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Esther Perel Can Bite Me

word saladI first wrote this take down of Esther Perel’s nonsense in 2014. She’s only gone on to greater fame and word salad. Today Perel’s minor celebrity gets her shilling a Master Class on relationships. Which is like the Bernie Madoff teaching retirement savings. But whatevs.

Coincidentally, every time I run one of these Esther Perel take downs, she changes her URLs. (And also her bio. But I’ve kept all the original grandiosity in there. If you’re curious, you can check the Wayback Machine. Nothing dies on the internet.)

Newbies — welcome to my literary grudge match.


Esther Perel can bite me. I know that’s not the level of erudite discourse called for when debunking a pre-eminent Belgian psychotherapist. Perel is the best-selling author of “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence.”

I mean, who am I to quibble with “one of the world’s most original and insightful voices on personal and professional relationships“? Who dares to question the great and powerful “organizational consultant to Fortune 500 companies”? Do I have a “keen cross-cultural pulse”? No, I am a chump. Very average. My pulse is about 80 beats per minute.

Do I ever say “paradigm shift”? As a former think tank editor, I hate the language of turgid academic pretentiousness. I would never commit such word salad crimes.

“Esther shifts the paradigm of our approach to modern relationships. She is regularly sought around the world for her expertise in erotic intelligence, couples and family identity as well as corporate relationships and team collaboration.”

Okay, maybe I’m just jealous because Nike and Johnson & Johnson aren’t seeking me out for my erotic intelligence. (“Her clients and platforms include companies such as Nike, Johnson & Johnson…”) Alas, I’m on no one’s corporate retainer. And no one taps me on the shoulder at cocktail parties inquiring about butt plugs. But I probably don’t travel in the right circles.

Neither do I have long, silky blonde hair, or a European sex kitten persona, or a masters in art therapy. I’m a squidgy, middle-aged woman with weird hair and a masters in African history.

But I can say with utter authority:

Bite me, Esther.

Bite my squishy, 47-year old, monogamous, married in captivity ass. I’ll inquire intelligently afterwards if that was erotic for you.

Why does Esther vex me so? She’s just the latest pseudo intellectual to make cheating cool. We’re all too judgy. We need to stop “demonizing” infidelity.

She’s written this lovely little essay on “Changing the View on Infidelity.” (Why not “shifting the paradigm,” Esther? Did you get an editor?)

And you all know what that means — it’s time again for the patented Universal Bullshit Translator.

A first step towards understanding why affairs happen with such frequency and across cultures, and towards understanding those involved in affairs, is a move away from demonizing the act itself, both in our personal lives and, for those of us in the mental health professions, in our work. In addition, rather than treat every affair as indicative of a deeply flawed relationship, we can consider the possibility that in some couples, this may not be the case.

Yeah, God forbid we demonize people who spend our 401Ks on Russian hookers or prostitutes on BackPage ads. Or demonize people who waste years of our life and risk our health. Or who break up our families. Or imperil our pregnancies. Or decimate our finances. Or compel us to paternity test our children. Or who leave us with trust issues, herpes, and a twitch. God, we suck. We’re so judgmental.

But Esther, you totally have a point on affairs as not being indicative of a “deeply flawed relationship.” The relationship has nothing to do with it. Affairs are indicative of deeply flawed individuals — cheaters.

In America, infidelity is described in terms of perpetrators and victims, damages and cost. We are far more tolerant of divorce with all the dissolutions of the family structure than of transgression. Although our society has become more sexually open in many ways, when it comes to monogamy, even the most liberal minds can remain intransigent. When discussing infidelity, we use the language of moral condemnation. And it isn’t only the act that’s reprehensible; the actor, too, is judged by the strictest standards. 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.

Boy, I never thought of it that way, Esther. When I discovered my ex-husband had been cheating on me during our entire relationship, and had financially defrauded me and moved me to a no-fault divorce state, I should have recognized this as a Quest for Aliveness! I suppose we must attribute my dim-witted reductionist view that pathological lying is a “character flaw” to the fact that, yes, I am an American (and of Puritan stock somewhere way back there).

Yes, I believe at some point in the narrative I have said that I am a “victim” of infidelity. Because I believe in victims, Esther. I think if someone holds you up at gunpoint and takes your wallet, you’re a victim of crime. I think if someone rapes you, you’re a victim of sexual assault. And I think if someone fucks around on you and risks your emotional and physical well-being that yes, you are a victim of infidelity (and probably emotional abuse as well. Most people don’t cheat without a good measure of lying, gaslighting, and blame-shifting).

“Victim” implies that a bad person did a bad thing to you against your will. I put cheating in that column, but my mind is intransigent that way.

Am I tolerant of divorce? Hell no, Esther! I’ve had two of them. They sucked epically. But I’m more intolerant of being played for a chump. Nice little turnaround, there. It’s a mindfuck we’re all familiar with here at Chump Lady. It’s not what I did, it’s your reaction to it that’s the problem. It’s not the cheating that’s the problem! It’s your reaction — the divorce — that’s the problem. You live with a cheater, an addict, a person who won’t treat their mental illness — and you get back to me on that “dissolution of the family structure” shit. I raised my son mostly as a single parent and he’s turned out quite splendidly, thank you very much.

An affair sometimes captures an existential conflict within us: We seek safety and predictability, qualities that propel us toward committed relationships, but we also thrive on novelty and diversity. Modern romance promises, among other things, that it’s possible to meet these two opposing sets of needs in one place. If the relationship is successful, in theory, there is no need to look for anything elsewhere. Therefore, if one strays, there must be something missing. I’m not convinced. Religious prohibitions aside, the meanings and motives of infidelity transcend monolithic interpretations, yet we therapists overwhelmingly respond to affairs with an entrenched set of beliefs and practices. The majority view is that affairs can never help a marriage or be accommodated; they are always harmful. Whether disclosed or hidden, lasting a night or a lifetime, they are bound to shake the very foundation of a relationship. They are potentially irreversible and can demand an immediate call to the lawyer.

Boy Esther, I WISH shrinks were telling people to call their lawyers. I thought that was against the whole shrink code of ethics of telling people what to do, and not arriving at these conclusions themselves. If there were a bunch of other monolithic interpreters of cheating as Bad and Something You Should Run Away From, it sure would make my job a lot easier.

The current view is that infidelity depletes intimacy and is a breach of trust and commitment, both emotional and sexual, that can never be fully recouped. Even the psychological literature focuses almost exclusively on the ravages of infidelity. I’d like to offer a view that challenges this premise and encompasses both growth and betrayal at the nexus of affairs. Though affairs often result in deep emotional crisis, deception and betrayal are not the prime motivation.

Really? Deception isn’t the prime motivation? Than why keep this shit SECRET, Esther? If not for the power trip and the whole “you’re not the boss of me!” sexual hijinks? Cheaters just don’t think they’re going to get caught — but they’re quite happy to adopt one set of rules for their special selves and let us chumps do the monogamy thing.

Newsflash — the “deep emotional crisis” is a reaction to being betrayed and deceived. Right, but that’s not how the affair was intended. I didn’t intend to hurt you! Every chump has heard that, Esther. And you know what we concluded? That cheaters did the cost-benefit analysis on hurting us and fucking around won out over honesty every time.

I suggest we look at infidelity in terms of growth, autonomy, and the desire to reconnect with lost parts of ourselves. Perhaps affairs are also an expression of yearning and loss.

So when Anthony Weiner sent pictures of his junk on Twitter, this was an expression of “yearning and loss”? I just thought it was pervy, and really disrespectful to his wife, but I’m judgmental that way. And autonomy is for single people, Esther. Interconnectedness, reliance, and trust are for those married saps who agreed to it.

I believe that not all affairs point directly at flaws in the marriage. Affairs are motivated by a myriad of forces— tainted love, revenge, unfulfilled longings, and plain old lust. Yet, as it happens, plenty of adulterers are reasonably content in their relationships. While sometimes the result delivers a devaluation of a couple’s emotional stock, at other times individual growth brings about a new energy to the marriage. In other words, infidelity can be an economy of addition.

Oh God please. Another proponent of the Affairs Can Make Your Marriage Stronger school of bullshit. Yeah, affairs can make your marriage stronger the same way shooting off your kneecaps improves your tennis game. Marriages are based on trust and respect. And when someone deceives you to get some strange, yeah, it does have a way of “devaluing” the ol’ “emotional stock.” It makes you sick with grief, Esther. It makes you puke, and lose sleep with mind movies, and run out for an STD test, and ask yourself every day if you can live with having been played, conspired against, and humiliated. It fucking SUCKS, Esther.

I’m glad adulterers are “reasonably content” in their relationships. Bully for them. After discovery, chumps are not content — they’re devastated. And it’s cold comfort to hear that gee, we don’t suck completely! Our cheaters were reasonably content! I mean, I couldn’t be a smorgasbord of pussy, but I was pretty okay. Good to know, Esther. Thanks!

