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The case against Esther Perel - why?

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Wiseoldfool ( member #78413) posted at 11:46 PM on Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Why would you do that? Is a second quest for aliveness one too many? Or does it demonstrate, dare I say it, a lack of character?

My wife was a fucking cheater. Your wife was merely a cheater.

You win. I never stood a chance.

[This message edited by Wiseoldfool at 1:34 AM, Tuesday, November 23rd]

Every secret you keep with your affair partner sustains the affair. Every lie you tell, every misunderstanding you permit, every deflection you pose, every omission you allow sustains the affair.

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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 12:34 AM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

I suppose that is more palatable to a cheater. My XW is now referring to her serial cheating as " inappropriate relationships where the chemistry became sexualized". At one point, she proposed we refer to that lengthy period of time when she was cheating as her "restless phase" . I think Esther would like this type of language. Made me want to throw up, however.

WHAAAAAAT the what. I mean.... what the actual fuck. So I guess Jeffrey Dahmer simply had 'inappropriate hunger that led to unhealthy relationship choices' then right? Wow. SMDH.

Perel is so full of shit. SO full of it. Just about the ONLY 'work' on our marriage my xwh did after dday was finding Perel's ridiculous ted talk and sending it to me. All while continuing to dry-hump his teenage 'wuv' and bleed my dry emotionally, mentally, and financially. Sorry (not sorry) but things that active cheaters find worthwhile to explain their shitty behavior is pretty meaningless to me.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"Being weird is just a side effect of being awesome."– Unknown

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Linus ( new member #79614) posted at 1:20 AM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Right and the XW is now saying "Namaste" a lot now when greeting me. Also has a picture 9f the Dahli Lama in her living room. She is super evolved.

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Hippo16 ( member #52440) posted at 1:25 AM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Interesting discussion - I share a lot of what has been posted - and

CT, that was right on. And yeah, the one who breaks up the family is the BS when they divorce instead of, I dunno, taking what is exciting about an affair and trying to make it happen at home by being more mysterious and desirable or whatever. You know, to keep them from getting bored again and cheating again because monogamy with the partner you love isn't sexy but people you don't truly know are.


What does EP have to say when the person who is screwing around (the WS!) leaves and divorces the BS?

As best I recall - there a quite a few BS who were divorced by their WS that have posted there stories here.


Another Item - what is the definition of Integrity and/or Character in the EP described countries where cheating is more "acceptable?"

Do we of the "Western World" have a different definition than the French?

The Greeks had some serious repercussions for adulterers. Although - some of kinds of "social interaction" were sanctioned.

If my wife had started reading EP when we had our "experience" - I would have taken the non-EP-sanctioned path of dissolution.

Why bother to get married if you have needs for other than your spouses genitals?

just UGH!

Not Just Friends

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Never2late ( new member #79079) posted at 5:34 AM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

I've heard her refer to the trauma a BS experiences as "catastrophizing".

Is it the end of the world? Of course not. Is it a catastrophe for that relationship...usually, yes. Even if R I'd argue the prior relationship was eviscerated and R is really a new one.

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still-living ( member #30434) posted at 7:42 AM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

The charm, the humor, the entertainment, the carefully maintained neutral stance. For me, it ruins it like a priest asking for money during a homily.

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 Repossessed (original poster member #79544) posted at 10:59 PM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Been absent for a day or so, but there's plenty to digest here.

I've not actually read her books, and won't as she has plenty to say on YouTube (much of it recycled). But until this thread, I was where TheEnd described...

For the waywards she tries to get underneath their whys. And yeah, she looks at unmet needs but she's already established that "unmet needs" is an impossible standard for another person to meet. I do think she believes, and I do too, that there is context in a marriage that does play in to how people behave but I don't see her giving a pass on bad behavior, only looking to find what motivated the person so they can do the work to be better.

She tells both sides to give up the fantasy.

Must say this was pretty damning.
This0is0Fine...

In this view, understanding an act of infidelity as a simple transgression or meaningless fling, or a quest for aliveness is an impossibility.

Might as well call the BS close minded and sexually immature.

And I let out an audible "ooof" at this.
Never2late...

I've heard her refer to the trauma a BS experiences as "catastrophizing".

DevastatedDee...

