not think of Mr. Sparkles as my “possession”… EVER. I considered us to be two equal, consenting adults CHOOSING monogamy and marriage for life. I did not force him to the altar. I did not ASK for monogamy, it was offered and expected in return.

    When he decided to go outside our relationship for sex, he did not maturely confer on me that decision and allow me to thereby make my own decision to accept or to leave. HE. WENT. BEHIND. MY. BACK.

    So, Ester… take your platitudes and sell them somewhere else. I don’t care that my X fucked (or fucks) strangers he met on websites. He can do that all day long (and I suspect he still does.) I care that he LIED.

    You need to have sex outside of your monogamous relationship then have the courage to leave the relationship FIRST.

    Egads, it truly is that simple. But I guess that doesn’t sell books.

    • x1000

      The lies … the mindfucking lies and gaslighting. STBX’s decades-long deception and continued lies at the end (so many lies that it’s beyond my comprehension) left me feeling like I was raped in my sleep … not knowing what happened to me, but knowing I was harmed horribly and repeatedly.
      (Please note, I’ve also been physically raped … by the same asshole STBX … so I do have some experience for the comparison and mean absolutely no disrespect by it.).

      • You are totally fair in your description.

        In a conversation with Mr. Sparkles after he abandoned us, I likened his behavior of lying to me about fucking people without my knowledge (or consent) and then returning to our bed to have marital sex with me as a form of rape. His sociopathic response: “Yes, I can see why you would feel that way. Come see my garden, do you think these are sunflowers?”

        It was so many little moments like that one that clearly showed me what a MONSTER I had married and I needed to get away from regardless of sunk costs.

        • I did too. When he tried the staying friends bullshit, I hit the roof. I told him I wouldn’t do what he did to me to my worst enemy. I compared it to giving me a date rape drug. The drug was lies. I said it was even worse than giving a spiked drink to a stranger when he did it to someone who he claimed to love and respect and who trusted him with her life.
          He was very offended to be compared to Bill Cosby. The MC didn’t comment.
          Slept with the enemy, surrounded by enemies (the Whore and her family who all conspired in this) for over 9 years. Living on a nest of fucking vipers and that Ester Perel has the nerve to defend these people.

  • If it was not an invasion of privacy I would love to have a video of my brother’s children when they were abandoned by their mother. I have no idea who the man was that she left them for, but I know what she left behind. She left total destruction behind. There are no such things as benign affairs. People who have them are so caught up in whatever craziness they are dealing with that other people mean nothing.
    We are all beset by image after image of undressed women, virile men and all the accoutrements and fun of having affairs. You can’t pick up a newspaper, magazine or look at the Internet that you don’t see the latest whomever in the tiniest bikini, or the man with the prettiest muscles. They are everywhere. Your wife will never, ever live up to what those women look like. Your husband is never going to be that good looking jock wearing some designer’s underwear. If that is what you want then go for it, but don’t get married. Then just don’t get married. Just be single and do whatever it is you do but don’t get married. Don’t break hearts. Don’t leave hopeless children behind. Don’t cause such anguish to your spouses that they suffer. Just don’t get married. If you have questions, cold feet, a nervous stomach, whatever, then don’t get married.

    • Heck, in most newspapers and magazines the person in the photo has been so heavily photoshopped that THEY will never live up to the body shown in those photos. Many images we see in print and online are a cross between reality and fantasy these days.

      • My education is Sociology. It is the study of groups of people and how we interact with others. It is how we influence each other. We are so convinced of our autonomy that we fail to understand how powerful advertising, peer groups, language are to us. Our work colleagues have an unbelievable amount of power over us. That cute new intern/co-worker stirs the senses. With just a few winks from other co-workers the person whose marriage is less than thrilling has just been given permission to cheat. The next thing you know you have been dumped by your 40ish spouse for the newby. Why does EP think this is ok? Well, she sells a bunch of books and gives interviews and TED talks. In the meantime the Chump, and children, are bleeding but, hey, Cheater has the right to find happiness. And that is my last thing. Happiness is ephemeral. If we hang onto the idea that we deserves unremitting happiness we are doomed to failure. Contentment, quiet satisfaction are so necessary to us. Euphoria is not but according to what we are bombarded with daily that is what many of us have come to expect.

        • Let Go,

          Thanks for speaking for me, someone who was abandoned by both 40-something husband and boyfriend for women with whom they worked. I have never gotten together with someone in my office, even while single, but it seems incredibly easy for my partners to do so while still officially my partner. It’s gotten to the point that I feel as though I, the legitimate partner, is being treated like the OW, my partners’ ‘dirty little secret’–so hurtful and offensive.

          Would love to let Esther Perel into my brain to experience (to know and feel) the devastation caused by betrayal by one’s partner. Sadly, some psychology magazines promote Perel as a speaker at conferences! I am appalled.

        • I call that revictimizing the victim. The cheater has a “right to happiness”- but not the rest of the family? Who made that rule up? Probably a slut or a cheater.

    • A marriage is a commitment. No one said it would be easy, or fun all the time. The vows imply that there will be tough times, but that you will love and honour one another. My STBXW said, “that was a promise made a long time ago”. That was kind of the point! That is what she asked of me. That’s what I was doing!! Twenty-five may be young to get married these days, but it certainly makes you an adult.

      My children are coping extremely well with the separation, but it is not what any of us deserved. I have no idea what the long-term consequences are going to be for any of us, but I’m doing my best to show them how people should behave towards others.

      EP and those who believe her nonsense can do whatever the hell they want, but people need to be on the same page about these things.

      • My XH told me that vows made in church when we were 22 and 24 didn’t count because we were too young to understand what we promised! He said this in a tone of wonder, immediately after we attended his niece’s wedding & 1 year after DD1 when he was faking wreckonciliation, 28 years into our marriage. Poof! Erase that commitment, wallow in false confusion, and continue “double dipping!” ( his expression) They are not weak, they are entitled & delusional & destroy everything ahead of and behind them.

        • And your XH’s comment really just sums up the cheater’s mentality, doesn’t it? “I waned it (whatever thing it was that gives them significance), it didn’t meet my expectations, so I threw it away and got something else”. Chumps on the other hand, know that good things require work. We keep our promises, even when we overcommit…. especially when we overcommit; that’s when we really dig in! We forgive, we find silver linings, we keep our promises.
          My father once sold a valuable piece of land. He told me “The guy made me a great offer, and when I agreed to it, he shook my hand real fast… too fast. I knew in that instant that I could’ve gotten much more for it.” I told him “well then why didn’t you counter him”, he said, “because I already shook his hand”. My father wasn’t a cheater… or a chump. My parents both modeled a loving and very real relationship. Isn’t it interesting how the Cheater and Chump mentalities are present throughout all aspects of a persons behavior?

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I have no problem with people who transparently and honestly choose non-monogamy together. I don’t even have a problem with the exploration and demystification of why so many people seem to only be able to feel alive when they feel extreme — bungee jumping and riding the edge of imploding life as you know it through deception seem pretty similar to me.

    The problem I have with EP is that she doesn’t just explore the psychological construct of why people cruelly deceive others for a sexual thrill, she condones the deliberate harm of the partner through cruelly deceiving the partner — and children — for a sexual thrill.

    It’s the abuse of her licensed power to advocate for harm of the partner and children coupled with the advice for the partner and children to reject their natural emotions and embrace being harmed that I find both sociopathically twisted and professionally reprehensible.

    She’s professionally abusing the world by suggesting that partners deliberately put themselves and their children on a path that has high risk for depression, anxiety, sexually transmitted illness, and financial ruin, and should, therefore, in my opinion, lose her NY license for it.

    • 100% Amiisfree.