The lamentations I hear most include feelings of loneliness and emotional deprivation. There comes a point when one no longer can tolerate feeling devalued and taken for granted. Lack of attention and the sense of having become a function rather than a person can instigate a wish for escape. Sexual boredom and frustration, or plain sexlessness, can lead to what Steven Mitchell dubs “acts of exuberant defiance.”

Cheaters feel devalued and taken for granted? Lonely and emotionally deprived? Then SPEAK UP! Have an honest conversation or call a divorce lawyer. Or do both. But there is no excuse for cheating. And dressing your Ashley Madison profile up as some kind of noble quest for self actualization is insulting.

Acts of exuberant defiance?! Fuck that noise. Yeah, the minute someone equates being married to me to be oppressed by a hegemonic monogamous regime — consider yourself unshackled. Your freedom will be granted immediately. Don’t disrespect me by fucking something strange and endangering my health. Just GO.

Sometimes, we seek the gaze of another not because we reject our partner, but because we are tired of ourselves. It isn’t our partner we aim to leave, rather the person we’ve become. Even more than the quest for a new lover we want a new self. The men and women I work with invest more in love and happiness than ever before, yet in a cruel twist of fate it is this very model of love and sex that’s behind the exponential rise of infidelity and divorce. We ask one person to give us what an entire community once provided —and we live twice as long. It’s a tall order for a party of two.

This is your argument? Let’s blame cheating on longevity? How do you explain the people fucking around in their 20s and 30s? Or their whole lives? They don’t know when they’re going to die, they just cheat! My ex cheated through three entire marriages (probably more by now). Dude got lots of variety and fresh starts. And yet he couldn’t keep it in his pants.

But gee, I guess it takes a whole village to raise a marriage. WTF? What are you saying “We ask on person to give us what an entire community once provided”? People cheat because no one goes to the Elks club anymore? I think you’re reaching here, Esther. It doesn’t become an internationally recognized, foremost relationship expert to come up with such hare-brained theories.

Let me lay a theory on you — people cheat because of poor character and narcissism. That’s it. They’re perfectly happy to agree to a set of rules they have no intention of following because they’re special sausages. And they’re very happy to have the chumps in their life abide by monogamy and continue to extract value from chumps, because it serves their purposes to do so.

That’s why the secrecy. It’s not shame or American puritanism or WTFever — it’s gaining advantage over another. It’s kibbles and centrality. It’s greed. It’s ugly, absurdly grandiose, and it hurts innocent people — yeah, VICTIMS.

No one forces anyone into monogamy, it’s not “a cruel twist of fate” — it’s a choice.

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.
  • One day I hope to see the Chump Lady vs Esther Perel (internationally) televised debate aka presidential candidates. Man, how fun it would be to stop the word salad-making in its tracks. Massive applause for your continued distaste not only for legitimising and monetising narcissistic cheater behaviour, but for hating turgid academic pretentiousness. (Which unfortunately editors/tv and radio producers the world over just can’t get enough of. Reflected enlightenment gah).

    How on earth does she keep getting away with asserting that the dominant discourse is anti-cheater?!? Um, NO!! But then, isn’t that just charm/pity channels in action, or a massive turgid academic DARVO move? Poor, misunderstood, progressive free-thinking superior cheaters, bravely standing against those nasty judgy types who have tedious entrenched sets of beliefs and practices, (like honesty, loyalty, patience, respect, adult maturity, commitment to marriage/partnership and parenting).

    I worry I’m going to stir up a hornet’s nest but … in the same vein as CL’s cut-thru parallel to being robbed, or beaten, or raped … bearing in mind her Jewish heritage: it would be interesting to transpose her wilful sidestepping of the whole victim/perpetrator “paradigm” onto genocide. (Which I think some “academics” attempt to actually do.) I hope not to offend anyone there …

    • The easiest way to avoid offending anyone while making a comment about race is to simply refrain from making it — especially in a forum with no delete feature.

      Your brain tried pretty hard to clue you in when it promoted you to specifically state that you knew it might be “offensive” (actually, I’d go with “harmful”.) You should thank it — it’s trying hard to do its job well.

      As a chump, I’m guessing you value not harming others. I could say something to you like, “it would be interesting to transpose your willful sidestepping of the whole victim/perpetrator “paradigm” onto saying mean things about cheaters”, and all us chumps would rally up about how off base I was to blame chumps for bad behavior when we’re the real victims. It isn’t a direct parallel, but it’s not far off — and we’d all feel so harmed and offended, as a group — yet as far as I’m aware, chumps aren’t generally slaughtered in the millions just for daring to be born to the parents who made us.

      If we here feel justified in feeling offended when non-chumps comment on how we should see our chumpdom, that offense pales in my mind when it sits next to someone outside your genocide-experiencing peers commenting about your heritage, race, faith, etc. in any way. It’s no surprise if it makes people feel harmed. It’s harmful.

      You offered lots of good words, there, without that last paragraph. Next time your clearly very smart brain may catch you before you add it. I’d welcome that.

      • Maybe my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, but I’m not even sure what MamaMeh is trying to insinuate. But with Esther Perel, I guess this just shows that every religion, race, ethnicity, gender or other demographic characteristic has it’s share of jerks.

      • I actually think it was an interesting comment and a valid point. Kind of like a courtroom. If Perel opened the door on that line of questioning – denying victimhood – then the opposing attorney has the right to parse it out even further to see if her logic holds up. And excoriate her when it doesn’t. In fact, cornering her into answering a question along those lines could finally give the necessary sound bite that would allow “cancel culture” (aka “consequences”) do its thing…and send her scurrying off into the sunset.

      • Perhaps. That is an ends vs means conversation. Your imagined method might be effective, but that doesn’t make it not-harmful to those it harms, and life isn’t a courtroom (nor is the internet, much to the confusion and chagrin of many.)

        Human cost is a good enough reason to choose a better path. It’s always easy (and lazy) to disagree with that until your group is on the line. As they say about dating someone who is rude to the waiter: Eventually, YOU’RE the waiter.

        There’s plenty to complain about with Esther without constructing scenarios related to race, faith, or both. Contemplating something inside your head is one thing. The internet is forever (especially when you can’t delete) and public (worldwide). That’s a lot of audience for a lazy toss of ideas that can be harmful outside your subdivision.

        • I agree, Frustrated. I’m Jewish and I wouldn’t make that comment. I’m sure MamaMeh was trying to make a point that it would be difficult for Esther to defend, but it’s not necessary and it’s offensive and racist. If Esther were a different race, it likely would not have been brought up because the offensive nature would have been too obvious. Let’s just stick to the fact that Esther’s words and messages to chumps are harmful to chumps and it’s unfortunate that too many see her as an expert spreading a falsehood about paradigm shifts needed for infidelity.

          • Apologies to all I unwittingingly harmed. I assumed that all of CN knows that, as a respectful and kind bunch, who’ve all been massively harmed/ victimised/abused/etc, not one of us would ever harm each other, “lazily” tossing an idea around.

            Thank you Abetterdaytoday, for noting that possibly I was simply putting forward something that occurred to me as an interesting logic experiment. I’m a little confounded that proposing a hypothetical line of thought ends up making me a racist. I deliberately included the comment re certain abhorrent “academics” to indicate that of *course* I disagree with the premise.

            Anyway, I’m sorry to have hurt some of our mighty Nation.

            • Thanks for these words, MamaMeh. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t personally characterize you as “a racist”, as if it’s a personal lifelong trait. (Some might, but I won’t, not from this.) I’d say what you said could be harmful, and you’ve acknowledged that. Big heart you have there. I appreciate it.

              I think we all mis-step sometimes. I know I do, most often when some way life is pretty easy for me makes me unaware of how much harder a thing is doe someone else who doesn’t have what I have. If a person who goofs up that way is heartful enough to apologize, that’s a good thing in my book. I aspire to the same and hope I at least mostly hit that mark.

              We all live and learn. Thanks for being open to it.

  • Slayin’ even more than usual!

    More than 5 years after D-Day, I still come to this blog daily for my fix of sanity <3

  • Thank you Chump Lady. I think Esther is some kind of gaslighter in relation to her views on infidelity. Is she trying to justify her own infidelity? Someone else’s? I think she needs to explore why she feels compelled to put such a positive spin on something that is normally so devastating to the other person in the relationship. She may need therapy.

    • Lots of people don’t want to think they’re bad guys because they cheat and she gives him the excuse they need. In the meantime she’s got their money.letgo says:

      She found a good way to take your money away from you and she’s honed it down to a specialized philosophy. Lots of people don’t want to think they’re bad guys because they cheat and she gives him the excuse they need. In the meantime she’s got their money.

      • Image management. That’s what it boils down to. Do they look like a “good guy” ? Then they must be! Everyone says so! As Cl said ” They are special sausages”. One set of rules that all agree to. Different rules for themselves. And secret! Can not remove the “Secret” ingredient. That what it’s all about.

    • I think Esther did it/does it for the M-O-N-E-Y and F-A-M-E it brought/brings her. She came up w/her version of a counter-argument as to how to interpret and react to a situation most morally intelligent/centered people would think was straightforward, aka adultery is a shitty thing to do.

