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UBT: Brene Brown with Esther Perel

The UBT can’t even.

Esther Perel is now a VERB?

Many alert members of Chump Nation sent me this Instagram nugget of crazy in which Vulnerability Influencer Brene Brown teams up with gal pal, cheater apologist Esther Perel to discuss… I’m not clear. Brene’s crumbling marriage? Paradoxes?

I always thought Brene Brown was a bit gooey. But no complaint with her until now. I mean, vulnerability is all very fine with people you trust, but it’s a piss-poor strategy with people you can’t. WTF is this pairing? Did their agents think this up? Is Esther trying to rub up against someone with actual academic credentials?

I am baffled by this promotion. Top billing, huge font! — Esther Perel. Itty bitty font, podcast with Brene Brown. Esther in the firmament above. Brene below. (Wrong finger pointing up, Brene.)

Enough Tracy! Unleash the UBT already!

Sigh. There is not enough Lebkuchen…

I got Esther Perel-ed, y’all.

Meet my new bestie! We got matching blonde highlights and friendship bracelets! Do we both look as if we were extruded from a Karen factory? That’s what it takes to be a white lady influencer in 2021. Esther, can I borrow your sweater?

In a matter of just a few short minutes, she explained how it was that the past 18 months with Steve have been simultaneously the toughest season of our marriage AND a period where we’ve known each other better than we have in three decades.

We’ve been holed up together during a pandemic and I’ll leave you to guess what “toughest season of our marriage” means.

Either Steve leaves the mayonnaise jar open and occasionally irritates me. Or he could no longer conceal his double life.

Guess! As I’m podcasting with the biggest mindfuck in the RIC, you chose correctly if you said “mayonnaise.”

I, as the great Vulnerability Influencer, do not care to share specifics.

She says, “In a couple, it’s a fascinating thing what happens to a paradox. It’s called ‘to split the ambivalence.’”

Garrulous earflaps prepare pierogies for fatuous elephants. Fascinating! More oolong, Bertie?

(I’m sorry, the Universal Bullshit Translator is malfunctioning. I haven’t rotated the tires since the last Esther Perel mindfuck.)

You know what makes paradoxes fascinating? Not explaining them!

That would require clear thought and direct sentences. But I like to toss my word salad with a light vinaigrette of ambivalence.

And in our marriage, Steve and I have been splitting the ambivalence over uncertainty.

We are ambivalent and uncertain about our marriage. Equally! Totally split down the middle. Dutch date.

And the struggle of the pandemic was just the thing to expose it.

It. Whatever It is. His irritating condiment habit. His fuckbuddy Veronica.


I shall only allow myself the anger of a mild expletive. I considered drat and fiddlesticks, but they carried too much judgement, too much toxic shame.

No, with Esther’s wise guidance, I shall eat the shit sandwich of exposure and pronounce my feelings “ambivalent.” Am I uncertain about my marriage? Let’s lead with unvarnished vulnerability and grow from the paradox! I have a small publishing fortune, what could go wrong?

Jeepers creepers. Botheration. Poop.


We’re going steady. Tune into our podcast for more fascinating paradoxes.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • OK. Brene Brown’s work was a big help to me. But Esther Perel? That’s a bridge too far.

    • This was a huge mistake for her.

      The gifts of imprecation is still one of my most treasured reads.

      • YES^^

        huge mistake. I loved Brene Brown. But this feels like she joined the enemy with the “subjective morality/blame victim” narrative.

        I feel betrayed & very disappointed.

        Also totally confused by the meaning of, if any, their post.

        Really. The ambivalence is all I get from it.

        • DITTO… She has been my hero up until now. I’m so sad, almost like the same feeling as being cheated on.

          • Agreed…I stopped following her on instagram over this…not that she cares but enough. Brene Brown is a disappointment.

      • Sorry, I am sure it was your auto-correct, but “imprecations” means curses. The Gifts of Imprecations indeed! ????

  • Do we both look as if we were extruded from a Karen factory?

    I am literally rolling around the floor. I want to love Brene Brown, she says some great stuff, but sometimes I get Brene Brown’d out and think she operates in a world that I can’t relate to (maybe as a chump) and she’s going to run out of new things to say soon I think so probably time to start cosying up to whoever seems popular right now.

    All I can say is god help her poor woman if that’s who’s looking at her marriage problems, sorry ‘ambivalences’. Word salad at it’s finest.

  • Did I miss something? Is it impossible that she’s the cheater? I hate all the coded messages. For someone who preaches vulnerability this was awfully cryptic(maybe I’m just dense). Either way, I’ve lost respect…

    • Exactly. She sounds like Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Prey, Love sociopath. Maybe the reason she doesn’t use grown up f bombs is because she’s obscuring and diluting her cheating and wrapping it Perel speak. Laying out an ‘evolutionary narrative”.

      • I used to worship Brene.
        But when I heard her interview the dreadful Glennon Doyle, and the pair of them gooing and giggling all over each other like teenagers with girl crushes, and praising their amazing buddy Liz, how wise and wonderful she is … ew, it was the smug In Group of Middle-Aged Enlightened Girls.
        I realised, yep she’s got some great observations and insights … but she is actually just the same as the rest of the attention-seekers. And now Esther, taking the verbiage garbage next level. Ugh.

      • Lisa, that was my exact reaction “She went all Eat Pray Love on us ” but I like your prey spelling. This whole cluster of women have brought dishonor on my demographic of Karenesque middle aged white ladies…Im embarrassed.

        The more I see how famous people act, the more I plan to stay unknown

        • Well said Unicornomore.

          Being unknown is awesome. Real relationships whether with kids or partners or pets even, are an investment of time, attention, and quality of energy.

          Wanna be thought leaders are shallow and need hoards of superficial attention and constant distraction.

          “The cobblers children have no shoes” comes to mind with these bamboozlers.

    • That was my first thought. Brene is the one who has been cheating…or there’s someone new on her horizon so she has to dump the husband and find a justification for it..? That whole middle aged white girl chick look… ugh

    • I knew Brown’s name but had no idea what she was known for so I googled around a bit and ended up peeking at her pediatrician husband Steve Alley’s Twitter. They don’t appear to have a daughter in women’s water polo so it was a bit curious that Alley has such a keen interest in the sport. No other sports on that feed, just women’s water polo. Then I remembered reading about the controversy of male vs. female competitive sports uniforms. Cough.

      Who knows what’s going on but since Perel is the go-to cheater apologist, why else does anyone convene with her on their marital issues? .Stay tuned for the Jerry Springer chapter in “Gurus Gone Wild.”

      • My thinking is that Esther P. can sound passable if you don’t listen critically to what she is saying and if you haven’t lived through the trauma of cheating. Many think of cheating as something that goes on a lot in marriages and can be fixed.
        The deeper awareness of the abuse including gaslighting, passive aggressive behaviors, devaluing, loss of marital funds etc. etc. aren’t thought about. Really it’s only CLady who talks about the nitty-gritty of cheating.
        These thought provokers pump each other up and become better known because of their girl power affiliations.

  • “Paradox” is just a convenient and self-serving rhetorical device cheaters use to characterize their contradictory statements. Like, “Yes I’ve been fucking the nanny for eight months,” but “I never stopped loving you.” That’s not a paradox, just an ordinary lie that hurts someone so much they want desperately to believe it’s something else. Shame on both of these snake oil sales ladies.

