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Esther Perel’s Myth of the Good Cheater

cheater_pollyanna So, Esther Perel follows me on Twitter. Which is big of her considering I told her to bite me.

On the other hand, there might be something in it for her as she’s writing a book on infidelity, according to the New York Times, and is only taking on new clients “who have experienced infidelity.” Perhaps she’s studying the chump perspective. You bitter, angry, sarcastic people.

I got on her radar because I cheekily sent her my column debunking her infidelity essay. She responded by Twitter:

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

At first I thought she was being nice and I felt bad for telling her to bite me. (Hey, I’m a chump. Feeling bad is my default setting.) Her heart goes out to me!

But then I thought about it some more and decided this reply was actually quite condescending (because you know, I’m bitter that way). Pat, pat, pat. You poor dear. Still stuck in anger, refusing to move on, riling up cheater hate here on Chump Lady, drawing snarky cartoons, telling people to leave people whose only crime was self actualization. And I kinda got pissed off all over again.

My experience goes “way beyond infidelity.”


I’ve gotten this take on my writing before. It goes something like this — Oh, you’re not qualified to draw conclusions about infidelity because you had one of those BAD cheaters. He was a serial cheater, and moreover, unlike my cheater who was sad and lost and misunderstood, your cheater was drunk and angry and mean. My cheater just Made a Terrible Mistake. Your cheater threatened to burn down your house and piss on his ex-wife’s baby’s grave if you told anyone. Your experience goes way beyond infidelity. That wasn’t my experience.

While there are certainly differences between cheaters, the long-term affairs vs. the short-term affairs, the emotional affair vs. the physical affair, the “sex addicts” and the folks who hold hands and recite Bible verses in hotel rooms. The cheaters who go to prostitutes (and therein we have more distinctions — massage parlors, Thai vacations, Russian hookers…) and the cheaters who find it at home. The cheaters who hook up on Ashley Madison and the like, or those who find old flames on Facebook. The cheaters who fuck a co-worker and those who fuck your siblings.

Sure, there is variation. Sure, there are degrees of cheating. (In fact I’ve gotten in trouble on my own blog by not weighing emotional affairs as heavily as physical affairs, just because I don’t think they endanger chumps to the same degree, i.e., pregnancy, STDs, etc.) But the longer I read and write about infidelity, the more I am struck by how alike cheaters are. How they manipulate with the same narcissistic panache. How they make the same sorry excuses for their behavior. And how — unless you’re dealing with a stone cold sociopath — they all want you to believe that They Never Intended to Hurt You.

Esther Perel writes:

Adultery becomes a moral failing as we move to a description of character flaws: liar, cheater, philanderer, womanizer, slut. In this view, understanding an act of infidelity as a simple transgression or meaningless fling, or a quest for aliveness is an impossibility.

So I put it out to you chumps — did any of you, please raise your hand, have a cheater who committed a “simple transgression” or a “meaningless fling”?

Esther — cheaters who want cake (the affair AND the marriage) all want chumps to believe their infidelity was “meaningless.” I never intended to hurt you. It didn’t mean anything.

But here’s the thing — it means everything to the person whose world wasn’t considered. You threw away our commitment for something that didn’t MEAN anything to you? It’s almost worse really. Falling in love with your soul mate schmoopie, while horrifying, is at least understandable at some level. (Okay, not really. I also debunk the whole We Were Compelled By Forces Greater Than Ourselves.) Anyway, it’s a neater rationalization than — I did something that didn’t mean jack shit to me, that clearly seems to devastate you, for an orgasm.

We’re not stupid for wanting our feelings to be considered, for relying on commitment, for believing in monogamy — IT WAS PROMISED TO US. And we abided by that set of rules — and moreover, we didn’t see it as a “set of rules” to break and “exuberantly defy.” We loved with our whole hearts and got played.

Oh, but my experience “goes beyond infidelity.” How exactly? I welcome you on to this blog, Esther, the largest assembly of chumps you’re going to find, and let you explain exactly what you meant by that infidelity article that sure as hell seems to excuse extramarital affairs as exercises in self actualization.

Self actualization sounds so much nicer than “Fucks in a Harrisburg hotel at lunch” or “let me stay home with the children while he screws around on business trips” or “slept with other men while I was deployed.”

Because those are the stories I read here EVERY DAY. Do their experiences go “beyond infidelity”?

Really, Esther, I’m a lightweight in the chump department. You ought to meet my husband — 22 years to a serial cheater. She slept with her boss, his best friend, and assorted others. And when he found out, he divorced her. (Or in your parlance, he indulged in the “dissolution of the family structure.”)

Okay, she never threatened to burn down his house. She wasn’t one of those cheaters. She just wasted 22 years of his life.

Please show me the Good Sort of Cheater who has a meaningless fling. Even a one-night stand involves a series of decisions and a cluster of lies to cover it up. How does a person happen to encounter a meaningless fling? Do you advertise for one on a dating site? Does it sidle up to you in a bar? Offer itself at work? Boundaries are crossed, conspiracies are made, rationalizations created.

All apparently “meaningless.”

This is a rerun. Esther Perel has now scrubbed “Changing the View on Infidelity” off her website. 

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  • Wouldn’t it have been amazing if she HAD turned up to this blog? I really would have given her kudos then. If she could have applied the same enlightened analysis on infidelity in this Chump universe.

    I also have what she’d call a “beyond infidelity” story, (and Himself immersed himself in Perel-speak. Got me to watch the TED talk!)

    I wonder if she has the slightest clue that us chumps would have also loved to feel Exuberantly Alive at some point? I mean, who wouldn’t?

    Pursuing the whole Exuberance Defiance thing, (because life’s short/shadow of death etc), can be just ever so slightly incompatible however, sometimes, with life as an adult. Small children, illness, grinding periods of general ball-juggling …

    How tedious, showing up as an Adult or a Parent, when the sophisticated amongst us self-actualise instead. (As narcissistic infants).

    • Mine sent be the link to her tedx talk as well. First of all I hate Tedx talks. I cussed him off for sending me such tripe. But it helped me to see that Perel was a quack.

      • This is where we must employ the analogy of the OTHER kind of non-consensual sexual encounter that plagues our society: rape (or “sexual assault” in legal language)

        As he commits his crime(s), is a rapist “breaking the rules of society?”

        Indeed he is!

        Those “rules” are known as “laws” and their enforcement is just another stuffy bourgeois convention imposed on us by the partriarchy.

        Did the rapist “feel alive” as he was planning and executing these sexual assaults?

        For sure.

        Rapists love rape, and who are we to judge them for that? Can any of us look into our hearts and say that we have not raped at least 5 other people? And who amongst us has not heard of a vicious, violent rape of a stranger and not thought “wow, I wish I had courage to commit such a crime…but against the partner I have sworn to protect!”

        Was the rapist’s crime also an act of “exuberant defiance” against the people and systems who believe consent should be a necessary precursor to sexual activity?

        Mmmm, hard to say because of the mask he was wearing over his face, but if there ever was someone capable of

        Go ahead and write THAT book, Esther…or are you not bold enough to actually, y’know, DEFY societal conventions?

        • This is a very good point regarding other offensive sexual indulgences like rape. Pedo would be a good example too.

          Also this resonates: And we abided by that set of rules — and moreover, we didn’t see it as a “set of rules” to break and “exuberantly defy.” We loved with our whole hearts and got played.

      • Thank you for sharing and writing this. All of your writings are so very clever… genuine.
        I do t have a lot of words anymore but you all help me every day. Every new post. Beginning from CL on down.
        I HAVE wrestled with well, my husband did t mean to hurt me I see it was long ago I see he’s sorry. But the truth is- there was a plan and action with total disregard to me or my daughter or his daughter. Our marriage wasn’t shit that night. Or the second time…
        Why am I struggling with the possibly of regret if I divorce??
        just like Perel. Block her! She’ll get all your hard work and our life stories to include in her stupid book

        • So sorry Shann for the wake-up call, but I’m glad you’re here and you got the call. Yes, he had a plan-of-action and he had total disregard for you or daughters. It’s all about him and it will always be all about him. Don’t struggle with regretting divorce. We all can assure you, by the time you do get divorced, you will say, “Why did I wait so long!!” That was my lament and many, many others that worried about destroying the family. The family was destroyed by the cheater. It just took the chump a long time before s(he) realized that the train wreck already occurred and you can get life back on track quicker without the cheater in the picture. Go get your divorce soonest.

          • Thank you all so much… for some reason I don’t get email notifications anymore so I didn’t realize these comments were here I SO GREATLY appreciate your support and honesty it’s what we all need Be safe and be well????????

        • It’s hard if you stay and hard if you go. And that reality sets in. But better to not live with a backstabber, a person capable of deceit.

        • I think we all struggle with wondering “What might have been if I stayed?” but the truth is we already know deep down what happens if we stay: more of the same BS. It’s not like the cheater was an ideal husband/wife until s/he fell onto someone else’s genitals. 999 times out of 1000, the cheating is just the culmination of a long pattern of increasing disrespect for the chump. We are afraid of what the future will look like without our cheaters, but at least we will have the possibility of a genuine relationship founded in mutual love and respect.

          If you’re still not sure whether you should leave or stay I’d recommend staying with family or friends for a week or two. Do not tell him where you are staying, merely that you are initiating a trial separation as of now. Then do not answer any of his texts, emails, or calls. I do not know you or your husband, but I think you will realize how much more peaceful your life is without his drama and mind games. If nothing else you will be able to make your decision with a clear mind away from his charismatic aura.

          On May 1 of this year Nitwit woke me up to tell me he wanted a divorce. This after I had agreed to an open marriage (really just allowing him to keep the OW while I remained too depressed even to think about other men) and generally abased myself to save my marriage. Little did I know that he didn’t actually want a divorce, just the pick-me dance, and would drag his heels for weeks, but that’s a whole other story. The week before I moved out he lovebombed me and was the king of sad sausages, but by that time I had already seen his true colors. The day I moved out felt like moving into my dorm on my first day of college: excitement and trepidation intermingled. Now almost two months later I am not at the state of “meh” but I am a lot better off than when I lived with him. I made a list of all the silly little things I can do now that I live alone, such as sleep through the night without being woken up by a Nitwit, that I could never do while living with him. I am learning to code and writing a novel. My divorce is not even final yet and already I’ve had offers from other men. Obviously I’m not going to date until after my divorce is final and COVID is no longer a threat, but still, so much for Nitwit “having to cheat” because I’m so hideously unattractive. Don’t trade the real possibility of a fulfilling life for the illusion of a marriage.

          • “Don’t trade the real possibility of a fulfilling life for the illusion of a marriage.”

            THIS, is exactly the state of affairs (no pun intended) when you realize you live with a cheater. It´s always a call to get rid of the illusions you harbor and GET REAL. Getting real is a 1000 times more satisfying AND brings you actual happiness! It takes some guts and can be very painful, but nothing is as important to do in your life.