      Fucking strange is just the tip of the destruction. Let’s list the other side-effects of chasing their bliss:

      Lying to cheat
      Stealing to cheat
      Blowing off family events to cheat
      Deliberately ruining family moments to go cheat
      Ignoring and abandoning children to cheat
      Gaslighting to cheat
      Assassinating character to justify cheating
      Risking giving STD’s to the chump to cheat
      Abusing the chump through the courts to justify cheating.

      I’m sure there are more… Chumps?

    • I agree Amiisfree. If you want to be married, fine. If not, that’s fine too – all we ask is that you clue your spouse in before you feel the need to start a new relationship (and try not to hide a bunch of money and drag your family thru hell along the way).

      But you don’t get to perform bad acts without accountability. That’s not how adulthood works. EP seems to miss that.

      EP’s analysis always seems to ignore the fact that cheating spouses all had the liberty to divorce their spouses AND THEN go on their quests for aliveness, or to go find happiness, or to find themselves, or address whatever their personal crisis of the moment was. They all had the opportunity to be honest and fair before they went off the rails. Alas….they chose not to, and instead decided to take advantage of their spouses instead of being honest with them.

      And just like anyone else who knowingly commits wrongs, there needs to be personal accountability – not more blameshifting and excuses.

      • Oh, no, she is not ignoring cheaters can divorce. She is saying our pain is simply neglectable, only cheaters’ wishes are important and they didn’t want to divorce. They wanted the deception, lies, and multiple partners.

      • You see, cheater got the book on captivity. I read it as soon as he left the country to be with his whore, while he was promising me to think about what he wanted. How I cried that night, thinking I was the cage. I loved him so much, I did everything I could think of to make him happy, and here I was the Cage.

        And then I discovered he didn’t went to my country to see the whore and decide what to do. He went there to live with her, ignoring the fact that their family (she is his first degree cousin) could see them: he was fucking around in plain view. And he was calling me crying every morning that he was trying to return to me, while fucking her at night.

        There are no names for that shit. This is no “exuberant act of defiance”. I never tried to control him, not even at that moment. I only expected him to be decent to me. Not to hurt me on purpose. Not abuse me. If there is a cage, it’s in his mind. It was never me. And he will be trapped there forever.

        I am lucky enough to be a cheater’s daughter. And I am twice as lucky that my dad’s “exuberant act of defiance” has very real money consequences on me 20 years later.

        If I were to find Perel on the street, I would be sick of disgust. She is a vile pile of shit like my dad and cheater. Somebody unable and unwilling to be even decent enough to acknowledge in public that they do what they do, because they do love abusing us. Period. It’s not about freedom, boredom, sexual sophistication: it’s because they love abusing somebody who has shown them their soft bellies.

  • The person “Rethinking Infidelity” is CL, not Esther Fucking Perel!

    When I was going through my now-XW’s affair and then our divorce, I saw how much society blameshifted, made excuses, assumed I deserved it somehow, accused me of giving up, put MCs on undeserved pedestals, etc. In short, in regards to infidelity, our society has refused to call a spade a spade, and moreso every year with cheater apologists like Esther Perel making “careers” out of excusing shitty behavior.

    Sometimes, we overcomplicate simple truths. In this case, we get our heads jammed so far up our spouses’ asses (or in Esther’s case, her own ass) that we can no longer see these truths.

    CL is the one “Rethinking” and correcting this mistake, laying the truth bare. It hurts. It’s sucks. And it makes the rest of your life better as soon as you accept it.

    Fuck you, Esther Perel.

    • “Fuck you, Esther Perel”

      ** Stands up and claps **

      I’m with you, JC.

      What I can’t get my head around, is what kind of person earns a living from justifying people cheating on their spouses? What kind of person, and why? Ok, ok. I know that’s unravelling the skein of knotty, twisty cheater twine. But seriously, why would she want to pursue a career and promote this message so widely?

      The obvious answer is that she’s a cheater herself. But what if that’s not it, or all of it? There’s got to be something going on there.

      I think the whole thing is a bit nuts. She talks about things not being helpful… But surely what is not helpful is justifying and excusing people cheating? Surely what would be helpful is addressing the root causes – be it narcissism, lack of respect, self-entitlement, lack of assertiveness leading to exit affairs, the culture of cheating etc etc etc. Why is she trying to defend the indefensible? And make money from it?

      • Basically, a market of desperate chumps is great. And if you can cross over to also getting the market for narcissists and sociopaths looking for justifications, well, suckers and the self-indulgent amount to one fine market share.

    • What strikes me is that ex generally had conservative values and would typically be against new age societal trends that loosen old fashioned conservative morals. He wouldn’t bend on other ones that I thought were archaic myself. He made an exception for this one because he doesn’t have the balls to live up to his own values so he had to change them. I suppose from his perspective I am the one making an exception for the old fashioned value of fidelity when I am usually more liberal minded. What he doesn’t understand is that I am not condemning the acts themselves so much as the harm to others that they cause.

  • The interesting thing is what she’s saying is not wrong.
    She’s blaming sexual harassment on power play and definitely these men who *think* they are the winners for preying on women are NOT sexually powerful. They are not expressing sexuality in a healthy way, they are using sexuality to be destructive to society for their own distorted sense of personal gain. I don’t know if she’s justifying them, I hope not, but her analysis is not at odds with reality, in this instance.

    • Sexuality shouldnt be mentioned in these cases its about power and cheap thrills. They are predators who groom victims in the same way child molesters do.
      EL is a flouncy nitwit who inhabits the same fantasy world as the cheater low lifes.

    • What she is doing is making a distinction between the Weinsteins et al (weak) and the Exuberant Defiant Cheaters (strong, seducers). Why is she doing that? To justify her position. To sell her books. By trying to show that cheating isn’t the same as sexual abuse because… the men were strong? This is bullshit.

  • Although it’s been said many times, many ways… I’m glad you’re here, Chump Lady.

    Even more than two years out from DDay and the split, I read the Zoe Heller excerpt, and my first instinct is to feel attacked and wonder if that’s what certain other people think about me. I start examining myself, and am I right to feel this way, etc.

    But I’m learning. I’m de-chumping. Gradually.

    I’m so glad we have your no-nonsense critical and logical thinking!

    • What’s happening about the whole TED Talks thing? I seem to recall you finally said you were up for it? Do we need another round of nominations?

  • The more I hear from this woman, the more I think, “Does she really believe the BS she’s peddling or is she just chasing the euro?”

  • STBX is getting “counseling” to figure out why he’s a cheating, lying, abusive asshole … hahahahahaha … you know, looking for all of those excuses fed to him by the likes of Bad Character Apologist, Esther Perel (Ms. Perel can fuck right off.) You see, STBX doesn’t like my answer — he chose to be a hurtful, vile, lying piece of scum. It’s not “victim-ish” enough STBX.

    Like Perel, STBX is looking for justifications for his pathetic decisions. His goal is to make himself appear as at least a “sort of good person.” But he’s not. Accountability doesn’t exist in the world of cheaters and cheater apologists.

    Sorry for the bit of anger in my post. STBX called to apologize (completely Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse — sorry for “things” and general “asshole behavior” because “none of it” was my fault). I gray-rocked it as much as I could given that I was pissed, telling him I wasn’t looking for an apology and then I tried to change the subject back to our child.

    Of course, his response was to give me the stonewall of silence (thank goodness it was the phone … I’m sure his death-black stare accompanied the silence). The fact that he’s still trying his BS is beyond irritating. Let it go, asshole. Let. It. Go.

    I guess Perel’s pathetic cheater apologist BS today is just icing on those shit sandwiches I’ve been dealing with lately.

    • *”You see, STBX doesn’t like my answer — he chose to be a hurtful, vile, lying piece of scum. It’s not “victim-ish” enough STBX.”

