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UBT: Renegade Sex Therapists

Universal Bullshit Translator
The Universal Bullshit Translator

Raise your hand if you think good sex is an important part of a good relationship. Oh, hey, is that all of you? I think most of us can agree that good sex is a Good Thing.

How do you define good? Well, that’s between you and your partner to figure out. (Enjoy those experiments, kids!)

One common assumption about infidelity is that cheaters must cheat because chumps suck at sex. Now look, some chumps may actually suck at sex or be sexless. In which case, honest conversations must be had, and ultimately, this may not be the best relationship fit for either of you. But sexual incompatibility is no excuse for cheating, which is abusive and endangering.

Inevitably when you try and have a conversation about infidelity, the battlefield is fought on sexual incompatibility. And the cheater apologist wants to argue on the grounds of Sex Is Important! (agreed) or No One Should Be In a Sexless Marriage! (agreed) That’s a Unilateral Decision! (So is cheating, and no one gets pregnant or infected by sexlessness.)

And then we inevitably spiral into Monogamy Is Not Natural. (Okay, so don’t agree to be monogamous. Problem solved.)

The New York Times recently ran an article “First Comes Sex Talk With These Renegades of Couples Therapy” featuring Dr. Tammy Nelson and Esther Perel’s thoughts on sex therapy. And it’s the same retread of chump sexual deficiencies make cheaters cheat.

In traditional couples therapy, which is about 50 years old, sex has often been shoved to the sideline. Practitioners are trained to work on underlying relationship issues, like blame or communication, many discussing sex only if the couple wants to talk about it.

But in the last decade, as coupledom itself has been legally redefined, a chorus of provocative voices in couples therapy has emerged, emphasizing the importance of good sex in relationships and sometimes suggesting the radical idea that couples fix the sex before tackling other issues.

Here’s a radical suggestion — maybe sex is not a separate compartment from communication and intimacy?

Anyway, here are a few gems from the article, which I will now feed to the UBT. Even though it is holding its nose and begging me not to.

The den mother of the group is Esther Perel, 56, the internationally known Belgian-born author of “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence,” who asserts that mystery and distance could benefit long-term monogamy.

Ms. Perel, based in Manhattan, is writing a book tentatively called “Affairs: Cheating in the Age of Transparency,” and gave a TED talk about the topic in March that has been viewed about two million times. Her newest provocation is the idea that trauma-based language around affairs is limiting.

Mystery and distance unlocks erotic “intelligence”? So, uh, does that mean I’m stupid if I like my sex familiar and intimate? I think most people would like to know a person a good long while before they trot out the leather and whips, but maybe that’s just me.

And Esther? I’d be tentative about that book title too. It sucks. “Cheating in the Age of Transparency”? Cheating is about being opaque. Deceitful. Hiding it from your partner for the frissons of delight that is getting away with it. If you meant transparent, as in honest and above board? That’s not cheating, that’s “open marriage,” which has rules too, so sorry even polyamorists can be cheated on.

Her newest provocation is the idea that trauma-based language around affairs is limiting.

UBT: I know! Let’s divert cheating away from the ugly concepts of deceit and reframe it as a CHUMP problem! Ooh, that’s good. Betrayal is not a trauma! So stop using “trauma-based language”! That’s so limiting.

You wouldn’t want to be one of those limited, unintelligent people, would you?

“An affair is an act of betrayal and also an experience of expansion and growth,” Ms. Perel said in an interview. “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime. The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient, and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.”

The UBT has given up in protest.

“An affair is an act of betrayal…”

It’s not SINGULAR, Esther. Affairs are thousands of decisions to betray, one lie after the next after the next. It’s not an act (singular) of betrayal. That’s smothering the verb. It is betrayal. Period. The sentence is much stronger (and not to your point) if you write “Affairs are betrayals.” So you distance the language and say, affairs are just “an act” (one!), implied that there are no feelings of ill intent. That’s a hefty assumption.

“and also an experience of expansion and growth.”

Who’s against expansion and growth?! Chumps are idiot picketing members of historic preservation societies. Save our marriage! Don’t tear it down! Sorry, Esther needs a strip mall for the all-you-can-eat-pussy buffet. Don’t stand in the way of progress!

So acts of betrayal and expansion and growth are equivalent? In what moral universe? Bank robbery is an act of theft and also an experience of exhilaration and enrichment. You’ve got your thumb on the scale for the crime over the victim, but you’ve dressed it up nicely as being the same.

“It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime.”

Actually, it’s a crime in most world religions. Some states still have adultery on the books, and it’s in our military code. But yeah, you’re not going to get sent to jail for cheating on your spouse.

As long as the “trauma” is in your relationship, hey, it’s not criminal. Wasn’t that the old rational for domestic abuse?

“The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient…”

How’s infidelity working for everyone’s kids? Stronger and more resilient for it?

I’d say strength and resiliency come from leaving cheaters, not staying married to them and modeling dysfunction.

And WTF, Esther — you’re going to put this trauma behind you because the cheater is never going to cheat again? No, you just made cheating normal and “expansive.” A good thing! Why would the cheater want to stop when you’ve given them so many delicious excuses to continue? So, suck it up, chumps. Your family will be stronger for it!

and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.

For who? The cheater? But it’s okay cheater, now that you’ve expressed your unhappiness, your chump will pick me dance her/his heart out! And you’ll get more kibbles. And if you don’t, hey, cheat again. It’s your right.

Does the chump feel dead? Nah, chumps love to pick me dance. They were bred for it and have natural rhythm.

But wait there’s more!

Another emerging voice on infidelity is Dr. Nelson, 52, a New Haven-based couples and sex therapist and author of “The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity.” She encourages couples to write their own monogamy rules, which can include extramarital sex on weekends or extramarital sex but only together.

“I describe monogamy as honest, perpetual dependency of some type,” Dr. Nelson said. “It can be whatever a couple wants, but it has to be fluid and flexible, and the couple has to keep renewing it, like a license.”

Boy, you make monogamy sound so fun, Dr. Tammy. Perpetual dependency? Sign me up!

It can be whatever I want? Monogamy as a holodeck? Today I am Bluebeard the Pirate! Find me a wench! But only on weekends.

Damn, I think the UBT has broken.


A rerun. But these therapists still suck.

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.
  • So if monogamy isn’t natural and marriages are better off with affairs then why do most cheaters blow a gasket at the very thought of the chump looking elsewhere?

    Fuck off Esther, you’re a dumb bitch.

    • Exactly! Why even bother to hide it, if it’s so natural, and the marriage is better off with a betrayal ? Answer that Esther, you slimy cow.

      • Better still, why marry if marriage is unnatural captivity? Stay single and sleep around.

        • Tax breaks!

          AP managed to drag his divorce out until the spring, then married my XW on Dec 31. He filed as married every single time: he was just married to two different people in successive years. Nothing says two luv like timing your wedding vows to beat the IRS deadline!

      • Oh but being stabbed in the back, especially multiple times is such a life-enhancing experience!!!
        Just ask Julius Caesar!
        Oh… we can’t! He’s fecking dead!!!

        • She’s a daughter of the Father of Lies alright!
          And her father’s work she certainly is doing, and getting rich and famous from it and all!
          Well, they do say the Devil looks after his own, at least until he claims their souls!

    • As a scientist who studies such things, I can say that monogamy is just as natural as any social contract. My fw tried to mansplain my actual professional specialty to me, insisting that biologically we are not monogamous and men should have many female partners. Cut to his surprised Pikachu face when I told him that ACTUALLY, there was more biological evidence that females would be multiple dedicated males due to our hidden estrus. Not that it does, but if he wanted to wax scientific about his betrayal I was ready to call his bull pucky.

      It isn’t about biology or sex. It is about control and deception. If they want to cheat they will find justification for it no matter what. But they never seem to admit it is about power, control, and that high they get from deception. That is why the chump can never fix what caused them to stray. It isn’t about them.

      E.P. can eat my shorts. I would still be terribly depressed, pick me dancing, and being financially abused if I took her advice. The only way to win the game is not to play.

      • “It isn’t about biology or sex. It is about control and deception. If they want to cheat they will find justification for it no matter what. But they never seem to admit it is about power, control, and that high they get from deception. That is why the chump can never fix what caused them to stray. It isn’t about them.”👍👏

      • I was occasionally getting what I think now were passive suicidal ideas. I was having fleeting thoughts like “If it weren’t for my son, I’d be better off dead!” which, as time went on and X’s passive-aggressive emotional abuse of me got worse, became “If it weren’t for my son, I’d RATHER be dead!”
        If I had listened to this sort of shite and acted on it, I fear those passive suicidal ideas may have become more active, and even more destructive and dangerous!
        I wonder how many chumps have taken her con to heart and become even more depressed, depleted and damaged because of her? Have stayed longer in the cruel prison of a “marriage” created for them by the FW than they need of because of her? I think Perel is some sort of agent of evil TBH!

      • My biology would be greatly satisfied by hitting the FW and OW with my car. But I suppose I should like… not do that, since the social contract requires that I not murder people. Guess I’ll have to get my dopamine through other pursuits 🙁

        • Can I punch klootzak in the nose and chalk it up to an act of exuberant defiance? lol

    • I’ve come to see cheating– like domestic battering– as typically nothing more than the enforcement of one-sided monogamy.