        • Shann, just to say I’m glad to see you here again, and I wish you well. Be gentle with yourself, and be happy and be well when you get to the land of Meh! It DOES come. In the meantime, I’ve bern divorced two years and yes it’s a struggle financially and with my children, but without ex I am not made to feel like I personally am a failure, and I have the emotional and psychological space to deal with problems. Shann, sad you were made to join this Chump fellowship but glad you’re here!

          • Thank you! I’ve tried to respond with a bit of backstory but keep getting cut off! I suppose maybe it’s all irrelevant at this point and could be a sign I don’t even need to share.
            What I wanted to say is his ex kept the daughter away 6 months now over him not agreeing to “meet with her” of course about the kid. Silly wife I am.
            Anyway I bought the home in my name alone although we are married so he takes half but I think I’d fight it. Also I have a 23 year old daughter. His is 12. I used to want one together but after years of being blown off I said forget that shit!
            And I have a full time job he makes more money but it’s feast or famine because he’s self employed

            • Very glad to read you’re independent and working! You sound pretty mighty! Would you like to keep in contact with his daughter? I know she’s only 12 but if you would, I hope there’s a way. Also glad that your own daughter is 23 – hoping she has a mature view of the whole thing. Cheaters never think about the ripple effect of what they do, they’re just too self-obsessed.

              • Yes! My daughter actually is very cordial and kind to him but deep down thinks he’s full of bs. She does not want me to stay married since the discovery a second time. He does nice things for us maybe just isn’t the brightest and I was honestly excusing all that until I realized he could lie hide things and of course, cheat. His daughter was always close with us until bio mom kept her away the past 6 months. Prior to that, she was in some trouble with lying and stealing from my daughter and I… it’s been a long road relationships are damaged but I’ll always care about her. He thinks I “don’t like her” just because I stepped back as “mom” after all this. I had to regroup and work on myself a bit.
                I truly think he just wants help raising her and throws a fit like a child when I don’t comply like I always did

                Prayers and comments welcome ladies. Thanks and I’m so sorry we’re here but so happy to have you

      • My Cheater XH sent me EP’s Ted Talk, too. I had never heard of her, so I ran a Google search and found CL’s spot-on take down of EP’s BS rhetoric. I considered forwarding it to Cheater X as a rebuttal, but decided against trying to speak truth to stupid. SMH. They really are all the same.

    • Perel would never have the courage to come here. She’s a person with no character, integrity or moral values, and she makes a lot of money from her “acts of exuberance” bullshit.

      No way this bitch would put herself in an arena filled with Chumps who are articulate, clever, wise, and filled with humour. Not to mention snark! ????

      She’d be decimated, and I’m sure she knows it.

      • Yes, chumpnomore66, there is too much down to earth thinking here… We are way too practical for persons with an inflated sense of superior self. Abusers do not like fact checkers and truth seekers, but survivors do.
        I like it here.

        • Ooohhh I like that! Fact Cher’s and truth seekers. I’ve noticed that I get looked down on like I’m some sort of pest sifting through every nook n cranny just for asking follow up questions or verifying info. So unfair to have to feel this way!
          Didn’t realize it’s always been this way with my husband. Everything is as grey as possible. If I said the white napkin is white he’s say sort of, or no more like blue… just to be opposite me or my opinions
          But vague stories differing situations depending on which would please me the most. So sad. People can’t just be themselves sometimes

    • MamaMeh,

      I’m sure you’ll agree w/me when I say:

      Nope. Sorry, Exuberance Defiance? Exuberantly Alive? This sounds perilously close to the FW XW’s explanation on D-day. “I had to know if I could make the leap!” Oh, ok! That makes it alright to exit-affair me after over 24 years of a loving marriage (at least, I loved you the best I could) and more time beyond that in a loving relationship (again, on my part at least).

      No, fuckwit. Making the leap is the easy way out. Self-actualizing is easy. Exuberantly defying, or feeling exuberantly alive? Same thing. Easy.

      IF you can ignore society’s morals, or what should be your own moral compass. IF you are lacking in character. IF you are a COWARD, and can’t communicate w/your partner or spouse that you can’t do it anymore, don’t love them anymore, have no more respect for them anymore, etc., etc. IF you can treat that partner or spouse in a way you would NEVER want yourself to be treated. IF you have neither brain nor heart, FUCKWIT.

      What did we once tell the kids? “If it’s easy, it’s probably not good. The easy things in life rarely are.” Hmm. Mixed messages now. Sorry, kids. Mom meant that was true so long as she was getting everything her way. When that didn’t happen to her satisfaction, well, all bets were off. It doesn’t count if your partner/spouse is going thru a tough time, but is remaining totally loyal to you, and still trying to support the family. If you’re not happy in a committed relationship, you can now consider yourself ENTITLED to do whatever the fuck you want. Mom did it, so it must be so!

      What’s that, Dad? You say that if Mom could have just told you that she was 1) so unhappy in the relationship, 2) unwilling/incapable of trying to work it out w/you so that, 3) she had to leave you, and then get a divorce, that you might still have some respect for her (but Dad, I thought you divorced her? Shouldn’t Mom have divorced you if she was so unhappy)? And if you didn’t respect her after she did those things, it would have been on YOU, Dad? I’m not sure we can grasp that, Dad. I mean, if that’s the case, why didn’t Mom do that? Mom’s the bomb, Dad. You must have deserved what Mom did to you.

      Sorry, kids. As much as I was an imperfect husband, I never did anything that would absolve your mother of the way she discarded me. Instead of trying to work things out w/her spouse, or at least leaving the relationship w/out betrayal stinking up the house, Mom decided to play a lot of ugly roles: the unfaithful, deceitful partner/spouse, the OW, and the cliched female secretary (administrative assistant) desperate for her rich, older, married male boss’s twu wuv (w/ political mentoring and a Maine island second home on the waterfront thrown in for good measure).

      In the process, fucking me over (threatening and hurting me emotionally, psychologically, and physically), and also not only our family, but her boss’s family and his relationship w/his now former wife? Yes, Mom was fucking her boss in his wife’s house (it wasn’t just his!) when she claimed to be “working extra” on those weekends. Oh, but Mom says it wasn’t just sex? It was “emotional bonding,” too? That must make it ok. My mistake.

      Alright, that’s all I can spew out right now. I know, it’s a lot, as usual. I hope the rest of you are having a peaceful, enjoyable day. This shit just gets me riled up. Motherfucking assholes…

      • “IF you can treat that partner or spouse in a way you would NEVER want yourself to be treated. IF you have neither brain nor heart, FUCKWIT.”

        And that is the crux of the issue. All the way back to the Golden Rule.

  • Bottom line – and I go back to this time and again – all they have to do is say they have feelings for someone else and want to pursue it. Then by definition their partner is not a chump because they’ve been told and can make decisions based on facts. The un-chumped partner can say “ok that’s a deal breaker so that’s a divorce.” Or the un-chumped partner can say “are you willing to put that off and go through couples counseling with me to see if our relationship has any hope or at least learn why it’s not going to work.

    Cheaters, no matter the type , are cheaters because they hide the fact they had sex with someone else. Chumps are chumps because they were fooled, lied to, led on or otherwise disrespected in a fundamental way. That’s why, as with pregnancy, there are no degrees of infidelity. Either it’s kept secret from the closest intimate partner, or it’s not.

    One thing Tracy emphasizes in her book is that cheaters are shallow. They just aren’t that deep. I would add a specific attribute – they aren’t that brave. It requires courage to be respectful and face a loved one’s ire or disappointment or pain, but this is nevertheless preferable to humiliating them.

    In the end it’s the lack of basic decency and empathy that divides cheaters from people who make simple mistakes.

    • Yes. Bravery is missing. I posted upon cheater ‘s departure… Cowards always take the easy way out.
      It’s true. They take the easy way and the way that they think puts them in the best light.

    • This is my experience as well. If you are shallow, there are many things you simply won’t understand. However, cheaters understand just fine. To me, it is cowardice that defines them. They can’t own up to their own feelings and decisions, so blameshifting, lying and manipulation begin. I mean, come on, my cheater was a chump himself! (Although I didn’t know the word back then).

      Please note that my comment applies to regular assholes. Sociopaths/pathological narcissists are an entirely different breed.

      • Trying to process, so sorry that you are here. At least you found us. There is so much wisdom here. Listen and learn from our experiences so that you don’t make the same mistakes we did. It’s terrible. Once again, I am so sorry. But, we can learn to be mighty together. Also, go back through the archives. It great to see all of the chumps that have graduated from Chump Nation to go on and live happy lives.

    • “they aren’t that brave. It requires courage to be respectful and face a loved one’s ire or disappointment or pain, but this is nevertheless preferable to humiliating them.”

      It does take courage, and given that the chump is mmost likely going to find out at some point, they are going to face even worse, which is why I struggle to give any other explination than: they are doing what they want, and they don’t care about the chump, as long as the chump is useful to them they will use them. When they no longer need them, or the chump finds out, they enter the discard phase.

      Manipulating someone else’s life to their own benefit is of no consequence to them. Oh they may face consequences later, but they don’t anticipate that.

    • I see what you’re saying, HerChumpness, but I have to disagree that those of us whose partners came home and told us, “I’ve found someone else and I’m leaving you for her” are not chumps. My ex did that, and he walked out the door that day and never set foot in it again except to take things. But I’ll tell you what, I experienced nearly everything that other chumps on this site have experienced: the shock and grief, the self-blame, the hopium, the STD tests, the sense of vertigo from realizing that part if not all of your life with your ex (20 years in my case) was a sham. Because here’s the thing: anyone who has gone as far as securing another intimate partner, no matter the degree of the intimacy, when they are already married/committed to an intimate partner, is a cheater. They have already engaged in months if not years of duplicity, pretending to their current partner that they are fully committed to their promises to them while mentally and emotionally breaking that commitment in order to search for another partner. And anyone who is capable of deceiving their intimate partner for that long is a liar and can’t be trusted to be forthcoming about the timeline and intensity of the exit affair. My cheater, for instance, told me he didn’t go beyond kissing the woman he abandoned me for. I have reason to believe that was bullshit. And then of course I wonder if there were other women over the years (he told me quite smugly on the way out the door that he “had been attracted to several other women over the course of our marriage but had never acted on it.” Sure, buddy: given what you just told me and your need to bring that up at this point, I really believe you)…. Trust is at the heart of any committed intimate partnership. What a cheater does, fundamentally, is use the cover of that trust to break it. What a cheater does is take the chump’s love, family, and future away from them non-consensually, in an act of emotional rape (as thelongrun points out above). That makes me a chump.