      This should read: “You see, STBX doesn’t like my answer — that he chose to be a hurtful, vile, lying piece of scum. This reason is not “victim-ish” enough for STBX.

      My original text was about as clear as mud. Sorry!

  • She’s weirdly talented at spackling. Aggressively talented at it. Makes you wonder how she ended up there. Strong need, it seems, to be the cool girl who totally gets it. One disordered way to gain entry into the good old boys club.

    • I listened to an interview with her on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” (What can I say, I am a glutton for triggers while I’m exercising.) About half the program was spent discussing how being the daughter of Holocaust survivors has shaped her world view. She put it this way (paraphrasing): My parents recovered from the ultimate betrayal — betrayal by society. So I’m compelled to explain betrayal and help others recover from it. Maybe I’m gullible (see my username), but her reflections seemed authentic and her motivations complex, love her or hate her.

        • If she’s advocating for Nuremberg trials for cheaters and reparations for chumps, we may have something we can agree on.

          • Haha. Love it.

            But, here’s the thing. She does not help people recover from betrayal. She suggests that they deserved it, and that it does not matter.

            Recovery from betrayal is a whole different arena than she is functioning in.

            But, argh. Don’t make me reread Night. Having a hard enough time with Holidays.

          • This. Her comparing cheaters and chumps to Holocaust survivors makes me violently ill. Its a totally different kind of betrayal. She is a sick fuck

      • Usually people get taken to task for trivialising the Holocaust. How come she gets away with this?
        And in her theory she’s making excuses for the betrayers/cheaters. Does it mean she also makes excuses for the perpetrators of the Holocaust?

      • First, it’s a false equivalency.
        Second, if it were comparable, cheaters would be akin to nazis, which completely kills the “jubilant act of defiance” line of bullshit.
        Lastly, she might be a very lovely person, but to draw any kind of relationship between the two seems grossly incompetent and self-serving.

  • My STbxh, used his power in the workplace to seduce women, had 8 month affair with subordinate last year, a 53 year old who had already been through 3 husbands, very unnattractive out of shape head lead hr. , he was head of federal hr, spent most of their work days texting over three hundred times a day, spent their days in a junior high relationship trying to figure out where the next hookup would be, when the were caught her husband said she was very giggly about the whole thing, we are now about to be divorced, a 33 year relationship and family torn apart by infidelity, just so a couple of fuckwits could get some jollies. Ester needs to think about the repercussions these affairs have on the families left behind. I will never be the same, but I will be better, choosing to never think about the creep I was married to , or his fuckbuddy again!

    • Nina,
      I can relate to much of what you say as my now ex-boyfriend is with his work subordinate who officially replaced me as intimate partner a few months ago. My replacement is younger than both ex-boyfriend and me, unencumbered like him but not me (a mother), and probably much higher earning than me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she soon marries my ex-boyfriend. My heart hurts–it has hurt non-stop for four months. I feel emotionally dead. The betrayal by my husband and then my boyfriend in the last few years has emotionally killed me me and physically destroyed me. After half a century of believing in romantic love and loyalty and believing that I might experience those things in a relationship in spite of experiencing some terrible relationships, I am now a cynic.

      I wish you quick healing and a much better future!

    • Nina- I feel like we are in the same boat but for me STBX and HO-worker were never outted by me. I try daily to repress screaming to the world how they are still fucking around and acting like it’s a professional relationship. I’m curious to know if you ever outted them and if so how did that work out for you? I’m wondering if I press charges after the divorce because I’m 100% sure that he has been screwing coworkers for 9 yrs now at this company. Need advice on this.

  • I sadly gobbled up her ted talk and captivity book. That was when I was trying to understand my poor hurt forest creature husband and how I helped cause him to stray. Thankfully I wised up and found the wisdom this site shares.

    If I have to look at and take responsibility for my faults then he does too. It was then I realized, all of his faults and mistakes never made me think of cheating on him or lying to him ever. Why did my mistakes MAKE him cheat? They didn’t. That was all his lack of character and wanting cake. I bestowed love and understanding with his alcoholism. Why was love and understanding not bestowed on me for any of my flaws that were definitely less destructive than alcoholism? I’m sure his problem with alcohol was my fault also right? He wanted out. He found a new source of kibble supply b/c my kibbles were now going to our toddler and infant. He flat out said, “I have to be #1.”

    Perel’s arguments are victim blaming and excuses cheaters lack of character. She’s found a way to talk about a puddle like it’s a deep dark complex subject when it really is simply a shallow shitty small obstacle of life.

    • “She’s found a way to talk about a puddle like it’s a deep dark complex subject when it really is simply a shallow shitty small obstacle of life.”

      Great way to put it!

    • Your journey illustrates so well one of CL’s core insights… The most important part of recovering from our chumpiness is to ask “knowing what this person is capable of, is this relationship ACCEPTABLE TO ME??”

      When I found out about my X’s affair with a gradwhore half his age, I was left with no good option. Either I would divorce and destroy our kiddo’s family… Or I could stay and lose my core sense of integrity. I divorced him after DDay#1, in typical cheater mode my X made it as hard as possible to divorce, and then married his mistress two months post-divorce… What a prize huh?

      I kept my integrity and thanks to CL and mighty chumps I’ve set up a working parallel parenting plan, a parenting software and keep going with over two years of NC/Grey Rock…

      Him and his wifetress? Less than two years into their marriage, she had to leave town for the winter… She claims she suffers from seasonal affective disorder… It might be accurate, and maybe contributing factors might also include that she is now married to a cluster B, is not invited to gatherings, and has difficulty making friends as most people in our community know who she is and what she has done…

      When it comes to these two, I have a lifetime of Meh ahead of me, along with the occasional blip of karmic schadenfreude.

    • Regarding the alcoholic (or, at least, MY alcoholic) I found the following quote helpful…

      “There’s not alcoholic in the world who wants to be told what to do. Alcoholics are sometimes described as egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. Or, to be cruder, a piece of shit that the universe revolves around.”
      ― Anthony Kiedis, Scar Tissue

  • I’m going to go ahead and defer to CL’s perspective on this one. I’ve had enough mindfucking to last a lifetime, let alone voluntarily sit through an hour of Esther’s self promoting twisted rantings. Excuse me while I go live my righteous life without Esther’s whiny voice stuck in my head like a blood sucking tick. I guess my un-evolved brain just can’t handle all that higher level thinking… or maybe evolution has adapted me to bullshit; either way, as long as I’m not listening to her diatribe, I’m golden!

    • Yep, I’m of the same attitude. I don’t need to hear any shit about why cheating is okay. It isn’t okay. You said you wouldn’t do it. You expected that I wouldn’t do it. You did it. I don’t need to hear from anybody that it’s happening. Obviously it’s happening! Doesn’t make it right. Just fu#$@ng excuses!!

      • There’s an episode from one of the early seasons of the Simpsons called “Bart’s Inner Child.”

        It tells the story of a self-help guru coming to town and telling everyone that they should act more like Bart, who does “what he feels like.” Lisa warns everyone that the self-help guru is peddling easy answers and not real happiness, but (of course) no one listens to her.

        The initial happiness this spawns is overblown, the town celebrates with a festival devoted to “doing what you feel like,” which eventually leads to catastrophe. The town decides NOT to follow Bart’s example and instead practice personality responsibility.

        Esther is THAT self-help guru. Easy answers. That’s all she’s selling.

        • As Dr. George Simon states in his books and the seminar I attended, we’re living far removed from Freud’s highly repressed Victorian era where the mantra was “Don’t even think about doing (whatever)” The narcissism epidemic is spreading and a lot of people are of the mindset “Just do it”. I now judge people on their character because it’s of the utmost importance. Actions speak louder than words.

    • Agree. Nothing could make me listen to that. Would just ring up any random cheater if I wanted that spiel. All the nopes that ever noped.