I guess I just don't see her point as I already understand that people have reasons for doing cruel things. To be selfish for a minute, I'm not sure why that would obligate me to give a shit about the reasons a person did something cruel to me. Maybe that's my line in the sand. If you do it to me, you lose my empathy. At that point, I have to focus on my own injury that's breaking me and take care of myself.


I actually did give a shit. Hearing her flowery descriptions of the cheater mind actually made me feel less lame.

My cheater had the temerity to say of her high school flame "he's fun, carefree, and easy to talk to." "We never fought." Fucking really? You shit on the sanctity of our commitment to one another? A commitment that by its very nature, that of building a family, requires a fair measure of gravitas? You do this shitting by comparing your two-time con high school flame to your grinder of a husband that fathered our two sons through debt free undergraduate degrees? And, yeah, look what carefree got that motherfucker, two extended stays in the pokey. Just wondering what your progeny might have looked like with him as a fucking Dad.

So, yeah, hearing EP explain what may be the real source of my cheater's shitty behavior helped me make the leap that it wasn't me, and that the witch simply has the emotional maturity of a five year old. And, to boot, I recognize it more every day that I'm apart from her. She's not around to distract from my ever improving clarity.

Linus...

Who is exuberant while engaging in an act of defiance.


Bro, my wife. In fact, one of my revelations is that she revels in sneaky defiance. It is fundamental and the core of what represents fun to her. Otherwise, she's bored.


DevastatedDee...

And for fuck's sake, I'll try all kinds of things sexually to keep things feeling more fresh and exciting, but I don't want to start a fight just so things feel off-balance and sexy again. I don't want to be cheated on or have my partner get infatuated with another person. I don't want to have to break up every so often to keep things new. Those things don't get my libido going in the first place. That sounds toxic as hell. Sahara desert over here with stuff like that.


And,lastly, DD all of the above made chuckle, but the bolded portion is my favorite expression. In fact everyone in our family knows what my sons are talking about when they text FFS.

Thanks for playing folks.

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

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Linus ( new member #79614) posted at 11:21 PM on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Well, the, Repossessed, it is good she can now be " exuberant defiant" on her own. FFS, what is wrong with these cretins?

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 Repossessed (original poster member #79544) posted at 12:19 AM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

FFS, what is wrong with these cretins?

priceless...

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

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Trdd ( member #65989) posted at 1:28 PM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

There seems to always be a divide that clearly emerges in how former waywards/ waywards are seen in threads like this one. I am curious as to the origin of the difference.

Is it external? The depth of the betrayal experienced, the amount of remorse and healing behavior received from the WS, the amount of time that has passed since d-day, how well life has gone since R or D?

Or is it internal? Amount of successful self-healing that has happened, personal resilience to trauma, ability to look forward more than past, degree of humility and ability to reflect on our failures and shortcomings even if we haven't committed infidelity?

I am guessing it is a combination of factors.

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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 2:15 PM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Wen one responds viscerally, I think it's just about always worth experiencing one's own visceral responses and considering them in the light of new propositions. Thinking outside one's own boxes is almost always worth the effort. The effort is usually small, and the payoff sometimes is very big.

Especially when one responds viscerally, it's a good idea IMO to read closely the statements which evoke the response to make sure one is not reading things into the statement(s) that really aren't there.

IMO, a lot of responses to Perel's work are unexamined visceral ones. I urge you not to judge her without making sure she said what you think. That goes whether you like what she says or not.

I've read only 2/3 of State of Affairs, and I see descriptions of what is, not descriptions of what ought to be.

Further, I see very little analysis, if any.

Look, a therapist serves a client. If she's an IC helping someone who wants to continue an A without self-doubt, her job is to help the client achieve the client's goals. Maybe she actually actually tells such a client to stop cheating.

She may be right that we in the 'West', which is almost definitely skewed towards the 'West' that she knows, that we are dogmatic about many things in which there's wide variation in this world, and the variation may not be detrimental to social life.

I do not mean to argue for or against her theses. I mean to argue for knowing oneself and knowing what one has perceived.