      A lot of this apologistic bleating and whitewashing from Perel and her ilk could be cut short with peer reviewed research tracking down correlations and overlaps between DV, coercive control and infidelity. I’m pretty sure the findings would reflect what victims’ advocates see on the front lines, which is that most batterers cheat; that most cheaters engage in (increasingly criminalized) coercive control against primary partners as a means of facilitating cheating; that cheaters are more likely to eventually become physically violent or even murderous towards partners; and that the reason DV survivors learn not to discuss cheating within DV (which consequently leads to under-reporting of this in DV research) is because bystanders and legal and helping professionals commonly misinterpret this disclosure to frame victims as “fabricating abuse out of jealousy.” Not kidding on that latter bit. I’ve seen DA’s drop well documented cases of violent abuse simply because victims alluded to perpetrators’ infidelity.

      The semantic game Perel is playing is that banning the technical crotch-bumping part of cheating is unlegislatable in democratic societies, as is lying to one’s spouse. But there are a lot of behaviors surrounding cheating and commonly used to facilitate cheating which are either already criminal or could eventually become so. Coercive control or the campaign of psychological, emotional and tactical abuse and control that, with or without violence, all abusers engage in (and which most battering survivors identify as the most devastating and paralyzing aspect of DV) can get up to 15 years in prison in Scotland, can gain orders of protection for victims in Connecticut, Hawaii and California and lose perpetrators custody of children in the latter two states. Then financial abuse alone is being increasingly recognized in official channels as a form of intimate partner violence because of its statistically injurious or even lethal effects on families. By that token, if individuals are ever given the rights afforded to corporations, “Dissipation of marital assets” for affairs could eventually be viewed as criminal embezzlement, in which case APs who accept gifts and amenities at the expense of joint assets could be criminally liable for receipt of stolen goods and, under related existing law, wouldn’t be able to claim ignorance as a defense. There’s been a bit of legislative creep in the latter direction. There’s a case in CA in which a wife successfully sued her late cheating husband’s AP for the return of dissipated assets.

      As it stands there are a slew of studies finding that cheaters and so-called “mate poachers” tend to be anti-social and, in a general sense, more prone to criminality. If anyone thinks social science theory doesn’t impact legislation and court rulings, bear in mind the degree to which old-timey victim-blaming junk science casting DV victims as instigators or equally nutty contributors has served to lessen or remove consequences for domestic abusers over the centuries.

      • “A lot of this apologistic bleating and whitewashing from Perel and her ilk could be cut short with peer reviewed research tracking down correlations and overlaps between DV, coercive control and infidelity. I’m pretty sure the findings would reflect what victims’ advocates see on the front lines, …” YES to this kind of needed research, fully funded

        • Right, I suspect that if there were good long term research studies they would show irreparable harm done to the marriage by infidelity. And likely just a slow death to the relationship- not a deepening closeness!

          • At the very least. Though I think that, overall, the picture might look even more grisly than that. Aside from correlations between DV and cheating, I have a gut feeling there could be higher than average statistical associations between cheating, pedophilia and child sexual abuse, child physical abuse and neglect, marital rape, fetal and infant death, suicide, financial crimes, drunk driving and other crimes of negligence, tax fraud, academic cheating, sexual harassment, etc., etc. Human beings without the capacity for love are pretty awful, dangerous apes. Once someone betrays family, what can you really put past them?

      • Perel is a fantastic example of how unregulated therapy is, particular sex therapy – which is a quack field with NO standardized training or regulation.

        I just looked up Perel’s education out of curiosity and see she has an MA in art therapy. No idea how that qualifies her to speak about relationships. Like a lot of shitty therapists, she makes up for her lack of expertise with good marketing.

    • My cheater was a rabid anti-cheater. Hated the very idea. Controlling and possessive of me, checking on me constantly, making sure I never even talked with another man. Ranted even at fictional characters on t.v. who cheated. He couldn’t handle that anyone would do that to anyone.

      Then he cheated. When I asked him how he would have responded if it was me who cheated instead of him, he looked a little shocked then replied, “I would have left you!” Knew how he would have felt but unable to make the great cosmic leap to thinking I might feel that way.

      Part of me hopes he hooks up ultimately with someone like Esther Perel who spends the rest of his life telling him why it’s okay for her to cheat.

  • Esther Perel just plain sucks. Anyone who could write the sentence “The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient, and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness” without acknowledging all of the times (AKA the vast majority of occasions) when the family comes out of it weaker, less resilient and in a place of financial, emotional and logistical turmoil needs their head examining.


    • Esther, my wish for you is that your spouse cheats on you so that you can experience the wonderful strength and resilience that an affair brings to a marriage (nay, to the entire family!). It’ll spice up your bedroom, too! 🌶️ 😜 #affairperks

      But where’s the study, Esther? People see your touted credentials and assume your findings are science based. Have you explored CN’s database of stories? Seems to me you might look here for first-hand accounts. I’ll happily participate in a study 🙋🏻‍♀️.

      Also, I wonder where the study is that supports your assumption that most chumps suck at sex so the cheater must go elsewhere. You’re perpetuating the old, dead-bedroom trope. #chumpsatfault

      • What credentials does she even have ?! A degree in art therapy, that’s it.

      • Esther’s husband, Jack Saul (a specialist in trauma), still sometimes uses 30 year old bio photos for his articles and CV.

    • Her comment is akin to students in Florida being taught that slaves learned useful skills.

      • It’s really, really not. We can dunk on the cheater apologia without this analogy. What’s happening in Florida is literally whitewashing slavery and centuries of racial terrorism so that racist white people don’t have to feel sad about it.

        • I’m a bit on the fence about the analogy because, as a former advocate for DV survivors, I tend to think there’s a relationship between cheating and domestic violence and also that there’s a relationship between every form of violent oppression with violent interpersonal oppression. With obvious differences, I think it’s somewhat less of a stretch to compare DV with violent systemic racism. But I agree that, particularly if one is not a member of a marginalized group, it’s always dicey to make those comparisons or borrow gravitas from historical atrocities even if done in the spirit of support for both humanist causes. Even in DV arenas where the cost of the crime is frequently death, advocates are careful not to make analogies that can be hurtful to other oppressed groups of people. For example, we’d be super careful to qualify the heck out of, say, any Holocaust analogy and tended to do it in more surgical and specific ways, like making the point that domestic violence rates statistically increase under repressive political regimes (as they did in Nazi Germany) or pointing out that “rape myth acceptance” is statistically more common among those who support violent racism and violent authoritarianism.

          In any case, you never want to be glib about making analogies like this. I once published an article comparing the soaring deaths of children living near chemical dump sites to South American military dictatorships in the 1970s in which people were “disappeared.” I was really nervous about making that political comparison and qualified the crap out of it, specifying that the comparison was really about how the military juntas pretensions of ignorance over these disappearances compared to toxic corporations denial of culpability. The analogy was mainly about the mentality of perpetrators and and the language of coverups (even more specifically, the really weird and awkward grammar used for official denial of responsibility). The interesting thing is that a woman who’d survived one of the most deadly and violent South American dictatorships read the article and wrote to my publication asking to contact me. In her first email, she told the story of how, as a pre-teen, she’d almost been “disappeared” herself for reading the wrong book, said she felt “seen and understood” by what I wrote and wanted to meet. Turns out she happens to share concerns about the destruction of the planet and human health for the sake of profits and didn’t mind the comparison. We’ve been close friends since 2012 and have traveled to visit each other several times. We even went together to a memorial museum that had formerly been one of the junta’s death camps, something she’d never previously been able to bring herself to do.

          Sometimes comparing atrocities can humanize both causes by acknowledging the seriousness of both. But I agree that making comparisons like these are where angels fear to tread. No historical comparison should ever minimize the seriousness of or hijack gravitas from the circumstance being compared.

  • A therapist who suggests that intentionally deceiving a partner for the clear purpose of violating a relationship agreement is acceptable behavior is dangerous and harmful, and should stop being a therapist.

  • Esther Perel, to me, sounds like someone who has internalized misogyny & is so unaware of this (her own self), that she reframes “her ideas” as radical. No, sadly, I believe Esther is just a misguided & unenlightened woman pawn for the patriarchal media & porn industry to trot out & legitimize a “women’s perspective ” and an educated one too (how dare you question an educated doctor?!) ….all to get women to participate in & accept sexual abuse & fetishes. When someone is actively proposing affairs to enhance a family, they really have gone down of gaslighting & mental illness IMO.

    • Orlando,

      I suspect Perel has “internalized” a whole lot of things. In several presentations, Perel described growing up among Holocaust survivors, some of whom would habitually discuss the most grisly, violent, blood-curdling aspects of surviving death camps right in front of children. Perel admits that this desensitized her so much as a kid that she ended up traumatizing her own young son by discussing macabre subjects in front of him. She giggles a lot as she tells this story.

      Perel also frames her cheating-as-exuberant-rebellion approach within this second hand Holocaust experience. She describes how some camp survivors seem to die on their feet from despair while others used “eroticism” to affirm life. Never mind the weird binary (bonk or die?) or the fact that it’s getting more common for the uninitiated to hijack the subject and speak for all Holocaust survivors as affected generations die off and can’t protest, think about what she’s arguing by tying “erotic expression” to cheating: that, if someone survived something terrible, it gives that person the right to abuse and betray others.