      • With you. Post D-day led me to enough homicidal thoughts to last a life-time; no room in the headspace for more cheater mindfuckery.

        • Tempesr,
          You have a humorous, concise way of conveying the truth and profiund thoughts, and the thoughts of many of us chumps. I have had recurring dreams about my ex-husband getting hit by a car or dying in a barrage of bullets from the cops and my ex-boyfriend getting hit by a shovel. No Karma of this type, though. Both exes are comfortable curled up with their new successful, impressive squeezes while I (celibate Chump) am just trying to keep kids and me alive.

    • It’s just sad that some of the top podcasters I listen to offer airtime to this creep of a woman. No way in hell I would listen to that crap.

    • Justifying infidelity is pure horseshit. It’s really very simple, if you cheat you suck. If your cheater told mutual friends and they didn’t inform you about it then they suck too. It is really not that complicated.

  • OMG Chump Lady, I love you! Laughed all the way through this today! I heard this woman on a podcast on public radio last week, she drove me crazy! I can’t believe she is getting so much attention! Horrible…

  • Esther is a businesswoman. She ran the numbers. She knows how many people cheat and are looking for a book to plop into a devastated spouse’s lap and say, “see infidelity isn’t my fault”. $$$$$$

  • We do have to be careful here. Cheating and harassment both result from entitled attitudes but they are separate issues.

    It isn’t ok for single men to harass women.

    If a married man has an affair with a willing partner who knows he is married, the wife is a victim but the OW isn’t.

    If a married man makes unwanted advances towards another women, the wife and the one harassed are both victims.

    • And if a married man (or woman) cheats with a woman (or man) who had no idea he was married, the OW/OM is also a chump. But how the OW/OM responds to the news of being chumped determines their complicity or not.

      • The thing is, we are all in control of what we do. We might not be in control of how we feel, but our actions are our responsibility. We all are guilty of rationalization once in a while, “I can have this cookie because I did take the stairs today”, but people of bad character can rationalize like it’s an Olympic sport. Cheating and harassment are definitely two different things, one is immoral, the other is illegal, but the commonality is that the perpetrator feels justified in doing it.

  • I read the article in the New Yorker. Then I read the comments. Bad idea.
    People seem to get lost in the idea that monogamy is hard and old fashioned. Maybe so, but if that is what the marital parties agreed upon, signing a contract promising each other fidelity, there should be no question pertaining to upholding said contract. (but…but…) If one of the parties wants to screw someone outside the marriage, then they can relieve themselves from their duties sworn by them in the contract and get a fucking divorce.
    It’s more than a personal matter- it’s a legal one. Divorce should be easy yes, but I believe that legal justice for the wronged party (like any other breach of contract) should be just as easy. The cheater should be responsible for any medical expenses, therapy, medication, and all the expenses of divorce… Plus treble damages. Part of the problem with infidelity is that it’s too easy to deceive, and the consequences are usually minimal for the offending party. (Lest you live in an “at-fault” state, in which case, I’m not sure what the legal consequences are).
    As a SAHM it would be an easy choice to leave if there were financial and legal ramifications to my cheater’s misconduct.

    • Yep, totally! EP seems to be saying (at least in her Fresh Air interview) “cheating is understandable” although she doesn’t actually come out and say that makes it a good idea. I would bet that’s how she justifies her viewpoint. Well, robbing a bank is understandable (who wouldn’t like free money!), but nobody would agree that makes it tolerable behavior. Because there are victims! What’s missing is that outside of this blog, there’s very little awareness being raised that the “poor betrayed” are victims too – not just in terms of heartbreak (society seems to put little value on that, or mental health in general) but in terms of horrible financial consequences, child welfare, etc. It would be great to see these cheaters held legally liable for financial damages/ pain and suffering—same as if they ran over your foot. Now that might get their attention!

  • The part EP mentions about cheating opening up your relationship for public comment is correct, but that feature of infidelity, the loss of privacy, is another aspect of the abuse cheaters inflict. Every married couple has stuff. We all suck in our own special ways and the great thing about love is that your partner’s imperfections, and your own, make you both human and approachable, lovable even. It was devastating to have my whole life laid out like a frog being dissected, and the narrative of my marriage and the who I am was dictated by someone who has a vested interest in casting me in a bad light to save his own reputation.

  • I do like this comment from Zoe about how adultery, although common, is still a bad thing: “The fact that a prohibition is often violated is not an argument, per se, for giving up on the prohibition. Humans kill one another with some frequency, and we continue to believe that our laws against murder are a good idea.”

    • Damn straight. Laws are made because people break them. We create the laws so that we try to live the way we believe we SHOULD be living, not necessarily the way we do. EP wants to rip all of that up? Go live on an island with all the rest of the folks who buy into this idea. Don’t commit to it if you aren’t going to do it, or at least take responsibility for things when you do f-up.

      I like the post above which said, “all my partners faults did not make me cheat, why should my faults justify them cheating?”

  • Dear Esther:
    My debonair X was both a sexually powerful charmer of women, and a sexual harasser. He was able to get complete devotion from women 30 years younger than him because of his success, and intelligence, and savoir faire. But when his usual charm didn’t work (i.e., when he encountered students with morals and integrity who would NOT sleep with him), he became a sexual harasser and forced at least one graduate student out of his program by devaluing her work.

    So I’m curious, Esther, did he go from Sexually Powerful Man to Insecure in one fell swoop? Does self-esteem in a middle-aged man undergo cataclysmic shifts? Or, did he simply excel at manipulation, so that when the Charm channel stopped working he went into the kind of cold, hard Rage that makes you try to destroy the career and health of a 22-year old who dares to defy the great man?

    I try to accept people for who they are, and see the good in them. But I’m failing with you, Esther. I think you are both stupid and heartless. Not a good combination.

    Sincerely,
    Tempest

  • “The outrage and moral certainty expressed on such occasions can be comforting for the betrayed spouse, but they are largely ‘unhelpful,'”. Wrong. They are very helpful. They are helpful at getting the betrayed spouse to leave an abusive relationship. They are helpful at getting society to recognize the harm done by adultery. They are helpful at putting cheating assholes in their place.

  • “Quest for aliveness” is fancy talk for “I want some strange, banging my spouse is soooo boring ugh, I deserve some aliveness in my life by golly.”

  • I heard Esther Perel being interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air last weekend. I held my nose and listened.

    She’s confounding. All the pieces are almost there for a somewhat OK argument, but there is no mention of being a grown up. Yes, marriage can be hard, yes marriages can go stale, yes the institution can be construed as backwards in some ways.

    There is no mention of owning your want to get out of a marriage by being honest about it, you know, saying something. There is no explanation about what happens between the need to blossom as an individual because you are so shackled by your marriage (boo-hoo) and leaping to fucking someone else. Apparently you just do that.

    Do you have to have been a Chump to see this?

  • ” For a period immediately following the revelation, a certain amount of wild rage and sanctimony is permissible, but after that, the rigorous work of exploring the meaning and motives of an affair must begin.”

    And why is it implied that the victim do the work of exploring the meaning and motives of an affair? This very sentence lays blame on the victim. We are to explore why our partner has cheated on us. We are to give them understanding. What a load of crap! But when I think about it, there is some truth to it. Chumps are the ones who do the work of exploring meaning and motives of the affair. What we find is that the cheater is a souless piece of crap who is not willing to explore the meaning themselves because they are incapable of understanding anyone, even themselves. Perel keeps trying to give cheaters character. What she doesn’t understand is that they do not have any character.

      • Agreed. Sanctimony, EP? Definition: “Pretended, affected, or hypocritical religious devotion, righteousness” — really?