      Her take is to effectively turn the argument on its head so that cheaters and people lacking in character can rally behind and around it. Oh, you weren’t really a victim! It was a necessary act for personal growth! You’ll see, your marriage will be better off for it!

      [Fine print: Assuming your marriage survives it, but no guarantees even if; not available in all states of consciousness, especially those coupled w/even a hint of a moral compass. And absolutely no refunds, even if this proves to be total bullshit.]

      It’s not groundbreaking stuff. People of shitty character and values have been trying to argue this since people have been around and relationships existed, I’d bet. It’s simply her modern and well-marketed version of it!

      It’s seems edgy, intelligent and cool to anyone who doesn’t want to engage their brain, and to people who haven’t ever had the awful experience. Which is a LOT of people.

      I’m not even counting all the asshole fuckwits out there who perpetrate these terrible acts (again: a LOT of people). My FW XW took a picture of Esther’s last book, “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” after she left me for her FW rich, older boss. Too bad she forgot her iPhoto library was still showing up on the family iMac she had left me. As soon as I saw it, I knew she thought she had found someone to excuse her awful exit-affairing of me. Wrong again, bitch.

      Anyone who’s willing to cheat on their spouse/partner is likely to flock to Esther’s way of excusing their actions. Why do the heavy lifting of showing true remorse and correcting your bad behavior and actions when you can blame the person you abused?! They’re the metaphorical equivalents of 90 lb weaklings in character. That would be too hard!🤣😂🤣

      So, to sum up: Go to hell, Esther! And take all your shitty followers of poor character w/you. Us chumps are marching onward to meh. Cheaters? We don’t need no stinkin’ cheaters! [Apologies to Mel Brooks😁]

  • I believe this CL post is on point for the very essence of what is wrong with our social concept of marriage. Although I do not dislike the word “paradigm”, I do not like the way Ester uses it. I don’t believe there has been a shift in cheating being acceptable. Cheating has gone on since the dawn of time. Cheaters who have achieved a measure of power, wealth, and influence have always existed and even thrived. Not so long ago, in our western culture, marriage was a business transaction. Women’s families provided doweries, as investment enhancers. Marriages secured land deals, sometime peace between rival national interests. Sometimes the marriage was a nod to popular religious ideas. The concept of marrying for love is rather new. It begs the question, what is the value of love? Is love a real thing, or is it limerence, transitory?

    I cannot define love or explain it to someone who does not feel love. If another person evaluates everything in terms of how it enhances or enriches him/her, they really do not understand love. Love is a determination to be there and hold another person through good and bad times. Love is respectful, and compassionate. Love is not always about sex. Sexual attraction is stimulated by some chemical reaction in our brains, and some drive to mate with another that is very primitive and basic in our will to survive and thrive as beings.

    When I was young, divorce was not acceptable because it broke the contract made. It caused problems for the family of the discarded spouse. Economic and social problems, and stressful decisions about what to do for the children were the driving factors. I believe people do make bad decisions about who to marry. I did it myself. My concept of what to seek in a husband was a mishmash of all the social cues provided by my FOO. Most of those cues were misguided, IMHO. In my mind, I married for love, and I expected to run a comfortable and stable household. I expected to care for my family. I expected to be respected, and to have a dependable spouse.

    My expectations were not fulfilled. I held up my end of the bargain, my spouses did not. They wandered whenever they had the opportunity to seek “fun” and a vacation from responsibility. They were selfish. They did not like the bargain they made. They liked my stability and responsibility, my providing a high level of care for the family, and my willingness to do more than my fair share. That gave them time and resources for dalliance. They did not want a divorce, but they wanted me to tolerate their infidelities once I found out about them. They provided faux remorse and worthless apology.

    That contract revision was unacceptable to me. Fortunately, times had changed. I had an education, a job, and resources of my own. I did not have to depend on the mercy of my FOO. This was great, because they had no mercy. My eyes were opened, and my understanding of what my marriages had really been changed. So far, I have not been willing to enter contract negotiations for a new union. What I desire in a partner seems to be an extremely rare commodity in the marriage market. Yes, I want love, and respect, and fidelity. Convince me that you really desire those things, and not just the sexual and economic benefits of marrying me, and I’ll consider moving forward to see if we are compatible in a relationship. I am not seeking lip service. I want sincerity, and real values. If I cannot have those things, I’d rather be alone. That’s my paradigm shift.

    • Precisely. I had opted to marry someone because of love and I trusted that he would hold up his end of the bargain. I knew that there would be ups and downs, but I trusted that he would maintain basic civility.

      He apparently did not like monogamy but did like a good facade and a fabulous wife appliance. Our situation was influenced by my willingness to bend to religious norms of male leadership. I am smart and capable but I allowed him to exert dominance in decision making because his career and religion. I trusted that he would keep my interests in mind and he betrayed that trust horribly.

      Know that at the time, I knew he was mean but I did not know he was cheating regularly…that (I hope) would have made a huge difference in my decisions, but I didnt know so it didnt influence me.

      I was influenced to not leave because as a nurse, if I moved, I would need to start at the bottom and do night shifts and I had no one who could help with the kids (little at the time). Even though life with him had terrible moments, I managed to navigate through them and the challenge of leaving always felt like a bridge too far.

      I never had that full shift, but wish I had.

    • The concept and evolution of a contract of marriage is inseparable from women’s rights. Love isn’t even a consideration. Legally. If your life belongs to a man (father to husband, see ‘Catherine called Birdy’a new movie 2022) then you don’t make your own choices. This is the case right through the 1970s or even later. A master is still a master even if he’s a good one. Cheating is ok because men say so and women had no power. Men wanted their heirs to be their own offspring so old men marry young women and no affairs for women. Society and the patriarchy today still favor white men and treat women as a minority —and the laws reflect this.

  • I think we need to consider that Esther Perel is right, but as long as we’re shifting paradigms all willy nilly like this, let’s consider Serial Killers to be expressing an artistic desire indulge in carnage and power. Rapists are indulging in their much needed enjoyment of debasing, endangering and harming, with a twist of sexual fun thrown in. Conmen and hucksters are just enlightening your grandparents on not being so trusting.
    See how this works? Just take that pesky ol’ paradigm and shift it to the closet. Anything goes, as long as the person doing it is getting something out of it, right?
    Oh you crazy, carefree, whimsical modern psychology, you’re such a card! New rules, by Dr. Seuss: Upside down is downside up…at least for this decade. And like every previous psychological and social experiment/disaster perpetrated in the name of being modern and enlightened, Perel’s sociopathy will be tossed aside and SNL will do skits about her. Remember Dr. Ruth? Jim Jones? Klaus Barbie and Joseph Goebbels? They had their days in the sun too.
    Suck it, Esther Perel. Thanks for adding insult to our injuries. Your days of pain and discard are coming and I, for one, will enjoy watching you dance with a shifty paradigm when it happens.

    • I didn’t know a couple of those names- were they all all the same level with infidelity, I assume?
      Just last night in YouTube I was inserting “” into the comments. It will help those who read it

    • Hunny Badger,
      That’s what I was thinking! What if there were an Esther Perel-type apologist for every type of crime?

      For example, the Enron guys were liberating pension funds to enable their journey toward self-discovery and true fulfillment.

      The Columbine school shooting was an act of “exuberant defiance” against system-wide structures of peer oppression. We shouldn’t blame the shooters for facilitating their own growth through elimination of inherent systematic obstacles in the Journey toward Reaching their Higher Selves.

      Assassinate a president? You were merely Expressing your Right to Participate in a free democracy whilst upholding your right to speak therein.

      Burn down a factory with 1,000 workers trapped inside? You were just trying to Restore the Land to it’s former Greatness and facilitating its pathway toward realization of its true destiny of being a vacant lot.

      You didn’t drive a bus full of school children off a cliff. You brought them to Life’s Natural Consequence (death) while upholding the affirmation of Newtonian Physics.

      Ugh. Now I’m tired. Word salad is exhausting.

      • Makes me wonder how our exFW’s keeped it up. Just reading this makes me went to take a shower, with sandpaper.

  • Can’t quite put it into words, but this theoretician’s problem has something to do with the idea of captivity. Mating is supposed to happen “in captivity” and NOT outside of it. Which might be why a person [of Judeo -Christian heritage] might could remember that stepping outside those bounds “of mating-captivity” was expressly forbidden [by the designer of mating] since nearly the dawn of [Judeo-Christian] time. Hope that helps someone.

    • Yep, the purpose of mating is offspring, the feel good thing is to encourage folks to do it.

      An exuberant act of defiance can produce a child, it is not just a feel good moment. A few rich men and women can care for those children financially, most of us live in the day to day world and many of those children end up in poverty.

      • I absolutely live in fear that when my FW passes, some previously unknown child is going to step up to claim what FW has left of the inheritance. I don’t mean to sound like we have a fortune; we don’t, but what I do have I want to leave to MY children since I was the chief wage earner and carried his slacker ass for 40+ years.

        • I’ve told my kids never to 23&Me until fw is dead. Seriously dead and his ‘estate’ handed down to them. He never used protection, he was a serial cheater with paid sex workers and unpaid randos.