  • What the fuck! I did not need this this today. I like Brene Brown’s goofiness. I don’t buy all of her vulnerability stuff you have to be real selective with that. But the sleezy ick that is Ester Pearl..Please!
    And I have no idea what any of that blurb meant (probably nothing).
    Just say no Brene.

    • Exactly. I read that blurb three times over before I gave up trying to understand what that word salad meant.

  • Brene just got knocked down severely in my esteem after reading this.
    I don’t even understand what the Perel word salad even means.

    • Right? It’s actually a little disturbing to read nonsensical phrases like that. When I hear someone talk like that, I assume they’ve got some sort of mental disorder going on. No judgement, but maybe they shouldn’t be spewing advice at millions if they can’t construct a sentence that makes any sense.

  • CL, how would you feel if we nominated you for a TED talk? I just want your message out there to counter this Perel crap, which Brown has now endorsed. Ugh.????????‍♀️

      • I respect CL deeply for never having marketed _herself_ as a _personality_. Just the message, and being open enough with her own story that others feel safe and “seen.”

        Have the highest respect for her judgement, including if _she_ felt it was a good idea to do a TED talk.

        Brene Brown I never heard of before.

    • Isn’t there a way we can nominate in some website (like or something) to vote for her to do a TedTalk? I would love it!

    • I agree 1000%! We need a CL TedTalk to
      counter-balance this Esther Perel BS. And the world truly needs to hear her message!! Can you imagine how many people worldwide would be helped hearing her on a TedTalk???

  • #Sometimes … people are on a “permanent acid trip”!!

    That is what I thought of both Brene and Esther…

    Never seen, listened to, or read ANY of there “materials”…

    • I’ve read both Brene’s and Esther’s stuff. Don’t get it. Doesn’t make sense. I feel semi-qualified to say that I think its bullshit.

  • I have to admit I have no clue what this was all about, my knowledge of English is luckily not good enough, I guess.

    • No, it’s not you. I’m a native English speaker and I literally read the Instagram post three times trying (and failing) to understand what was going on.

    • Your understanding is just fine. The post is an incomprehensible word salad. Talking that way can be an indicator of any number of brain stuff going on from dementia to schizophrenia. It’s really disturbing.

      • Wikipedia also tells me that it can be used purposely by narcissistic people to confuse and gaslight. So there you go. Congrats to Brene Brown I guess, she just recorded herself being gaslit. Ugh.

  • I thought, “I got Esther Pereled, y’all” meant, “My spouse cheated on me then had the gall to justify it by citing a Belgian idiot who pretends to sophistication.”

    • thanks for the translation. It was a “bagged” word salad. The UBT translation was hilarious though.

    • I thought, “I got Esther Pereled, y’all” meant, “My spouse cheated on me then had the gall to justify it by citing a Belgian idiot who pretends to sophistication.”


      It could mean that Brene Brown cheated on her husband and Esther Perel has coached her on how to turn it around. “It’s not that I lied and cheated that is the problem – it’s you being so narrow-minded, controlling and Puritanical to be upset with me for doing so.”

      I had never heard of Brene before today so I’m not disappointed in her. If she is a cheater, becoming Perel’s buddy makes perfect sense.

      • I find that Esther Perel is the Great Spiritual Leader for the cheaters. A science writer I admired for a long time sent a newsletter once instead of focused on health science, he was saying how grateful he was to Esther Perel. Based on my admiration for him and his thinking, I spent a while looking up Esther, reading her ideas, etc.

        This was before I discovered my husband’s hidden life. and before I saw how much Esther was used by cheaters to self justify while simultaneously belittling the chump.

        Then my husband’s therapist had him reading Brene Brown. And he started using her language to justify himself. (He is gay. Which I discovered in a traumatic way. And then encouraged him to see a therapist. So he was justifying his hiding that all those years by saying how afraid he was to be vulnerable.). he was also using Brene language to make me seem bad. With total projection. Like “I am SORRY I am not ENOUGH for you!!!” And then he also said that to the kids, after I said I wanted a divorce: “I guess I was not enough for your mother.”

        At a certain point I realized he was just substituting Berne’s current hip words for other words he had used all along. Whatever the words du jour are. Like “I am codependent.” Or “I have trouble with intimacy.” Or “I am an adult child of an alcoholic.” All of those things may have been true, kind of. But they were not the truth. They were just believable words that hid what was really happening.

        This is what the RIC does. It is what Jesus cheaters do. Whatever value system and words suit the purposes of the abuser will be used.

        One day my husband even said to me: “it is NOT FAIR! You have. When working with a therapist did 5 years. You know all the words to use! I have only been seeing s therapist for less than a year. I don’t know any of the right words.” Like it is all about words.

        So I actually have wanted to vomit about anything Brene for a very very long time.

        Anyone’s ideas can be used to self justify. Except maybe chump lady’s words.

        However (treading verrrrrry lightly here)—sometimes I even read posts here on CL where the chump is saying stuff about their cheater. And there are red flags there that go beyond the normal “working through anger at the cheater” stuff including all our swearing and mocking. Sometimes there are posts on CL where I think, huh. This is different. Seems like maybe this is an abusive person. Who is using CL language to justify their abuse. I am not saying it is ok to have an affair. But I do think sometimes a relationship can so be incredibly cruel and controlling including financially and physically that a person is stuck. From a domestic violence point of view.

        Please do not beat me up here!

        My point is just that an abuser will use any language or philosophy they can to abuse and to justify their abuse. Perel. Brene. Jesus. Anyone’s words.

  • I’m among those who don’t agree with Esther Perel’s justifications about reconciliation following infidelity .

    But I don’t think ALL of her work is complete bunk, and I think honestly confronting ambivalence in marriage can be pretty valuable.

    As for Brown, she has had plenty to say about vulnerability and boundaries. No complaints about her.

    • The problem with her message is that it talks of a minority, where the cheater actually wants to fix their marriage in spite of what they’ve done. Those are rare cases. Most times cheaters carry on cheating and lying, and that’s why there’s nowhere to go.

      She’s not wrong in what she says about marriage and expectations, I heard her talking about the fact that many don’t give their best in their marriage. They settle in comfortably and don’t work at it, and then look for something else outside of it. I agreed with that. But it paints an unrealistic picture of the actual problem, and goes in contrast with what most experience.

      • The main problem I have with Perel is that she doesn’t address the issue of character. She gives a lot of reasons why marriages fall apart, and somehow that’s supposed to justify or excuse infidelity. what she doesn’t seem to realize is that this is a character issue. Two people were in that marriage, only one of them cheated. That person needs to fix themselves before they will ever be able to fix a marriage. fixing yourself is usually way too hard for people who are inclined to cheat in the first place. Those types usually take the easy way out, every time.

  • Nope, that’s just too much. 18 months pandemic then that? I can’t take it anymore!

    Not sure what’s worse “I’m gonna monetize my crumbling marriage” or “I’m gonna monetize your crumbling marriage”…


    I scrolled through hundreds of fawning comments hoping to find proof that I was not the only chump in the world that was nauseous about Brene fawning over the poop-spreader… alas, I was alone. Everyone was elated.
    I found Brene in my lowest, most tortured years — trying to survive the cheating pain. This does not compute. :/

    • We are twins.

      I saw this post on LinkedIn, of all places, and I immediately unfollwed Brene without a second thought the moment I saw the first two lines and the first ten joyful replies. Didn’t even look further to see what I may have missed.

      I don’t need to know what I missed.