      Really? Like the commonly spewed Holocaust apologia/alibi that Germany should not be held accountable for the Holocaust because the Treaty of Versailles victimized, impoverished and maddened the German population? This is not to suggest that victims of atrocity are morally equivalent to their own perpetrators but it does bring up the question of where logic like this ends.

      One gets the feeling that Perel is basing her pro-cheating arguments on known cheaters within her own family, some of whom were presumably married to other camp survivors, leaving those chumped survivors with added trauma. The terrifying thing is that this effect is an echo of what was done to victims in the death camps. Auschwitz survivor, political analyst and historian Primo Levi’s most famous thesis was something he called the “Gray Zone” which alludes in part to the most diabolical scheme of the Nazis to not only kill their victims physically but also spiritually and psychologically by dragging victims down to the moral depths of perpetrators. This was accomplished by getting prisoners to turn on, betray, punish and destroy each other (discussed here and here

      Is that what some of Perel’s relatives “internalized” and brought back from the camps– the tendency for one former victim to further victimize another fellow victim? Whatever the trauma behind various disordered behaviors (after all, every perp was once a victim of some kind), the intensity of the trauma from which disordered and harmful behavior springs does not somehow make the behavior less disordered and somehow “healthy” by default. But Perel seems to be selling something which smacks of a tragic and ironic behavioral “echo” of the most evil and deliberate genocidal scheme in history as somehow progressive? It makes my head spin and I frankly feel sick when I’ve heard her make these arguments.

      • I always appreciate the research & the depth that you go into, HellOAC! I figured EP has some mental illness/personality disorder & you gave me the reasons why. 👍

    • I peg her on the cheater’s side, myself.

      Cheater apologists have vested interests.

      • She has a degree in art therapy or something like that though she’s done graduate work and has led graduate studies. But I’m not that impressed by people being given academic posts that exceed their academic accomplishments because it’s so often political and financial. Not naming names but there was a journalist who’d only completed an undergrad degree (because of his massive heroin addiction) who was given the role of professor of graduate “science journalism” course at a top 10 U– basically teaching people with more education than he had– after he wrote some paid screed attacking environmentalists. The department where he taught– even the building he taught in– was 100% funded by one of the world’s biggest polluters.

        Anyway, that’s why I’m not that impressed by Perel’s professorship at NYU (where a reported 5 to 10% of students engage in prostitution to pay for tuition) or her media prominence in an age when the porn industry has higher profits than every other media platform combined and in which most major media are cross invested (Fox has major porn holdings, ABC is invested in streaming porn and Google invested $3.4 billion a few years ago). The porn industry in turn arguably depends on sex trafficking (including underage sex trafficking) and the softening of public concepts of sexual consent for its bread and butter, not to mention the softening of concepts of monogamy to increase market growth (only so many horny singles around. Why not capitalize on all those married horndogs?). Hiring useful idiots and ethical mercenaries to help “soften” public ethics is a drop in the bucket for the global porn industry.

    • Right? Maybe if these premiere cheaters could get a good dose of STD, or drained bank accounts courtesy of a cheater they might re-evaluate. But, I doubt it because their livelihood depends on finding fresh chumps to con.

    • You can bet she has already had every STD imagineable. But she wouldn’t be as ‘popular’ if she addressed the serious repercussions of what she advocates. I’m willing to guess that in none of her lectures or books does she ever address the word ‘consequences’. She probably never stresses the idea that all that exuberant sexual renegadeism might lead to a spouse who has 1) No desire to get over the relationship trauma by experimenting with better sex, and 2) A really good attorney.

      Esther lives in an imaginary world of unicorns and endless orgasms. Also, the birds and mice help her with housework and the people on her street sing and dance daily.

    • You can bet she has already had every STD imagineable. But she wouldn’t be as ‘popular’ if she addressed the serious repercussions of what she advocates. I’m willing to guess that in none of her lectures or books does she ever address the word ‘consequences’. She probably never stresses the idea that all that exuberant sexual renegadeism might lead to a spouse who has 1) No desire to get over the relationship trauma by experimenting with better sex, and 2) A really good attorney.

      Esther lives in an imaginary world of unicorns and endless orgasms. Also, the birds and mice help her with housework and the people on her street sing and dance daily.

  • These two should be put down. The world would be a better place. I had to laugh at “who’s against expansion and growth?! Chumps are idiot picketing members of historic preservation societies.” 🤣🤣🤣. True story: once I left the cheater (XH of 25 years) I gained a life that is defined by expansion and growth. After being a SAHM for 8 years, I took the CA bar while divorcing a sociopathic serial cheater, passed, got a new job as a partner in a great firm doing a new area of law (employment) and have since quadrupled my income. I won more than I asked for in my divorce trial, including full custody. I finished raised my kids solo, lived as a caregiver in a waterfront mansion, saved for my kids’ colleges and grad school and shored up my retirement. Now that my youngest left for university, my happily-monogamist fiancé and I bought a fixer upper horse property with a amazing barn and chicken coop. So, I’d say that leaving a cheater immediately is the best path to growth and expansion! F- you therapist – cheater apologists.

  • I understand that talking about sex can be difficult and embarrassing. Maybe you’re a little ashamed about it. My XW certainly refused any attempt to discuss it with me.

    I figure that once she breached conventional morality by fucking her coworker in direct violation of her (and her coworker’s) marriage vows, that all XW’s worries went out the window. I mean, she really didn’t need to pretend to be some goody-goody any more with him, so I’m sure it opened up a world of possibilities.

    Not to be too specific, but she introduced a new act into our bedroom a few years before the divorce. I thought “oh, I bet she’s been watching porn and picked that up there, but she’s too embarrassed to admit it.” I kind of felt sorry for her because she was wound so tight about everything related to sex (which, if we’re honest, kind of requires a sense of humor because it’s objectively pretty weird) and it was crippling to her. Now I’m convinced she learned it from someone else and brought it home, but couldn’t discuss it because she didn’t have a plausible explanation for a sudden change in her behavior after 15 supposedly monogamous years together.

    This isn’t pure speculation because something very similar happened with drugs. She never did any, ever, and – if it ever came up – was contemptuous; I smoked some pot in college but hadn’t touched it for years. Now that she’s married to AP, XW is calling my daughter and asking her to buy (legally) and transport across state lines (illegally). When we were married she would never have contemplated soliciting one of our kids to commit a federal crime, but she’s living with relaxed ethics now.

    • Just gross. I feel bad for them too because it’s like they don’t have their OWN set of morals or boundaries.
      I’m noticing this more and more. Like chameleons

    • Blimey! She COULD have sunk lower, but….! Perhaps she wouldn’t discuss sex because she was afraid you’d find out she was really a degenerate and you’d be repelled! If she’d do that to her own daughter, I dread to think what other dirty deeds she’s up to! I’m sure you don’t want to know either!
      What a horrible woman!

    • Ugh. That’s so upsetting. Looking back I see little changes that in retrospect were AP related:

      a new sex move (but it also could have been from the daily porn)
      being ok with Epstein 😱
      changing his stance on Trump.

      I thought he was trolling me. He probably also enjoyed the titillation of skating to the edge of revealing the source of his new-found ideas. In his head was the childhood taunt: “I know something you don’t know.”

      I think he was also trying on his new identity and preparing for life with the AP. He was like an excited freshman memorizing the school fight song and practicing before getting to campus. Ra ra ra.

      • Mine went the other way. She was vaguely liberal but had shown no interest whatsoever in politics for 20 years – she literally hadn’t voted in a single election. Within months of taking up with AP, the two of them were going to Socialist Party conventions together. I’m sure a lot of it is performative, but whether it’s for us, for them, or for their Facebook friends I couldn’t say.

    • IG–

      Similar dynamics here. For all his sleazy cheating with the creepy AP (apparently a big fan of violently misogynistic crime fiction– you know, the slice-and-dice horror genre) and their parking lot humping and hardcore porn reenactments, FW was always pretty uptight about sex compared to me and, what’s more, he was always uptight about the fact I’m not that uptight.

      It made things weird at times. I’m really not over-the-top about sexuality– don’t opt for CFM attire, never go for shock value and don’t force discussions of sex down everyone’s throats. But I’m pretty open on the subject with close friends and age-appropriately frank with my kids and the only thing I think can be actually “dirty” about sex is if it harms or robs people of consent. In contrast, FW didn’t like it that I routinely slept naked when we met. I found that odd. It bothered him that, despite being a few years younger than him, I’d had more previous partners and it hadn’t even occur to me to lie about my “body count” like a proper simpering pick-me dancer. We were both pretty young when we met so my “number” wasn’t even high but his was oddly low. He admitted that he resented his younger sister for having a new boyfriend every week from the age of 16 on while he remained too neurotic to even ask anyone out until his second year of college. This clearly had something to do with fears stemming from his family’s dysfunction and his mother’s covert incest (she hated and competed with every one of his partners).

      The worst thing was that FW had zero sense of humor in bed. Like you say, sex kind of requires a sense of humor. I’m a bit of a hedonist and think there’s nothing better than combining my favorite things– like sex and laughter (throw in some espresso, Monty Python and cashmere while you’re at it). What a dud he was in that sense. If something funny happened (as it will), he would act rattled and perturbed as if he’d been lost in some fantasy and didn’t appreciate being jolted back to the present. Boo.