Personally, having read 2/3 or State of Affairs, I know she's aginst affairs, I know she has chapter that moves me about the pain of being betrayed, and I don't know much at all about what she thinks about it all, although I hypothesize that she sees WSes, BSes, and aps as worthwhile human beings, and I agree with that.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 2:48 PM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Or is it moral disgust about something that isn't related to healing enough? When I was in high school I watched a bunch of dudes verbally and borderline physically abuse my gay friend and cause him trauma for years. I'm still angry about that if I think about it. I remember my grandfather saying something particularly racist at a family gathering at a time when I was dating someone who wasn't of my race and when I think about it, I still have a feeling of anger and my grandfather is long dead. I'm still irritated reading Perel's words because it relates to stuff that I went through and my reaction of disgust feels pretty natural. Anger and I have a beautiful relationship. Anger isn't the big bad. It's a barometer.

A book explaining why those high school boys were so homophobic and why they enjoyed taunting my friend and why my grandfather was such a racist would not be my preferred reading material even if the book condemned prejudice. I get "why". Reading such a thing would just have me ranting to myself about how people suck.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 2:51 PM, Wednesday, November 24th]

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

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Trdd ( member #65989) posted at 5:51 PM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Moral outrage appropriately focused is lovely. And anger can be a valuable emotion. But persistent anger over time toward a historical event, unresolved, it's hard to see where that's helpful. Certainly the mainstream spiritual traditions both western and eastern in origin, forged over millenia, all point toward the unhealthiness of it.

I don't want to come across as if I have all my anger personally licked; striving for better!

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 6:34 PM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

I don't rage every day over my grandfather being a jerk or the high school boys being cruel or even that I was married to a cheater/drug addict or any of another thousand things that I could think of that would make me feel echoes of the anger I felt at those times. It's not a constant stream in my mind. Generally I'm pretty laid back and chill and easily amused. I'm a happy person. I have appropriate anger over injustices. I don't stew on them, but I can feel things about them without it meaning I'm just not healed. My moral outrage over sexism, racism, homophobia, cheating...these aren't because I'm a broken thing who can't get over stuff. Those are the things I speak up about when I encounter them, but that moral outrage comes from experiences. It's like the whole dog rescue thing. I'm morally outraged by abuse and neglect of dogs and I can't not do something about it, so I work weekends at an animal rescue. How is that any different from feeling moral outrage about any other issue? Esther pulls that from me with infidelity, but similarly to how it's pulled out of me at the animal shelter when I'm infuriated at a person who has a dog for 10 years and decides to move in with her boyfriend and dump the dog on us because he doesn't like dogs and hey, it's just a dog. How is this moral outrage over stuff she says different from moral outrage over other things? I'm hardly likely to become a zen type of person as that would require changing too much of my core self and I have no desire to strip myself of this type of anger that makes me "me".

I just don't think anyone in this thread who's bothered by what Esther Perel says can be just described as unhealed or bitter or unenlightened.

I don't even think that you have to accept what Esther says to forgive your WS and reconcile. I think that one can be furious with her tone and the numerous other things listed in this thread and still love and forgive someone who cheated on them. There's no indication that it keeps anyone from seeing the humanity of someone who cheated.

Edited to add: When ChamomileTea and I both slam her, I'm thinking it's not an R vs D or how you view your own WS thing, lol.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 7:02 PM, Wednesday, November 24th]

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

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Underserving ( member #72259) posted at 7:16 PM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Again, I’ve not read anything by Esther. I don’t particularly love infidelity books written by marriage counselors. Or most infidelity books period. As I’ve stated, everyone seems to have some sort of angle that doesn’t sit right with me.

If your cheating spouse’s actions caused you to view them as irredeemable, or reconciliation was never an option, I understand that. I would not try to convince anyone to change their mind. But some of us ARE willing to look a little deeper into the "why" and the "how" and go from there. It doesn’t mean we are making excuses for our partners.

View your spouse/ex spouse however you want to. I’m personally glad I chose the path I did. I have been able to continually witness my husband better himself, and become a man we are both proud of.

[This message edited by Underserving at 7:17 PM, Wednesday, November 24th]

BW (32)Found out 3 years post end of AD-day 12-9-19In R

Infidelity brings out the cuss in me. I’m not as foul mouthed in real life. ;)

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 Repossessed (original poster member #79544) posted at 11:20 PM on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

And anger can be a valuable emotion. But persistent anger over time toward a historical event, unresolved, it's hard to see where that's helpful. Certainly the mainstream spiritual traditions both western and eastern in origin, forged over millenia, all point toward the unhealthiness of it.