      I know Perel takes her message well beyond open-mindedness and unabashedly advocates for deception, abuse, and immeasurable harm. There’s no nuance to misunderstand. She has zero conscience about supporting abusers. She doesn’t care if your partner’s choices and deception kill you. All she cares about is defending a person’s right to self-gratify at the expense of others. She says it, and defends it, all the time, even now.

      That sort of blatant sadistic toxic narcissism doesn’t go away with time. It’s pathological, and deadly.

      So, anyone who aligns with Perel gets my tail lights, immediately, without further consideration, every time, forever.

      Peace out, Brene. It was good while it lasted.

      • They were clearly deleting any negative comments. I saw one and it’s not there anymore. Hmmm

  • I may have to just pretend this isn’t a thing. Brene Brown’s work has been one of the most important things to have ever come into my life, including helping me remove myself from my marriage to a guy who exhibited narcissistic tendencies (which I say only because it’s not my job to diagnose him). Esther Perel, on the other hand, was part of the reason I had to do remove myself.

    I’m just not ready to look too closely.

  • I’m guessing that Brene Brown has been having marital trouble, her publicist put her in touch with Perel, Brene – perhaps due to brain fog from stress-induced sleeplessness – was dazzled by by Esther’s polysyllabilism and the cryptic-nigh-incomprehensible Instagram post ensued.

    But this is all guesswork. The only thing I’m confident about is the involvement of at least one publicist.

  • Tracy, I am so disappointed. Brene is probably desperately seeking some solution for a marriage gone south and fell into the clutches of that horrid “cheater apologist”. I’ve read all of Brene’s books, traveled to hear her lecture. I feel betrayed, I thought she knew better.

    I want to tell Brene to run away from the horrendous word salad and mind fuck that is Ester Perel. I promised my lawyer I wouldn’t be publicly active on social media. But damn, somebody send this to Brene. She deserves better.

    It comforts me to see so many chumps share my feelings. I feel like we lost a wise woman to the Dark Side. Today I am mourning Brene Brown.

  • I have not appreciated the limited amount of Brene Brown’s work that I’ve read. I have friends who adore her. I’ve always just nodded and said, “Oh, wow!” through their fawning reviews in the past. Now, I feel justified. I will no longer bother wondering what I’ve been missing or if I just need to read more of it.

    • Me too????????????????????????????????????????

      My take: Brown says she is a recovering alcoholic. The “root” of alcoholism is selfishness. Big Book of AA page 62. To recover, the alcoholic must have a complete moral and psychic change. Recovery is contingent on the daily/hourly/constant maintenance of the spiritual condition of service and a state of love and tolerance (refraining from selfishness and dishonesty). Sounds like Brown’s pursuit of money and fame (self-interest) is an emotional slip away from spiritual principles.

      She’s on dangerous ground in her own recovery IMO. (I’m sober 33 years in AA)

    • I had never heard of Perel until CL wrote about her, and I read some interview with Brown once and she reminded me of the Eat, Pray, Love author who we know to be a navel gazing narcissist (I hadn’t read Eat, Pray, Love but saw what’s-her-face on TV and read about her here also).

      Still don’t get the fascination with any of them.

      I do however think it’s nuts that Chump Lady isn’t as well known as that bunch.

      • I’m with you. I never saw the appeal of any of them, Perel, Brown, or Gilbert, and I’d add Pema Chodron and Glennon Doyle to the list, too. They all seem to me to peddle a lot of self-serving “I found the answer, I’m giving it to you and aren’t I great?”

  • brene has lost a lotta weight in the last year and appears strained in her interviews. i’m guessing she’s under stress; i mean, we’re all under stress during COVID but i wonder.

    i’ve often wondered how it would play out if brene split up from steve–he’s a major part of her professional narrative. and i will also say, i’ve often wondered how difficult it would be to be married to brene because she talks a lot. she’s smart but she talks a lot.

    this does not mean that i don’t love brene brown and her work on vulnerability. it’s central to my own learning/growth over the past several years.

    if she’s been chumped and is struggling i owe her the benefit of the doubt re: esther perel. i mean, chumps struggle to figure it all out, right? and it takes time.

    • “brene has lost a lotta weight in the last year”….hmmm… pretty common cheater red flag…just sayin’

  • Aww crap! I really loved Brene but that was a whole lot of vague-booking. Ok, cut the crap- who cheated and who is eating the shit sandwich??

  • Something definitely is up with this, and I agree that there are other, uninformed people who perhaps brought them together. Sad that she used her platform to shovel more of the Perel BS. Brene dropped a bit in my book, but when you are tired and anxious, and potentially staring at the end of a long marriage, I can see why she was duped.

  • I have been turning Brene Brown off since she was unable to go more than four sentences without uttering a “truism” which will become a book title or seminar offer. Not surprised she hooked up with Perel – joint projects seem to have become the alternative to in-person book tours.

    It’s too bad because Brown has a research background and some success in humanizing business leaders.

    I wouldn’t mind if she ended up using her platform to bash cheaters and their defenders.

  • Of course there are reasons marriages break and I even think some of her insights are valid. But cheating is betrayal. Perel just glosses over that like it’s an inevitable part of the process and not life the universe shifting mindfuck experienced by those of us on the receiving end. No amount of finding your sexy is going to fix a relationship when people’s characters are not equal. It’s a setup for more abuse.

    I hope Brene isn’t stuck in a hopium phase. I’ve always liked her work.

  • I hope Brown has protected her earnings from Steve. Divorce in TX can be tough (have one in the family).

    Otherwise… (wow?) Bummer.

  • Split the ambivalence. As in, here- you take half, I take half. Now neither of us knows what the hell is going on and the cheater can cloak themselves in the lie that they are just in a FOG and you both contributed EQUALLY to the problems in the marriage.

    Equally, like how the cheater raw-dogged Back Page randos and the Chump didn’t clear the microwave back to the clock display after using it.

    It’s ambivalent like that.

    Also, what the hell with all this “season” dreck. I am hearing this fad-talk constantly for every trial and tribulation which of course thinks past the sale that whatever horrors going on will just go away if we hunker down and wait it out, these things are natural. Wait long enough and this season will be over, here comes the spring. Don’t make any rash decisions about protecting yourself because hey, it is just a season.

    Chumps, do not sit out your dark winter waiting for the skies to clear, it never gets better.

    • So very true that some things never get better because they are headed over the cliff already. I think some people have a hard time drawing the distinction. I sure did.

      I can get better at making an omelet because it’s something minor that can be improved with a little work and practice. I can use better ingredients and get better at controlling the temperature. Even if I’m not-so-great at omelets, the results can still be decent though. My now-adult kids loved anything with eggs when they were growing up, so they didn’t care about my experiments.

      HOWEVER, my marriage was already so far down the hole that it was effectively gone when he left. We had been in trouble for a long time, and his departure was catastrophic. His family told me “love conquers all,” and he sent me books that are fine for polishing a good OK marriage and toxic to a failing marriage. He and his family thought we could paint over everything and start over like it never happened even though the house had fallen down the cliff. No one else, professional or not, thought that was a good idea.

      Now when I hear about people accomodating serious issues in a marriage, I have to bite my tongue. I get why some people stay of course, but sometimes you have to do the hard thing and end it. I have a dear friend who is in her third round of cancer treatments. Her husband is a workaholic and a porn addict who largely takes her for granted. There may be more, but that’s all she thinks there is. Not long ago, she decided to cancel any further attempts at marriage counseling and getting him to change. Early next year she will become a grandma, and she’s hoping to be healthy for that and around as long as possible. She’s in therapy herself and is in a place of peace. My ex, on the other hand, was trying to destroy everything and pretend it didn’t happen. I had to get out.