      Now, I would never, ever compare my situation to that of chumps on this site who discovered a years-long affair, or contracted an STD (I didn’t have one, thank God), or had their bank accounts wiped out (mine only siphoned off a couple thousand dollars of joint marital assets wining and dining his whore between abandonment and divorce). But I do feel solidarity with all the folks who were emotionally raped on this site, because I was, too.

      • Yes I meant if they came to us before the set up. Long before the discard and walking out into someone else’s arms. They split hairs over what was cheating and when the *actual* cheating started. And I would contend that setting up other emotional relationships long beforehand is cheating. Your ex did that. He wasn’t brave. He didn’t try to fix things until you were both sure it wasn’t working. You were blindsided just like the rest of us. I found out about the OW months after I filed for divorce. I wanted out. I was still devastated. Not because I wanted him, but because of what I learned soon was years and years of deceit. Unnecessary, soul crushing deceit. I could have spent those years having an authentic life. He took that choice from me by lying because he was a coward. Yours did the same.

          • “it is the life stolen that is the worst”….absolutely true.

            I hate that my future and our children’s futures were so dramatically altered by his unilateral choices. But we are healing and rebuilding better lives – and I’m grateful for that.

            BUT the ugly discoveries made since D-day ALSO totally undermine our past. As if he’s erased or polluted all 35 years we were married.

            Where the hell was I AND WHO was i, if not in love with the DOCTOR husband/father of my children, for whom I and our children sacrificed so very much??

            For what? For a cruel, cowardly dishonest and incredibly selfish bastard??

            I really loved whoever that was…or who I thought he was, or whatever, ffs.

            Makes me feel doubly violated and I’m aching for MEH

      • Good points and you are right, pain is pain.

        I still wish my ex had left me three years earlier, when he started the exit affair. Or at least when he said he started it. It likely wouldn’t have hurt any less, but that would have been three years of my life that I would have saved for me.

        But, of course he wouldn’t do that because it was not time yet for him to leave, he likely was just testing the waters and needed time to get his ducks in a row. Fuck what damage it did to me, it was all about what he wanted.

      • Okupin, your story is a lot like mine – except he tried to pretend he was leaving because he just suddenly wasn’t happy pants. I sleuthed and found much to my schlock found out about the OW – and then there were more lies… it was over a long time ago blah blah blah.

        I think you’re a chump when your partner is investing in somebody else and being intimate – therefore not protecting your marital bubble. This can happen with or without sex. But when the marriage gets crowded, you’re a chump.
        Then there’s chumps who to get to make the choice they didn’t sign up for of kicking the FW out of their lives and suffer through that, and there are chumps who are suddenly blindsided and discarded and it’s all whiplash and trauma.
        I don’t know where that nauseating Esther P. stands on the discarding type of cheater – they are certainly on a ‘quest for aliveness’ because they’re not whole people. They will piss on a whole bunch of lives just to feel it.

        • “I think you’re a chump when your partner is investing in somebody else and being intimate – therefore not protecting your marital bubble. This can happen with or without sex. But when the marriage gets crowded, you’re a chump”

          Spot on, Zip.

    • Yes. I remember starting to see through the manipulation and gaslighting and telling my ex that he is a coward. He was speechless after I said that. Literally, he sat on our bed and was not able to respond! I think it’s because it was the truth, and it was the perfect description of him that was impossible for him to deny. It stripped him of any masks that he was trying to cover up with. He even later admitted to being one. Sadly, knowing that he was one, he still remained one. He didn’t really try to change himself for the better and I was done being married to a coward.

    • Yes, bravery, respect, integrity, empathy – these are all missing in the cheaters. I remind myself every day now that I have these things, and more. This is the main reason he hates me so much, I am sure of it… I emasculated him by just being me, my authentic self. He has no authenticity and he never will.

      • A few years ago my son told me schmoopie needed cataract surgery and his dad wouldn’t let her get it, because their share of the bill would be 600 dollars. It struck me at that time that he really has no empathy, not even for schmoopie who was I assume his twu wuv. There are more examples, but I think that empathy or lack of empathy thing is huge in fwits.

      • Yes, it must be weird for them to live with us and see honesty and authenticity modelled every day and yet they know they don’t have it. Coward is the right word. And they know it.
        Then they turn themselves into the victims. That’s the real unbelievable part.

    • Cheaters CHEAT, point blank period! There is no distinction like a degree. Lie, cheat, steal!!
      I discovered he hated mostly being called a “coward”, so of course that is what I called him often and all the way out the door! Clearly cheaters are cowards and they don’t change!

  • A cheater is a cheater is a cheater. There is nothing to decipher.
    The longer I live, the more chumps I talk to I see more clearly the inherent deceitful, selfish and mentally unbalanced nature that is cheaters and how much they are to be avoided because you don’t know the lengths they will go to.
    Perel is a charlatan. She says whatever is convenient. I won’t be surprised if one day she flips to the chump view of cheating… Out of convenience.

    • She reminds me of a crappy social scientist who hides that s(he) has nothing to say with a vague, imprecise, pretentious language (e.g. prolegomena to the dissolution of a marital structure and similar nonsense).

    • Not out of convenience – out of financial gain.

      She simply wrote and apparently believes the bullshit she does because it has made her very wealthy.

      If Chumps were more “exuberant”, then she would write about Chumps. Their grit, wit, wisdom. Their integrity. Their honesty. The glories of being an honest, brave Chump!

      But that isn’t part of her wheelhouse because she is a shallow, narcissistic, coward and she is in it for the money.

  • Well maybe I did have a good cheater as he didn’t want cake at all .

    As soon as I found out that was it he was off and I never stood a chance and he’s never looked back

    • Karen, I think your fuckwit just knew the jig was up. You’d seen behind the mask, and it would have taken too much effort to gaslight you.

      Much easier to move onto a new mark.

      ((hugs)) ????

    • KarenB and JustRight… me three. It seemed awful at the time that I had no say in the matter. I found out… he left and moved right in with his schmoopie coworker. He’s never looked back either and they are together 5 years later. But in the end… thank goodness. She can have him. I can only imagine the lies she’s getting and eating.

      • My XW did the same to me. It was already over in her mind anyway and when confronted she knew that there would be no more cake. She told the kids she was just leaving to “take a little break to see if she could figure things out” but she filled for divorce less than 30 days after she left. She was done way before then, but why show your hand when you have the best of both worlds.

    • Mine did too Karenb. Never looked back. But an additional tidbit, he also did the same thing to a previous wife before me.

      • Same. Found out through his grown kids that his previous divorce in a long-term marriage was sudden for his ex-wife. Maybe he was hiding in his hair then too?

        Maybe these are the real juvenile, romantic, coward pants, fantasy Island type cheaters.
        They see themselves as good people because they don’t want cake – they just want to discard and move on to their twu wuv- because THEY deserve happiness and didn’t mean for this to happen. BS. They built on attraction.
        And they don’t know how to make happiness in a normal healthy relationships so they just bolt to what they think will be the ticket.

        • And that is the thing: there is a basic pattern for a solid marriage, if you are religious it is spelled out, if you are not it is spelled out by society, using the basic bible standard. All religions of course have their own faith book, but I would say with few exceptions the rules are very similar since the reformation era.

          As you say these types of cheaters stay stuck in the romantic phase, when that goes they are on to someone else. They don’t have the interest or the will to do the sacrificial loving that any long term marriage will need. None of us of course will get it perfect, but many of us keep trying and stay devoted to that person and that marriage.

          No matter how you slice it, to be rejected by the person you love and have been faithful to is a horrendous pain that lingers and changes us forever.

          Doesn’t mean we won’t be happy, or even have another shot at love, but it does change us forever.

          The cheater who is like that will NOT remain faithful in his/her next marriage whether he/she gets outed or not. They can’t. At some point they will age out of the hard dick stage and then they may very likely stay with the last person they landed on who will have them, but that is the only exception. Well they are capable of really changing, but if they did it would show in their life. And good for them, but few will. Just the stats alone, even the most conservative prove that.

          The worst of my pain is way behind me, but my heart aches every day for those who are in the midst of the fire. It just isn’t fair, but here we are.

    • Same here Karen. Literally the morning after I discovered his lies about his affair with the neighbor across the street he called HER and then a lawyer. There was no begging for me and our family back. He was stone cold and done. He’s a coward.

      • Yup
        He was texting with the OW after I found out. The attachment to her was already made, I was nothing by that point. They got all entangled in the drama of it and I’m sure they shed some fake tears. Their little plan to leave their spouses under the premise of sudden unhappiness got foiled.

        • And that is the frustration for so many of us. We didn’t even get a chance because they lied.

          I wish these apologist therapist ass holes could get that. They lied and manipulated and built the connection with someone else, and then and only then were we let in on it. As CL has said the deck was stacked and we could not win. At least no in the short term.

          Many of us have and will win long term, but it is hard to believe in the midst of hell.

          • “ They lied and manipulated and built the connection with someone else, and then and only then were we let in on”
            And not even then really, because we were abandoned!
            But then therapists want to talk about your contribution to the demise of the marriage….

            • Right.

              The week my ex was moving out, he still had not admitted it, oh I caught him on the phone with her on Christmas day, but he just pushed past me and ignored my questions and comments.

              He got all his crap out of the house over the next few agonizing days. I came home each day from work to an emptier house. In about two weeks after he moved out he called and said we need to talk.

              Then and only then did he tell me he was in love with a “girl” Girl my ass, she hadn’t seen girl in many moons. She was an over weight cow, with three big ass sons.

              But, I digress. Even then when we talked, he wouldn’t tell me who it was, I had to find out from someone else. So little regard for me as a human being, much less his wife, that he wouldn’t even name her.

              I think at that time he was still trying to keep her underground and hidden from his job folks because she was his employee (direct report) It hit the fan about a week later and then everyone knew. I found out because my close friends husband worked for the city and he and she came over to tell me. That was kind of a joke, because other police officers could see his car parked at her trailer in the middle of the night. But they are a closed mouth bunch.

              So yeah, it was all my fault I was the awful one.

              Quite frankly, I was way too nice. I basically stepped aside; and took the high ground. I should have cracked some heads (metaphorically)

              It took me years (over 20) before I opened up and told how I was treated in the year that led up to that, because I blamed myself. After all I was being told it was my fault. Or at least being told all my faults on a daily basis, while being screamed at.

              • Your, “girl my ass. She hadn’t seen girl in many moons” made me lol. Thank you for giving me a chuckle on a pretty crappy night.

                I hope you know that you have a way with words that can bring joy to even internet strangers ????. Have a great night!

  • A simple quest for aliveness. I laugh at that statement as in the end he stated it was always about the thrill of the chase. And CL you left out bringing the young children to multiple OW’s home to fuck while kids played with her kids in the other room. The damage extended to his oldest daughter who had to keep his lies.

    Yet I look at the comparative analysis in where it left him at 57, living with a skank. It’s all he could get for his investment in fucking strange. Where they end up is all their own doing. She skips that angle.