This I find interesting because even after a 5+ year failed R attempt and now pushing a year on my own, the anger remains. I, too, have read innumerable times how holding on to it isn't healthy, but it feels like a guardian friend and remains a constant companion. It has evolved from white hot rage to a simmering beneath the surface. I tap into it regularly to drive what I do. Its useful. I see rage as fuel and I kinda like that I can channel it to get things done.

Guess I'll find out one way or another. Use it constructively to repair body and psyche, or die clutching my chest. Wonder if EP could translate that in more flowery fashion.

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

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HouseOfPlane ( member #45739) posted at 3:03 AM on Thursday, November 25th, 2021

DD

"Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it. If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition."

...It’s remarkable to me how a sudden threat to the status quo an affair, an infatuation, a prolonged absence, or even a really good fight) can suddenly ignite desire. There’s nothing like the fear of loss to make those old shoes look new again."

I literally heard my wife tell her sister that I was boring and he was exciting. Of course I was boring, she'd been looking at me for a couple of years. So when I read this, it resonated.

I'll also say that one of our closest times was when I was gone for a year, deployed. Our conversations over a satellite phone while I stood out in the desert at night were some of our best. I never felt so close.

I'm a firm believer that most affairs come from boredom, enabled by a lack of character, morals, whatever you want to call it.

It takes discipline to stay married, beyond depending on the excitement.

[This message edited by HouseOfPlane at 3:03 AM, Thursday, November 25th]

DDay 1986: R'd, it was hard, hard work.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

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Wiseoldfool ( member #78413) posted at 3:24 AM on Thursday, November 25th, 2021

I don’t defend everything Esther Perel says; I don’t even know all that she says.

I do recall, from either her podcasts, her book, or her YouTube video, at least one thing that I needed to hear when I had learned of my wife’s affair, five years after it ended: it is possible to conceive of a reconciled marriage post-infidelity as a "second marriage." That may be semantics, it could be nonsense to some, but for me it resonated, and it gave me a way to hang on while I sorted things out in those early months. I could stomach the idea of a second marriage, one to which she committed on terms we could agree on, where we chose to make a second act, the curtain closed on the first. I don’t know whether she originated that idea, but I heard it from her first.

Also, I don’t hear a lot of what she says about the mindset of a cheater the same as some of you. I heard it as explanatory, not as justification. I did not hear it as something that should not bother me, but she could explain the shame that my wife couldn’t overcome for me then. Again, I don’t claim to have the singular interpretation of her work. This was a feeling for me, not a fact I argue should exist for you, too. It made me feel like my wife was a human being who made the same mistakes many, many other human beings have made and will make. What I heard made my wife’s affair feel a lot less like an indictment of me as a man, as a husband, than the self-talk going on in my head at the time, and for that it was a welcome alternative. Hell, white noise on a loop would have been better than that self-talk. I can’t tell you how that same stuff would land on me now.

Your mileage may vary, and for some of you, it clearly does, and that’s ok, too. Some of you definitely had irredeemable spouses on your hands, or are people for whom infidelity was a permanent deal-breaker regardless of the spouse, and I pass no judgment on that at all.

[This message edited by Wiseoldfool at 3:25 AM, Thursday, November 25th]

Every secret you keep with your affair partner sustains the affair. Every lie you tell, every misunderstanding you permit, every deflection you pose, every omission you allow sustains the affair.

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 Repossessed (original poster member #79544) posted at 3:37 AM on Thursday, November 25th, 2021

I heard it as explanatory, not as justification.

What I heard made my wife’s affair feel a lot less like an indictment of me as a man, as a husband, than the self-talk going on in my head at the time, and for that it was a welcome alternative.


Me too.

However, if one was looking for affirmation in the form of condemnation, then I can see how her neutral looking stance would be troubling.

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

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HouseOfPlane ( member #45739) posted at 3:48 AM on Thursday, November 25th, 2021

Also, I don’t hear a lot of what she says about the mindset of a cheater the same as some of you. I heard it as explanatory, not as justification.


This is an age-old issue. So very often people here want to get to the 'why', but when they get the 'why', they get angry because they conflate it with justification.

They are two different things.

DDay 1986: R'd, it was hard, hard work.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

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