        Being angry and setting healthy boundaries to stop a person from threatening my health, finances, and children’s mental state when I have not also done any of those things is equivalent to pretending or hypocrisy?

        Nope. False equivalency filled word salad.

  • Having read the New Yorker article, it appears that Esther is advocating an endless “pick-me dance” for the faithful partner. We here at CN know first hand that this only rewards bad behavior and reinforces the sense of entitlement of our cheaters. That is no way to live. As CL has pointed out, real research has proven that leaving a cheater helps the betrayed gain a happier better life. Ten years out from DDay and 6 years from divorce, I can say I am so glad I eventually gave up the “pick me dance” and filed. It has not been easy, and I still am occasionally triggered emotionally by my ex’s shenanigans, but I am soooooo glad I put him in my rear view. As a marriage and family therapist, I think Esther Perel is peddling dangerous dogma and ignoring the cheater’s abuse of partner/spouse and family. Cheaters still have agency. If they want to “explore themselves” they can leave the relationship. They are not doing their innocent spouse any favors by staying while straying!

    • Exactly, if they want to go on the “quest for aliveness between the legs” they should leave the marriage before embarking on said quest.

  • Word salad indeed…

    She doesn’t seem to grasp what constitutes predatory and/or narcissistic behavior. I find this profoundly disturbing since she is a professional counselor.

    She also doesn’t seem to understand the fundamental elements of good sex regardless of level of commitment – primarily that they are two people who agree, trust/feel safe, communicate and are prepared to face any consequences (e.g. pregnancy).

    • Professional counselor,you say ?

      Somebody pointed out that her “training” consists of a degree in art therapy from a third tier university…

  • Quest for aliveness. What does she mean by aliveness? The thrill of new love/lust, the flirting, the romance, the chase, the excitement of secret forbidden sex outside the marriage?

  • “Exuberant acts of defiance” describes a toddler in the “terrible twos” not a responsonle, accountable adult in a chosen monogamous relationship.

    What type of social black hole does this “psychologist” exist in that she can disavow the emotional, psychological, physical & spiritual annihilation to loyal spouses and innocent children?
    Pffft,EP…begone.

    • I hope this ^ article and criticism is gaining momentum to the point where victims of cheaters will rise and slap those therapists who find cheating acceptable.
      There are plenty therapists who are cheaters themselves. They keep the veil down over the victims.
      I think time has come to turn the tables. We should speak up, we should silence those therapists who continue to rape our souls!

  • I think she is either a cheater herself, or the victim of it. If the latter, she is trying very hard to justify her own decision to tolerate a load of shit.
    Fine, live your own life, but shut up about it.
    She is dangerous imo

  • I am sorry CL, I love your writing and I have learned a lot from you.
    I strongly disagree with “they are narcissists who lack empathy for their victims”.
    Narcissist don’t lack empathy. Psychopaths do.
    Narcissist know well the pain they inflict. They KNOW and they get drunk on it! Which makes them the darkest creatures of them all!

  • Thanks again Chump Lady! You know what, I’m entitled to tell my halfwit stbx cheater to go fuck Ester Perel if he’d like, but he sure as hell isnt’t fucking this femi nazi anymore. After all, opinions are like assholes, which resemble my cheater, so they can have each other. She must live in some dreamland, because her ignorance of reality is stunning. Ask her if being understanding to that cluster b, narcissist who happens to also be a white male (not all of them, fellow male chumps) is going to work out in the lady’s favor? The lady with the bad case of ptsd. Ptsd doesn’t allow for exuberance, Ester. And the sad little man who made the ptsd needs more than a hand slap and a tsk tsk.

    ok, rant over now.

  • Hey!
    If she thinks the marriage commitment is “kind of” long term and old fashioned?

    Hell, I’m sick to death of paying my mortgage!
    I didn’t realize what a 30 year commitment meant in “human years” when I signed! I am an innocent in all this!
    I purchased in 2007! My dream home has a lower value now! I was TOLD it was going to be my best investment – what is this shit? It’s kind of dated and needs updating! Let itself go. Not my issue, I mow the grass in the summer.

    Taxes? gone up. Special assessment? What is that about?

    THIS IS NOT WHAT I signed up for! I want a few months/years of mortgage free living!
    To hell with those rusty gutters… I need a Jacuzzi tub, man!

    I have a right to give in to my “aliveness of living”! Of course, I want my trusty house to be there, holding all my stuff together while I explore my desire for loft life! Or a swinging bachelor pad. If I ever desire to return, everything will be in the same, exact spot, right?

    I think I have been a good home provider for many years, I deserve to do something for myself.
    Tally ho, here I go! I’m packing my bag today.

  • I would like to come at this problem from a slightly different direction. For me, the biggest problem with the #me too movement, and any other movement which rides the wave of public approval at any given moment is the very real chance that someone will lie to become a part of it. That person will take a circumstance or situation where something wasn’t quite right, and use it as an example of the pervasive problem being discussed. They want to be a part of the movement even if their particular situation may not fit. Claiming something to be so, when it is not, is also an abuse of power.

    Since the dawn of time, the people in power, enforced by physical power or wealth, or bureaucratic power etc have taken advantage of the people who have no power. Sometimes it takes the form of using another person for sex. This #me too movement is supposed to be talking about using power to compel sexual performance from an unwilling participant.

    Theoretically consensual sexual activity should take place between two adults who both desire each other in a physical way. Social norms step in and set the standards for age, marital norms, general expectations, etc. But in theory, if I want you and you want me the sex is consensual. Unfortunately, most sex is not theoretical, and a great deal of it may not be fully consensual. That is why one spouse can actually rape another, even though they are married and had made a legal promise to be “with” the other, till death parted them.

    If a person has power over another and believes that he or she is entitled to fulfill every fantasy and whim — to act upon those whims with a subordinate who stands something to win or lose by keeping the superior happy — that is abuse, not consent. Again, theoretically I should be having sex only because I am free and able to and desire to. Not because I want to be hired, or get a promotion, or hope to land a wealthy spouse, or need the job to pay my rent, or hope to be pulled from the pool of assistants and interns into the great state of permanent and (eventually) powerful employment of my own.

    In the not too distant past, women were used to seal the deal to set boundaries, or wage war, or ensure a dynasty, or any of a zillion things that have nothing to do with romance or desire. Here, promising prince, I give you my daughter’s hand in marriage to consolidate the bond of family and the promise that our lands will be defended from the marauding hordes. The daughter has no choice in the matter, unless she wants to throw herself from the roof. That is certainly abuse of power.

    If an intern decides to provide sex to a boss in order to promote her career, and that deal is struck, is that abuse? Yes, both ways in my book. I should not sell my sex for advance in employment and the boss should not ask me to — both sides are wrong. If the boss is delusional enough to believe he is just so desirable to the intern that she cannot help herself — then he is stupid, delusional, and abusive. If the intern believes the boss will throw away his career and leave his marriage willingly (at a loss of roughly 50% of his assets) then she is stupid and delusional, and being abusive to herself and her peer group. Sex should have no place in the modern workplace. Sex should not be a bargaining chip. Theoretically.

    The problem with people who defend the right of a person who has WILLINGLY entered into a consensual relationship to have an affair, or just random sex with strangers, because they are entitled to an exuberant act of defiance, or maybe because it just makes them feel good for the moment and they want to, is that it is never that simple. It’s not just sexual gratification — it is all the consequences of breaking legal agreements with a social order of rules and regulations made for the general good. If one person arbitrarily can “change the rules” to suit his own agenda of the moment, chaos can occur. We agree to live with each other for a reason, we agree to social rules for a reason. We need to uphold those rules, or change those rules, if need be. But we need to live in accordance with those rules to be a member of an authentic society.