      Now I understand things like that, which is quite a change at my age!

      • “books that are fine for polishing a good OK marriage and toxic to a failing marriage”

        What is with this? Post-DDay fuckwit tried to make me read 10 principles of successful marriage (or some similar shit) and do the exercises. I was like, no way, I’m not sure I even want to be married to you. I’m not reading 200 pages about how to make you feel better about having shit on our marriage.

        MC’s compromise (she didn’t say that, but it’s exactly what she was doing) was to have us do one other photocopied exercise from some other book. I tried but…I knew at that point, a lot of our marriage was fakery. I would have had to put massive blinders on to say anything nice about him other than the odd anecdote.

        • One of my (hidden gay) husband’s first things he wanted me to do—was to go to counseling with him to “work on our communication issues.” I told him that if there was any chance of staying together we would need counseling but that I would not go at all until Mgr “buried his weapons of war” and stopped blaming me for things.

          At that point he asked me to tel him what it was that he did—his was he blaming me, etc. I said I had never been a critic in our marriage. But I trusted him (hahaha!) that he wanted to work on things. But of course by me telling him things—no matter how carefully—it gave him ammunition. I was so mean. I expected too much.I was a black and white thinker. I did not care about him. I was not patient. I was not kind. I was not trustworthy. “You just want to bully bruise and batter me!” And “so I just have to listen to your VOMIT? I can expect you to just VOMIT on me?” Or I would call to see when he was heading home from work (timing dinner with kids) and he would start breathing all scared-like and say, “you are so controlling! You are so controlling!” Etc.

          So yeah, he kept blaming me.

          Other times he would say, he had listened to my “too many words.” OK. But like somehow I imagined he wanted to hear them because he said he did.

          Later in the process he also would say again, kind of crying and petulant like a toddler: “we need to go to counseling to work on our communication issues!!” And I said, “what are those issues? What are my communication issues?” And he got all sullen, red faced, “WE! HAVE!! ISSUES!!!”

          So yeah. Counseling.

          And then after he would not settle the divorce through mediation and slammed me with court orders full of accusatory stuff, he set it all up with “I had hoped to reconcile but she has refused.” And when I filed my response I was short but said I had tried an entire year but he was gay or bisexual and unable to be monogamous with me.” And then his response to that was a tirade including “she wouldn’t go to counseling!”

          I mean really??

    • Thanks for explaining that, I had no idea how anyone could split ambivalence. Word mayonnaise.

  • Brene Brown and the cult of Brene Brown concern me and annoy me at the same time. Too many people are her disciples. I “told my story” to my cheating narc ex and he spewed the same passive aggressive ambivalent word salad. He didn’t care about me, he didn’t care about my feelings, he didn’t care that he threw a bomb into a 30 yr marriage. When he QUOTED Perel, smoke came out of my ears, I was so angry. Telling me I had old fashioned morals and I stood on my moral high ground because I wouldn’t let him do what he wanted–he STAMPED his foot–he wanted to renegotiate our marriage vows so he could have a polyamory/monogamish marriage. You know what I did, Brene? I lawyered up.

    • Does Brene Brown do a disclaimer to the effect of ‘don’t try to apply my principles to lying, heartless, duplicitous scum?’

      • She really doesn’t. I love her and think her advice works around people with empathy but she really doesn’t acknowledge dangerous minds who shouldn’t be trusted now or ever. I’ve been waiting for her Pollyanna days to end. She’ll have even more to offer people then.

  • I am glad I am not the only one who needed a translation to the above…even with the translation I am still confused but that is just me.

    Yep, still head spinning and confused because of Mr. X shenanigans. I am NC and have been for 2 years now but the wreckage of my past still visits me on a daily basis as memories float up in my consciousness and I see yet another red flag whereas in the past it was a memory of marital bliss.

    Confusion isn’t a bad thing. It is just getting used to the fact that last 30 years of my life was a lie on many, many levels so now my unconscious mind is uber busy sifting through all that debris and organizing it though a new lens leaving my conscious mind confused in the mean time. Like standing in my house while movers come in on a daily basis and move all my furniture around over and over and over again.

    I was totally RICed for 2 years so I am thinking Brene may be too. I am not a follower of hers but I do understand denial and how long it takes to wake up. I was certain that Mr. X would wake up and all I had to do was be loving and tolerant and understanding while waiting for that to happen. Right?

    If my life then had gone viral people would have questioned my sanity.

    Luckily it was played out on a much smaller stage – close friends and family.

    Took me 2 years to wake up. Took me that long to find LACGAL and CL/CN. That did it for me.

    I am still fundamentally baffled by my own level of denial. I am also impressed that our minds are capable of doing that. (I should interject that Mr. X is a covert passive aggressive narcissist so he looked and acted fabulous – the Perfect Husband and Father.)

    I hope Brene finds CL and CN.

    I will wait to pass judgment for several years on this one just simply due to the fact I have seen this sort of thing happen many times. ‘They’ look good on the outside but shells can be cracked wide open. Things take time and then we shall see how solid, or not, she is.

    One of the things I love about getting older is that I am trusting my own intuition and my own judgment now that I have cut loose and am on my own.

    • “I am still fundamentally baffled by my own level of denial. I am also impressed that our minds are capable of doing that.” ME TOO!!!

      Like you, I’m constantly hit with unwanted recollections. A certain store where he bought shoes.That park where the two of us pushed our granddaughter in a stroller. I see red flags that I missed in real-time. I see how I explained away his silent treatment by telling myself he was deep in thought about patients and his upcoming retirement (a retirement he most likely took to impoverish himself before what he knew would be a divorce). I see how I was so painfully kind and how that kindness was not returned. I see that he did not respect me and that he pulled away and engineered arguments. In the end, he must have wanted so much to be with his new, young honey, and I was in the way of that. It just boggles my mind. And it hurts like hell.

      They say to make new memories. Go into that store with someone you love. Have a great time, and record over the old tape. That’s just not really working for me. And it’s been almost two years! I thought I’d be further along by now.

      News of his impending marriage has caused me to backslide big time. Dammit!!!

      Btw, CN, I broke NC to send him a short, businesslike email. In it, I said that in the future he should not send anything to me c/o our daughter. I told him to use email instead.

      Even that small email made me feel empowered. I set a boundary. I protected my daughter from getting these upsetting letters at her address (he doesn’t have mine). Small victory.

      I guess recovery isn’t linear. Just when you think it’s almost Tuesday, you’re flung back to Wednesday.

      • I agree on making new memories in some of the places you were before with someone who sucks. It’s like taking your world back. There’s some beautiful hikes I’ve taken friends on that the ex introduces me too and my new memories with better people just squash the old ones with him. It feels like a triumph to rewrite the story and meaning of places in your own terms

      • I’m sorry you’re going through this, Spinach.
        You’re one of the commenters on this thread that always seems so clever and together, and I read everything that you write to help me stay on course.
        I guess we will all have gray, foggy times in the new post-EX life, and I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine again soon.

        • Thanks, Bees. Yeah. It’s a process. You’re right that we all have bad days, I guess.

          Funny because as I write this, the sun HAS come out, quite literally. It was raining earlier, and I was caught walking in it without an umbrella. I got soaked.

          The metaphor writes itself.

      • Spinach…

        ‘2 years’ for you.

        I am 4 but 2 were doing the RIC pick-me dance.

        It have been 2 years NC.