      FW and I both grew up around the arts and people who were, at least in theory, more open in discussing sex. But I think he also grew up with some very twisted and dark secrets in his family. Towards the end of her life, FW’s maternal aunt described being sexually abused as a child which means FW’s father would have been “pickled” in secrets as well. And I don’t wtf happened to FW’s mother but it must have been really bad. If anyone even alluded to news stories related to sexual offenses (hard to avoid when I was working in victim advocacy), she would become very agitated and sabotage the conversation by getting personal and nasty. Yet she remained a devotee of some new age yoga cult even after the founding guru’s credible history of child rape was all over the headlines. She also had this bizarre habit of singing the infamous French medieval “gang rape” song to new babies in the family (her family is French). When anyone would point this out, she would shrug and act like she couldn’t see what was wrong with it. She once brought some dvds of 70s era Euro cartoons that involved all sorts of misogynist slapstick and abusive sexual references and tried to play it for my toddler kids without asking. When I stopped the dvd player and gently explained that I didn’t think this was appropriate kiddy fare, she flew from the room crying and then apparently went around to everyone in the family circle– including FW’s childhood friends– telling them how sick and overprotective I was of my children. Her backstabbing campaign progressed over the years until she began telling people I had Munchausen-by-proxy which, according to her, had caused my middle child’s chronic medical condition. She also threw in some Lacanian psychobabble about “crocodile mothers” transmuting children into the penises they always wished they had.

      Though I’d held my tongue for years and never took her head off for all her nasty passive aggressive sniping, I tend to take exception to being accused of a child-abusing criminal disorder punishable by ten years in prison and went NC with her from then on. Frankly I think it was all projection on her part. I think she had a compulsion to normalize and, even if indirectly, subject children to whatever sick sexual dynamics she grew up with and was furious at me for setting boundaries and naming the elephant in the room. I ended up concluding that part of what creates an adult FW might relate to an unaddressed legacy of rape within their families of origin in which victims must always be silenced and perpetrators shielded “or else.”

      Bless anyone who survived past trauma without becoming toxic or twisted and God save us all from the “Bates Motel” of perps’ unprocessed FOO issues.

  • Ester perel (sp on purpose)
    should never have the privilege of that name- she’s a devil. And dr Nelson who I’m glad I’d never heard of, is an idiot. But if people want to know how THEY personally define monogamy and go with that-so be it.
    Growth does come from infidelity but not for the couple to be better- it’s designed for the chump. We get to see who our partner actually is and what they’re capable of.
    These therapists are crappy people who don’t love with all their hearts or maybe had been abused themselves. They need the help the most.
    I’m so glad CL mentions that adultery is still in the books in a couple of places.
    And I stick by innately humans know better

    • I am more jaded, I think these therapists are simply going where the most money is. It is a rare cheater/liar who will go to a therapist and pay to be told they need to work on their character issues.

      • I had similar thoughts. Someone like Perel can be successful if she caters to cheaters that WANT to stay married. If she convinces Chumps to open their marriage and stay, the FW gets what they want, and the Chumps get what they may THINK they want. (In early days anyway. I don’t want to speak for all Chumps, but for me the early days held very little fury. I was mostly terrified. I thought my life was ending. An open marriage is not for me, but there must be some chumps out there, who if feeling as desperately scared as I was, might be willing to try that if they thought it would keep their family intact. (Obviously, there are open marriages that work, but I don’t have much faith in one if THAT is how it starts, as a solution to a betrayal that already happened. But Perel would have already received her check by the time it was clear her solution didn’t work)

        • Unfortunately I don’t think cheaters want open marriages. They want the entitlement and power of deceiving the chump and risking the chump’s health and safety without their knowledge or consent. An open marriage is too consensual and honest for cheaters.

          • Excellent point. Mine sort of did. But I am sure that is not at all typical. Also, I don’t think I can say “FW wanted an open marriage” because he didn’t want me to see other people. He wanted something that just doesn’t exist. He fell in love with AP, and wanted her in his life in the open but simultaneously wanted me to stick around as a friend. Honestly, I think he wanted a sort of Sister Wives situation. He would no longer be romantically involved with me, but I’d stick around as his friend and family. I know a huge factor was that he knew that if I stuck around and befriended the AP (CAN YOU IMAGINE!!?) that the optics would be good for HIM. People wouldn’t see him as a cheater who blew up his family because if I was okay with it, everyone should be, right? It was the most insane idea I had ever heard. And he could not grasp that I refused. He was so angry that I refused as if this was a reasonable request. Told me that I would get along great with AP. (She knew he was married with a young child and continued the affair for years before I knew, no, I will definitely not get along with her)

            I also think there was a level of “please stick around because I want to try this with AP for real, but I am not SURE it will work out and want you to stay just in case it doesn’t”. This came to fruition to a point. They broke up before they were able to make a real go of it in the open, and then he wanted me to stop the process of splitting up. And again, histrionics that I had no desire to do so.

      • I agree with you SL that the cheaters/liars/thieves never like their behavior being addressed

  • Well, I came out of it stronger, although even five years after leaving him I don’t feel resilient, although as I continue to persevere maybe someone else would call that resilience. The experience hasn’t, however, lead to my feeling more confident in my competence to handle other existential challenges that might arise. Rather than resilient, I feel hard, and I fear I’m brittle, that rather than (figuratively) bending in a big wind I might break.

    “Expansion and growth,” however, was definitely a product of my ex’s actions, but both occurred only for me, and only after I left the marriage and divorced him.

    • Good to hear from you, Adelante. (I have been off the site for a while.) I hope that everything is going well for you. If you don’t mind me asking, how is the master’s program working out? (I want to celebrate by eating cheesecake with a crust made from lebkuchen crumbs and melted butter.) (I also hope that things are not going so well for the EX-H and (perpetual) FW.

      Sending you blessings in all sorts of pretty sparkly colors.

  • She keeps trying to work around the inextricable elements of cheating….lying and deceiving and holding the unsuspecting and non-consenting party hostage, abusing that person on all levels, and it’s an epic fail for anyone with a shred of integrity and music to cheater and side piece ears.

    As long as there are cheaters and side pieces, there will be a market for Esther Perez bullshit. And there will always be cheaters and side pieces.

    The response to them is the same as dealing with rats or any other pests or parasites. There is no eradicating. There’s only driving them elsewhere when you realize your life has been infested.

    • …..and I do not want to forget the little folks, the involved children who learn by modeling from the adults around them, who are the most vulnerable as those with zero power in the situation, and who are severely harmed as well.


      A matchup between Chump Lady and Esther Perel would be an epic podcast. I’m putting all my money on Chump Lady.

  • What utter dribble! Any relational decision made unilaterally steals agency from the uninformed partner.

    It might be a good Friday challenge to ask former Chumps who have discovered good sexual intimacy with an honest, loving partner how different that experience is versus sex with the fuckwit. (Note: I did not use the term ‘intimacy’ in regards to fuckwit sex as I believe there was no such thing with mine.) Inquiring minds want to know …

    • The ONE thing that I really wish I could have is a decent lover who would erase the touch of my X, who was the last person I’ve had sex with. I really thought that I’d have that chance. Eight year and exactly one date later, I don’t know that I will ever have that chance. BUT I will NEVER regret leaving XAss.

  • I guess their slimy business models could only benefit from being scammed by their own financial advisors. Hey, they’ll work harder and come out stronger.

  • “It’s not a crime” – all kinds of horrible, abusive behavior is not a literal crime. Does that mean a spouse who belittles and gaslights their partner constantly shouldn’t be criticized because hey! Not illegal!

    The suddenly passive voice around “is limiting” is revealing, too.

    I do really have to give the Dumbfuck Award to the therapist who is encouraging couples to become swingers or try polyamory without ANY of the discussions and awareness that go into those choices. Naw, let’s just keep calling it monogamy! That way when things blow up these bewildered couples can hired a therapist. Cha-ching!

    • Wow. That aspect went RIGHT over my head. You’re right. People can’t just redefine monogamy however they want. It HAS a meaning. What they are actually doing is defining what is and is not ok for their marriage, or more specifically, they are defining what is and is not CHEATING for them (which I think is fine, as long as both parties agree and are aware ahead of time) And yet, Perel bends into a pretzel to avoid that word, cheating! If you are married and decide that it is ok for one or both spouses to say, have sex with strangers on business trips, you haven’t redefined “monogamy”, you have redefined “cheating” as in, if you have sex with your co-worker in the broom closet, that is cheating, if you pick up a rando in a bar across the country while traveling for work, it’s not. If you set rules like that, you are technically NOT in a monogamous marriage, but you are not cheating.

  • “One common assumption about infidelity is that cheaters must cheat because chumps suck at sex. Now look, some chumps may actually suck at sex or be sexless.”

    That is the MOST common assumption. And I know I’ve posted about this ad nauseum, but I want to keep putting this out there for anyone new to the game… continuing to change the narrative with Chump Lady and all of Chump Nation.

    Fact: I was the sexual one in my marriage. I wanted sex. Meanwhile, FW was sexless and boring. I was the one who had to beg for it. And worse — FW was meh at best. When we first started dating, he wasn’t ever great — but I had dated a narcissistic very sexual man before FW and it was a hot mess of a relationship, so I decided to go a different direction and date FW, who had been a long time friend. I thought a quiet man like FW would be better for me, rather than the super-charged wild man I dated before.