    • Thank you for your carefully considered and well-written post, Portia! I am starved for intelligent conversation these days, esp. concerning cheating and other forms of sexual assault and emotional manipulation. Marriage and other laws governing “private” behavior (such as parenting) exist because the State finds it important to regulate personal behavior, and to impose consequences on those who violate those guidelines, for the public good and the safety of those who may not be able to protect themselves. I am all for individual freedoms WHEN TRULY CAPABLE, CONSENTING ADULTS agree to participate and DO NOT HARM innocent, unknowing bystanders. But when our partners, who made a binding agreement with us (often in front of supreme beings and courts), commit CRIMES against us (such as theft), they are not held accountable in the same way that strangers would be, and we are often called upon to defend OURSELVES. Family court is a horrific place, and child support offices are the WORST. There have been all of these efforts to reform certain parts of the legal system, resulting in progressive alternatives like drug court and prostitution court (at least in Philly), but what goes on in family court is reprehensible.

      • I consented to monogamous sex wth my husband. I did NOT consent to sex with a serial cheater who did not use protection – nor did the baby I was pregnant with during some of that sex.

  • I cannot bear to read her books without wanting to make an appointment with her and punch her in the face. I live close to where she has a practice in NYC.

    What exactly is she proposing:

    Structuring a marriage as swinging and/or multiple orgy partners with the possibility that when one spouse is having sex with other(s) s/he will not tell the other partner everything and can keep occasions of infidelity secret if they want to?

    Structuring a marriage as manogamish from the beginning so partners know upfront they have a chance of being cheated on and also know upfront that either partner have no obligation to inform each other of sex outside the marriage.

    Engaging in a traditional marriage, including pledging fidelity, but cheating behind their partner’s back?

    Keeping their cheating secret if their partner never finds out.

    Lying to their partner’s face if partner finds out about it.

    Is there any plan she advocates regarding keeping the partners in the marriage safe from STDs? Does she recommend STD testing of both parties in the marriage on a scheduled basis?

    What is her plan as a “professional” therapist to help the “collateral damage” (children) heal from the broken marriages that infidelity between their parents leads to?

    If she is married has she ever admitted to:

    Being chumped herself by her husband who went out and cheated on her. Was that okay for her?

    Chumping her husband and cheating on him behind his back and how that worked out if he found out?

    The possibility of NOT getting married if your life plan is to indulge yourself fucking strange?

    Advice on how to handle the risks of getting an STD from a cheating partner?

    • She is married and has two young adult sons. The irony is her husband Jack Saul is the director of an international trauma studies program at Columbia University, one of the Ivy League colleges here in the States.

  • I LOVE the word “agency.” I learned it right here on CL.

    My ex had a fondness for taking hot baths without showering first. I really believe that the more disgusting the water was that was soaking in, the better he liked it. Just laying around, steeping in filth. He loved it. He’s welcome to do that. He can steep figuratively, now, in the filthy mess that is his life. The OW whore can join him, for all I care.

    I don’t care if EP believes that what they did to my family is exuberant. I think it’s filthy. I refuse to get in that bath.

    And, I have agency. THAT is an act of defiance, really. In a culture that claims to value marriage and forgiveness, I choose differently. I choose to let him choose a different lifestyle than the one he promised to me and the one that my kids deserved, too.

    He and the whore and EP and all her dishonest ilk can navel gaze and masturbate to her excuses and justifications. I choose to reject the notion that I should be patient and accommodative to a person who is begrudging and selfish.

    Good for her. Good for them. See how that works out.

    I mean, really. If it’s just about the freedom and the sex, why weren’t we asked first? The truth is, it’s about fucking someone else over, about using someone who is useful. THAT is where the immorality comes in. He put a bag over my head, lest I use my agency. MY rights were tied up. THAT is WRONG. Have all the free sex you want! Just don’t involve me without my consent. Don’t steal my time, my labor, and my devotion.

    Me, I’m over here, loving life without a lying, cheating, coward. Woo-hoo!

    • TOTALLY!

      And, seriously, what’s the big deal with leaving a cheater? If it’s so reasonable to cheat, why isn’t it equally reasonable to leave? If it’s reasonable for the cheater to gain the advantage of sneaking sex to fulfill fantasies, it’s got to be equally reasonable for the cheat-ee to line up ducks to gain the advantage and leave the relationship to fulfill his/her life goals of not sharing everything with a liar. Only fair.

      • Yes, Amiisfree, that is a puzzling aspect. Why is walking away from a broken contract so often seen negatively — an overreaction, a worse betrayal, a lack of forgiveness? My mind boggles at people who shrug at infidelity like it’s no big deal but then they think extreme effort should be invested afterward to save the relationship??? If it’s ok to step out because reasons, why is there not the same shrug when a betrayed person steps away? If someone doesn’t believe in some fundamental aspects of marriage, shouldn’t they dismiss the other aspects, too?

        I know I’m applying the notion of logical consistency to entitlement, cake and thrill seeking, but still, it makes my head (and heart) hurt.

    • Exactly. EP glosses over the point about honesty. If DX wanted freedom he had the option to be honest and let me know that our marriage was over. Instead he stole my time, caring and energy under the false premise that ‘we’ were exclusive, and putting all our energy into the relationship. He was not. Once I found out I used my agency to leave. Honesty and integrity matter to me.

  • My ex-wife was free to have an “exuberant act of defiance”. I am equally free to leave her cheating ass and demand more from my relationships when I feel that this isn’t what I signed up for.

    Since I chose to decline her offer to wait around while she decided if she still wanted me, my ex now has a major case of the sadz. Actions, meet consequence.

    Feel free to listen to Esther, potential cheaters. Just don’t expect your partners to regard you as anything more than shit on their shoes when you end up getting yourself caught (and you will – always).

    • Exactly. Furtive exuberance from cake eating. Followed by short lived claims of remorse. Then sadz from consequences. DX “never would have left me”. Well I didn’t leave until I found out that he cheated. Not what I agreed to.

  • Listening to Esther Perel waxing philosophical on infidelity reminds me of that old Mike Tyson quote, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

    After D-Day and going through the slow realization of the depth and extent of the lies and betrayal, I have said numerous times that I wouldn’t wish the pain and PTSD-like state I lived in for weeks on my worst enemy. But I would make one exception.

    May Esther Perel one day know what it means to have her life and her family destroyed by infidelity.

    Then she can watch this video and “use jealousy” as a tool to fight for her husband and restore passion in her relationship. Let’s see how long her pick-me dance can last and what results from it.

    And by the way, since when is EP a psychologist? At the beginning of the video she says she’s a psychologist. But I don’t recall she ever earned such a degree. Is she licensed in the State of New York?

    • Not sure she’s even licensed but she does have a degree in art therapy from Lesley University !

    • Just looked it up on the interwebs:

      “New York psychologists are licensed by the Office of the Professions, under the banner of the New York State Education Department (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/psych). Psychologists must complete doctoral degrees, pass a national board examination, and acquire professional experience under supervision.”

      I checked Esther Perel’s name against the NY State psychology data base. She’s not a psychologist in the State of NY.

      It appears Esther Perel in lying on the video when she says she’s a psychologist.

      • Thanks for the info GDD.

        Esther needs to stay in her lane (or perhaps sandbox is more fitting) and stick to her art therapy with her crayons and finger paints

  • I read Perel’s nonsense and the review. It all added up to word salad.

    Perel and her ilk want to act as badly as they can and get as much attention as possible. And clearly there’s a market for it. I do despair for our culture that this depravity is so profitable. There’s a clear division in society with tRUmputin at its vanguard. It’s now a valid option to openly embrace evil. No apologies and no regrets.

    I see them. They revel in it. Sinking to their level by trying to untangle the skein only gives them power. It is indeed valuable to know their lingo so we might never again be caught unawares.