  • She is a cunt of a human being! I wish God would give her a life threatening disease that she feels compelled to figure out the meaning of life in 6months (an STD would be a great add too)….you know a Steve Jobs kind of realization….Gee, I’m dying and I’ve been a horrible example to mankind all the while she scratches her pussy till it bleeds.

  • ” And they’re very happy to have the chumps in their life abide by monogamy and continue to extract value from chumps, because it serves their purposes to do so.”

    Yes, exactly. It is covertly stealing another person’s life for their own benefit.

  • If one accepts Perel’s position on the rationale for non-monogamous/cheating behavior, end of life care would look very different. Every family member relying on a loyal caregiver to be present and honest could be abandoned and scammed. So why are the caregivers taken advantage of? Cause fuckwits are fuckwits.

    • There are plenty of chumps out there with a dire diagnosis who rely on a cheater for end of life care. From my own personal experience, this care comes with a huge component of image management, and when there is no one there to see his “sacrifices” in the name of caregiving, there is no caregiving. On the other hand, how many of us chumps (raises my hand) cared for a cheater honestly and whole heartedly even though he would never have done the same?

  • 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
    Just last night-I came across one of her YouTube videos (didn’t watch) and read some comments
    Inside a couple responses I wrote “” and again in my own comment line.
    I had never heard of her until finding you. That being said I cannot press play on any of her material. So thank you for this post
    Still blown away that just last night I was Inserting your website and wake up to your post on this!
    My grammas name was Esther the other one is so insulting to her good name♥️

  • People also get murdered because of infidelity…including children FFS! How dare assholes just poo poo infidelity like it’s harmless!

  • As I personally don’t like her, she did help me divorce my XW. She had 3 or 5 questions to ask your cheating spouse to see if the marriage could be saved. It was in her TED talk. My XW’s answers was that she didn’t respect me and that she didn’t love Sirchumpalot but loved what I did for her. Made me realize I had nothing to work with to try to reconcile. This was before I discovered CL.

  • If her corporate employers are OK with her promoting infidelity as a lifestyle choice, are they also OK with employees cheating in their work lives? Do they approve of employees working other jobs while they’re on the clock and stealing company assets to fund their side businesses?

    • “Do they approve of employees working other jobs while they’re on the clock and stealing company assets to fund their side businesses?”

      Right? After all they are likely not intending to hurt the company, just exercising their right to autonomy and chasing their exuberance. It is really hard for one company to fulfill all the needs of an employee.

    • The corporate employers who retained EP for her “relationship expertise” (lolololol) are almost certainly cheating already and adore her mental contortions to justify their ongoing abuse. They’re also no doubt hoping to lure a few ambitious in-house schmoopies outside of HR’s purview who want / willing to slide up the director’s corporate pole. The whole thing is a schill. EP is a cynical person for extolling her indefensible world view. She is perpetuating and inciting damage to genuine victims past, present and future and if she had a shred of self awareness, should be utterly ashamed of herself. She sure seems excellent at “neutralizing” though! (With a nod to HellofaChump).

  • Ugh, too early in the morning here for an Esther Perel mind-fuck word scramble! Don’t be surprised if this broad is heading towards promoting short-term 5, 10, 20 tops marriage contracts. The cheaters & faux-family committers will love her so! What you can be sure of though is, Chumps, is Esther won’t be encouraging buy-out & penalty clauses for infidelity, financial abuse, non-renewals, etc. Why do that, Chumps, when your pain brings so much “aliveness”… for the cheater?! Ugh, Esther should be banned before morning coffee!!!

  • New rule here.

    Every time they say “paradigm” we all have to drink a shot.

    It won’t advance the discourse, but it makes it all a lot easier to bear.

  • When I first discovered my ex-FW’s affair, I went full-on “Amazon chump” reading every thing I could to understand how he could have done this to me – including all of the Ester Perel crap. That’s before I knew about CL. Even before I ever found this site, the stuff that I read from Ms. Perel struck me as complete and utter bullshit. Unfortunately, reading her “explanations” for infidelity really set me back in my emotional healing from the devastation of discovering my then-husband’s double life.

    Thankfully, I worked with several amazing therapists over the years. I was diagnosed with PTSD and engaged in EMDR therapy. I can say that I have finally reached Tuesday and I’m living my best, FW-free life. For those still stuck in the pain of discovery, I promise you that life on the other side will be better than you ever could have imagined. Hang in there!

    • Funnily enough, post-DDay in the Amazon chump days, even FW thought some of dear Esther’s bullshit was bullshit. That may have been influenced by his fear of a “revenge affair,” though. Not that I ever considered one, but he was gone a lot and, post DDay, reality came crashing down for FW that if I couldn’t keep tabs on him, that meant he couldn’t watch me either. So yeah, even he did not agree with everything Esther said.

  • Esther is older now. And I imagine she’s very wealthy at this point. So if her spouse suddenly walked out on her for a younger model — completely left her… would she still try to reconcile? Would she blame herself for not making him feel more loved and appreciated (or that she no longer has a young pussy)? Would she be ok with her spouse taking half her assets to run off with the AP?

    It just seems like her teachings are like politicians that say that all the “little people” should have a certain healthcare, but Congress has a completely different better healthcare than what they put on the rest of the country. I’m just not sure she would really apply her teachings to herself.

  • “An affair sometimes captures an existential conflict within us: We seek safety and predictability, qualities that propel us toward committed relationships, but we also thrive on novelty and diversity.”

    We want to have our cake, and eat it too! Oh, what ever is a poor fuckwit to do? Obviously, the only solution is to use (abuse) a spouse appliance to obtain the former, and lie and fuck around to obtain the latter. Nevermind the Chump’s novelty and diversity. They can enjoy the roller coaster ride of the abuse cycle. #keepingitfresh

    • ““An affair sometimes captures an existential conflict within us: We seek safety and predictability, qualities that propel us toward committed relationships, but we also thrive on novelty and diversity.””

      And when they cheat and lie they have arbitrarily decided that they deserve a loyal spouse and the novelty and diversity, but their spouse doesn’t.

    • Who is this “we” she refers to? How easy it is to write an invisible army into a sentence, and brazenly place the reader automatically on her side. “We” are like this! “We” all agree! 🤮

      I do NOT thrive on novelty or diversity. I thrive on routine and safety. She needs to replace “us” and “we” with “me” and “I”

      • Even for someone who enjoys a mix of both in their life (✋), how dare she conflate the common enjoyment of new experiences with duper’s delight. Go on a vacation, start a new hobby, join a club. Get a divorce, for heaven’s sake. You don’t need a furtive fuck in a parking garage to experience “novelty.” Saying they need to cheat to experience novelty reveals a lack of imagination AT BEST.

  • Esther Perel. She’s just not worth our time, beyond the original debunking. She’s made an obvious logical error in failing to understand that relationships have two parties, both equally deserving of respect and self actualization. Moving on…. I’d rather talk about how to handle last night when, being the supportive mommy that I am, I agreed to my daughter’s request to trick or treat at my ex’s, only to find that he had a strange woman there while his long-term girlfriend is away (or maybe they broke up and neither the kids nor I know). Super confusing to an eight year old who has become close to the girlfriend. And to a sixteen year old who just got gaslighted by his Dad – nothing to see here. This is the lady who used to live here…. Totally normal that she is here on Halloween and literally speed walked down the street as soon as she realized who the trick or treaters were. Gah!

    • SecondSelf — what did FW say? Was he expecting you to stop by? I think I’d let FW deal with the aftermath of that. But in the future, double check that it’s ok to drop by even for trick or treating…. I wouldn’t want FW dropping by with the kids unexpectedly either (what if he wasn’t handing out candy and was clearly home and doing something privately that wouldn’t be good for the kids to encounter).

      Just be the sane parent for your child. If she asks about the AP or this other woman that was there, tell her the truth… you don’t know.

      • Perhaps I should add that ex has rented a house two blocks from my house and the kids routinely trick or treat the full neighborhood. If it didn’t cross his mind that they might come by, I’m not sure what does cross his mind. Other than planning his fun date.

        • Second self – fair enough! FW is less than 2 miles from our house but my son wouldn’t ever want to trick or treat there … he hates AP. So it’s a different scenario altogether

  • Esther is my definition of a genuine “nut case” or even better, the cheating world’s best recognized charlatan.

  • I’ll bet Esther Repel is a cheater, and her books are a way of excusing and defending herself while lining her pockets. It’s quite the MasterClass…..for con artists.

    I have a nice scar on my forehead from when I brought my new baby home and got swiped by my very angry and jealous orange tabby, who was very accustomed to being the baby in the family and did not appreciate the adorable interloper with whom he now had to share me. Someone must have programmed my cat! Surely this could not be natural hard-wired instincts for loyalty at play?

    The older child is also often not very happy when a new baby joins the family. They obviously haven’t read Esther Perel.

    I don’t believe for one second that feelings about attachment and love and loyalty are exclusively the result of social conditioning. If you’ve ever been scratched or bitten by a jealous pet, you know what I mean. There’s plenty of data from the animal kingdom about mating which indicates that a lot of animals don’t like cheating either.