        I was with him for over 30 years.

        I do not think I will fully ‘recover’ from this for a long time – or even in my life time so I cut myself a lot of slack. I do trust that our psyches do know how to heal themselves so I am banking on that!

        Mostly I feel dumbfounded/gobsmacked when a new memory/red flag pops up.

        I remember someone at an Al-Anon meeting, right after d-day when I was in total shock and banking on his waking up and realizing he was making a huge mistake, telling me that she has been divorced for over 50 years and still gets ‘surprised’ by things she is still finding out via her adult children….She is in her 90’s.

        Hearing that gave me permission to be gentle and kind to myself with this process.

        Hugs to You.

      • Spinach, I’m so sorry. This all absolutely sucks.

        If your ex disregards this new boundary, can I suggest you empower your daughter to invest in a red sharpie?

        She can use this to write ‘Return to Sender’ on each and every one of his letters.

  • I saw a segment on the morning news show about people my age trying to figure out how they want to live during whatever amount of time they have left. One of the points was it is different to be in your 60’s now than it was a few decades ago. We may live 20 more years, so how do we want to live? The guy being interviewed stated he had surveyed a group of people about their analysis of how they had lived so far. A third of the group said they regretted their marriage, either who they married, or when they married, or both.

    I do not know the scientific accuracy of his survey. But being a regular CL reader, I tend to wonder if only a third spoke up, and if the actual number may not be higher? Marriage is hard work, and any relationship during a pandemic is even harder work. Why are we assuming Brown’s marriage problem includes cheating? She, or he, may just be over living with the life choices they made years ago. Who knows, and is their problem really any of our concern? If a couple is considering splitting up a long term marriage, and pursuing different life interests for whatever amount of life they have left, I believe that is their business. If Brown is a part of the couple, I also believe there is a lot of communication going on.

    Personally I have enjoyed her talks. I am not one to get star struck, and I try very hard not to investigate the lives of people I like something about. A good musician may not be a good person, a good teacher may not be a good husband or wife. I do not live with them, I don’t want to know. My boundaries offset my curiosity. I may be nosy, and wonder, but I shut the lid on that Pandora’s box, because it is not part of my life.

    Is marriage really a paradox? Maybe. Is there ambivalence? Probably. My young self was certainly different from my present self. I presumed many things, and was following a false dream. I didn’t know, at the time it was false. Does that may me stupid? I don’t think so. When you don’t have facts, and you don’t have experience, you form opinions based on limited information. Sometimes, you make mistakes. You adapt, learn, and move forward. Even without the cheating, there was enough wrong in my 20 year marriage for me to end it. I was not the same person at 44 that I was at 24. I am a different person now. Experience changes you like the wind and water and temperature change the face of the earth.

    • All this can be true too. Sucks being so in the spotlight while trying to figure out your love life. I’m not envious of her. It’s just weird for her talk about marriage problems without getting too specific. Of course we wanna know! She’s been specific before — why not now? Our curiosity is only human.

      • Exactly and why with Esther? Perhaps the vagueness works in the context of click bait, wanting draw people in with the unknown.

    • We’re assuming it’s cheating because Esther Perel specializes in recontextualizing adultery.

      It is certainly possible that the issue is more garden-variety “the sex isn’t like it was when we were first married”. I think that tends to get fall under “reasons why my cheating was your fault”, but I guess it could be a standalone issue in a monogamous marriage also.

  • If Brene Brown is hanging around with Esther Perel her marriage must be in the shitter

    You can only do a ‘this is just a story I tell myself’ routine so long

    Eventually the shit starts to smell too bad to perfume it over

    • My heart isn’t bleeding.

      As a compulsive researcher, I just braved Perel’s Twitter feed and found her promoting a new joint podcast with her “dear friend” Brene Brown.

    • Brene has never talked about how problematic that “the story I’m telling myself” thing is in the wrong company. I get where she’s coming from with it, and with good people, that phrase can really help clear up some misunderstandings. But I did that “am I crazy or” thing with an abusive liar and of course he loved taking every opportunity to tell me my perception was crazy and overdramatic when I was actually seeing exactly straight all on my own. I used to think I couldn’t have my own reality — people had to agree with my story or I was being crazy. I now know that I can read some situations all on my own and not ask or crosscheck with anyone. Just because your husband, your friends and family are more comfortable not believing you doesn’t mean your understanding of a situation is crazy or inaccurate.

      • >Brene has never talked about how problematic that “the story I’m telling myself” thing is in the wrong company.
        I think that this might be a big part of why Brene is now shilling for Esther Perel. Brene doesn’t know the danger, and her empathy/fame would make Brene an ideal target for narcs. Despoiling innocence and good intentions and getting away with it is part of the thrill for many sociopaths. We all know how convincing these evil folks are. I’m more sure of this than that Brene or Steve are cheating. I also like the the theory that some marketer push for cross promotion.

        >I used to think I couldn’t have my own reality — people had to agree with my story or I was being crazy.
        Oh goodness. Well said, and unfortunately I know what that’s like. Terrible place to be. But it sure makes controlling a target easier.

  • I don’t know Brene Brown BUT I’m getting the feeling the only reason she is cozying up to Perel is because SHE is the cheater.

    Cheaters LOVE Esther Perel. She is their guiding star and handy-dandy abuse apologist.

    “You are too narrow-minded and provincial to understand that my fucking the pool boy was NECESSARY for my growth as a human being and the betterment of our marriage. I couldn’t tell you because I was protecting you! You disapprove? Well, sophisticated people do it all the time. If you aren’t sophisticated, then all the more reason for me to lie to you (and cheat).”

    But I don’t know, of course.

    Yes, a million times yes to Tracy giving TED talks and being booked on talk shows, podcasts, etc. to change the narrative away from celebrating lying, cheating and stealing.

  • “Garrulous earflaps prepare pierogies for fatuous elephants. Fascinating! More oolong, Bertie?”
    Thank you CL! This is what Brene Brown sounds like to me all the time. I read some of her books over the years and they did not help me the way they seem to help other people. However, I thought she was a solid researcher. Something got her off track, probably one of them is cheating since she’s teaming up with EP (gag). Will be waiting to hear who the cheater is….

  • From “Moonstruck,” one of my favs of all time. Cosmo Castorini is less ambiguous than Brene Brown:

    Cosmo Castorini: You’ll have your eyes opened for you, my friend.

    Johnny Cammareri : I have my eyes open.

    Cosmo Castorini: Oh yeah? Well, stick around. Don’t go on any long trips.

    Johnny Cammareri : I don’t know what you mean.

    Cosmo Castorini: I know you don’t. That’s the point. I’ll say no more.

    Johnny Cammareri : You haven’t said anything!

    Cosmo Castorini: And that’s all I’m saying.

  • Wrong finger, indeed. Lol. Snort. Oh CL, you nail it every time.

    My first take on this promotional ad is….

    It is not uncommon for business people, creatives, influencers, hopefuls, etc., to CROSS PROMOTE.

    Even the filthy rich seek higher exposure to gain more and more wealth and power. Making money of this magnitude can become an addiction just like any other drug.