    I resist it outright. Rationalize and justify all you want, cheaters. I will fight y’all to the death.

    Thank you Chump Lady so much for giving us a place to come and discuss the pervasive gaslighting in our lives. Your service to humanity and to all of the hapless victims, not the least of which are the children, is invaluable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Read Bessel van der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score” based on a couple of recommendations from fellow chumps.

    He tells the story of the son of some good friends (NYC residents) who was traumatized by the World Trade Center attacks in 2001,expressed through a drawing the child makes. Bessel and the boy’s parents comfort the child and encourage him to talk about his feelings. Guess who the child was ? One of Esther’s two sons, Noam Saul.

    Hey Esther ?! Do you think your public encouragement and endorsement of cheating through your books, TED talks (she now has a podcast as well) might be just a wee bit traumatic to the children caught up in the sh*t storm ?! Where’s your humanity and empathy for them ?
    As the French speaking would say, allez-vous faire foutre salope

  • Long post – prepare to scroll:

    One of the things that I have seen in all of EP’s work is the lack of dealing with what love actually is. Relationships and especially marriage is not a agreement solely based around happiness or sexuality although she spends too much time in these realms. Love is the point. Love goes beyond the ideas of happiness or sexual fidelity, it goes to much deeper things that each of us need and really want and she seems to always leave this out. Love goes beyond who I am sleeping with or how happy I am, those are small slices of what love is and for some, maybe it is all of what love is. I will personalize this just to make things easier to express – in getting married, it was about much more. Marriage is a partnership and an explicit agreement that goes far beyond the bounds of sexuality. This is completely missing from what I have heard from her. If people get married just for sexual experiences than yes, actually much of what she says could be true but since we are all here reading this, we have a pretty good case study that that is not the case. People marry for more, far more.

    I married for a love I thought I had and for what the future could have been with a person who I thought shared my values and outlook on life. We came to agreements (so I thought) and we compromised while working together. As time went on, there were benefits for my STBXW that came with life experience with her from me, knowing certain things, adaption to her, a strong sense of loyalty and deference. The loyalty was especially deep and included defending her, but also holding her to account in some situations. I made sure that she knew that I was always going to be there (until she killed it, but that is not the point here) and all of these things go far beyond what I have heard from her. That you will have someone there, that there will always be safety, security, a strong advocate and at times a guiding hand, for better or for worse. Many here can probably express this in a much more cogent and short manner, but she never deals with any of this and is this not the real thing that we all want?

    Since she doesn’t seem to realize or deal with what is above, which to me is the meat of the issue, she fails at even trying. She is only arguing at my STBXW’s level, at the shallow end of the pool. I like the deep end, it is so much better.

  • Love it, ChumpLady!!!

    Peril was also recently on Terri Gross’ very fine program “Fresh Air.”

    Tracy, Would you go on Fresh Air?!!!

    • I just emailed the program and suggested they offer the other side of the story of infidelity by featuring Tracy. Maybe it could happen if more of us wrote in?

  • “For the period immediately following the revelation, a certain amount of wild rage and sanctimony is permissible…” PERMISSIBLE??????? PERMISSIBLE??????
    Oh, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR PERMISSION FOR ME TO BE ENRAGED WHILE REVIEWING THE LAST 30 PLUS YEARS OF MY LIFE. THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALLOWING ME MIND BLOWING GRIEF AND ANGUISH.
    The “sanctimonious” bullshit comes from someone GRANTING THE PERMISSION TO REACT.
    You may now stick your permission up your ass.
    You’re welcome.

  • Time is our most valuable commodity. We can’t trade, buy or acquire any more time. Who we choose to spend our time with says everything about our character. Tracy, your singular message speaks to spending time in the most healthy way. Using it extricate ourselves from these impossible liar,cheaters,adulterers to move towards peace makes all the sense in the world. Getting on “Fresh Air” for equal time would be amazing!

  • What Perel totally misses in her glamorization of cheaters – often framed as a noble quest for freedom – is that it is the cheaters who start off as the most controlling person in the relationship. They want a certain amount of unrealistic and unfair control over their partner. And when the partner does not comply or worship as they should, is there an open and mature conversation? No. They choose on their own to not only cheat, but put someone else’s body in harms way, unbeknownst to them. What about the other partner’s freedom? How many of your cheaters stalked your every online profile, tried to keep you separate from family and friends, tried to trap you in financial entanglements? What BS. She spouted more of it at a talk with Dan Savage here in Seattle if you want more (KUOW recorded audio).

  • I’m a chump but, I don’t hear any of what you are suggesting in Ester Perel’s work. She does not excuse infidelity. She doe snot justify sexual harassment. She does not deny that some people are personality disordered. She merely acknowledges that personality disorders cannot account for all of the infidelity that is occurring and if we ever expect to improve our lives and relationships we had better be brave enough to look deeper at the reasons why even emotionally healthy people land themselves in an affair.

    Leaving the sociopaths aside – many people who enter an affair never believed they were capable of such betrayal. The potential vulnerability we all have with respect to our boundaries is worth exploring and talking about. I’ve learned that the black an white doctrine you are professing here is just a closed loop – a stinkin’ thinkin’ way of scratching off the same scab over and over.

    • “[E]ven emotionally healthy people land themselves in an affair,” you contend, Bob.

      Is this notional person similar to the person who finds themselves molesting a child? Or would they be more like the emotionally healthy person who kicks puppies? No… I got it; they’re like the emotionally healthy person who sexually harasses a coworker.

      You’re a sad dude, Bob. Coming around here spouting your alcoholic lingo and espousing a more enlightened way.

      Emotionally healthy people don’t cheat. Get it? Emotionally healthy people don’t cheat.

      Any seriously question the emotional health of some knuckle-dragging mansplainer with nothing better to do than defend Ester Perel.

      When you find that emotionally healthy person who happened to end up in an affair please marry them post haste. And maybe change your user name when you end up back here so we don’t laugh at your emotional disease for touching that hot stove again.

      Kindly go fuck yourself.

    • Bob,

      Yes, I think EP does have some accurate observations about marriage, she does not openly endorse infidelity directly but she tosses these ideas in a frustrating random mess, is tone deaf to the consequences and accentuates all the wrong stuff. Infidelity sells as being forbidden and sexy, so if you peddle it the right way you get as much PR as Esther does. I think if you sell this behavior as inevitable and on par with getting a speeding ticket you can sell books. Hearing her interviewed is disturbing, she is truly bananas and her data is pulled from the “from my butt” school of research.

      To me, being a few years out from being chumped and spending way too much time pondering it, I do agree that we are human and fallible, and I can understand that people make mistakes.

      BUT, how a cheater takes responsibility for making these mistakes is the key. If they realize they want out to the marriage, then they would have owned that like a grownup before fucking someone else. If they cheat and are remorseful, they respect the damage they have done and make the herculean long-term effort to clean up their mess and recognize it. Victim blaming is bottom of the barrel, and narcissists might have a conscience, but its thin, brittle and has strong bias bending toward themselves.

      There is quite a weird and disturbing vacuum in EP’s theories about this part, infidelity seems to just happen and have minimal consequences. Does not go into the deep level of mindfuck, family destruction and betrayal of promises.