    • I never thought a lot about it at the time, as I was pretty much walking around in shock, but my fwit and his whore fucked in her trailer with two teen age boys, and a ten year old in the next bedroom. I can only imagine what was going through those kids heads. But, the oldest did the same thing to his first wife that my ex did to me, he will likely do it to the second wife when her shine wears off.

      I worked a part time job for a while and one night her other teen showed up as a new employee. He looked really nervous when he came in the office to get his paperwork. I had no idea who he was, then when I saw his name I realized. I just treated him with kindness. Wasn’t his fault. he told me later that he hated fwit, as he was always trying to boss him around. I just said, yes I am sure that is annoying at your age.

      Sadly he never amounted to much, my son said he can’t keep a job, and is always mooching off his mom and fwit.

      I really need to be careful, one of these days when I am talking to my son I am going to accidently say, so how is fwit and schmoopie? 🙂 Not really, I never bring them up, unless he does.

      • Yes, children do not exist in Ester Perel’s world. Only selfish adult desires. I have never read or listened to anything by her, but she sounds like a narc herself.

        • This is a good point. She talks about ‘family’ but never about the living, breathing little souls that are so crushed by the rejection and desertion of their parent’s infidelity. She doesn’t mention the cruel, cold worldview that these kids are forced into when they realise that somebody who was their anchor and who they adored, is capable of such selfishness, and such lack of respect towards them and their Chump parent.

  • I’m thankful to not be with my power hungry cheater anymore. I don’t care for selfish, self serving people in my life and cheater took himself out of my life. I am truly grateful to not have to deal with him anymore. The person I thought I married wouldn’t have hurt me like this. It truly shows it was all a farce xo sweet

  • Mine was certainly ‘beyond infidelity’. Online affairs, hook ups with escorts, dating profiles, status pictures ala 50 shades of grey, 3 women he was seeing regularly for years then the cherry on top was an emotional affair with a coworker (probably physical too).

    He was a ‘good guy’ who always spoke of cheaters badly. We had kids, bought property, went on holidays and still had sex. He bought me gifts and took me out. After the cheating was discovered apparently he was ‘unhappy’ for 15 years and felt emasculated.

    • Yes, me as well..I emasculated him.

      My bad. I thought he wanted an equal, a partner….all the stuff we talked about for 5 years before getting married.

      Nope..what he really wanted was someone to tell him he was perfect all the time. Not 90% of the time.

      Looking back I see that clearly. Never a problem until we had a baby and normal relationship struggles from that change.

      Make lunches the night before so the morning isnt so hectic? So emasculating!

    • Emasculated! I got that too. I think his AP FED HIM THAT because he is just not that intelligent to come up with that term on his own..
      I emasculated him by having the householdshit together. That was his rationale in his long term affair and the reason they were going to run away together.

      I told him he de feminized me by having a profile on Adult Friend finders.

  • She will ape all your stuff and pretend it’s her own and do a total U-turn on what she said before and have no shame about it I suspect. It will be her ‘new perspective’. Can’t write the same book twice.

  • Ester, you self-important Dolt. EVERY cheater burns down the house. Without telling us to leave first. Without yelling ‘fire’!. They light it up with us inside & and turn away.
    The only thing “meaningless” here is your psychobabble, sell-my-schtick spin.

  • When he said it was meaningless, that actually made it worse. Really? You would sacrifice my health, my trust in you, for something meaningless?

    • I still remember excellent Turkish movie Once upon a time in Anatolia. It sounds very boring and should be very boring because it’s about a bunch of men driving around rural Anatolia with a guy who remembers murdering somebody but can’t remember where he hid the body. The representatives of authorities and the murderer are talking all kind of things, including a prosecutor discussing a woman who predicted exactly her own death. To cut a 3 hour long story somehow short, the woman (prosecutor’s wife) actually comitted a suicide after finding out that her husband cheated on her. He has difficulties to believe it was suicide because the fling meant nothing to him. Why would she kill herself when they just had had a baby and the affair meant nothing to him? Oh, and it turns out that the murderer killed the other guy because he said that the murderers’s child is actually his. Quite a lot of deaths over ‘meaningless’ affairs.

      Why would anybody do something if it’s meaningless? Especially something that involves a lot of planning, hiding and lying.

    • My chump story is probably one that Esther would say could have worked out. My XH “fell in love” with his coworker, but as far as evidence goes, he only confessed to holding her hand. But D-day devastated me. His disregard for my feelings was crushing. The gaslighting, victim-blaming, and emotional manipulation took their toll on me both emotionally and physically.

      Esther can suck my left toe! The Chump Lady blog and community was a solace in a sea of pain. Esther erases Chump feelings just like our cheaters did. All cheating involves abuse. PERIOD. I’m so glad i didn’t stick around for more lies and pain. I’m almost 2 years out and my life is soon much better.

  • She’s just making money off other peoples misery. She pretends to care. Does she fuck.
    One of my neighbours died, unfortunate, as that is, she was a drug using ow, didn’t really care about her kids, ran a crack house, police raids. The sympathy she got, tragic she died, the out pouring of grief from neighbours. But the neighbours who sympathise have had drug raids themselves, use drugs, once someone tried to put a shoe on one of their kids shoe too small, guess they still bought drugs. People see what they want to see. She had men in the house when her teenager was there. People have a warped sense of reality. My daughter said why the mourning she’s a junkie, tragic, my daughter who is 16 is more insightful than adults.
    addiction is tragic but sometimes you have to grow up.
    It took me long to realise some people enjoy other peoples misery.
    I know people have empathy for addicts, I was abused by drug dealers, in several ways.

  • I am at a loss to understand how deliberately and intentionally making decisions which would grievously hurt your spouse and family would qualify anyone for the label of “good person””.

    Good is as good does.

    “In lying, one is identifying the other as one’s opponent, even one’s enemy. In marriage intimacy is developed through confessions, explanations, and soul searchings. But of course intimacy involves equality, and people who are telling lies are not seeking any aspect of intimacy, especially
    equality. Liars are hoping for advantage, which will be produced by disorienting and distracting the other person. The liar is stepping outside the relationship. The lie may be a greater betrayal of the relationship than the misdeed being lied about. It takes very little misinformation to disorient and destroy a relationship. I often point out to people that if I gave them detailed instructions on how to go from Atlanta to New York City, and threw in only one left turn that was a lie, they would end up in Oklahoma.”
    -Dr. Frank Pittman
    Private Lies
    (p. 59)

    • I love that book. You introduced me to it Velvet Hammer, so thank you.

      It got me over the mindfuck of “I didn’t want to hurt you!” When I confronted fuckwit with why all the lies then?

    • I am going to look for this guys book. Even all these years later, understanding liars is a good thing.

      I know I can order it, but I wasnt to look in our bookstore first.

    • VH, thank you for sharing that. So much of today’s wisdom is going in my CN advice journal. I read every day even if I can’t find time to post. I appreciate each one of you!

    • I love this so much. And while I’m kind of past the point of reading books on relationships, this excerpt is a Keeper!

      • I continue to read as bullshit repellent for my mind like one continues to weed a garden.

        Words and thoughts and ideas are powerful and reading keeps the ones I don’t want from taking root. I need reminders to keep a sane perspective! Like building a muscle. Repetition of good stuff is key so it really gets internalized.


  • I’ve found that since knowing what the Dickhead did to me, I now view all cheaters by the lens in which I view him. It might not be fair to all people as I happen to know a lovely lady who cheated on her first husband and has been faithfully married for the last forty years. But, I can’t help it. Cheating is cheating is cheating. Someone was hurt by someone who did not care. This whole quest for aliveness is pile of crap. I wanted to feel alive again but didn’t sink to cheating and hurting my spouse. God, I’m so glad he’s out of my life.

  • A few years ago I was flipping through the tv channels and I happened on Ester being interviewed by Chris Cuomo. Her nonsense was merely a regurgitation of her vomit inducing TED talk . I couldn’t help but notice obvious eye rolls from cuomo . I would “rethink infidelity ” by her metric as much as I would weigh the pro’s and cons of getting a kick to the testicles . I really can’t believe that normal people actually fall for her bullshit . I realize that once you’ve been betrayed (been there) we tend to grasp at any explanation or cover to ease the pain . Bullshit might fertilize crops and those crops could metaphorically be the growth of your freedom but the smell of said bullshit offends the senses as does her flailing at justification . We heal how we heal at our own pace (nearly 30 years for me and I still have triggers and set backs) and we all look for comfort sometimes in places we know in the backs of our minds will be harmful ( drinking drugs revenge affairs reading quacks like Ester ). I firmly believe that the experts are no such thing , that unity in our experiences and getting realignment to the harsh realities of our lot is critical to moving forward . It’s a fool that doesn’t learn from one’s own mistakes it’s a down right idiot that doesn’t learn from other’s mistakes . Many of us here have made plenty of mistakes going forward but most have been shaken into reality by the kind and informative stories and guidance of those in the fight.

    • “nearly 30 years for me and I still have triggers and set backs) ”

      Right? doesn’t mean you have not had a good life, or that we want them back; but deep scars never go away, and sometimes they get irritated/triggered, and it brings back some pain.

      • So true…my life has been pretty good since. Just like recurring bad dreams they visit they stir the pot of emotional witches brew that poison your contentment and peace, they flip the switch on the projector and run the mind movies right back through the mental solitude and distrup your calm. Friends and relatives alike although well meaning say stupid shit like “haven’t you gotten over that yet?” Until thay’ve lived through the horror they’ll never understand. It takes time but I calm down but I do have many triggers

  • My cheater used me, hid money and led a double life. I think he would have continued his double life but realized the jig was up. We talked and he moved out. His AP hasn’t seen behind the mask but she works with him and knew he was married. They deserve each other. APs goal is to marry her cheating, man boy. A cheater is a cheater…

    • Exactly my story about 4 yrs ago. Be mighty and pursue what you deserve. Happiness will come again! Sending love and good thoughts your way xoxo sweet

  • My dear little Okie mama told me many years ago: “A stiff prick has no conscience”. And so far, she’s still right.

    • I hate that saying. It’s like “boys will be boys”; all it does is excuse the inexcusable and let the perpetrator of wrongdoing off the hook. People have brains, and they use them to consider the urgings of their bodies. When I have to urinate, I don’t just squat down in the road. When I want to have sex, I don’t just say yes to the first taker. That saying describes a cheater’s mindset, and that’s all.

      • My ex used to say it a lot, when cirticizing other guys who were treating their wives like dirt. So, yes it does describe the cheaters mindset. I just didn’t pick up on the red flag, as he was criticizing cheaters, so…

        Doesn’t mean it was my fault, but yes it is how they think.

      • I hate it too, it’s such bullshit.

        Adelante is spot on.

        I’m being crude, but it’s like saying “a wet pussy has no conscience”. Such crap. When I was married, I was hit on by quite a few very attractive men, a couple of them certainly gave me a twinge, but I never responded, because I was married, and I have morals and a conscience.