    Does CN remember the book, “Smart Women… Foolish Choices.”? Whenever I see someone so intelligent, insightful and resourceful as Brene making excuses for Fuckwit follies, I think of that book. Perhaps it was Brene that left the mayonnaise jar open and toilet seat down? That’s enough incentive for any spouse to seek new flavours at the ice cream counter, is it not? Snark Sarc. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
    BTW, I’ve never subscribed to the BS that someone has a long term marriage then out of the blue ducks around at the 20 year mark, etc. 99% of the time that’s how long it took for fuckwit to let the guard down and get caught.
    I also don’t believe in Mid-Life “crisis”. I believe in Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that only requires 2 things to commit adultery/infidelity:
    1. Entitlement
    2. Opportunity

  • Oh FFS, am I going to have to listen to the whole goddamn 75 minutes to figure out what they’re getting at??? I am soooooooo disappointed in Brene Brown for even having Esther Perel on her podcast, but I can’t allow myself to comment on her post directly until I’ve actually listened to the drivel. UGH!!!!! Can someone do some Cliff Notes on this one, LOL?

    It’s weird… reading her writing over the years (and her work has been extremely beneficial to me – until now), I always had this question whether or not Steve was cheating on her. Hmmmm. Curious now. But ugh, just ugh.

  • I normally do not like the Karen trope, but I do make exceptions. This is Lebkuchen-brilliant: “Do we both look as if we were extruded from a Karen factory?”

    Also, my divorce was final this past… Tuesday. ????

  • I’ve never trusted sugary syrupy, pat em on the popo spiel. That’s why I’m here, for the honest, direct conversation. I’m sick to the core of ” non judgmental “, “virtue signaling “, phony, fake, pap we hear daily from influencers. When you have suffered years of being lied to, you become hypervigilant to those types. To quote ” if you can’t explain simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Believe me we all know the material in this course, read the chapter, took the test. Case closed.

  • You know I never was fond of her work ever- and friends would tell – read this or read that – and I just felt like “that feeling” something was off. Sort of like two other authors that come to mind that turned out to be cheaters but are ever so popular authors. Narcissist alert I guess that I possessed after living with one for so long. I saw this on Instagram and it was like uh uh not surprised.

  • I love Brene Brown. She has a huge blindspot for how to handle extreme narcissism though. I’ve read all of her books, all of her videos, just about every podcast. I just saw Esther in the feed this morning and was like, yeah this really confirms the blind spot. As wise and smart as she is, there’s some major stuff she has not fully confronted if she can’t acknowledge there are narcissists and there is a whole other playbook for handling them. She has said her marriage was struggling a little bit this last year in some podcast episodes. Esther being brought into the mix may be all we need to know that maybe her husband was cheating. He’s a doctor … I know a lot of them end up in the cheater camp. Hope that isn’t the case but the UBT may be cutting straight to the chase here.

  • Obviously Brene or Steve got caught stepping out, ahem, I mean “finding their aliveness” and Berne’s word salad is an attempt to obscure exactly who did what.

    Currently the cheater and the chump are in the initial throes of angst/shock/denial and Perel’s snake oil is being sought out as a magic elixir. Many of us have been there.

    I give it another year or two before word filters out about the separation and divorce. It takes time for the chump to come to his/her senses and figure out how many knives have been casually plunged into his/her back. Stay tuned.

    • I think you are right GDD.

      It would strike me that if she was truly worried about her marriage failing, she would work on it privately, not exposing it to public conjecture/negativity while in a delicate state. After all marriage is between 2 people.

      I think she’s reaching for Perel for a lifeline not to save her marriage, but for her own image, and sanctified cerebral narcissist divorce. She’s prepping the public.

      And then the public will be offered a condescending spiritually paradoxical mindfucking, faux humble
      magnum opus on divorce.

  • I can only imagine listening to these two would be like sticking my head in a blender. Hard pass.

    Whatever Tracy does or doesn’t do regarding a TED talk or whatever, I fully support. (I love podcasts, personally.) But really, this needs to be a grassroots movement of better education for people to enforce their boundaries and chumps emotionally supporting each other to get out. To find Tuesday. To spread the word that this is abuse, not normal, and not to be tolerated.

    A friend I have known 20 years said to me the other day that she had to just get on her soapbox and tell me to file papers and get the hell away from klootzak. (She doesn’t know I’m working on it. I keep my plans super quiet so there is no risk until I file.) But it is so rare for people to speak up and tell the chump to get out and to offer what help they can. It seems rare and amazing when it occurs.

    As someone here once said, I’m getting divorced BECAUSE I believe in marriage. Because I respect it and what it is supposed to be, I’ll end the fake, sick version that I have where one partner just abuses the other. I should have realized it was over back when he would talk about us growing old together and I couldn’t picture it. Not once! I can imagine my son growing up. I can envision touring Europe in my golden years. But being with klootzak into old age? No mental image of it at all. The idea of being chained to his lying, cheating, narcissistic self was unbearable to my mind’s eye. Deep down I knew and I know I am going to have to end this. This relationship is not acceptable to me. And the popular wisdom that you’re supposed to fight for your marriage to the bitter end needs to stop. Cheating is not normal and degrading and abusing your spouse isn’t, either. The message should be loud and clear that it is OK to get away from abusers. But it’s a message that is one we need to spread like disciples far and wide. Let no chump go unsupported.

    • Well said. I wish I had your clarity at such an early stage in the divorce process. You’re on the right track. Best of luck and godspeed!

  • I am a pretty smart person but I have no fucking idea what the Karens are on about. But Brene is off my list for having the bad taste to point at Esther and be BFFs. What a career limiting move to hang out with the cheater apologist.

  • I used to like Brene Brown until after my D-day and I realized that my FW’s reasoning sounded just like her! “I won’t let my shame define me,” “I am bigger than my mistakes,” “We are all works in progress,” “You can’t address wrongdoing with shame but with kindness.” She is a grade A projector and blame-shifter. I bet she is the cheater here. If not, she is someone who has made a career, a TED talk, and a fortune out of untangling the skein.

  • I have never cared much for Brene. I always feel like she uses 100 words when 10 would have sufficed.

  • Splitting the ambivalence:

    “Ambivalence mastery is postulated as a primary dynamic in triangulation, by appealing to splitting and other defense mechanism strategies in synthesizing incompatible affect. ”

    The explanation is as shoddy as the actual sentence.

    What is a marriage season?

    • Whose definition of ambivalence is that? Makes me think of the Orwell quote: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

    • So translating that from $100 words to $2 words: Perel considers it “mastering abivalence”, if when chumps are cheated on (triangulated), chumps are able to ignore their real feelings and perceptions by spackling because those feelings of unease or betrayal seem “incompatible” with their trusting world-view; and when cheaters “triangulate” ie cheat, they can “master ambivalence” by ignoring any feelings of guilt or of empathy for the chump’s pain.
      Wow, so when I was making all those excuses for Mr. Sleazy’s not contacting me when he was away on trips while still feeling bad about it, I wasn’t spackling, I was just “mastering ambivalence to synthesize incompatible affect”.
      And when he used meditation to compartmentalize and defuse feelings of guilt about his callous use of me, he was just achieving “ambivalence mastery”, not monstrous callousness.
      I guess splitting the ambivalence is where the chump takes the blame for the cheater’s lack of basic integrity. Perel is disgusting.

        • That’s exactly it, they fuck with your mind when they’re fucking other people.
          It’s truly upsetting that Brené Brown has given Esther P. even more of a voice.
          Against my better judgement I watched ‘Dirty John 2’ the other night….. what would Esther P say about that behaviour?

  • Dear Esther and Brene,

    You know what should be a lot of hard work? Work. Actual, literal, lucrative toil. You know what should not be this much work? Marriage.

    If I wasn’t already anti-marriage, your blather would seal the deal for me. I would rather be alone forever than attempt just one line of your meaningless drivel.