    So imagine my surprise and trauma when this lump of a boring human was cheating with his coworker and left me and our young son? I was in complete disbelief. It was like the world turned upside down.

    Then picture how I was told repeatedly by nearly everyone that I “clearly” wasn’t “taking care of him.” And even when I explained that FW was not sexual and that I was certain AP wasn’t getting much… everyone (even my own mother) would not condescendingly “ok — sure.” Look, even if he managed to be pseudo sexual to get AP, I’m VERY doubtful that romance continued long term. Either way, there’s not anything from him worth being excited about. He didn’t suddenly become more capable in the bedroom — or stop chewing his tongue the whole time.

    Some of these FWs are covert narcissists. They aren’t the life of the party and charismatic. Women aren’t falling all over them. Some are 50+ year old accountants who have zero empathy and don’t want responsibility. They are secretive and purposely terrible communicators and gaslighters. FW found an easy target at work — a woman in the middle of a separation from her husband (who had moved back overseas) and she was stuck with 2 pre-teen boys as a single mom. She’s boring and nothing to look at (the common misconception is that FWs go for younger supermodels). FW was even the one to hire her. He loved easy targets and would comment on women with “daddy issues” or other weaknesses. He’s a predator.

    I guess my point is that all of this crap that is repeated as “fact” by the RIC and the Esther Perels of this world, it’s more gaslighting to make chumps feel bad and keep us quiet. Please Share share share your real stories — continue to grow Chump Nation. I never felt more alone than I did when I was being told that I was unable to keep FW because of sex. No one believed me. I am not alone. We are not alone.

    • I got to:
      “One common assumption about infidelity is that cheaters must cheat because chumps suck at sex”
      and had to stop reading the post.

      Forgive me if this is hijacking the post…

      Honestly this has been a true problem for me.

      I endured a sexless marriage for 10 years. Begging him, unsuccessfully trying to seduce him repeatedly, humiliating myself trying desperately to fix whatever was wrong. I had zero idea that he was busy having his needs met with someone else.

      I’m long out of that and have processed much of what happened but I do have to admit that the thought that it was me still lingers. I did do some dating and had a few sexual partners since the divorce but no lasting relationships. I do know that these people weren’t right for me but cannot help but wonder if somehow I’m the one lacking.

      It’s even embarrassing to write this here, in a safe community with hidden names. BUT I know if I’m thinking that there have to be others also feeling this way!

      Yet another way cheating just sucks!

      • Rebecca, that’s exactly it. It’s embarrassing for us chumps. We are made to feel ashamed and somehow the cause. We blame ourselves even though in both of our cases we tried and tried.

        I was married to FW for 14 years. I got hit on by other men occasionally, but I never strayed even though my needs weren’t met by FW. And then when FW left me for another woman — I was so traumatized and confused and lonely. Seriously WTF

        It helped me to get therapy. I sat with an understanding therapist week after week. And as soon as I was fully divorced she begged me to start dating again to prove to myself that it wasn’t me. It had nothing to do with sex itself… it was just to keep meeting people and see outside the bubble of FW’s crazy-making gaslighting. I had no real goal of even getting into a relationship. I ended up meeting several men that were very nice — one blurted immediately after our first date “your ex husband is an idiot! There’s nothing with you!” LOL and the man I’m dating now (we’ve been together now for 7 years) said the same. He even said “I sometimes want to thank your ex for setting you free!” LOL

        There are others like us. YOU WERE NEVER THE PROBLEM. Even if dating doesn’t work out long term… please don’t feel like it’s you. And I highly recommend therapy for yourself to help work through the sorrow and self-doubt. I stayed with therapy for about 6 years myself.

    • Our sex life was very full up until about the last six months or less. I noticed a real pulling away at about the 3 months to Dday timeframe. Before that it was starting to dwindle, but not enough to really think about adultery being the issue. After all, he was all excited about us buying a new river front property, and of course he still needed me to help him get it fixed up so he and the whore could enjoy it. (unknown to me of course).

      • Chumpnomore6 –for real. Super not sexy, let me tell ya! LOL! (he had all kinds of weird habits and ticks that extended into the bedroom… and he was completely unaware of them. I never pointed them out or embarrassed him. Now though — all bets are off. I’m no longer his his secret keeper)

        Sometimes I seriously want to THANK AP for “winning the sparkly turd.” I hope she’s enjoying his tongue chewing in bed. It looks and sounds awful. Also — FW was also exceptionally lazy in bed. He was just beyond bleh. AP really did me a favor! Now I look back on 14 years wasted of my sexual prime… but I’m just thankful to have gotten free of him.

    • “Some of these FWs are covert narcissists. They aren’t the life of the party and charismatic. Women aren’t falling all over them. Some are 50+ year-old accountants who have zero empathy and don’t want responsibility. They are secretive and purposely terrible communicators and gaslighters. FW found an easy target at work — a woman in the middle of a separation from her husband (who had moved back overseas) and she was stuck with 2 pre-teen boys as a single mom. She’s boring and nothing to look at (the common misconception is that FWs go for younger supermodels). FW was even the one to hire her. He loved easy targets and would comment on women with “daddy issues” or other weaknesses. He’s a predator.”<<

      This is FW to a T. An almost 50-year-old antisocial nurse. He hates people generally and hates social situations. He never had a girlfriend before he met me. I now know about the lack of empathy and communication, as well as the manipulation and gaslighting. True to form for him, though, all his targets/APs were purchased online. Some women whom he found somehow and flew into our local airport and put up in hotels to teach him to get into the kinks he developed because of p0rn. The random hookups. The Only Fans where there was at least some kind of emotional/physical investment. And the one I know the most about, the child mistress – the sugar baby he found on a sugar daddy/baby site and supported on my dime for FOUR DAMN YEARS without me knowing.

      Now that we are in the process of divorcing, he is living his swinging bachelor life. He got a luxury apartment with two 26-year-old women (one of whom he was paying for something during our marriage since her name shows up in his disclosure docs) an hour away from where our daughter and I live and even further from her school. His work is more than an hour away from his apartment (it was 15 minutes when he lived with us). He still sees the child mistress but she backed out of living with him and the other two last minute and she had to get a full-time job since he can’t afford to support her anymore (boo hoo).

      The child mistress very clearly has daddy issues and the predator-in-chief ex was right there to take advantage of them.

      • Conchobara — yep!! FW didn’t have a girlfriend before me either. Now I know that’s a HUGE red flag

  • Bloody Hell , what a load of ol’ rubbish that Perel one and the rest of them spew!
    It’s just old-fashioned victim-blaming as far as I can see!
    Nothing is ever an excuse for betrayal! Nothing!
    And it should bloody well be a crime in the West! In real terms, it IS a crime because it’s abuse and causes such severe trauma, including physical illness in the betrayed, and can have long term damaging effects, including on the children!
    Thank you for putting this shite through the UBT CL, it helps keep us grounded in reality! Cheats cheat because they want to, end of!

  • In the past few years I have been adding to my knowledge of trauma based care. Somehow I haven’t come across the positives of trauma (like deceptive sexuality trauma) Perel and her ilk keep reporting. It all seems to focus on that pesky PTSD, health problems due to chronic stress, and mental health issues.

  • “The radical idea that couple fix the sex before tackling other issues.”

    I’m pretty sure the idea that a wife putting out regularly is more important than her safety or sanity is one of the oldest, non-radical, ideas out there

  • I can not stand E Perel. She is such a cheaters apologist. Hubby got me to read her book, it was not a positive experience. She is definitely a few french fries short of a happy meal.

  • I’m just re-reading Cheating in a Nutshell: What Infidelity Does to The Victim, as a friend is going through prolonged effects from cheating ex-wife and I recommended it to him. Like Tracey’s book LACGAL, it’s based on thousands and thousands of letters from chumps. It has a chapter on Esther Pwerel and otherwise backs up every damn thing that Tracey talks about

  • Esther Perel is a pile of crap! She and her theories are absolute garbage! Bottom line cheaters cheat because the feel they are entitled to more. Cheaters I found are usually married to fantastic loving partners. Partners that give themselves fully to their family, and partners who value their vows. Cheaters usually expect more from their partners, then they expect from themselves.
    I had a friend who died of breast cancer 10 years ago. Such a fun person, devoted wife and mother. My NYC gal who always laughingly made fun of this So Cal gal, as she called me. She died a horrific death with extremely aggressive breast cancer. All the while her FW husband was banging someone at work, even as she lied on her death bed. At the funeral he then sat there with his false grieving face. Weeks later he moved his AP into the house he shared with his dead wife.
    I am soo tired of people like Esther making excuses for crappy human beings! Esther YOU are a crappy human being for condoning such behavior!

    • “Cheaters I found are usually married to fantastic loving partners. Partners that give themselves fully to their family, and partners who value their vows.”

      Agree, and it is just common sense. As CL has mentioned in sometimes serious and sometimes comical ways Chumps are easy to deceive. It does not take a huge amount of effort to deceive a person who loves and trusts you, not to mention that chump is likely pretty darn busy investing their time and effort into the marriage, while the cheater is investing is pleasing his/her genitals.