    I don’t think the capacity to reason makes us superior to animals. I think the capacity to reason gives humans the ability to obfuscate and manipulate and lie and deceive and justify and rationalize and excuse and blame and defend the indefensible.

    My ability to reason is oftentimes a pain in the ass, and I have been grievously harmed by the “reasoning” of my fellow humans too often to see it as an indicator of superiority.

    • Further, publishing a book and having a degree does not mean you are a healthy person or that what you postulate is true. I was a psych major at the University of California. I lived next door to one of my professors, who was obviously using the school as a dating pool. The parade of female students in and out of his condo would fill a lecture hall.

      I also worked as a housekeeper for the head of the psych department of the most famous and revered UC campus. He was a jerk and I didn’t want to catch what he had.

      Esther’s opinion is shit, based on the very real and very automatic physical, emotional, mental, psychological effects I experienced as a result of infidelity.

      That cheating requires lying, deception, betraying, breaking agreements, depriving someone of their informed consent, keeping secrets, hidden agendas, manipulation, making unilateral decisions, and hurts people, puts it firmly in the Indefensible category for me. How any therapist can advocate and defend that kind of behavior, which is absolutely counter to what I understand as healthy behavior, is beyond me.

      But I didn’t think Beanie Babies were a good investment either.

      • Taking a screenshot of this last paragraph. It is exactly how I want to describe what happened to me, but I can never find the right words.
        Thank you ❤️VH❤️!

      • ….not to mention polyamorous relationships, which rely on being up front and transparent, making mutual agreements and keeping them, in order to function.

        Esther’s work should be read with the words “deception” substituted for the word “cheating”, the word “deceive” for “cheat“, “lie”, “defraud”, etc.

        (Unfortunately using the word for what cheating really is, “abuse”, does not shut down the argument because there is sadly still too much debate about what abuse is and isn’t, and you run into defenses and denial….)

        Quit using the socially acceptable euphemisms and what cheating really is emerges from the ether, and the wheels come off of Esther’s bullshit argument.

        One of my favorite books as a child, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, featured a scene I never forgot. The mother, upon discovering her daughter Francie’s diary, makes her cross out the word “drunk” and write “sick” everywhere Francie wrote about her alcoholic father being drunk. (I always supported Francie’s right to write the truth.)

        Words are incredibly powerful, and using the right ones makes all the difference.

        • At the end of the day, this so-called therapist advocates lying and deception, breaking agreements, hidden agendas, making unilateral agreements where mutual consent is necessary, theft, betrayal, abuse, character rot, etc. All manner of things which a good therapist should be opposed to.

      • She’s not a therapist. I think it’s a degree in art mystery. Post PhD you can call yourself Dr. You do not have to specify in what.
        People tend to revere the title, not understanding that what they earned their doctorate in may not be related at all to the Dr’s pontification points. I think this also goes for Dr. PHIL. Also not a therapist.

        • Esther Perel is a psychotherapist with a practice in NYC.

          And not someone I would go to.

      • I had an English professor at the University of California who was having an affair with the married head of the psych department of another University. She shared weekly updates of her relationship during class.

    • Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham has a few theories of how humans evolved to be basically monogamous or at least to prefer and expect that partners be monogamous. First he deduced that, because the gut and brain vie for metabolic fuel to sustain the systems and because cooking sterilizes food and makes nutrients easier to absorb, the discovery of fire and cooking meant we could shed our tough former ape digestive tracks and “spend” metabolism on supporting larger brains. As the logic goes, males began transitioning to monogamy to get females to cook for them. In other words, if we hadn’t transitioned to monogamy, we would have remained dumb apes. Then Wrangham theorizes that the leap to human language probably formed as a way to keep tabs on mates through gossip which suggests the practice of monogamy was already established at that point. And if we cooked our way to bigger brains, a budding understanding of biology and paternity would have further incentivized monogamy.

      Wrangham also points out that we didn’t evolve from direct ancestors of the groovy, egalitarian bonobo but the direct ancestors of the rapey, warring chimp for whom sexuality– though “exuberant” and varied– wasn’t always consensual and was typically drenched in violence. So much for the bonobo defense of non-monogamy.
      Anyway, within the understanding that humans evolved from a common ancestor with chimps, Wrangham describes behavior among chimps that might have sown the evolutionary seeds for modern monogamy. Occasionally a chimp male might take a female away from the troupe for a few days for the sake of “consortment” so he can mate without batting off rivals in the middle of the act. I gathered this isn’t a common practice among chimps, more an outlier thing. Maybe because female chimps are every bit as promiscuous as males and there’s an evolutionary advantage to mating with whichever male can beat off rivals, female chimps apparently aren’t that enthusiastic about “honeymooning” and it’s a bit more akin to hostage-taking than modern dating. But females are less likely to be injured or killed during consortment than during the typical gang-bang chaos of troupe mating so consortment might have won out as a mating strategy and “consorters” were more likely to pass on their genes as our ancestors evolved to human.

      • I had a psychology teacher speculate (in class) why some people are right brained and others left brained. He said, “Maybe it’s the way they’re held by the mother when she’s giving them a bottle. The mother has a tendency to hold the baby the same way every time.” I told him that his theory didn’t make sense because nursing mothers change sides all the time. He was a nincompoop, lIke Esther. He probably had a degree completely un-associated with psychology too.

        • Lol. My behaviorism professor actually stood up before the class and described his personal experiment of dosing dates with caffeine to see if having to pee triggered female libido and bettered his chances of getting laid. Apparently the study failed. But if he was conducting a study to see if making off-color remarks to female students increased his chances of being reported to the school, the experiment was successful.

  • I love you Chump Lady! I would love for #BiteMeEstherPerel to go viral and end up mentioned on a late night talk show monologue.

    • Chump Lady needs her own show – world-wide TV rights. It has to happen. I have read the Esther Perel piece before, several times, and it never doesn’t make me want to do an air punch and shout hell yeh!

  • I don’t know what terrifies me more…a) that Esther P doesn’t actually believe this nonsensical psychobabble for the self-entitled and is only regurgitating it for shock value, publicity and money at the expense of revictimizing the victim and empowering the abusive or b) that the number of unaccountable morally vapid people for whom she writes about and to outnumber those of us who have integrity.

  • Preach it!

    But I have to ask — what in the name of all the elder gods does this mean? “Affairs are motivated by a myriad of forces— tainted love… ”

    TAINTED LOVE?!? Go on, Esther, define that. Oh, you can’t? It’s meaningless twaddle from a mediocre pop song?

    Well, two can play pop-tune bingo. Way I see it, I became part of a Chain of Fools. She was going off the rails on a Crazy Train, extracting some exuberant defiance from a random HVAC guy’s Good Ship Lollypop.

    It must be nice to make a living off telling narcissistic a-holes that yes, it’s the chump’s fault you went and did a thing that destroyed a family. All harm, no foul.

    • “She was going off the rails on a Crazy Train, extracting some exuberant defiance from a random HVAC guy’s Good Ship Lollypop.”

      🤣 Dying!

  • Chump Lady- please write your screenplay- please make a movie about Fkwits and good Chumps – please put your voice on the big screen – you are brilliant and there’s an Oscar waiting for you – and he’s not a cheater. We look forward to seeing you on the Red Carpet.

  • My goodness, I loathe that blovating, rancid stankpiece called Esther Perel.

    So, my ex, who not only chumped me, but multiple APs with promises of weddings, families, babies (and the expenses that went along with those lifetime milestones…. after all, the reception hall needs a non-refundable deposit on the wedding he actually wasn’t going to have), he’s just…. practicing minor transgressions?

    Goodness me. I need to take him back straightaway. Never mind he knocked up and married one of those APs, who is now constantly launching herself into hospitalizations with “mystery illnesses”, and the poor child of said knock up may very well be saddled with special needs because of her mother’s poor prenatal care.

    I’m going to invite the whole motley bunch to move in with me and take over their expenses, it’s just some adorable exuberant defiance, after all. Please, allow me to continue to be his doormat, wife appliance and babysitter all in one!

  • Perel is a sophist, IMO. She says the things she does not because she necessarily wholeheartedly believes them, but because they garner attention and fans, since lots of people are looking for validation for their shittiness.
    I doubt it even enters her head to ponder whether or not her pretentious twaddle has any truth to it. It sounds “truthy” to lots of people. That is enough to ensure she has a career and the ego satisfaction of being famous.
    She is therefore the Jordan Peterson of infidelity.