        • Exactly, but they think it excuses them.

          Yes, I had my share of male attention, I wasn’t exactly a dog. My guess is it never occurred to him that I turned down attention, I never even thought of talking about it, it was just instinctual.

          However up until the last couple years, I had turned down promotions because he didn’t want me to travel, so maybe he did think about it. I said, at the time I can handle myself, he said; I trust you but not the men. Ding ding ding, another red flag.

      • Soldiering on, Adelente,

        I’m curious what the female version of that saying is. I don’t like it either btw because I’ve joined “the club that nobody wants to join”. The price of membership to CN is extravagantly high. It does sum up the cheating husband- or in my case The Omen.
        I see it as derogatory now rather than dismissive. My take away from that colloquial phrase today is No Conscience!! (AKA Agency).

        Many years ago, I happened to unsuspectedly wander into an office space “cubicle farm” discussion between a group of all female nurses (~5+) casually talking (laughing actually) amongst themselves. I was the only male employee there and quickly picked up on their sex themed discussion. I sat down quietly undetected in a nearby cubicle and listened to them for a few moments. OMG. Sailors had nothing on these gals. It was very much like a boys locker room banter over who had the biggest dick!! Frankly I was embarrassed, enlightened and about to ROTFLMAO ????. I exited the cubicle undetected as I’d entered. HOLY SHIT!! Boy was I naive.

        Needless to say, the rest of my shift I chuckled at the raw side of their roasting of their male focus.

        Perel. Pffft. She’s nowhere on my radar and I shoo the thought of her ilk away as quickly as the fly trying to get at the potato salad.

        I can agree to disagree with those who have not walked our path. And there are many sayings that I wish were never coined by those that came before me. Casting my pearls (Wisdom) before swine (adulterers, Switzerland friends) doesn’t happen much Today after experiencing xw’s defiant jubilee of aliveness.

        Beagles are my favorite people now.

        Tracy… if you get another shot at (mol-) Ester of 2014 bite me fame, please send her my FUCK YOU VERY MUCH Regards. ????????????

  • When you discover infidelity there will likely be at least one Esther Perel in your life, if not many, ready to downplay what occurred and pacify your shock and horror with any number of flimsy defenses or justifications.

    No matter how well meaning, this is a form of gaslighting (aka abuse) that can make you pause, doubt your gut instincts, and remain stuck in a horrendous situation when you should be summoning the courage to take action and enforce consequences. But taking action means the life-altering specter of divorce and all of the emotional and logistical upheaval that entails.

    You’re at a crossroads — stay stuck or summon the courage to stand up for yourself. One path is long term soul-crushing. The other path has its initial rough patches followed by freedom and the scary unknown of finding a new way. It’s human nature to stay with the devil you know, even if it’s killing you. Fuck that! Hire an advocate to fight for you and strike out on your own path! Godspeed, my fellow chumps!

    • This is very true and interestingly enough the most people I’ve seen act this way have been in the legal system. I’ve had several lawyers and mediators downplay who my ex is and it has made me question my fight for more than 50/50 custody sometimes. Things like “cheating is common”, “porn addiction and hiring escorts doesn’t affect parenting”, “you’re lucky he doesnt beat you or the children” “at least he isn’t a drug addict”it’s very discouraging and when you hear these things enough you start to think hmmm okay yeah maybe it’s not so bad. The reality is I’m dealing with who I believe to be a mentally disordered person. He may win but I refuse to agree to this playing down of cheaters behavior.

      • You need a better advocate. When hearing my story, all my attorney asked was “so what speed to you want me on, ‘destroy him’ or just ‘wound him’? Either way, we’ll get what you deserve.” Granted, she charged me plenty…but worth it. It was one of my first real feelings of empowerment to have this strong woman on my side.

    • ????

      Yep, in my case hiring a lawyer was my advocate. I couldn’t think, I was in shock and once he explained to me my options (and I had some options), I was able to actually make a choice. He then advised me to see my medical doctor and tell him/her what was happeneing in my life. Sometimes I think back and wish I had taken the three years of temp seperation/maintenance that was available to me, but I did take the 6 months, and the cheater drug his feet for another six months, so I got a year to stabilize.

      I did go on short term anti depressants. My doc explained to me that, it would not take the pain away, but it would likely give me my ability to focus back. Which it did. I only needed that short term. I really didn’t like the idea of meds, but I know that it was the best decision for me at the time.

  • At church they likened adultery to treason and one of the worse things you can do to a marriage. The devastation it causes the innocent spouse and children shouldn’t be dismissed. Esther thinks it’s a victimless crime. A lot of people think it’s OK to cheat and not tell your spouse. Makes me sad. No wonder God hates adultery.

    My XW just said she loved them. I think the meaningless affair would be worse.

  • Mine had a three-year “meaningless” romance with a college bud. I mean she said she “loved him” but it wasn’t “true love”. Or so I was told.

    Sure wasn’t fun to be twisted all around the logic and it still hurt like hell.

    I kinda just shrug now. She doesn’t really know what true love is anyways.

  • I’m sure there are a small handful of people who cheat in a moment of weakness, are tormented by the guilt, apologize, go out of their way to make it up and never do it again. I just don’t think that describes most cheaters. If that were my cheater, I would still be married. But here’s the thing. My cheater PRETENDED to be that person the FIRST time I found out. And a marriage counselor, kind of like Esther, made me look into my own role in the affair and I made even more sacrifices and got burned again and he essentially blamed me for not leaving him after the first affair, justified everything…and most of society did as well since so many seem to buy into her twisted point of view. So, maybe the good cheater is out there, but it is certainly so rare it can be dealt with in a case by case manner and not put out there as the norm.

    • ‘he essentially blamed me for not leaving him after the first affair, justified everything’

      The Dickhead would have shrugged his shoulders and said you stayed anyway as if my staying was acceptance of his behavior. I never actually confronted him about his cheating until after the divorce was filed. I was too afraid to admit to myself, and to him, just how painful those past years had been.

      • I don’t think anyone except a Chump who has felt the knife of betrayal in all its forms; lying, gaslighting, manipulating, stealing marital funds etc… can eveer know what the pain is like. Even the cheater can’t know because they can’t imagine it ever happening to them. And usually it doesn’t in their current marriage, because a cheater needs an honest person to use. Many times the person they cheat with, will betry them, but they don’t see it while in the flames of passion. They are buying all the crap the adultery partner is telling them.

  • Here’s what I have to say to Esther.

    1) If she was a polyamory advocate and devoted her life to teaching people how to be polyamorous in ways that aren’t harmful, I would have no argument with her. My argument with her is that she blurs the line to commingle polyamory and deceitful abuse via sex. They are not the same. At all. And it’s unbelievably irresponsible for her to stir them together.

    2) She’s out of line. If a person handed me a glass of poison, told me it was juice, and I drank it believing it was safe, and I was permanently injured or died, we would call that a crime. And we would be right. It’s willful harm. Even murder. If a person tells me they are sexually faithful, brings home a poison on their body (HPV, HIV, etc.), I engage the person’s body unprotected because I believe it is safe, and I am permanently infected with a communicable disease, am injured, or die (hello cancer), or someone else is hurt (hello unborn), I would also consider that to be a crime. The law might not, but I do. The clear intent for (or at least willingness to do) harm feel equivalent to me.

    Lying about sex is emotionally bad, yes. Abusive, yes. Terrible character, yes. It’s also physical poison. That’s not a side issue. It’s incredibly central to the whole fucking point.

    I can’t think anything good about a person who downplays the physical poisoning of another person. I can only think “you are condoning willful harm and killing”. That person will never have my sympathy or my listening ear. Until she loudly and broadly denounces anything she has ever said about deception being positive in any way, I will consider her a fraud and a toxic person and refuse to hear another word from her abusive mouth. Full stop.

    • Consequences like STDs and paternity testing and financial abuse oddly never come up in Esther’s discussions of infidelity. Only internal struggles over self-actualization and how the cheater (and the therapy industry) is perceived. Her beef (near as I can make out the word salad) is with judgment, not the harm inflicted on chumps.

        • I mean, I can get that a person might promise monogamy then want to withdraw that promise. And that alone would be incredibly hurtful for the other person, but I can see how over time a person might want something different. But as you so often say, there’s a choice at that juncture.

          You can be an adult and state what has changed and accept what comes from that — the relationship might end, your situation might change, you might have to move, whatever. That’s the healthy adult approach.

          Or, you can lie and sneak and hurt everyone so you can self gratify at everyone else’s expense. That’s the unhealthy selfish abusive toxic asshole approach.

          It’s no secret where my judgment lies, eh? ????

          • Right? I am sure that it would have hurt me for the ex to say, I don’t love you anymore; I want my freedom to find happiness. But, I know health wise it would have been better for me, than to have to endure two ish years of him screaming at me, blaming me, lying to me, gaslighting me…

            It is just common sense which would be the right way to hand the situation.

            But, reality is they don’t know what they want when they start that shit, and they are not going to reveal until they have their life all set up, to hell with ours.

      • Herpes, chylamydia, family money being squandered on whores and girlfriends, and finding out your children are not yours biologically don’t enter Perels radar. I smell money making. She is on the take. No integrity.

  • Yes I had one of those straight forward simple cheaters. He had one meaningful fling and then we went to therapy, he was deeply remorseful and our marriage was better for it. That’s what I told myself.
    Then he had another and then five years later another and then I kicked his ass out and found it it had been endless.
    The positive side is he must be profoundly self actualized now!!! Esther Perel is teaching trauma minimization, justification for lying, and normalizes the whole thing as sexual sophistication.
    I was sophisticated once until I realized I was just chumped!

  • As always, I love reruns… I always get something new every time!

    This time was the last paragraph… “even a one night stand involves a series of decisions”. When not living through a pandemic, I travel for work about 40% of the time… lots of time in hotels being my point. Mr. Sparkles travels may four times a year for work FOUR TIMES A YEAR… and yet, during one of our wreckconciliations he practically bragged to me to see how much he loved me because one night while on a business trip, he met a woman in the hotel bar and she lured him back to her room… where he suddenly came to his senses and left her there after a brief makout session… this fuckwit actually want me to congratulate him (and believe him).

    As CL often says… grown-ups meet up to fuck… that is the premise of most “dating” sites.

    I know more believed Mr. Sparkles in that moment than I do now, but I had forgotten… and on days when I forget it can be easy to slip and think “maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember”… then luckily I check in here… get a good face palm to the forehead and back to MehTown I go.

    Thank you CL and CN… you keep me grounded!

  • So I goggled her and now I am getting Facebook ads. SMDH. One said “Loves enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.

    WTF? What type of double speak is this? Oh it’s a paradox of bullshit.

    Word to the wise, go into the anonymous browsing unless you want to see this garbage on your feed.