  • XAss was a lousy at sex. I tried so hard to support him, give him the map so to speak to what was good for me, but it never really improved. I should have known when he was always very reluctant to do mouth kissing. He then tried to frame it as my fault; There was nothing wrong, I was pushing him, I was expecting too much, and I had bad breath. I really think that the fact that I liked sex and wasn’t shy about it he liked at first, but then it scared him. He used to ask me with a sneer on his face and in his voice if I was “soliciting attention” from him. XAss did everything he could to make me feel inadequate and selfish. It was all pure projection.

    Shortly after our marriage he started using withholding sex and affection as a punishment and as a weapon. He had affairs because he liked the sneaking around and hiding things from me. It made him feel in control and powerful to cheat and lie to me because he didn’t like that I saw every facet of him and saw it clearly. He was all very covert manipulation and insidious behavior.

    He has no emotional maturity. Is incapable of a mature, honest relationship. It’s taken a few years to make these realizations and figure it out that his problems were all of his own making and I had NOTHING to do with them.

  • Cheaters give themselves permission to cheat. Pro cheater support typically comes from cheaters themselves. It’s all about making money with indifference to harm done to innocent spouses.

  • I suspect CN can confirm that there is no lie about marital sex that cheaters won’t tell. Because sex is (usually) a private activity, the cheater can (and will) tell any lie that seems convenient to them. If no one saw it, then it didn’t happen. Some of these lies are patently absurd: “She hasn’t slept with me in years,” he explains to his soul mate; “so, let’s meet up on Monday while she is having her prenatal appointment.” I just assume any time a cheater talks about the sex within their marriage, they are lying.

    There is also such a loss of dignity in refuting the lies. Who is going to run around explaining, “Of course, I agreed to his Catholic schoolgirl fantasy, let me show you the plaid mini-skirt I wore for him.” Or, “Do you remember that time I was an hour late picking up Jason from soccer practice? She insisted I give her a full body massage and pedicure before going down on her that morning, so I did, even though it was a huge inconvience for the coaching staff.”

    A therapist who doesn’t understand the foundational need for honesty in any counciling situation is never going to be worth anyone’s time.

  • This is so dumb. Let’s try this in other spheres of life. “Steve from accounting cooked the books, but it has made our company stronger than ever!” “Jenny was stealing from the register till, but it brought our boutique out of a place of deadness. We were getting too complacent, you see. Jenny’s act of exhilaration can help us re-examine our relationship with theft. Perhaps we can just let everyone take a few $20s out on weekends.”

  • I believe that there is a huge gap between how your relationship really is, with anyone, and how other people perceive it to be. The thing that was lacking in any of my failed friendships, family relationships, or marriages was honesty. I had expectations of what a relationship would be, and I thought I communicated those expectations clearly. It turns out that I might as well have been talking to the wall because each person who has betrayed my trust had a hidden agenda that I could not even imagine. There were no frank discussions, no truths exchanged, and there was always an imbalance of power.

    I would also like to address “daddy issues”. My relationship with my dad was awful my entire life. Maybe that taught me to subconsciously distrust men? I don’t think so, because I think my problem was, I trusted too much. I expected men I knew as friends or lovers to be a better man than my dad. There was so much disappointment when I found out each one was untrustworthy in a different way.

    My problem was that I assumed boundaries and rules of conduct were in place. I don’t know why anyone bothers to promise monogamy if they have no intention of practicing it. You can write your own vows, after all. But when the person you believe you love has a hidden agenda, you have an invalid contract. There was never a meeting of the minds.

    The man I was married to for 20 years wanted all the trappings of marriage, because it provided him with security and provided him with a false image of trustworthiness and values. He wanted a home, and children, and clean clothes, and planned holidays. He just had no intention of doing any of the work involved with obtaining those goals. He could not be faithful to any woman because he required to much one-sided attention.

    There was no sexless marriage. There was no clear reason to complain about with our marriage. He would make up whatever the OW needed to hear to allow him to have sex. It was that simple. He did not intend to divorce, he intended to deceive.

    What I learned over the course of my life was not to give others the benefit of the doubt. I learned not to assume. I learned to watch what others did and listen to what they said. I learned to be friendly, but not become a friend until I had reason to trust. Now I have a few close friendships, and I understand what I can and cannot believe about my family relationships. I am socially available with people of both sexes who have common interests with me. I can carry on a conversation with a stranger. What has changed is I don’t have expectations beyond the moment of communication. I don’t assume they are honest or trustworthy.

    I decided I would not be “useful” to someone who wanted me to serve them in some way. It is one of the reasons I don’t “date.” I hate the assumptions about dating, I hate the timetables people assign to relationships. Other people can presume whatever they please about my friendships. I no longer care what they think, because I found most of the time their presumptions were incorrect. If I give someone a gift, it has no strings attached. I am useful to myself, I provide certain acts of service to my sons and extended family, because that is the language of love I understand. I don’t promise any future, or provide economic support anymore, because my sons are grown men now. If they need help in the future, and I can provide it, I will help if they ask. But I would not assume or want them to assume that I can always provide what they need. That would be dishonest.

    The problem with an affair is it is dishonest. It is called cheating because the cheater is taking advantage of the one who is abiding by the relationship agreement. It is dangerous, and there can be far reaching consequences. It is not an act of exuberance. Cheater apologists and so-called marriage counselors are missing the point. Drilling a big hole in the dam does not make it stronger and more resilient. It weakens the whole structure, because the integrity has been compromised.

  • “draw the couple out of a place of deadness”

    The only thing “dead” in my relation, was Asshat’s heart. I was a beating, thriving, amazing Chump. Good thing I was dumped for his soulmate!

    Moving on to a life that is alive.

  • Esther Perel seems to have such a positive attitude towards affairs as a tool of growth (“An affair is an act of betrayal and also an experience of expansion and growth,” ) I have to wonder about HER relationship history. I’m willing to bet a whole lot of cheating went on somewhere. That is such bizarre, disordered thinking that is completely disconnected from known reality. When I was a kid, my father used to say that psychiatrists and psychologists were all mentally ill and that’s why they went into that field – to figure themselves out. As an adult, who managed psychiatric wards and offices for a time…..I came to realize HE WAS RIGHT. Most of them were very disordered people themselves. We need to stop listening to shrinks and therapists and taking all their effed up drugs and go back to what works in reality. People KNOW infidelity is wrong, it’s destructive, it destroys relationships and families, and little, if any, “good” ever comes from it. This woman is a destructive influence on society.

    • While I do believe in therapy and psychiatry, I will say that there are many who should not be allowed within 100 feet of the field. The most unstable person I ever knew was one of my college roommates and she was majoring in psychology. Because of course, she was. She was bipolar and refused medication half the time so she was very challenging to live with. And I have heard this story time and again about people in the industry.

      I do believe though that there are also many good people. I’ve been fortunate to have good psychiatrists and therapists in my life for over 25 years.

  • One of the many things I hate about all this is that FW is painting me as a sexless shrew and I’m sure many will fall into the narrative of “he did what he had to do.” And the truth is, our bedroom was pretty dead. But of course, folks don’t know the other side:
    – FW was cheating on me from the start. I didn’t know, but I instinctively drew away as he became more unsafe.
    – FW’s moves were porn-informed and unappealing.
    – FW had trouble getting it up, keeping it up and finishing. We couldn’t have another child because he could barely do it.
    – FW withdrew and was full of excuses: low testosterone, need to lose weight, etc.



      That is the part of other folks believing this shit that is so frustrating. In most cases the other partner did not cheat. Heck my fw verbally and emotionally abused me with increasing severity for the last year (the year of discard), I not only didn’t fight back because honestly I was confused and scared, but not once did I think Oh husband is treating me like shit, must go fuck strange.

    • Your situation sounds similar to mine, Chumpawamba. He told me repeatedly that the bedroom was dead because of ME. That I clearly didn’t like s3x, that I wasn’t interested because of childhood SA. The thing is, I didn’t feel that way, but he started making me think I did because it was such a constant refrain of his. And we did end up with a dead bedroom but it was much more because of his p0rn-addiction and “need” for things that he wouldn’t even tell me about because he said they were something I would never go for (must’ve been pretty deviant!), he could barely get it up/keep it up. That was literally the only trouble we had conceiving our daughter.

      He eventually unilaterally decided we were done with s3x without telling me that directly. He instead blamed it on depression and his meds, saying that it gave him ED. But a couple of years before DDay he told me it was actually ME (surprise!). Not only did I have all these hangups but he just didn’t find me attractive anymore because I’d gained too much weight and his tastes had changed.

      Little did I know just how much his tastes had changed–likely based on his p0rn habits. The two (of many) APs I’ve seen pictures of are very young (barely legal) Latina women (he’s almost 50). They are petite where I am tall, I am a pale-skinned redhead. It is wild how after 21 years together he was now only interested in women who were very nearly my opposite physically (and morally, of course). Of course, the most striking thing about all the APs is their youth. They all seem to be in their early-mid 20s. The child mistress was 18 when they paired up on a sugar daddy/baby site. Makes sense since I had apparently aged-out with him by my late 20s.

      (Please note, these are not qualitative or judgmental notes about the ethnicity of the APs, just observational. I got attacked once before for simply saying they were my opposite in terms of looks and background so I want to be clear that I hate and judge them for lots of reasons and their heritage is not one of them.)