  • Amazing job CL, and some incredible responses from CN!! Wow, it feels fortifying to see this very dangerous sex kitten, Perel, tarred and feathered messing with her perfectly coiffed hair and perfect outfit of the day!
    How does one convince themselves that they are actually doing good for the world when she HAS to know the reality is she is just making cheaters feel less guilt about cheating and making beaucoup bucks doing it. The CEO’s from all these companies that hire her to speak are probably all screwing on their spouses themselves. She has the falsified pass to them out of jail free and they are lining up in droves at any cost ( it’s probably chump funds anyway!) for Esther’s tickets to redemption.
    I’m daydreaming about seeing her placed in a locked small and bare room ( after her tar and feathering, of course) and every one of Chump Lady’s posts and the comments will be running on a blasting continuous loop in the room.
    Forcing her to absorb the pain and suffering of chump after chump for years and years of material, all horrifically duped by all the “ acts of exuberant defiance” she touts as so beneficial to relationships.
    I really believe she knows on some level ( if any of her soul is still there) that what she is doing has a great deal of negative consequences. But, as we have witnessed countless times through all spectrums of our society, there is nothing more important than more wealth and power and its greedy pursuit has destroyed innumerable lives.
    And while she is being force fed Chump Lady’s gold, her spouse is out on the town with every hooker he can afford draining the entirety of Esther’s speaking funds and life savings. And just as an added bonus, accumulating as many STD’s as he can muster up to share with his sexy and omnipotent expert on infidelity as he happily deposits all his “ quests for aliveness” in the nether regions of her wild and carefree pussy with unbridled exuberant deviance.
    You suck Esther, I wish the world knew it.

    • The church used to sell indulgences on a sliding scale until nearly the 18th century. There’s always been an “exuberant” market for absolution. Sort of like defense lawyers will always be in demand, now we have authors, vloggers, bloggers, podcasters and public speakers offering absolution (from “shame,” not sin, since we’ve done away with the latter) and rationalizations for everything imaginable– pedophilia, rape, racism, etc. People will pay big bucks to whitewash and normalize their shitty behavior, negate their victims and rid themselves of stigma.

  • Amen to CL’s post!!

    Part of my penance for recommending Esther Perel to my then husband as soon as he blurted out that he wanted a separation (#totalshock) is to confess it here on CN every time that woman is mentioned. 🤦🏻‍♀️

    This line from x shortly after D-Day sounds Esther-inspired to me: “I take full responsibility for what happened, but the question of why it happened is more difficult. I’m not trying to avoid culpability, but the roots of this are deep. There is a soft voice of defiance in me that keeps me going. It may be irrational and indefensible, but, if I didn’t have it, I’d be lost.”

    Oh, DEFIANCE!! How laudable! The word implies bold resistance to authority. But what authority would that be?

    What Rosa Parks did was an act of defiance. What he did was an act of cowardly selfishness.

    • Also, what’s to stop him from listening to his voice of defiance in his current marriage to the AP?

      They don’t call it a marriage contract for nothing. If you can’t honor a contract, then don’t enter it. If you’re in a marriage contract, ask to leave that contract before fucking around. It’s not that hard.

  • One last thing, does Esther ever present any evidence to support her claim that infidelity often strengthens a marriage?

    There’s a “nation” of us here who would beg to differ.

    • I think it’s obvious that a one-sided, secretly open relationship you thought was monogamous really strengthens everything right up!

  • My “act of exuberant defiance” in my “quest for aliveness” was to divorce the cheater, get out of paying him a cent in alimony (his APs could pay his way), and find myself a man who actually puts out for me (women have sexual needs too!). And for someone who claims we Americans are just too puritanical Ms. Perel sounds pretty judgmental towards those who choose divorce over a lifetime of “captivity” to a cheater. A hypocrite, like all moral relativists.

  • Love Is Not a Permanent State of Enthusiasm: An Interview with Esther Perel | The New Yorker

    This was the last paragraph of this 2018 New Yorker interview with Perel above for those who has not the time or are completely overdosed on this woman today:

    I think that definition today of love—“you are my everything”—where you really see it, this complete exaltation, is in wedding vows. Have you ever noticed? I mean, it’s, “I will wipe every tear that streams down your face before you even notice it’s going down.” I think a realistic vow is “I will fuck up on a regular basis, and, on occasion, I’ll admit it.”

    It’s pretty telling of her internal beliefs about love and relationships, undoubtably molded from her origin story of tragedy. No one comes out unscathed from war, no even generations later. Some can use the trauma inflicted towards good in the world and others will cause additional harm. Esther is choosing harm.

  • So Perel thinks that lying to and deceiving your partner is acceptable.


    If an open marriage is agreed to then fine. But if done in secret it is abusive and sick behaviour.

    • I really feel like the whole reason Perel and others (cough, cough, Dan Savage) have any popularity is because cheaters love to hear the message that it’s okay to lie, cheat, and steal from your spouse.

      I know for a fact my husband lapped up what Dan Savage and the rest of the internet had to say about “dead bedrooms” and how it’s okay to get your “needs met.” He latched on to that rhetoric like a leech, and started using that terminology even though it wasn’t true at all. What was true was he was being a total jerk and total jerks don’t get laid.

      It was all a setup. Be abusive to push me away, cry “dead bedroom,” and then feel justified in whatever he did after that, because “needs.”

  • As I was looking for help in the depths of my pain, like many of you here, I unfortunately discovered Esther Perel. She was said to be an expert so I thought she should acknowledge my pain and give some logical tips as to why this is happening. I read almost everything by her and looked for a single comforting advice towards the betrayed. İn the end, I felt that she did not care about me at all. All I got from her was “misunderstood cheaters” (of course she never uses this word cheater). These poor people were just looking for themselves. The first thing I thought I must be so horrible and selfish that my spouse felt lost with me and that he had to rediscover himself by perpetually lying and belittling me the most horrible way over a year. And to get the liar back, aka saving the marriage, I must dedicate myself to him even more than before.
    My pain deepened until I found Chump Lady.
    Chump Lady was a life saver. She calls a BS a BS. She cares for chumps. No word salads.
    I really hope she gets the attention she deserves.

    • Toxic corporations that destroy the health and lives of millions through dumping, defective and toxic products, etc., do this all the time: promote faux consumer advocates to shepherd victims away from actually helpful resources and then bog those victims down in nihilistic self-blame (“It was my ‘cancer gene’ that caused my kid’s cancer, not the herbicide made by the same company that’s sponsoring this march for a cure and profiting from cancer treatments…”). Like with the “Cancer industry, too many philanthropic consumer non-profits related to various diseases are actually front groups for the very companies contributing to these diseases.

      Analogizing adultery as a toxic product/emission might seem awkward at first until you realize how takedowns of previously untouchable power figures like Harvey Weinstein shook the corporate world. There are vast monetary stakes at risk in the #MeToo and “cancel culture” era, not to mention the burgeoning streaming porn industry which is dependent on international lenience towards underage sex trafficking. Corporate media can hardly openly promote rape, pedophilia and trafficking on behalf of their corporate sponsors that share bundled profits with companies that have lost money from rejection of rape culture, which is why I think adultery has been chosen as a subtler-but-still-related “entering wedge” to saw away at growing public prohibitions against rapey public figures and sexual exploitation.

      Perel is a pretentious snooze and there’s no way she rose to any level of media prominence without wag-the-dog promotion. Victims are steered into following her simply because she lands on top of Google searches for things like “infidelity help” (speaking of wag-the-dog promotions: And speaking of early streaming porn investments:

    • THIS. I found her stuff too, as I pick-me-danced and I was made to feel even smaller in the context of my failing marriage. And the
      marriage counseling sessions I got us into also made me feel I had a huge part in what was going down (I didn’t know about the cheating when he asked for the divorce—that came later in anonymous letters). But there was always this seed of why are all these places I am looking to for help focusing on HIS needs? What about my feelings and needs and wants in this relationship? Then I found CL and CN—and the validation was overwhelming. None of it was about me, it was happening TO me. I will never forget the sense of finally being seen and heard here, even without posting a word—bc the cheater playbook is real. Gah, I love y’all!

    • Yes! I am so sorry for your awful time of searching for help whilst so in pain. I know it well. I was just recently advised by a therapist that I needed to “take responsibility” and to see what the STBXH is “mirroring” me.
      I still have enough functioning brain cells to know without any shadow of a doubt that I am not a compulsive liar so I kept my opinions to myself, and when she sent a follow up mail asking how I am getting on with said STBXH, I said that I am no longer in any doubt and everything is fine. To which she replied (misunderstanding my meaning as I intended), “Wonderful, you were simply meant for one another. Now you have realised that, you will be able to grow spiritually together”.
      You can’t make that kind of shit up.
      I am so hoping he’ll be calling her soon (he loves charming elderly ladies and she fell for it) as I’ve just told him he needs to move out. With any luck she’ll feel the desire to “help” him too, hopefully so he moves far away, but I also feel she might need to “take responsibility” for her karma and see what he’s mirroring her once he’s fleeced her. Just saying …

  • I don’t know about y’all, but when I want novelty, I buy a new lipstick shade. Esther has minimal educational credentials to be a “world-renowned expert” and even more limited empathy to push the view that cheating is a victimless pursuit.