    • LOL, same. I keep getting suggestions for one of her videos about “desire requiring absence” or somesuch nonsense, which is the exact opposite relationship that I have with desire. In fact, the more I get to know my current partner the more I desire him for all the many reasons there is to love him. Desire requires chemistry and respect, not mystery and absence, which are in fact requirements for teenage drama.

      • Kind of difficult to have an intimate relationship if one half of the couple is absent,emotionally or physically. Traveling businessman busy porking other women,hookers or women they flirted with at a conference or the hotel bar. (Mol) Esther is a good nickname.

  • There was a wonderful reply to an article about an affair in London’s Daily Telegraph yesterday. It was very graceful. It went along the lines of

    “I should be bull whipped for what I did to my beautiful wife and children. Luckily for me, she understood that I was in a ‘what about me’ crisis and has forgiven me, sort of.

    It showed an understanding that what he did was unforgivable. That he is grateful beyond words that someone better than him prevented the destruction of his family. That he knows that he broke something in her, and completely deserves her lack of true connection since that moment.

    I think he gets it.

    • Sadly, cheaters say this kind of thing all the time and continue to cheat.

      My friend went to therapy with a “husband” who said things like this as nauseum, with tears. She found out a year into therapy he had never stopped cheating, and there was not just one cheating accomplice but two.

      As with cockroaches, probably more.

      May cheaters and those who cheat with them be set afire by someone they love and trust, may they and the fire not die.

      Bullwhipping is letting them off easy.

    • You think he gets it? So what if he does – it didn’t stop him from cheating.

      Patsy, it’s not that they don’t get it, it’s that they don’t actually care. Cheaters are not retarded – they know what they are doing, they simply don’t care so long as it serves them.

      My fuckwit said something similar – if I never forgive him, he understands and deserves it. It’s really nothing more than a shallow bs line, the charm/pity channel – look at me, I might just have some sense of remorse, don’t you, chump, want to give me cookies for it? Are you duped yet, so I can go back to fcking around on you some more? Did I get under your skin with that load of bs?

      Patsy, please put down the kool aid.

      • My version of the pity party, was a letter he sent me after we were legally separated and he had gutted me and left me for dead. It was full of, “I don’t know why I acted like such a low life, blah blah blah” I just remember standing there staring at that letter and thinking, so what do I do with this.

        I really wish I had that letter for CL to run through the BS translator. It would have been gold.

      • Exactly. “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree”.

        Although I think ‘disagree’ should be ‘don’ t care’.

        • Yes “don’t care” is more accurate. They know what they are doing is dreadful, they.don’ What they want is all that matters, if it destroys the woman who has loved them and been loyal, it is a price they are willing to pay, because they don’t see themselves paying any price. I know some don’t, but most will at some point.

          • Exactly. The only thing that matters is their happiness, no matter what the costs to the chump. They do not care about the harm they caused as long as they get what they want. It’s chilling.

      • FoolishChump are you sure its koolaid though?

        1. Compare his comment about understanding why his wife will hold him forever at arms length and being truly grateful he still has his family, with:

        2. You are never going to forgive me [because, being shallow, I have no idea how to offer meaningful support, apology or reassurance, have zero insight and wish we could just move on, already], so I might as well give up and move on.

        I will destroy everything in order not to be accountable

        I will sacrifice everything in order not to be wrong

        … And is on Snatch #6. Yup, that is my ex.

        So I might have a very low IQ, but I can very much tell the difference between the two men. The problem about affairs is once the bell has been rung, it cannot be unrung. That loss of innocence hurts.

        There is ALSO a cost/benefit analysis to be had.

        To this day I regret all the loss to me and to our children. Everything about our lives has changed. I tried so hard to stop that. But I had nothing to work with. Mr #1. has got some stuff to work with.

    • I would have preferred getting bull whipped to within an inch of my life rather than go through the betrayal, attempted mind fuck, and anguish that I experienced from the person I was loyal and devoted to.

      • Gratefully divorced Dad, me too. To this day if God appeared and said ‘you have the choice to be stabbed and end up for weeks in ICU on the point of death OR be intimately betrayed’ – I would say

        ‘where is the knife? Bring it on”

        But I will do anything, I will sacrifice myself to save my kids from how they were affected (deeply and damagingly), mitigate some of the huge losses.

        You just have to have something to work with, and I had nothing to work with.

        Repeating one more time: in my opinion, Mr LondonDailyTelegraph showed a bit of insight to work with.

  • I held onto other Esther Perel hopium of my husband’s year and a half affair would make our marriage stronger and we would come out of it more connected blah blah blah. All it did was signal to my cheater that I continued to be gullible and basically gave him the confidence to continue to stab me in the back until I caught him again and walked.

  • I only have to go back to 10th grade to recall how painful it is when your boyfriend (whom you love with all the capacity a 15-year-old has) cheats on you or breaks up with you 4th period only to be seen with the new blonde girl at lunch. Even as kids, we know it hurts to be dumped by someone you trust and it hurts more when it happens because they “like” someone else more.

    The bottom line is that cheaters and chumps make a certain set of promises to each other. And one side doesn’t get to unilaterally change the deal behind the other one’s back n a ploy to grab all the marital cookies for themselves. Perel is right about one thing: seeing human behavior in light of character DOES make it impossible to see infidelity as a “simple transgression or a meaningless fling.” Once someone stabs me in the back and takes my money, my home, my health or my happiness, there is no going back

    • ” Once someone stabs me in the back and takes my money, my home, my health or my happiness, there is no going back”

      So true, no matter how much I wished I could for a short time; I never could have. I think I only wanted to because in my ignorance at the time, I believed if we did get back together, I could just forget it all and things would have returned to “normal”. Was never going to happen.

      Also I would have relegated myself to live the rest of my life, or his with a miserable, self centered tightwad. His life has born that out.

      Painful as it was, I dodged a bullet.

  • Since there is so much infidelity there is a lot of money to be made in therapy, books, seminars etc about cheating.

    The money makers know damn well that holding the cheater to task and accountable won’t get them any return customers.

    So the chump loses over and over and over.

    I notice there is very little support for the chump who has to co-parent with a cheater after divorce. The abuse goes on forever in these cases, and it is so damn frustrating, and no one has any real answers to this. It can make a person crazy and depressed.

    • There also could be a lot of money to be made by providing comprehensive assistance to chumps, someone should take up that charge and get rich.

      Ms. Perel, I believe, promotes her narrative out of some sense of loyalty to her original and outdated theories. She seems to struggle to stay relevant and is part of the group that refuses to “do better once you know better.” Sure, she’s made money…and she’ll make more money. But, she’s not dumb. She knows better. But her sunk costs, as it were, are abound.

    • I believe Chump Lady is writing a book supporting Chump parents in the LACGAL vein, at this very moment. I can’t wait. ????

  • Odd as it may sound, I would have been able to forgive easily had it really been true love and he simply fcked up the timing and monkey branched instead of parting ways with me cleanly. BUT, as we all have learned all too well, cheating is NEVER about any true love, it’s about lies, deceit and most importantly a power trip by a weak disordered person who has no clue what power is, over both the SO and the schmoopie (little do they realize that). It’s about getting off on duping people.

    On that note, if Esther Perel actually drinks the bs that cheaters are feeding her about how it’s twu luv, exuberant defiance (isn’t that what teenagers do?) and whatever other bs she drips out….she is the most naive and the most duped woman on this planet. Granted, I don’t think for a second she is that naive – it’s just the narrative that codependent chumps lap up and spend millions on because they are too afraid to be alone.

    You won’t see any narc fuckwit spending that kind of money on the RIC unless it serves to dupe their SO….and the “renown” therapist….. to add a little extra to the pleasure and make the expenditure worthwhile. Woe is the fuckwit… believe him? Geeee……a power trip that’s a bigger high than any drug for the fuckwit.

    As for the Esther Perels of this world…..I don’t think they are in camp chump or camp fuckwit, they are firmly in the camp “my bank account is getting fat” and that’s all they really care about….well and image, got to manage the image since image sells. Doesn’t that sound familiar????

    • ” it’s just the narrative that codependent chumps lap up and spend millions on because they are too afraid to be alone.”

      I think that is true so many times. I know that in my few weeks of pick me dancing, I was scared to death. Then soon after we were legally separated, I remember thinking to myself “self, if I have to live in a tent alone for the rest of my life, it would be better than being treated like dirt”.

      But, to be fair I had no dependant children to think of, I think that brings the fear to a different level.

      • I thought the same. Better to live on a dessert island alone, than be the subject of mental abuse. It’s getting your head around to accepting that your life will totally change.

        • “It’s getting your head around to accepting that your life will totally change.”

          Yep, and sometimes it takes a while and other times like a lightening bolt. I was out about two weeks or so after he had filed for divorce. Our legal separation had only taken a few days to secure. I had a great lawyer, he hired a mope.

          I remember during that particular walk, I was so down, all I could think of was now that we are legally separated he can bring “schmoopie” out of hiding, he can parade her around and do whatever he wants, he will be free. Then at one point I literally stopped in my tracks, and I said to myself out loud; “wait, he CAN do whatever he wants, he is free, AND SO AM I” Up to that point, all I could think of was what he would gain from separation and divorce. Not saying there was no pain after that, but it was a real turning point for me.

          Unfortunately, he circled back a few weeks later and I let him come home. He stayed a week before, this time I kicked him out, called the lawyer and said proceed. The legal separation was still in effect, I had checked with my lawyer before I allowed him to come home and get another shot at treating me like shit.

    • I think you have an overidealized concept of what monkey-branching looks like.

      My XW monkey-branched big time (she broke up his marriage as well as ours, and they were married less than a year later). She tricked me into moving away from my family, lied to me about the affair at the time (and continues to lie to me and the kids to this day), picked bizarre fights, and spread word (including to our kids) that I am financially and physically abusive. XW’s twu luv hasn’t made her a better partner in the divorce at all.

  • EP’s argument is BS. It’s meant to be a trap: If we argue against the idea of a “quest for aliveness,” we can be painted as judgmental, prudish, old fashioned, etc. But there is absolutely no consideration of why a “quest for aliveness” should require someone to lie, betray, cheat, deceive, harm, act without integrity, etc.

    A healthy person could explore a “quest for aliveness” through new hobbies, travels, education, exercise, and a host of healthy, non-hurtful activities. Heck, one could even include their life partner in such a quest to strengthen the relationship!

    Bottom line: If you need to hurt, harm, and abuse others to feel alive, then you should get yourself into therapy and rethink all of your life choices, because you have a selfish, entitled character devoid of empathy, care, and consideration for others.

    • Right in their “quest” the use the resources of a private marriage to wine and dine and gift a schmoopie. Just imagine the possibilities if they had used those resources to romance the wife. But, then there wouldn’t have been any strange to get a kick from. And that really is the bottom line, whether they like to admit it or not.