  • I’m kind of overwhelmed by thoughts as I read today’s column, once again brilliantly done by CL. Let me see how much spaghetti I can throw at the wall. I DO think adultery should be a crime, an actual crime, along with alienation of affection by “APs”, because these practices ARE abuse, they destroy families, which destroy communities, which ultimately destroys society. There are thieves of money and thieves of hearts….stealing and destroying someone’s heart is far worse than stealing their purse. You can recover money….but the broken trust and devastated children and destroyed futures that adultery (“cheating” is a word that deliberately minimizes the impact of devastation, you cheat on tests, not on families) creates frequently can’t be recovered. Many of these adulteries also involve other literal crimes especially financial ones. But they create a LOT OF CLIENTS for the therapy industry…not that the medical profession has a vested interest in profits….of course. I don’t say lock people up necessarily but the crimes of adultery & alienation of affection should be factored into divorce settlements and custody arrangements. For ex, I don’t think children should have to spend ANY time with the adulterous spouse who deserts the family. I think APs should PAY at least financially for what they do. And if they can’t, then yes, they should go to JAIL. Our society is constantly trying to avoid levying consequences for bad behavior because for some reason I can’t fathom, we’re not supposed to “judge” people, we’re supposed to “understand”. But we CAN”T understand this behavior and even if we did, it doesn’t help or make any difference. Trying to understand destructive behavior only continues the destruction. Judging makes a difference. Judging and levying consequences, even in socially shunning those who commit adultery, would help to reduce these practices and keep families intact, which would benefit society as a whole. A big part of the reason there is so much adultery and divorce is because it has been made ACCEPTABLE and we’re not allowed to judge, which only makes behavior which is naturally enticing, something people can envision doing and excuse doing……because people like Esther Perel say…it’s not that bad and we can all grow from it. Grow rich, she means.

    • “I don’t think children should have to spend ANY time with the adulterous spouse who deserts the family.”

      Agree. Why should they have to be with someone who is an enemy to their happiness?

  • “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime.”

    Maybe it should be. It’s legal to deliberately cause severe emotional trauma to your spouse, to risk her/his life with an STD, but not to steal a TV. Which does more harm? Has anybody commited suicide because of a stolen TV?

    “I’d say strength and resiliency come from leaving cheaters, not staying married to them and modeling dysfunction.”


    “She encourages couples to write their own monogamy rules, which can include extramarital sex on weekends or extramarital sex but only together.”

    Um….that’s not monogamy, Tammy. That’s known by the much too precious name polyamory.

    • I agree that it should be a crime. There is embezzlement (dissipation of marital assets) which is criminal in a business setting. There is emotional abuse and manipulation, which should be considered DV. There is the alienation of affection and fraud, lavishing the AP(s) with the attention and affection that ought to be reserved for the spouse who you made a legally binding contract with (marriage license). There is destruction of the family unit which can force the chump into poverty, or at least financial uncertainty, and children end up suffering (emotionally, financially, even being removed from the family altogether).

    • We did write our own monogamy rules when we took our wedding vows.

      Did anyone here vow in front of everyone at the ceremony to have side pieces?

  • Just rubbish as they say. But do we chumps Contribute to the TED talks and book speak and Esther plus others bleating? Do WE chumps report that after RIC interventions..that WE have a stronger marriage? Do we pick me dance for years after we know? Do we pretend monogamy when we know we are in bed with a serial cheater?Do we write articles on our wonderful marriages post adultery? Do we go back over and over again? Yes I did and blamed the trauma bond. But what is the world community getting out of this? That chumps are just as able to keep the dance going to save our families. We say it is our fault, that we drove them into the arms of others. Like all the woman that came forward to testify AFTER they got the movie role, after the money is gone, after they are promoted and made use of the cheater. We have to change the narrative but we have to understand that we contribute to the narrative that cheating pays when we don’t leave and we stay to play marriage police,or to keep the kids in private school, to keep the house etc..So to keep the family we will sell out our ideal of monogamy, for our own security. This confuses the world and people like Esther speak to us all. Correct me. I want to know. I’ve been chumped x2 and i am so angry I burn white. My Pastors covered my cheating 2nd husband in sugar sprinkles saying he is happy now and I was sexless. When I fight back, there is silence. But I keep telling the story. I did not stay long, but I did stay and pretend all was well. My part. Not victim shaming but my part.

  • I know nothing of Esther Perel’s personal life, and I don’t care to. However, what she peddles to the world reminds me of the many similar personalities I’ve meant throughout my career in the corporate world: They profess to be experts on a certain subject in business or culture that intrinsically goes against human nature and its hard-wired emotional responses. It’s an “unnatural sell,” yet they have become highly proficient at being eloquent speakers and spin doctors. They work it, selling you an idea something that has proven itself to be either unhealthy or nonviable in the long term is actually good for you, or sustainable, providing you see it their way. Cha-ching!

    Until the bill of goods they’re trying to sell comes to their doorstep and happens to them.

    Then, they melt down like a cheap wax candle, recoiling into a heap of tears on the floor, their life turned upside down and isn’t it unfair! Your husband can be unfaithful to you and if you’re mature enough, it will strengthen your marriage. My husband? He just ripped apart my world and now I can’t continue my tour. I’m too distraught.

    Frauds. The whole lot of them.

  • CL, I’m here to lodge a complaint. It’s not always about the all-you-can-eat-pussy-buffet. Many times, it’s about the, hey-there-goes-a-new-dick-whiplash-effect! Please, don’t limit these cheaters. Ever, if they had their way. And remember, entitlement is as entitlement does. Thank you. This has been a Society for the Preservation of those Poor Little Old Cheaters. Wait, was that some lightning just now?🤣

  • I couldn’t even finish reading, too pissed.

    Thanks for mentioning the military code, Tracy. Adultery is 100% a crime for military members, not that they get in trouble either if there’s any way to sweep it under the rug.

    I wish there was a way to document the symptoms of Chumps, to get a baseline before DDay and show the physical effects of betrayal. If you punch someone in the face and there’s bleeding and bruising it’s a crime, but that’s all healed in a week or two. I lost so much weight over that same amount of time, I lost muscle. I was flooded with adrenaline and had periodic gut -wrenching anxiety for years. People thought I had cancer. Four years out I’m back to a normal weight. And how is that not a crime?

  • As far as I’m aware, the only expansion and growth that came out of my Wasband’s cheating … was his beer gut after I left and stopped bringing home healthy groceries.

  • FW saw sex workers throughout the 35 year marriage. We have been partners and lovers 42 years & “monogamous” at his insistence.
    We had sex 2-3 times per week that I would describe as “target practice.” I would beg for a back rub and he would rub my shoulders and upper back a few times and say “back rubs lead to front rubs and front rubs lead to sex.”
    He thought any touch of his body was a waste of time, and only let me touch his genitals within the last 5 years or so, bc he said he would get too excited and come too quickly.
    I learned to adjust my expectations and would take long baths on “sex nights” to warm myself up. He was very intent on my erogenous zones and making sure I had multiple orgasms, always to the point I had to fight him to stop touching me or kissing me between my legs bc I had been touched enough. He would touch me as he moved inside of me until I orgasmed or faked it enough for him to then release.
    He would hold me after he was satisfied and kiss me and say “the sex keeps getting better and better.”
    I asked him about the sex workers and what these women provided, expecting young hot babes with big breasts and a willingness to provide something kinky or painful that I won’t do (like anal.) (I am also a smaller, thinner person with small breasts.)
    NA: who were these women?
    FW: mostly slightly older in their 40s or 50s, Asian. Young women are in a hurry and just look at their phones. Nobody with giant fake boobs.
    NA: So smaller, thinner women with small breasts—just like at home.
    FW: I guess so. I don’t want to talk about it.
    NA: Did you do things we don’t do? What was the appeal?
    FW: No, sex was the same. Just different because it was all about me. She will massage me and touch me all over and sex is slow and tender. I can take my time without any actually penetration. It makes me feel cared for and special.
    NA: Speechless. Thinking “what the literal F@#&??”

    The FW had slow, sensual, erotic sex with the paid professional and urgent, hot demanding physically rewarding sex with the wife.
    I know there is probably some fancy psychological term for his behavior. I don’t know it. I’m a physician, not a psychologist. But I can recognize him with complete medical certainty: he is just an A$$hole.

    • Yes. A$$hole. I think that’s the technical term for it.

      Of sex, my ex made these statements:
      -She (AP) likes it when I “go down on her.” […or so she says]

      -You have to admit, Spinach, that we’ll never have better sex than we had with each other. [alrighty then, what am I to make of that? Also, speak for yourself!]

      -I don’t need porn when I’m with her. [cruel bastard]

      Oh, and he would blame me if he didn’t orgasm, implying that I didn’t turn him on enough. He’d stop during sex to watch porn. I felt used.

      With my new partner, it’s healthy and different. I’m so glad I’m experiencing what I never knew existed.

      Meanwhile, I’m guessing my ex is back to his old daily porn habit and accusing wifetress of somehow failing if he doesn’t have an orgasm. He’s now well into his 60s. Viagra can only do so much.

      Fun times. So glad I’m away from him.