    • When I want novelty I buy a different Lindt chocolate bar…sea salt, orange, chili…

      • Yes. And whenever I travel to Europe (not often enough) I buy 🍫 bars only found in those countries. Novelty 🤣🤣🤣

  • The narrative is changing on infidelity. It is becoming synonymous with abuse. As soon as it is widely recognized as abuse is when Esther will drop her BS. She is making bank from the BS. When they start saying she is a supporter of abuse, the $ will dry up and she will drop the BS. This too will come to pass. Society and culture are changing and becoming more savy and less tolerant. She may be dead by the time we are there but her works and viewpoint will not stand the test of time. People will look back on our societal tolerance of infidelity and say we got it very wrong.

    • The last quack “therapist” I went to told me to stop “being a victim”. I said actually I AM. And people like YOU need to start recognizing this as real trauma.

      • Good point. The only people I’ve ever met who “play victim” are perpetrators. Actual victims don’t have to play at anything and furthermore never wanted to be this.

        I think it was in the 80s that the idea of “victim mindset” became a buzz term. Not surprisingly it was bandied about by a lot of injury-lawsuit addled corporations which, typical of all perpetrators, acted like victims of their own victims. But the term “victim” will only ever be a neutral identifier dependent on the existence of a victimizing force/person. It says zip about the background, psychology, etc., etc., of person victimized and everything about the victimizer.

    • Ester is shape-shifting and dipping her toes in the trauma circuit. Too bad no one from that group has called her out.

    • Hi Chumpolicious, I am not from the USA, but I lived there for some time. I always admired how the abuse victims found strength to talk about their experiences, they did not hide in the shadows and many support groups were available all around the country (Unlike my own home-town where people are afraid to talk about abuse) But it surprises me that when it comes to infidelity, the word abuse is very rarely used even in the USA. Then, people like Esther Perel attends to TED talks and educate! the humanity. I have finished graduate school, I speak several languages, I read a lot but I do not understand what Esther is talking about. I literally do not understand what she is saying just because her word salad sounds high-toned, yet nonsensical. It bothers me that she is called an expert because she is absolutely not.

  • “The lamentations I hear most include feelings of loneliness and emotional deprivation. There comes a point when one no longer can tolerate feeling devalued and taken for granted. Lack of attention and the sense of having become a function rather than a person can instigate a wish for escape.”
    Oh gee, I thought she was talking about us chumps for a minute there.
    And why is Esther all about keeping people married when we are so defiantly exuberant? Let us fly and be free if that is the case.

  • Perel confuses the shit out of me. I don’t understand why she believes in marriage at all. Why bother if it’s going to be such a downer that you’ll eventually need to fuck someone else? She seems to suggest that her preferred model isn’t even an open marriage- but rather the idea is to get married and then cheat so you can feel alive. 😯 I guess the whole thing boils down to this- she’s on the cheater’s side (the perp) at all costs, so she can bite me too. She has no understanding of the pain caused by the lying. I’m always surprised by her utter lack of empathy.

    • Her parents and their community were Holocaust survivors. She’s said several times that she divides survivors into two camps: the walking dead and those brought back to life through “eroticism.” If you can get past the false binary or the fact that too few death camp survivors are left to combat her sweeping claims, I suspect she may have groomed in childhood to cover up for and rationalize a cheating parent and/or cheating members of her family’s circle (as Jackie Kennedy Onassis apparently experienced). Drafting children into supporting and facilitating adult infidelity/sexual abuse is categorized as covert incest or covert sexual abuse.

      The emotional hostage-taking in her story is pretty obvious: the cheater suffered untold horrors and is therefore entitled. Never mind that whatever cheaters Perel witnessed were likely betraying others who’d also suffered untold horrors. Never mind that most modern western cheaters never suffered genocide or atrocity. I think Perel is a case of a bent person playing out their pathological internalization of trauma on an international stage and promoting it as some kind of societal cure. Because one of the primary strategies in Nazi genocide was forcing victims to betray each other in the camps, I wonder whether Perel isn’t promoting “revitalization” through reenactment of betrayal more than through eroticism.

    • Agreed! And wouldn’t the real flex be to find novelty and aliveness within yourself and your marriage? Now that would be an expression of creativity and openness. Cheating is just lazy and selfish. Maybe Esther can come console my distraught 6-year-old and explain to her why daddy blew up our family.

    • I agree FKA, very surprised by her utter lack of empathy too! It’s so apparent.
      Being asked a question about survival post Holocaust in the interview Esther did with the New Yorker that I had posted earlier today, Esther said:
      “And then there were the other people who really kind of decided to take life as a vengeance, and to live it at every moment. And I am very lucky in that sense, that I was in a household that veered to that extreme. You couldn’t be sad for two minutes, or somebody would say, “What’s wrong? What’s the problem?” You never could have a problem that was worthy enough of being sad, because who can compete with Auschwitz? So, you know, it’s not like this is such a piece of cake, either.”
      I think she was raised to have less empathy for ppl since no one can compete with a Holocaust event according to her FOO.
      I don’t think that’s the way to view life though. Your tragedies and griefs don’t need to be compared to someone else’s to see if they merit worthiness.
      That discredits ppl’s experiences and causes you to have less empathy for others overall. ( like Esther) No one can trump the Holocaust in their minds, so your experiences have no value and I feel nothing at all for you, is the way she was raised.
      I read the remarkable book “ The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eger, a Holocaust survivor herself and a remarkable psychologist that has spent her life ( she’s 91) helping ppl get over traumas.
      She says to not compare ppls experiences with traumas or to invalidate them by saying they have no merit.
      Traumas are not meant to be compared and calibrated based on other’s more significant traumas. There is always going to be a sadder story than yours, does that mean you cannot be sad? Is your story invalid? Everyone is going through their own experience and it deserves respect, compassion and empathy.
      I’ve read ‘The Choice’ twice. The first time I read it, I held it to my chest on the last page and just cried. It is a very beautiful and very moving book, one of hope, not darkness, even though her life had much darkness in it, her choice was not to view it that way. I would highly recommend the book, it’s beautiful.

  • Ugh, I hate her schtick that people who value monogamy are close-minded and unsophisticated. I have a couple of friends in open marriages and I’ve always been open-minded about it. You know why? Because they’ve established clear boundaries with their partners and communicate openly. They don’t sneak around. And they agree that violating those boundaries would be cheating. After D-day, I had a couple of friends remark that if anyone would be open-minded enough to work through things with a “sex addict” it would be me. They weren’t encouraging me to work it out, by the way, they were just illustrating the point that the damage he inflicted was too great for even a “sexually woke” person to overcome.

    But I guess according to Esther, I am just not sophisticated enough to understand that my husband soliciting whores on Christmas was just a paradigm shift in our holiday traditions!

  • (Oops, I’ve run into an algorithm problem with posting this comment. After making multiple attempts, I’ve disguised every term that could possibly be a problem, put spaces in links and divided the comment into two parts).

    Let’s play “Find the Affinity” between Perel and her corporate sponsors! Why wouldn’t these companies love a mouthpiece who’s all about minimizing harm, negating victims, rationalizing perpetration and polishing the perp brand? These companies have found a kindred spirit in Perel. In the meantime, spouses of company execs might consider retaining PIs and getting STD checks.

    J0hnson & J0hnson’s history of corporate crimes is too long to list here (like its long history of unethical prison experiments and off-label marketing of antipsychotics leading to a 40-fold increase in prescriptions and young men getting mastectomies: https://www.m ohnson-j ohnson/). But here are some fun facts:

    — The company recently pulled a complex bankruptcy maneuver to block more than 38,000 injury lawsuits from consumers who developed mesothelioma, ovarian and other cancers after using the company’s asbestos-tainted talcum powder (h ttps://w

    — J0hnson & J0hnson has been ordered to pay billions to states which filed suit after J&J was declared the “king pin” of the opioid crisis. Some highlights from the Oklahoma case (h ttps:// ohnson-j ohnson-kingpin-behind):

    “–J0hnson & J0hnson created a mutant strain of poppy in 1994 that allowed it to manufacture and supply massive amounts of opioids. For years, J0hnson & J0hnson supplied more than 60 percent of all active ingredients for opioids manufactured and sold in the United States:

    –J0hnson & J0hnson created this strain specifically in anticipation of potential future demand for oxycodone. Purdue said its biggest barrier to success was getting enough supply of oxycodone. J0hnson & J0hnson met with Purdue for years to discuss Pu rdue’s supply needs. J0hnson & J0hnson told Purdue they would meet all of its needs if P urdue would sign a long term supply agreement. That agreement was signed by both parties;

    –J0hnson & J0hnson then went on a decade and a half long campaign to market all opioids—not just their named brands—as safe for everyday pain and having a low risk of addiction. Since they were the No. 1 supplier of narcotic, opioid active ingredients in the United States, J0hnson & J0hnson had every incentive to boost the opioid market as a whole. This “unbranded” marketing worked;

    –Between 2000 and 2011, J0hnson & J0hnson sales representatives targeted Oklahoma doctors nearly 150,000 times and marketed their own synthetic opioids—such as f entanyl, t apentadol and t ramadol—for use as broadly as possible;

    — The company specifically targeted high prescribers of opioids and reinforced their misrepresentations that opioids were safe and effective for everyday pain. They sent sales representatives into pill mills dozens of times to try to get doctors to write more and more prescriptions;