    • Yep. If you need to embark on a “quest for aliveness” then jump out of a plane. It has all the elements of risk and reward, and the added benefit of the extra kick of feeling alive you get when you might have died.

  • One of my favorite comments in CL’s book is “If you believe in monogamy, stand up for that!”

    My ex actually tried to argue that if you just view the other person as an object (like a sex toy), that it doesn’t count as cheating. It was in that moment that I realized what he was capable of. He became enraged when I told him that I never would have married him if I’d known he thought that. People aren’t objects, and I don’t care if Esther and her ilk think I’m unsophisticated for having that opinion.

    • Call me unsophisticated. I will proudly wear the banner.

      I think a decent person treats their spouse with honesty, compassion and integrity, which I believe in most cases is how the cheater would like to be treated. Most of these cheaters would throw their spouse out on their ear if the situation had been reversed.

    • Excellent point! Let them have their gross world of objectification and deceit. I’ll take honesty, integrity, and mutual exclusivity any day of the week.

  • There will always be people placing guilt and responsibility on people of integrity for all sorts of bad behavior. Narcissists had bad things happen to them in childhood. Child rapists were sexually abused as children, so they only know one way of satisfying themselves. Serial killers were badly abused and tortured as children, so please try to understand and have compassion for where they’re coming from. So what? Who cares why they do the inexplicable. Arm yourself and be prepared for war. Then fight the good fight and exit the victor. Do it the Toaist way and let them use their own energy to destroy themselves, because they will. People who abuse their spouses (and lying, cheating, stealing assets IS abuse) are coming from a bottom feeder level of “get what you can, by whatever means.” Take a page from their playbook and start thinking about YOUR better interests, just do it your way with dignity and integrity. People who live by the dog eat dog pardime are nothing like us. They see us as weak and to be taken advantage of, not decent, kind, fair people. Or maybe they do, and can’t handle the comparison so need to destroy that which is good. Who cares? Stop dancing around a selfish toddler and forget about they whys and wherefores and how to fix them and repair things. Leave them in the gutter where they belong and give your feet a good wipedown. Let them roll in the mud with the rest of the pigs.

    • Well put, bravo!

      If Ms. Perel and her ilk wish to “revive” the modern marriage by allowing infidelity as a part of it, then they ought to work harder to redefine the institution as polyamorous (good luck with that) and not place the finger of blame on us folks who believed in its sanctity and exclusivity.

  • ‘Falling in love with your soul mate schmoopie, while horrifying, is at least understandable at some level’
    Yikes I hardly ever jump at something CL says …. but falling in love with the coworker IS as understandable to me as fucking around for fun. NOT UNDERSTANDABLE- ‘Falling in love with the coworker’, while the betrayed spouse thinks everything is perfectly fine and keeps investing until the sudden discard …. is hell on earth.
    It’s not easy for me to understand how somebody would keep building on a spark when they have a loving spouse at home- these things don’t happen overnight. That betrayal is enormous.
    Frankly, I think I would rather think that someone was fucking around for fun (an asshole) rather fucking for twu wov with my replacement

    • “‘Falling in love with the coworker’, while the betrayed spouse thinks everything is perfectly fine and keeps investing until the sudden discard …. is hell on earth.”

      Exactly, the cheater is wasting the chumps life and using them until they get their soft landing in place. Someone does not just instantly fall in love with a schmoopie, they spend resources that belong to a spouse, not just money, but time, affection, attention, respect etc.

      It is indeed hell on earth, something most of us will never forget, though most of us will go on to have happy lives, the pain is still there, and will surface from time to time.

    • I agree it would be less painful if it were a one night stand, rather than in my case at least two years of betrayal, while they plan their future on my back. I assume laughing it up at how clueless I am. Up to and including conning me into signing for a river property for them to have their trysts in, while telling me if was for our grandchildren to enjoy with us (our son had recently married). (Yes I caught them there).

  • To be a chump is to refuse to drink the kool aid anymore. Obviously, Esther has to spackle something in her own life. She is to bE pitied Because obviously her issues are far far beyond mere infidelity…

    • I’ve thought that, too. Either she sucked it up with her own cheater, or is a cheater herself who writes books to try get the whole world to ‘understand and forgive’ her.

  • So true.

    But don’t forget the thrill of Duper’s Delight’.

    The ex fuckwit tried to get me to live in the same flat as he and his whore. But of course she wasn’t his whore, she was “your friend too, and she’ll help with the bills”. Vomit. ????

    Luckily I found out about the affair before that happened, but I can imagine the thrills they both would have had, “she doesn’t know what *we* know”, snigger, snigger.

    Actually it was a good thing for me he tried for it, if I ever get sad and misty I remember that, and sheer cleansing rage reminds me of what a total shit bag he is. ????????

    • I think a cleansing rage every once in a while is a good thing. Oh he absolutely enjoyed Dupers Delight.

      I didn’t know it was a thing, but when I saw it defined here, I knew he had it.

      He bragged right at one month before he walked out. We were at a park event that we were both involved in organizing. Some skank came up and put her hands over his eyes and hung on his back. My friend and I went to the park office later and he was there, and she said what the hell was that about. He said oh she is an idiot. He then looked at me and said Susie wouldn’t believe I was cheating unless I told her. Ironically, that was the night that my spidey sense kicked in, and when he said that, I pretty much knew. I just didn’t know who. I didn’t think it was the one who hung on him, as that would have been to obvious.

      Turned out she wasn’t his whore, she was the best friend of his whore.

      That wasn’t the only example, he employed lots of smirks throughout the last few months, until the city Christmas Party where his whore and whores best friend sat at our table. He was sweating like a hooker in a church pew. I am betting whore was putting the pressure on, and also I found out later the city counsel was trying to get him fired for ethics violation. Even then I didn’t think it was that whore. Because well she was a know whore who fucked lots of married men. And she was not really attractive.

      Surely he wouldn’t dump me for someone like that. Guess again.

  • Cheaters use the drivel Ester spouts to ‘justify’ cheating. It feeds their entitlement and lack of empathy for others. As for trying to divide and rule, split hairs, shades of cheater harm, spare us! Cheaters harm chumps. They commit fraud against us stealing our time & energy under false pretences. Cheaters suck. Cheater enablers are a waste of space too!

  • Anyone who professionally deals in infidelity must absolutely contend with this website. It would be a great oversight to overlook this treasure trove of experience–maybe even a kind of malpractice. Also, as you state, the largest ‘one stop shop’ for chumps that exists, probably ever. Who would ever ignore such a dataset?

    Ms. Perel seems to want us to think that she only deals in unicorns–those remorseful and almost “accidental” cheaters who really just want to be understood and feel terrible about their transgressions and want to make it right, willingly and enthusiastically. So, what, she is writing for like 5 people?! As we all know, unicorns are very very rare creatures.

  • It’s really too bad this is an old one–I’d love for her to come see some of the comments. People like her and members of the RIC community do so much needless damage with their clueless commentary. I’ve always felt that a good portion of them have had experience with this subject and are either the perpetrator, or the ultimate denier. It’s just so much easier for us chumps to believe it was a ‘mistake’ and dress it up in pretty phrases, than to face the reality about someone we once loved.

    Listening to most of them you’d think that cheating was a result of malformed genes–i.e. the ones that have then aren’t in control of what it does to them. Never any mention of will and choice, and even less about the carnage it leaves behind.

  • I don’t have a UBT of my own but from my time as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, I have a rusty old Batterer Apologist Translator. “Your experience goes way beyond cheating” has several tiers of interpretations that become progressively more demeaning and negating but all mean the same thing.

    You’re experience goes way beyond cheating = If you had any objectivity, you would admit you’re a battered woman instead of labeling yourself a survivor of mere cheating so you must be corrected and barred from my clinical territory as a threat to objectivity and collective human knowledge= You don’t have an overview of or the right to name or interpret your own experience because “clouded by trauma” and therefore dangerously subjective = Being a victim in the case of domestic abuse is not situational nor a neutral identifier merely indicating an encounter with a perpetrator but something that defines you, something you’re born to and which exists in perpetuity so the clouded state is permanent stigma…

    I worked with a fellow DV survivor advocate from Ireland who, like a lot of Irish rebels, was a serious student of the North American civil rights movement and knew more than most North Americans on that score. She explained how the “clouded by trauma” tact was commonly used to silence civil rights activists who were survivors of racial abuse themselves. The individual seeking to undermine the authority of the activist would first try to elicit the activist’s personal experience of racial abuse and inequality by feigning sympathy and interest, but then would jujitsu the activist’s personal experience as rendering the activist less, not *more*, qualified to speak out against inequality or weigh in on policy, etc.

    Cute trick. The tactic probably has a name. The Irish advocate scoffed that, by the same token, no cancer researcher could be taken seriously if they or anyone close to them had ever had cancer. In any case, this is exactly what Perel is doing with that “way more” remark. The thing is, it’s not just an attack against one type of victim but against the credibility of all victims. I also believe it’s also a scare tactic used to get people to deny any kind of victimization, as if “victim” were a dirty, stigmatized word instead of, again, just a neutral identifier indicating someone has had an encounter with a victimizing force which says zero about the victim and everything about the victimizing force.

    The latter is another common trick in the arsenal of modern institutional and corporate victim-blaming or “manufacturing consent” as political analyst Noam Chomsky puts it. The way in which Perel claims that typical cheating does not involve victimization is made more potent by how people scramble madly away from being labeled a victim these days due to the stigma that’s been deliberately fabricated for that purpose. If there are no victims, then there are no victimizers. Great for victimizers! Ergo, Union Carbide didn’t poison and kill thousands in India, the drone program didn’t murder 22 civilians for every enemy combatant, and Dow Chemical hasn’t committed genocide against Native Americans in Canada for generations. Cute and very effective. You can see why the premise is popular in the corporate sponsored media and in corporate sponsored social science.

    It’s all very interesting because Perel is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and, at least by attempting to discredit a critique by hijacking the definition of the critic’s experience and thereby highlighting the “subjective” nature of that perspective, she’s basically spitting into the wind. Though, as far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong), Perel is too clever to admit to any truly personal brushes with adultery (whether in her family of origin, her own marriage or because she was a side chick back in her student days to some married prof at the University of Jerusalem? Who knows), the fact that she, out of obvious territorial defense, hijacked someone else’s right to label their own experience is very telling aside from being a cheap shot by someone who knows perfectly well they’re shielded from the same kind of personal attacks by the untouchability of Holocaust survivor experiences. It’s like someone punching you and then screaming “But I’m wearing glasses!” as you’re about to cold cock them back.

    As far as I understand, the following is the most Perel says about the link between being personally a member of a survivor group (if second gen) and her interest in infidelity.