      • Yes, he’s a cruel bastard, but he is also a deluded bastard. Doesn’t need porn when he’s with her? Of course he doesn’t, because their sex life is new and she’s probably putting on the porn show for him. But because reality is reality, it will get stale and she will get tired and eventually she will tell him that he isn’t very good going down on her and couldn’t he please change and…and…the porn will have to come back on.

        Porn re-wires the brain. It gives endless, consequence-free bursts of sexual fun, complete with an imaginary harem of porn star women who are always there and never complain. Real life can’t compete with that.

        Your ex is destined to an entire future of disappointment. Huzzah!

  • This makes me sick to my stomach.
    All the more reason to just stay single. These are supposed to be world known therapist? Yech. No thanks.

  • HE was the one who sucked at sex, as he didn’t value it at all, after faking great affinity during the first year.

    I spent the next 10 years puzzled as to why we couldn’t even talk about it, as he claimed being sensitive about a sexual dysfunction that he did get surgery for, after only YEARS of using it as the reason he would rarely initiate (yeah, nothing changed after). Oh and he was always sooooo tiiiiireeeedddd. If you heard “whining cheater accent”, you recognize this one…

  • This post was hard to read all the way to the end. My favorite Esther quote: “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime.” Adultry is a crime in Virginia – hard to prove in court but you can still file a criminal complaint.

    And, as noted by CL, the 10 commandments include: that shall not commit adultery; shall not bear false witness; and shall not covet your neighbors wife. The biblical penalty for adultery is death to both participants.

    I wonder what Esther would think if her husband cheated on her and gave her a STD or got his paramour pregnant? I’m sure these are hypothetical questions

    • Other people have posted the link to this You Tube video: Cheating on Someone Isn’t Just One Mistake – Drew Michael. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.

    • Haha! I live in Virginia and was thinking the exact same thing, “Yes, adultery IS a crime here in Virginia.”

      The Esther Perel’s of this world are just apologists for evil. Period.

  • Consent matters. Manipulating someone into giving it is grooming. Cheaters groom their partners into giving invalid consent. Domestic violence is never going stop as long as mainstream ignores a persons right to consent absolutely. Shame on the times for printing that, I thought they were meant to be an intelligent platform. Junk journalism.

  • So, to think your spouse would honor their vow is now unintelligent and archaic?why did spouse make the vow?

    Mating in captivity? So who forced them into “captivity “? Apparently something like 46% of people in the US are single, so one can hardly even blame social pressure.

    Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t want to enter into a monogamous relationship, THEN DON’T!

    If you entered into a monogamous relationship and change your mind, then say so and divorce!

    The very fact that the cheaters lie and lie and hide their infidelity shows they know on some level it is wrong and the spouse would not go along with it. But they continue to do so because they WANT to have their cake and eat it to. And they don’t care who they hurt or what they have to do to keep it that way. It’s not because they are somehow more evolved!

    But sure, I guess we can pretend they are victims somehow?

    • “Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t want to enter into a monogamous relationship, THEN DON’T!

      If you entered into a monogamous relationship and change your mind, then say so and divorce!”

      Yes, so simple. But then if they did that it wouldn’t be as thrilling.

    • EXACTLY!
      “The very fact that the cheaters lie and lie and hide their infidelity shows they know on some level it is wrong and the spouse would not go along with it. But they continue to do so because they WANT to have their cake and eat it to. And they don’t care who they hurt or what they have to do to keep it that way. It’s not because they are somehow more evolved!”

  • Hold on, I located the power source for the Auxiliary UBT.

    “An affair is an act of betrayal and also an experience of expansion and growth,” Ms. Perel said in an interview. “It is a relational trauma, but it isn’t a crime. The family can often come out of it stronger and more resilient, and often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness.”

    A-UBT: ‘Sure, sure, the affair might utterly destroy one unsuspecting spouse and the kids, but the other gets the fun adrenaline rush of lying and secret sex without the ordinary concerns of a spouse or children, and by the time they pull in an illicit sex partner or five and all those other potential children and step-children, that’s some real bullsht….erm…expansion and growth’ Ms. Perel said in yet another publicity interview. ‘It is relationship trauma, but it’s only a crime if the private investigator gets pictures and you live in a fault state. And I don’t want to count relationship trauma as mattering because that’s *only the foundation of all the sex, but I specialize in sex and like to go on book tours and give interviews that rattle ordinary people and excuse the worst, most noxious human behavior so… let’s stick to sex. The family can often come out stronger — like the hardened, scarred skin of a severe burn victim –and more resilient …because now the innocent victims know they can’t depend on the cheater. See how resilient that makes a person? And often an affair will draw the couple out of a place of deadness. The deadness from the killing of the marriage with lies and betrayal from all that one-sided expansion and growth.”

    She’s right. Since I regained my life from my cheater, I definitely feel less dead. I’m actually expanding and growing and feeling more alive and more in control than I’ve felt for a decade or so. Mr. Cheater McEmotionalVampire ain’t doin’ so hot these days, however. Looks sort of dead. Listless.

    Maybe he should get married and give his heart and life and commitment to someone who will cheat on him so that he is destroyed and can feel all grow-y and expansive-y. Ms.. Perel will tell him it’s the only way, right?

    Shame on her. And now please excuse me, I have to unplug the Auxiliary UBT. It’s spitting smoke and sparks.

  • Thinking more about this, it’s gaslighting on a societal level.

    Makes me think of the Lincoln Douglass debate. Lincoln gets exasperated and asks “if you have a cow, and you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a cow have?” Answer was “Five”

    “Wrong, calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”

    Calling infidelity, which by definition means betrayal, disloyalty and deceit, a higher state of evolution is just wrong. Calling it that doesn’t make it so. But somehow “experts” and all manner of idiots have the approach of thinking if they say something often enough and loudly enough it will be accepted as truth.

    And saying that deceit, betrayal, and trauma make anything better let alone marriage is just irrational. Saying that those things are healthy??? Upside down world.

  • “I describe monogamy as honest, perpetual dependency of some type,” Dr. Nelson said. “It can be whatever a couple wants, but it has to be fluid and flexible, and the couple has to keep renewing it, like a license.”

    But wait, marriage isn’t “like a license “ there is an actual license! It is a contract, and the people involved understand that. What if they agree not to make it fluid and flexible (I really don’t think that’s how most people do marriage!)

    Also, sure the marriage can take whatever form the couple agrees upon. Even polyamory, if they actually think that can work. But then, that is not by definition monogamy.

    Yes, you could change the framework of the marriage to “whatever a couple wants “. Heads up, cheating spouses are not negotiating what their partner wants. Quite the opposite, they know their partner doesn’t want that. There’s no consent from the other spouse! What she is talking about is not cheating.

    One of the best things about marriage is (should be) having that solid base, someone you can rely on and that relies on you. Within that, of course people can change. But not in ways that threaten the relationship. Fluid flexibility is unstable, unreliable and does not make a good foundation.

  • I wasn’t having sex. It’s my horrible secret that has defined entirely my sense of worth, my own health, that I was a shit partner, it underpins everything that I take forward that despite what you all say here.I fucked up. Sex is good right? Is it always. When someone has no sexual desire do you ‘honestly tell them’ and then just leave them? Why was I the witholder? Not them? If I am honest I didn’t want sex.
    I realise
    Now was
    Going through perimenopouse. But the narrative is always sex is good and you’re lacking. I don’t agree many relationships transcend this. I used to be a right shagger when I was younger. I am so prudish now because I feel I have been judged . And yes I did not want sex. So kill me for it. You all think then as he told me, what did you think would happen. And I am so deeply ashdamed that didn’t fulfil my duties. Truth I see sex as an abusive and deviant thing which upsets me so much.

    • His words to me,
      I’d you had been a better girlfriend… and I fell short it it comes to sex and despite everything written here I take it all a my fault.

      • Rachel, my heart goes out to you. I don’t understand this “brave new world” where dating means sex appointments, and a “girlfriend” is expected to perform all the wife-appliance duties without a contract of any sort. The Judeo-Christian patriarchy that it is fashionable to hate honored, protected, and provided for the gentler sex, at least by its laws and principles….

        Because people are imperfect, these provisions were not always lived out. But to me, still, sex outside of marriage – whether premarital, extramarital, post-marital or non-marital is always a losing proposition, sooner or later, for women. I, for one, love sex…but can indulge only as an equal partner in a relationship based on open communication and mutual trust. When any of that ends, the contract is broken, and we are rightfully done.

        Rachel, you and your partner should have discussed your lack of interest and what it would mean to the relationship. If you had been married, a divorce then would have been an honorable mutual solution. But you weren’t married, so all you had was an implicit deal that he thought you were breaking. Despite all Joni Mitchel’s wailing, we DO “need a piece of paper from the City Hall,” not to open the heart and soul, but to protect both. Please value yourself enough going forward to demand marriage before intimacy. Even if you remain single for the rest of your life, you’re better off at least staying true to yourself, imo.

        My late husband was a cheater, and reading chump testimonials on this site is healing. I’ve only recently begun to think I could marry again (not anticipating, just not repulsed by the thought.) The welfare of potential children is no longer a consideration for me, as that ship has long sailed. But I still would require a healthy prenuptial agreement to protect my assets for the children I already have. And I would require line-by-line signoff on the traditional vows of the contract, and divorce in a New York minute if there’s a whiff of disloyalty.

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