    Look! I can say words too!

    • I remember when I put a lot of work into marriage :
      Daily affirmation
      Date nights without the kids
      Making sure she had time off with her girls
      Paying for her further education because we had shared goals and I believed in her
      Listening, to learn more about her
      Communicating my own feelings
      Coffee in bed for every morning
      Doing plenty of housework and paying for a cleaner when it all became crazy with two young kids
      And so on

      She still cheated throughout this whole marriage bliss , I “worked” so hard for

      Fuck it

      The only work I do now, is to become the best possible father I can be.

      • THIS. Done working my ass off for one-sided relationships. Your kids are worth investing in.

    • I agree Mia. I don’t usually post a lot when anyone mentions how much work a marriage takes. Effort, and communication yes of course.

      It is kind of hard to explain, and I guess the line between normal effort and work is different for everyone. And maybe it is because I am old now, but I want to freaking relax and feel comfortable. So far so good.

  • ???? But really, must the UBT sully Bertie and Oolong by association?

    I’ve heard Brown talk about her husband, and he sounded like my ex- an uncommunicative, self-absorbed twat. She told one story in particular in which he was clearly behaving like a dick, but she found a way to blame herself. I stopped listening to her “wisdom” after that. It sounds great, but as CL says, it only applies to people who genuinely care about you. It’s crazy to be vulnerable with somebody who doesn’t.

    I would not be at all surprised if her husband was a cheater, since Brown seems like a massive chump. What a juicy morsel for Perel to get her hooks into.
    Gross. Just gross.

  • In the recovery community, which I joined in 1985, there is a premium placed on walking the talk.

    To me, “being vulnerable” means speaking plainly, simply, and honestly about myself and what’s going on in a way that doesn’t leave my listener scratching their head wondering “WTF does that mean?” and in need of subtitles, explanations, or a translating app.

    Baffflegabbling gobbledeygook reminds me of unethical used car salesmen. Or authors casting a spell to shill their latest tome.

    I am disappointed that Brene is aligning with Esther Repel and co-signing her abuse endorsement horsesh*t.

    It doesn’t sound to me like Brene is walking the talk here. I wonder if this is publicist-prescribed pre-emptiness spin to salvage the brand which may in the near future no longer feature endearing anecdotes about Steve….

    I’ll take authenticity and integrity over faux vulnerability for 200, Alex.

    • TYPO

      “pre-EMPTIVE spin”

      You can chase this unholy podcast with the episode of Red Table Talk where Jada Pinkett Smith, another cheater hiding in Esther Repel’s skirts, is explaining her affair to Will Smith. The look on his face says it all. And Will? Looks like Lady Karma has your address…..

  • When I was running my little speaker business (Chump Lady came to Australia under its banner), I approached Brene Brown to do a workshop. Maybe a year after her first Ted Talk. I was declined because she only workshopped with those seriously involved in the vulnerability and shame paradigm. I was also advised her fee would not be something I could meet. I wasn’t told what but this usually means upward of $50k for a couple of hours. That exclusive snobbery crystallised her to me in a lightbulb moment. She’s climbing the ladder to pop culture guru-ism despite the “sincerity” peddled on screen. How’s that genuinely spreading the message to the masses?

    A Year later, Dan Siegel, one of the worlds most influential neuro-psychiatrists accepted my invitation with enthusiasm. He came and spoke about the neurobiology of trauma. I had 450 in the audience and he held them in the palm of his hand. Dropped his fee for me and signed a no compete so I had exclusive rights to him. We went to the pub for lunch the day before and he wanted to know all about me. Genuinely. He was such a kind, authentic and sensationally bright dude who genuinely wanted to spread the power of his research and knowledge.

    Such a difference.

    • Wow, what a difference. Brown was shilling for vulnerability, and was prideful. And Siegel graciously spread the power of his research. And only one is besties with Ester.

  • Esther Perel…a poxy trollop troll that makes her money telling chumps they somehow have control over their cheating spouse because THEY were part of the reason their spouse cheated. I also have magic beans to sell to the desperate and hurting.

    Esther would have kept me stuck with my cheating ex and explained away his abusive behaviour as being “cancer” related like so many others did. I’d have been his nurse and purse until he found an upgrade. The cheater apologist peddles snake oil to the desperate and it’s sad that so many fall for it.

    I hope this charlatan gets all she deserves and more.

  • So so disappointing :(. Brene I really liked your message and now you aren’t really showing vulnerability by using vague language and supporting a cheater apologist. Sigh, why is it so hard for people to say that cheating is wrong and abusive.

  • This is so disappointing and discouraging. I found Esther Perel before CLady, and at the time I thought her talks could help me understand the affair, and it kind of made it seem less abnormal in my mind (even though it was really crazy shit). An intelligent, caring friend of mine even mentioned her to me thinking it may ease the pain and provide some understanding. It didn’t matter because I was discarded and then thankfully I found CL. As some other people have pointed out, Perel may be ? speaking about what seem to be a very very small minority of people who cheat ( once, remorseful, and wanting to make amends).
    She definitely goes easy on cheaters, and in some interviews she seems to imply that people are capable of affair proofing their marriage (which inadvertently blames the chumps of course ).
    I agree that I wish there were people like Clady who wanted to do Ted talks.
    The state of marriages moving into the future seems more problematic than ever to me. When charismatic people like Esther Perel – who frame abuse as a desire for ‘aliveness’ are embraced by very popular and loved academics – it’s an awful sign. I am sure she sounds very reasonable to people who have never had to endure this type of abuse.
    Many organizations have their staff listen to talks given by Brené Brown. I loath to think that she will now be talking about cheating and framing it in a way that normalizes it and makes excuses for the cheater. Society cuts cheaters so much slack already, and chumps are the forgotten people. We really don’t need this.
    And if she is the chump, I shutter to think that she may be giving talks about how she is accepting some responsibility for his cheating.

  • Hey, I ate all this up this morning before listening to the podcast and I’m ashamed I participated in any speculation about cheating in her marriage in the comment section earlier today. I’m still rolling my eyes at all things Esther Perel, but using Instagram copy that is only meant as a teaser for an hour-long podcast conversation to speculate about how awful Brene or her husband is as a cheater was just bullshit to do in the initial post and for any of us to do in the comments. After listening to the podcast, it was made a lot more clear what Brene and her husband struggled with this last year — a lot of the same shit most couples probably went through no matter how strong their marriage. The reality is that they’re both big names in the self-help world and I’m sure their agents and publishing companies just orgasmed at the thought of them being on a podcast together. All the skepticism about Esther and Brene for not questioning all of the cheater apologist stuff is warranted. The implications that cheating were a part of Brene’s marriage struggles this last year just because she’s talking to Esther is way off-base though. So is calling them Karens — especially Brene. She’s been a powerful leader in talking about white privilege/racial bias/systemic racism and has the respect of some of the smartest, strongest and outspoken black women out there today because of it.

    • It’s still a very odd choice, if you’ve based your life’s work on unequal power dynamics (white privilege, bias, racism, etc.) to pair up with Esther Perel, the justifier of unequal power dynamics (abuse as an “quest for aliveness,” an “exuberant act of defiance,” and that abuse can make a marriage “hotter.”)