      • Bob. Trust me having been to the brink myself, cheating is no mistake. It is a deliberate selfish act.
        EP is correct in part by saying it is an act of defiance.
        Don’t be fooled. Cheaters also cheat to punish or get back at the chumps for perceived slights. It is highly immature. You can tell your partner. Most often cheaters won’t because the slights are often petty and selfish and even the know this. Cheaters can leave but they like having a back up.
        Once cheaters realise they can punish you through your trust and ignorance and get their attention fix they get addicted to it. It’s like a child hiding to eat candy then wiping their mouths and reappearing.
        Sin is sin because it entices.
        I hope you enjoy exploring your future cheater ‘s lack of respect for your boundaries when they run off with your shared wealth or in the case of someone I know declare the family business bankrupt and leave the partner with the children but no means to support them.
        It’s actually quite naive of those persons who seek to rationalize abhorrent behaviours.
        The wisdom of ages knows that there are those among us who are deviant and best left out of our lives.
        My cheater sent me EP ‘s Ted talk. He essentially wanted me to conclude that affairs were not a big deal and that I was wrong to call it quits on the marriage. He never found any material to share on the effects of adultery on the betrayed.
        I’m not interested in understanding murderers ,thieves, conmen or conwomen ,liars, molesters, bullies or any other person who deliberately harms or deceives other people. I’m not. Those persons never return the favour and expect the world to revolve around them.
        Their creators can figure them out. It’s really not our jobs to do that much digging into these people in personal relationships. That is not really love. It is a kind of enabling and self sabotage all in one. But everyone wants to be a saviour of these poor broken people. Read your Bible or whatever. These people are broken. They are also dangerous.
        Bob your stinkin thinkin is likely to land you in a chump spot again.
        Healthy relationships are built on healthy behaviors.

      • I think many of you are choosing to ignore the basis of Ester Perel’s work that these talks are based on – and that is those marriages that actually survive infidelity. She makes no excuses for serial cheaters, duplicity, abuse, or narcissism. She is not advocating for the personality disordered.

        “Broken” to me is not a characterization reserved solely for the narcissist – when our rage is so loud that we are deaf to anyone who isn’t picking up a pitch fork and frothing at the mouth to fight our fight – than we too are broken. I’m not willing to disorder my own personality in response to abuse at the hands of someone else. That sh*t is on them alone; not me and certainly not some therapist with a public persona.

        I am not broken, and I refuse to be broken by some serial cheater or con-artist. There is a great deal of empathy in what Ester Perel says, not for cheaters but FOR ME. ( I said empathy – not pity, BTW) The anger I feel regarding my ex-wife remains directed where it should be rather than at every person who fails to display rabid contempt for anything less than black-and-white thinking.

        I know all of you commenting are at different stages and conditions of recovery and I hope you find real healing and peace sooner rather than later. I’ve had over a decade to recover and the most liberating part of it is the comfort of learning that not everyone outside of the pity party is evil.

    • “–a stinkin’ thinkin’ way of scratching off the same scab over and over.”
      Wow! It seems to me you’re parroting EP, Bob!
      I just finished reading Perel’s State of the Affair…and I have to say that her book was the most shameless example of unabashed gaslighting I’ve ever read. Her cryptic doubletalk about how affairs can make marriages stronger, transform them into something greater while professing that she in no way condones infidelity is straight up mindfucking 101.
      I believe the book was simply a covert attack on monogamy. That monogamy is a patriarchal relic of a bygone era after failing to adapt to a more sexually diverse, tech-savvy America. Her push for nonmonogamous relationships or a new, consensually negotiated monogamy is evident but to what end? Is it until we transcend the need for marriage and evolve into a global orgy fulfilling each other’s lust and sexual desires at which point our genitalia will glow and sprout wings as we cum pixie dust? If so, how many hearts have to be broken? How many lives have to be ruined, families destroyed for that to happen? Give me a break.

      • My ex-wife didn’t have an “affair.” She was a serial cheating narcissist leading a double life for years. That kind of behavior isn’t even in the realm of what Ester Perel is trying to address about infidelity and what, when, or where a given marriage might actually survive an affair.

        I’m not defending abusive people. I am defending a public speaker whom I’ve never met but whose work has helped me to shape my life based on my own values and not on reactions to any lack of values in someone else. We don’t really recover until we draw clear lines about where the other person ends and we begin. I credit EP with giving me some good insight into that.

        • Maybe your XW wasn’t a serial cheater. Maybe she was just seeking some erotic freedom. It’s like EP said, “Do we expect our partner’s erotic selves to belong entirely to us?”

    • There is nothing deeper or more profound in Perel’s work than “water is wet”.

      She gloms onto the most superficial surface explanations given by cheaters and takes them at face value.She never digs deeper than those most shallow explanations and excuses that cheaters use right after they are caught when they are fully engaged in maximum manipulative damage control mode.

      She does this and states it in a sultry foreign accent using flowery language but there is no depth to her observations. There is no enlightenment to be found in her words.

      Affairs are exciting and sexy? Well no shit, life is long and marriages are full of stress and tedium. Once again thanks for the insight Captain Obvious, now please further demonstrate your wisdom by explaining that sugar is sweet and vinegar is sour.

      The pertinent question when it comes to infidelity isn’t why the cheater cheats, We know why they cheat, they cheat because they wanted to, they thought that they could get away with it and they didn’t care enough about their victims to defer their own gratification. Or to summarize they cheat because they are Selfish, entitled assholes.

      No the pertinent question is why if they had all of these gripes and grievances , this yearning for discovery, these feelings of bring trapped, unappreciated or what ever other bullshit rationalizations they dream up to give themselves permission to cheat, why did they now avail themselves of any one of the honest, ethical and effective methods of addressing them? Oh yeah because in addition to being Selfish, entitled assholes they are also immature conflict averse emotional children.

      But Perel never digs deeper into it all. She doesn’t discus the potential developmental problems that would lead a person to be conflict avoidant, or why they are so selfish, or what happened to their empathy. Hell she doesn’t even ask them to really think about whether what ever gripe or grievance they are nursing is reasonable or even real. She doesn’t challenge anyone’s thinking, nothing she says is half as controversial as she and the idiots who help her hock her simplistic philosophy far and wide like to pretend.

      She’s telling people what they want to hear, She’s reinforcing the unmet needs/ shared responsibility model of relationship counseling. essentially validating the victim blaming that assuages the cheaters conscience and mollifies the concerns of the non-chumps who believe that they can actually exercise some level of control and prevent themselves from being cheated on.

      But here’s the fucking secret for all the “monogamy isn’t realistic” dipshits out there. People cheat in Poly arrangements as well. Because in the end cheating isn’t about sex, it’s about entitlement, power and control, It’s about petty broken adult children who never grew the fuck up, those who lack empathy or think that they are more clever than their victims. It’s about punishing their partners for some failing or slight that they didn’t have the will or guts to address in an honest direct way.

      None of that is the fault or responsibility of the Chump, there is nothing that the Chump can do to address the character failings of the cheater. So why the fuck would anyone suggest they should?

      I’m very fucking forgiving when it comes to human failings. I know full well that we’re little more than cavemen with cell phones and that the tools we have (our brains) evolved to operate in a significantly different environment than we exist in today. And I don’t believe that old once a cheater always a cheater saw, because I know that people can change, that people change constantly.

      That said I don’t believe that people change unless the cost of remaining the same is higher than the cost of changing. The only way a cheater is going to wake the fuck up, grow the fuck up and become functional fucking adults is to suffer some consequences and fully grasp the gravity of their transgression.

      Describing affairs using the kind of language that Perel uses is not going to do that, because she’s sugar coating what is in actuality abuse as something life affirming and glorious.

      • Skex,

        Thank you for this. It’s what I needed to read today.
        “The only way a cheater is going to wake the fuck up, grow the fuck up and become functional fucking adults is to suffer some consequences and fully grasp the gravity of their transgression.” I think their behavior would be easier to swallow if they could “fully grasp the gravity of their transgression.” For me the hurt still lingers because what he did to me in his mind is no big deal and my fault.Right up there with a parking ticket and over due library book.

  • “Permissible”? …. “PERMISSIBLE”???? Fuck you, you fucking asshole — you think you’re not only going to run roughshod over my life but then you’re also going to tell me how much of my feelings are “permissible”? Absolutely not.

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