    — The company had a detailed “Influence Map” that it used to target and influence every level of our state’s government with its marketing lies to try to make sure that their opioids were on our approved lists. Company representatives told state leaders these drugs were safe and effective. Internal emails show J0hnson & J0hnson employees bragging about persuading Oklahoma officials not to place restrictions on J0hnson & J0hnson opioids;

    –The company used sales “hooks” to specifically target women and returning war veterans;

    –The number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome—horrible withdrawal due to exposure to opioids when the mother is pregnant—skyrocketed after 2000. As Tonya Radcliffe, a mother of 3 foster children born with opioid exposure testified, the only way to explain what an NAS baby goes through is “Hell on earth;”


    • (continued from above)

      –J0hnson and J0hnson engaged with and funded dozens of industry “front groups” to spread these false statements and promote broad and unfettered use of opioids for everyday pain;

      –In 1990, J0hnson & J0hnson’s outside lawyer met with Congress to get more relaxed rules for importing J0hnson & J0hnson’s opioids into the United States from Australia—where J0hnson & J0hnson would later plant its crops of the mutant poppy. That same lawyer was an author of the 1997 Consensus Statement—a document that called for widespread use of all opioids for chronic pain and claims that opioids were rarely addictive. This document was disseminated throughout the state;

      –The company engaged in media outreach to children and adolescents centered on the company’s pain management hook. And just days after the trial began, the website with the outreach information was taken down. When the State exposed this to the Court, J0hnson & J0hnson had the website put back up;

      — The company was warned by its own medical advisory team to not market these drugs as low risk for abuse and misuse in 2001, yet it did so anyway, even after it was warned by the FDA to stop;

      –Every witness that J0hnson & J0hnson has called in its case-in-chief has gutted J0hnson & J0hnson’s defense even further. Instead, their witnesses’ testimony has corroborated the State’s case—that oversupply of opioids leads to addiction and death. And none of J0hnson & J0hnson’s witnesses has rebutted the evidence that J0hnson & J0hnson was the source of the oversupply;

      –Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Commissioner Terri White testified that it will cost the State over $17 billion to clean up the mess J0hnson & J0hnson made—money that must be spent to abate this crisis by the company that was a primary cause of it, not the taxpayers of this state…”


      Then there’s N*ke!

      –After establishing itself as a domestically-made brand, N*ke moved its operations to the third world in the good old outsourcing 1980s, leaving 65,000 American workers without jobs. The move triggered a domino effect among competitors.

      –N*ke pulled out of Honduras and refused to pay more than $2.2 million in severance to fired workers. It moved its operations to Taiwan and South Korea but shuttered again when governments demanded living wages. It then moved its operations to Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam where it could pay children .20 cents an hour.

      –In 2013, N*ke founder Ph*l Knight (showing his affinity to those who coverup child abuse) publicly defended Joe Paterno’s deflection of Penn State’s Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, calling Paterno a “hero.” Knight later did a 180 when more evidence emerged and the company currently cancels endorsement contracts for athletes accused of sexual assault. Meanwhile humanitarian watchdogs were never satisfied with the company’s response to countless allegations of sexual and physical abuse of the company’s subcontracted factory workers in third world countries.

      — N*ke is currently battling allegations that its Chinese operations use forced labor by Uyghur prisoners in virtual “re-education” camps. https://w ike-shoes/ Taking a “philanthropic hypocrisy” page from founder and former CEO Ph*l Knight, subsequent CEO Mark Parker publicly condemned forced Uyghur labor while the company funneled money to politicians to block a bill that would outlaw companies from contracting forced Uyghur labor.

      — Boston Celtics En*s Kanter protested the team’s endorsement contract with N*ke by writing “hypocrite” on his shoes and going to social media with a message that those who buy and wear N*ke products are covered in blood, injustice and suffering.

      • Wow, you have a lot of material running around your head, HOAC!
        You are a very deep thinker and I’ve enjoyed the many insights in your very detailed posts.
        There are so many things not right or just in this world, all sorts of betrayals, maltreatments and deceits.
        The “ Do onto others” advice in the Bible sure covers a lot of ground.
        We’d have a great deal less to be horrified about if it were actually adhered to.
        Appreciate your active sharp and curious mind (and that your posts are usually way longer than mine,haha!)

  • I have a Masterclass subscription and seeing EP’s class advertised has made me want to cancel it.

    There’s something about the very concept of a figure who apologizes for infidelity having “expertise in erotic intelligence, couples and family identity as well as corporate relationships and team collaboration.” I bet most of the folks who want to buy into her minimizing/enabling around personal-sexual relations would get litigious very quickly if their business partner shared corporate secrets with a more ego-boosting company …

  • I read the Perel crap early on after d-day where she describes affairs as a ‘quest for aliveness’. At the end of the book (yes I read it all in a desperate attempt to save my marriage) she suggested opening the relationship to fix the ‘quest for aliveness’. But we’d already done that and he still lied and cheated. That’s when I threw the book across the room and started to face the fact that I was married to a monster.
    Now I try to post a comment on every FB Esther perel ad I see about her narcissist apologist theories. God I hate that woman

  • Ya the whole point of marriage is to exclude other people. Without boundaries marriage doesn’t exist and someone who isn’t honest and dedicated can’t make a good partner / family member. I mean I don’t know what Esther has going on but she’s just a random lady who says things.

  • And to think I stumbled upon Ester in 2017 before I found you. I’m so much happier here! She can shove her lame “your old marriage is over, do you want a new one” advice🙄

  • Thank you from the heart, ChumpLady! There’s something about her words that make my skin crawl, not to mention the sense of reading a “funded opinion”. The whole feel of it brought to mind the warnings in the tragically accurate leaflets published by The White Rose, a resistance group in Nazi Germany:

    “Nothing is more unworthy of a civilized people than being “ruled” without resistance by an irresponsible clique of rulers who are devoted to dark instincts. Is it not so that every honest German is ashamed of his government today, and who among us can gauge the extent of the disgrace which will come over us and our children once the scales have fallen from our eyes and the most horrible and inconceivably abhorrent crimes come to light?” (1943)

    ChumpLady is a resistance worker spreading light. Vive La Resistance!

  • Once again, CL has said it all perfectly. It’s simple selfishness. Cheaters believe they’re worth more than you (and their children), so they put their interests first. That’s it. Very simple. Very easy to understand. And it doesn’t matter how they got that way (skein untangling). The fact is they ARE that way, and all you can do is remove yourself from the situation.

    • This exactly, they deserve a committed and loyal partner their partner does not.

      In fact if I could go back in time and ask my fw any question and know he would tell me the truth, I would ask “Exactly when did you decide that you deserved a faithful wife, but I didn’t deserve a faithful husband”.

      I would be willing to bet on our wedding day he knew he would never be faithful.

      • When ex was moving out I asked him if he could imagine me with another man & his response was, “If it makes you happy.” Yup, entitlement right there.

  • I just tried to send an email to Ms. Perel expressing my concern that she calls herself a psychotherapist.

    Strangely, my correspondence bounced back to me – twice. I used the email address posted on her site.

    Pretty strange that someone in her position would be so selective about the correspondence she receives 🤔

  • What irks me and make me laugh at the same time is when Esther Perel keeps insisting on paradigm shift and changing the view on infidelity. Duh? That has always been the archaic and abusive view and she is just perpetuating the old cheating view just like RIC. Also, imagine saying that cheating is an act of autonomy and then later on, Esther uses cruel twist of fate. Such pure insanity and lack of accountability. I pity those chumps who fell for her trap.

  • When I read stuff like Esther’s, I think of companies like Experian who collects and sells a bunch of very private information about us to not-so-nice companies/people. Then I see Experian selling us tools to prevent no-so-nice people from using our very private data.

    Or I think about how TimeShare fraud never dies. First there was paying huge $$$ for 2 weeks of ownership. Then they transformed that into collecting points that you could use around the world; and now you can pay someone to help you get out of your TimeShare commitment.

    I’m on the Board of a huge condo association. It has $4Million in reserve because replacing the furnace is like $250,000. So who is running for Treasurer this year? An investor who owns 10 condos. When I looked up to see if he had any court records in the County, there were pages of people suing him for non-payment of debt and multiple bankruptcy efforts. Like Bernie Madoff, he may be the most qualified due to his experience.

  • In order for perel’s theory to work the chump has to be ok with their value as a human to be reduced right down to 0. Perel is a domestic violent waywards wet dream and is fucking dangerous for legitimising such hate.

  • What a bunch of word salad. And though it wasn’t Esther, I reached out to such Esther-like stupidity when I was trying to save my marriage. Thank the Good Lord that someone sane was able to reach through my pain and shake me up (I hadn’t yet found CL). Explanations such as Esther’s are extremely toxic and I can easily see that someone in the throes of despair would commit suicide. The thought had crossed my mind. People like Esther need to be sued if someone’s loved one commits suicide after being counseled with such stupidity. Maybe then this narrative will change. Cheating is abuse. I was bruised and battered; the bruises just didn’t show on the outside.

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