Iconic couples’ therapist and bestselling author of Mating in Captivity Esther Perel returns with a provocative look at relationships through the lens of infidelity.
An affair: it can rob a couple of their relationship, their happiness, their very identity. And yet, this extremely common human experience is so poorly understood. What are we to make of this time-honored taboo—universally forbidden yet universally practiced? Why do people cheat—even those in happy marriages? Why does an affair hurt so much? When we say infidelity, what exactly do we mean? Do our romantic expectations of marriage set us up for betrayal? Is there such a thing as an affair-proof marriage? Is it possible to love more than one person at once? Can an affair ever help a marriage? Perel weaves real-life case stories with incisive psychological and cultural analysis in this fast-paced and compelling book.
For the past ten years, Perel has traveled the globe and worked with hundreds of couples who have grappled with infidelity. Betrayal hurts, she writes, but it can be healed. An affair can even be the doorway to a new marriage—with the same person. With the right approach, couples can grow and learn from these tumultuous experiences, together or apart.
Affairs, she argues, have a lot to teach us about modern relationships—what we expect, what we think we want, and what we feel entitled to. They offer a unique window into our personal and cultural attitudes about love, lust, and commitment. Through examining illicit love from multiple angles, Perel invites readers into an honest, enlightened, and entertaining exploration of modern marriage in its many variations.
Fiercely intelligent, The State of Affairs provides a daring framework for understanding the intricacies of love and desire. As Perel observes, “Love is messy; infidelity more so. But it is also a window, like no other, into the crevices of the human heart.”
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Adultery has been societal taboo for millennia. In this provocative, anecdote-stuffed book, celebrated couples therapist Esther Perel breaks down cheating into its fundamental parts in an effort to destigmatize the behavior—and help people who have lived through infidelity to heal and, eventually, better understand themselves. Perel’s sharp, wise prose and her talent for synthesizing tricky psychological concepts with stories drawn from her practice make The State of Affairs a lively read no matter where you fall on the relationship spectrum.
Longtime couples therapist Perel follows 2006's Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence with another provocative study of relationships. This time around she puts forth the controversial view that infidelity is ultimately beneficial to relationships, and she successfully explores the ways that affairs force partners to closely examine their attitudes about love, commitment, and sex. Make no mistake: Perel does not advocate infidelity. She dismisses the oft-used excuse that adultery is due to sex addiction and argues that emotional cheating is still cheating ("When it's no longer an exchange of kisses but an exchange of dick pics... when the secretive lunch has been replaced with a secret Facebook account, how are we to know what constitutes an affair?"). She sensibly makes the case that if the damage has already been done, it's imperative that the experience provide a way forward whether that is to stay married or to split up. She bolsters her arguments with real-life examples from both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. The book is sure to spark intelligent conversations that will have readers everywhere examining their belief systems. This is a thought-provoking take on relationships and essential reading for couples dealing with infidelity.
No other words. Simply fantastic.
Handles human relationships with grace and dignity
What a wonderfully written, beautifully eye opening read. This book explores the alternatives to the once idealized, perfect scenarios of marriage, affair, divorce, and ever after with grace and dignity. Hopefully, Perel’s nonjudgmental, but logical and straight forward ideas will trickle down in society to offer aid and sanctuary to those suffering through the typical fallout from affairs. Written in language that is relevant, honest, and real, Ms. Perel courageously provides new avenues for framing relationships and lovers’ feelings.
Don’t Expect Dogma
Trying to put this book into a category of “pro” or “con” relative to affairs would be a mistake. Instead, expect honest evaluation drawn from many interviews, conversations, and counseling sessions — but not from religious, moralistic, or tradition-bound bases. The conclusions aren’t data-driven either.