      • I think Brene’s got some major blindspots in her work, especially when it comes to highly narcissistic people. She basically is a chump who has probably or as far as we know not been cheated on. We’ve all been that person before – it’s why we’re here. We can marvel at her naivete — the same kind we once had. But going over the top calling her a Karen and an apologist for abuse is not fair. If you’re angry at her for this podcast episode, you’re really just getting angry at that version of yourself that you once were. She doesn’t deserve this likely incredibly inaccurate and mean speculation about her marriage on a website with as much traffic as this one. There are fair ways to call people out and be skeptical of them. This post wasn’t one of them.

        • If you knew any of the horrific and life shortening stories of the posters on here, like HPV cancers, (male and female victims) hysterectomies, child suicides/attempted suicides, destitutions, stolen and impossible retirements Translation -poverty, years of actual loss of life span , then you would not be trying to shame CL or the posters here.

          CL is the only person who has the balls to talk about the horrors of disordered people with the appropriate level of gravity. and scope of relationsal abuse.

          Brene’s academic credentials in psychology and sociology go utterly against your criticism of Cl. and posters on this thread. Brene has seen the human toll working with other psychologists on infidelity and for her to AFFILIATE with Perel is professionally umconscionable, and just shit human thing to do.

          It is a revelation of lack of character, unpleasant as it may be to know.

          • I have been reading and appreciating this website and the support it offers to people like myself who have been abused through cheating and extreme narcissism. This post speculating on things that likely aren’t true and a podcast episode almost no one here actually listened to (one that mentioned the topic of infidelity zero times) does not have the integrity I usually expect to see here. I do think it should be altered. Criticize Brene for overlooking or minimizing the promotion of someone who is basically a cheater apologist. That’s warranted. So much of what is in this post is just inaccurate and baseless stuff coming out of blind anger any time the name Esther’s name comes pops up anywhere though. It’s red unresearched clickbait meat for everyone here to feast on and we did. We can all do better than this, myself included. I’m admitting it was stupid to make big assumptions and gossip on a stupid Instagram post because let’s face it, all that shit’s fun to do especially when you want to avoid doing other more worthwhile crap with your day at work. But it’s stupid and not anyone finest moment here.

            • Chumpa Wumpa,

              In all seriousness, I think my posts are some of my finest moments,. albeit nano moments.

              Paragraph one of my previous post is the reason why most people here consciously choose to take time to comment. They aren’t just frittering away time between picking their kids up from therapy apointments and seeing their lawyers so that they don’t end up on the streets with said kids.

              The level of empathy and inherent decency of these posters needs no defense.

              Please feel free to reread my post again, hopefully understanding it the next time, when you need a distraction between tasks at work.

              • Being a champion of a good cause isn’t an excuse to be thoughtless with the kind of claims made in this post. Brene will be fine. I think if anyone wants to press pause on the defensiveness and really read what’s in the initial post, how much of it is basically harmful and inaccurate assumptions, no one with any real integrity can feel that good about it. We can’t become people who play a victim-card to do things that suck. That’s how we slowly become abusers ourselves. I’ll leave it there.

              • Chumpa Wumpa,

                It is speculation that the grande dame of VULNERABILITY deliberately invited in. What you ignorantly call blind anger is actually empathically motivated anger on behalf of all of the men and women currently embroiled in abusive relationships being misled with perverted and psychology unsound/dangerous advice.

                Did God say go forth and fuck as many people as you can while deceiving your partner to find your true self.?

                Don’t think so.

                You mention Brene will be fine. Of course she will. And that there is the disconnect.

                It’s the thousands of people and their impacted kids who will suffer chaos and agony stuck in manipulative relationships with the myriad costs, and trauma that won’t be abated because of Perel’s warped soul.

                Brene isn’t a makeup artist influencer. She’s dealing with human minds, psychology.

                When some back stabbing, health-endangering asshole tries to con their partner with Perel speak, backed with Brene’s social “credibility” , there will be a post online to oppose that insanity. This post.

                Lastly, we aren’t a we.

    • Since Brené Brown is great friends with someone who makes her living making light of cheating, and offers the couple all kinds of explanations/excuses for the abuse- it stands to reason that she wouldn’t offended by questions or suggestions that perhaps their marriage had some cheating in it – because obviously it’s no big deal.
      Why be offended at people wondering if you were trying to make your marriage hotter, or were on a quest for aliveness or acting with exuberance- perhaps due to vulnerabilities?

  • I heard the whole thing. Brene Brown just gushes over Esther Perel and vice versa. and it’s so fake.

    • Lisa, there was no space under your post. ‘When some back stabbing, health-endangering asshole tries to con their partner with Perel speak, backed with Brene’s social “credibility” , there will be a post online to oppose that insanity. This post’ agreed, it feels very Et tu, Brute?
      The same thing happened to me after listening to someone else’s podcast on relationships. I thought everything she said was great and then at the end she referenced Esther Perel as being ‘brilliant.’
      Because anyone who says that being humiliated, emotionally and sexually betrayed, stolen from, gaslit, and manipulated is going to make a healthy person feel continuously hotter for their partner … well let’s just say that ‘expert’ doesn’t quite have their finger on the pulse of the regular chumped community.
      Is it the accent?
      It’s so incredibly discouraging.

      • Yes Zip. It is discouraging to see rampant hypocrisy with people who expound on social justice and meaningful topics, to then go and align with a person so devoid of those actual values.

        Everybody has talked the hell out of boundaries for years, there many books, tons of blog posts. Nobody seeks Perel for to learn healthy concepts of boundaries. Quite the opposite.

        Perel is a mindfucker of boundaries, putting things into wanna be zen riddles comprised of utter horseshit. She has the energy of a madame running a brothel.

        Perel is the last stop before conscious uncoupling or a life of self betrayal to stay in an unequal relationship.

        What is very hopeful though, is that this blog post comes up on google when you search Brene and Perel. Half way down on the very 1st page . So that is great for people who know in their bones this is a deal breaker and can give them support against any interpersonal coercion and other social pressures.

        • ‘Perel is a mindfucker of boundaries, putting things into wanna be zen riddles comprised of utter horseshit. She has the energy of a madame running a brothel.’????????
          I ask again, is it the accent, or accent combined with her body type?????
          I would like to see those same words applauded coming from an unattractive man with no accent!
          Or can you imagine a man of colour voicing that horseshit ? Not only would he not be revered,… well I don’t even want to imagine the repercussions.

          • You’re right, men would never have gotten the traction she has. Her ideas would be feverishky rejected for the immoral contortions that they are.

            I don’t know if it is the accent:) It probably helps.

            I think the fact that it is a woman selling disloyalty as part of the search for self actualization, well, it’s kind of like throwing a bucket of fish to hungry sharks. It’s a new agey out for people who lack the courage to leave cleanly with the ensuing risks and costs.

  • Wrong finger pointing up, Brene–I’m dead, I literally thought the same thing as I scrolled past. Thank you also for saying exactly what I’ve thought about Brene for years, that she’s “gooey”, it’s perfect. I cannot stomach her “manifestations”, she feels like Lularoe-adjacent somehow? Very drink the kool-aid.

  • Brene – fakey douche all feeling ish makes money on vulnerable people
    Ester – makes money lying about reality


    If by abuse you mean:
    HPV and herpes. Financial inequality. Intentional Gaslighting. Charm, Sad-sausage, Rage, Silent-treatment channel. Psychological devaluing. Lying. Isolating the victim. Fucking numerous others even friends of the abused. Guilt tripping children.

    Then, yes. It’s abuse.

  • So disappointing. Kinda sorta liked Brene Brown, until this. I’m no Switzerland friend. I can’t like or respect people that team up with or promote that horrid EP.

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