    First Perel breaks down Holocaust survivors into two categories, which to me is a false binary that depends on one group being demonstrably “totally healthy” and the other “totally unhealthy.” As she puts it, there are “those who didn’t die, and those who came back to life”. “[T]hose who didn’t die were people who lived tethered to the ground, afraid, untrusting. The world was dangerous, and pleasure was not an option. You cannot play, take risks, or be creative when you don’t have a minimum of safety, because you need a level of unself-consciousness to be able to experience excitement and pleasure. Those who came back to life were those who understood eroticism as an antidote to death.”

    I have no idea if Perel illustrates serious caveats to what seems to be her driving principle, for instance that a frantic crusade for self fulfillment to counter trauma frequently leads to disaster. It also ignores the fact that many abusers use past suffering as entitlement-fodder, which is quite typical of antisocial personalities and Nazi apologists alike. How many times have we heard from apologists that the Versailles treaty caused the rise of Hitler?

    What’s more, it isn’t just survivors who utilize eroticism to chase away the specter of death. Hitler fucked and likely murdered his own niece and Nazis themselves used eroticism as an antidote to the death they dished out. Rape of prisoners was commonplace in the camps (mostly by guards but often by other prisoners, though discussion of the latter has been discouraged). Then there’s the documented fact that medical personnel conducted drunken orgies at Hadamar, the institutional child killing center in Nazi Germany where thousands of disabled children were gassed, starved, beaten and drugged to death– the extension of the “T4” eugenic murder campaign that virtually wiped out the entire population of disabled adults and children in western Europe.

    Vladimir Nabokov, who not only survived Stalinism but lost a brother to the Nazis, frequently draws a connection between “uninhibited eroticism” and violent authoritarianism. Like his beloved literary beacon Kafka, Nabokov juxtaposes perversion against average Joe horniness. But what seems to distinguish the two things for both authors is defined very well by “gestics,” a theatrical device coined by playwright Bertolt Brecht:

    “The pomp of the Fascists, taken at its face value, has a hollow gest, the gest of mere pomp, a featureless phenomenon: men strutting instead of walking, a certain stiffness, a lot of colour, self-conscious sticking out of chests, etc. All this could be the gest of some popular festivity, quite harmless, purely factual and therefore to be accepted. Only when the strutting takes place over corpses do we get the social gest of Fascism.”

    In other words, a “social gest” is an otherwise neutral and normal human activity or endeavor (like a parade, like eroticism) that is chillingly transformed into something ugly and inhumane by its requirement for victims.

    Eroticism in cheating arguably requires victims, otherwise why not file for divorce and/or announce the intention to stray before the fact and allow the other partner the right of choice over their bodies, their health, their home environment, their emotional labor investments, finances and futures based on fact?

    As most clinical observers and presumably reformed cheaters attest, the added sexual excitement of cheating largely depends on “sneaking around”– the existence of a victim, although usually one transformed into an ogre which may be the deeper injury. As CL and so many adultery survivors have pointed out, the “strutting” or “eroticism” involved in cheating commonly takes place over STD exposure and other forms of physical endangerment and abuse, financial abuse, traumatized children who are statistically more prone to develop depression and self destructive behaviors, shock, gaslighting, character assassination and similar typical neutralization attempts by cheaters to rewrite history and alter the characters of the betrayed spouse to justify the betrayal, uncharacteristic suicidal ideation on the part of the betrayed, etc.

    In any event, buckle up, CN. I suspect a psychobabble war has been declared, one with stakes that go “way beyond” the issue of cheating and get into modern, expedient concepts of “victimology” itself and what constitutes the very nature of abuse of power. Perel’s next oeuvre may bring with it some very science-y negations of chump perspectives (of course oozing with lugubrious “sympathy”) and will likely get a good amount of press since the blurring of lines between victim and perpetrator is a favorite message of every stripe of abuser of power.

  • D-Day was 2 months ago and like your husband, I HAD been married for 22 years…w/ 4 kids. Wife chose an AP that is the father of my 15 year old’s friend to add to the chaos and wake of her selfishness. The concept of “meaningless fling” seems so dismissive to my pain considering she’s destroyed our past, present and future. I finished “Leave a cheater, gain a life” this am and hope my Tuesday is ahead of me.

    I’d love to see you write about your husbands story or read more about long marriages and the SUDDEN realization of a cheater. My world is upside down, where have I been for 22 years? No sure what’s ahead of me, just putting one foot in front of the other…barely.

    • One Foot–

      Tuesday will come but two months out is a very short time. I think it helps to realize the trauma of this kind of betrayal involves actual physical injury and physical recovery. It takes time for severe damage to sleep architecture, neuro-feedback whatnot and the nervous system to repair, but this only begins when you stop drinking the cup of poison offered by a cheater.

      Even on the off chance that a cheater turns out to be a mythical unicorn and frantically does everything to redeem themselves, all they’re going to offer in the first year or so after D-day is pure poison. Exactly like violent domestic batterers, cheaters’ systems of self-exulpating rationalization existed long before they met you– usually learned from generations of dysfunctional families of origin– and are honed like daggers to negate the humanity of their victims. See, if victims weren’t victims and “deserved it,” then where’s the crime?- said every serial killer, fraudster and cheat in history. Don’t listen to any of it. You are Persephone in Hell– don’t eat the pomeganate seeds.

      Married very young here, D-Day after 21 years of marriage. Also discovered cheater had been a severe closet alcoholic for 4 years. Where was I? Busy doing what I was supposed to be doing, raising three amazing kids, saving the world by exposing toxic corporate malfeasance and expecting other adults to do what they were supposed to doing.

      The fact that the affair was meaningless and icky and conducted with a dumpy drunken cipher with a pickled ganglia at the base of her skull in place of a brain and a face like a Staffordshire terrier is funny in retrospect. But it was absolutely no comfort to me either immediately following the event. When someone you trusted casts you and your children under the umbrella of their own grotesquely low self esteem and seems to betray you for *nothing,* it’s disorienting. The lower the standards of the person who devalues you, the lower you feel in the immediate aftermath.

      In the eyes of the self-loathing, anyone who loves them must be even lower than themselves, even if this has zero bearing on reality (JZ serially cheating on Beyonce and other WTFuckeries, etc.). What they seek is un-love, sort of like anti-matter, to fill the existential void they create by pretending to be someone better than they are for years. It takes time to detach from the cheater’s disordered perspective. It requires retracting your own habitual empathy for the betrayer so that you no longer view reality and yourself through their distorted bug-vision.

      What can make this more complicated and challenging is realizing that the world is virtually run on false image management to the point that generations have their character radars dangerously miscalibrated. Perpetrators of every stripe and every tier of society specialize in skewing public perceptions of cues about character: The leading man/woman actor who plays “good guys” in films who, in real life, abuses their children and staff and has orgies with circus animals. The smiling politico oozing with charm and gooey charitable gestures who dumps their cancer ridden spouse and sells out public water rights and native lands to evil, toxic corporations. The icon of peace who rapes their loyal followers. And on and on. When the scales fall from our eyes in one way, they may fall in all ways. It’s not for the faint of heart but safer in the long run to shed dangerous social programming and illusions.

      I think meh is a long time coming partly because emerging from betrayal forces us to upgrade our world views and understanding of human flaws and tactics of deception. It’s an education and a tricky process to avoid landing in cynicism while still developing a keener appreciation of true integrity in other people. It’s the only glamour that exists and what a wonderful, enriching thing it is to see life through lens. Nothing else matters. How simple.

      As a kid I always wished I could see people like a character in a Stephen King novel who had visions of colored auras around others indicating good or bad or so-so characters. That’s never going to happen and there’s no shortcut to time and careful observation in getting to know others. But the recovery process in betrayal can bring us one step closer to seeing through masks. You can end up much better people in your lifeboat.

      • So much good stuff in your post.

        “What they seek is un-love, sort of like anti-matter, to fill the existential void they create by pretending to be someone better than they are for years.”

        This struck me because, I caught FW and schmoopie at our River Property, Which he conned me into signing for on the promise that it would be a wonderful retirement home for both of us. He even threw in that he would buy all new furniture for it. That was nice because in 20 years of marriage, I had never had one piece of new furniture, except an ugly water bed that he wanted. Anyway, Schmoopie scurried out of the cabin like a rat with my mother in law on her heels calling her a whore, in the meantime I just looked at him and said why are you doing this to us? He just looked at the floor shrugged and said “this is who I really am”. I got my personal stuff, and my mother in laws vacuum and left.

        I mean yes, he is a liar, but I wonder if he was speaking the odd truth, maybe that is who he always was and he just got tired of trying to be better.

    • Tuesday will come eventually. 2 months isn’t very long although I’m sure it feels like an indefinite time warp. Do what you can to protect yourself. Pull your credit reports and review joint accounts, talk to a lawyer to figure out options, and talk to a therapist if you’re so inclined. Cheaters tell many lies to make their affairs happen and she could already have other harmful plans to you in place. Look out for what is best for you & your kids because she’s proven you are not a priority.

      • “Look out for what is best for you & your kids because she’s proven you are not a priority.”

        So, so true.

        My ex FW actually called me after he left when I told him I wanted him to file. He called and said “I know you have no reason to trust me, but if we use the same lawyer, we can save a lot of money” Can you imagine the gall. He had spent the last year +change terrorizing me, insulting me, ignoring me, stealing from me; and now I should trust that he has my interest in mind. Yeah, didn’t happen.

        I know exactly what “settlement” he and his lawyer cooked up, and he actually thought he still had enough influence over me to con me into it. Then after the negotiation started, he called and tried to get me to let his mother have the one house we had that was paid for, and in exchange for that he would “allow” me to have the marital house and I could charge her rent for the paid off house.

        Wrong again asshole.

        • Susie Lee– I love reading about your “zaps.” He tries this bit of bs– ZAP. He tries another– ZAP. And a third, fourth, twentieth, umptieth tactic– ZAP.

          Only when you’ve come face to face with real evil do you truly understand why all those underlying defenses exist within our characters. Before anything serious happened to me, I used to scratch my head at the occasional, admittedly meek emergence of my own dark side, as if it shouldn’t exist and as if its existence proved I wasn’t really a harmless, nice, peace-loving person.

          Only someone extremely sheltered would wonder such a thing. I never wondered again once the existence of my “armed forces” turned out to be well warranted and deserving of a military budget in my personality. I think it’s actually made me nicer and more generous with most people. I don’t need to walk around with my defenses on high alert all the time because, well, that lump under my cardigan? It’s a rocket launcher. I trust myself not to reach for it until I really need it. And then look out (zap).

        • I didn’t get many zaps, I was in such shock, but I did relish the few I took.

          Honestly, the only regret I have is I wasn’t nastier. Like you I tried too hard to take the high road. Which is good to a degree, but dang we are human, and we deserve a few zaps against the monster.

          And by monster I mean against my FW. The whore was nothing but dog shit on my tennis shoe. Unfortunately you can’t get that stink out, so you have to toss the shoes. (as in toss the FW).

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