The State of Affairs
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.”

The State of Affairs Details

TitleThe State of Affairs
Author
ReleaseOct 10th, 2017
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062322609
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Psychology, Relationships, Sexuality, Audiobook

The State of Affairs Review

  • Trish
    January 1, 1970
    Apparently eighty percent of the population has some experience with infidelity, whether through a parent, spouse, friend, or family member. Considering how hurtful and destructive such urges are, it is amazing most of us are still standing. Esther Perel has distilled her years of marriage counseling and study of infidelity to reveal fascinating insights that make enormous sense to me. She tells us that “In a surprising number of these cases, a direct line can be traced from an extramarital adv Apparently eighty percent of the population has some experience with infidelity, whether through a parent, spouse, friend, or family member. Considering how hurtful and destructive such urges are, it is amazing most of us are still standing. Esther Perel has distilled her years of marriage counseling and study of infidelity to reveal fascinating insights that make enormous sense to me. She tells us that “In a surprising number of these cases, a direct line can be traced from an extramarital adventure back to our most basic human fear—the confrontation with mortality.”I would add a corollary that if the infidel (?) one who commits infidelity didn’t fear death before they became involved in an extramarital affair, they should after, for sure.I love the way Perel thinks. She is such an adult. When one is in the midst of handling an exposed infidelity, it is common to experience sadness, rage, jealousy, and diminished self-worth. Perel says we can feel these things if we want, it is normal, but it is probably more worthwhile to look at why one strayed, if one has the stamina for it.In this way, one may find one prefers one’s spouse to other possibilities, and can renew their vows in a fuller knowledge of one another, and a fuller knowledge of what it takes to make a marriage succeed. One of the things I notice about marriage is that sometimes the people involved forget that the spouse is a mystery and basically unknowable; that the spouse is an independent sexual being; that affairs often allow us to discover a new self, rather than merely a new sexual partner. Oftentimes it is that new sexual self that is so entrancing, not the new partner after all, e.g., “I feel alive.”.A couple of other things Perel points to are that we keep many secrets in a marriage, and perhaps infidelity is not the most damaging of these. She thinks that sometimes admitting to an infidelity may cause more damage than not, and one has to ask oneself what one’s motives are in revealing such a thing if it is not already discovered and is unlikely to be.While we often hear that revenge is sweet, in fact it is frequently the opposite. There is an important lesson to know about long-lasting feelings of vengeance: “If in the process of getting even you end up hurting yourself more than you punish the other, you gain nothing.” Feelings of stress and anger can make you miserable. Studies of romantic love discover that it is a physical addiction, similar in effect to cocaine or nicotine on the brain. Quoting Anthropologist Helen Fisher who has done fMRI studies on the brain in love: “weaning oneself off of obsessive thinking about a lost love…is akin to breaking a dependency on drugs.” Perel defines infidelity as including one or more of three components: secrecy, sexual alchemy, and emotional involvement. Towards the end of the book she explains that although women are used to being in touch with their emotional side and the multidimensionality of their sexuality (its subjectivity, its relational character, its contextual nature, and its reliance on a delicate balance of conditions), men rarely give themselves that freedom. There are so many myths surrounding the definition of male sexuality as being biologically imperative, uncomplicated, ever ready, and always in search of novelty but actually men and women are in fact more similar than they are different. Men may find themselves emotionally disengaging in direct proportion to the demands of their relational entanglements and the conflicting messages they are receiving about who they are and who they should be. “You don’t pay the hooker to come—you pay her to leave”—highlighting the pleasures of less emotionally complicated forms of sex.In the end, Perel says, it is usually a lack of real sexual communication in the midst of a loud and proud declaration of emotional transparency in modern intimacy that is most at fault for a drawing away from real intimacy. A successful marriage, I’m guessing, allows some of the mystery to remain. Two individuals agree to share lives; that they can leave at any time deepens the mystery. One needn’t do it, so when we do, there must be meaning. Communication is critical. And weathering a storm can unlock a few mysteries we tend to keep hidden, even from ourselves. “Every act of betrayal shares common features, but every experience of betrayal is unique.”Perel has Youtube videos of her most popular talks, and she is particularly good at cutting to the heart of relationships and fingering the sore spots. Most of us can find our own situations well-represented. Her examples of couples in treatment are diverse and distinct, and very interesting. I’d say listening to her is worthwhile even if it has never entered your mind to stray.
    more
  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this book and would have liked it even more if Esther Perel focused more on relationships outside the context of marriage. What I appreciated most about The State of Affairs: Perel recognizes that relationships are dynamic and require consistent communication and recalibration. Instead of taking a binary or absolutist approach, she explores the motivations and emotions underlying infidelity. I enjoyed the brief bits of feminist thought in the book, such as her recognition that marriage i I liked this book and would have liked it even more if Esther Perel focused more on relationships outside the context of marriage. What I appreciated most about The State of Affairs: Perel recognizes that relationships are dynamic and require consistent communication and recalibration. Instead of taking a binary or absolutist approach, she explores the motivations and emotions underlying infidelity. I enjoyed the brief bits of feminist thought in the book, such as her recognition that marriage is a concept derived from patriarchy and control over women. This quote toward the end of the book showcases Perel's writing and critical thinking at its best:"Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew - or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment; rather, it mandates an active engagement that long-term couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency, in the most positive sense."This book had the potential to be so much more radical and revolutionary. For about the first 60%, Perel provides anecdote after anecdote of affairs destroying marriages. I wish she had used that space to delve deeper into topics she only touched on later on in the book. How are poly relationships, open relationships, and other types of relationships helping us break free from the historically sexist and limiting features of marriage? Why is it that we are socialized to invest so much of ourselves in romantic love (i.e., amatonormativity), even when it hurts us? Instead of throwing in some stories about queer couples that fit a heteronormative script, Perel could have provided more chapters centered on the unique and distinct experiences of queer people, people of color, and those who engage in intense and meaningful friendships. Perel is a solid writer who knows how to package a stigmatized concept for public consumption. I wish she had played it less safe and really thoroughly pulled back the curtain on marriage, infidelity, and broader constructions of relationships in society.Overall, recommended for those instructed in the topic of infidelity who want an introduction to the more complex meanings of affairs, especially in the context of traditional romantic relationships and marriages. I hope that this book can lead us to question ideas about marriage and relationships that we so often ingest without thinking, such as how we glorify marriage and monogamy in the first place. Curious to see where Perel heads next with her work and good for her for adapting a stance of nuance and compassion.
    more
  • Liina Bachmann
    January 1, 1970
    How very limited is our vocabulary and emotional intelligence when it comes to infidelity. Quick to use the stereotyped responses and to protect the romantic ideal that, let's be honest, the a large majority of people are not able to live up to or are unhappy while doing that. Esther Perel gets that. She has cut through the Affair Cake with a sharp knife during her decades long practice as a psychotherapist, and she has quite a lot to tell about all the layers it hides. Her approach is refreshin How very limited is our vocabulary and emotional intelligence when it comes to infidelity. Quick to use the stereotyped responses and to protect the romantic ideal that, let's be honest, the a large majority of people are not able to live up to or are unhappy while doing that. Esther Perel gets that. She has cut through the Affair Cake with a sharp knife during her decades long practice as a psychotherapist, and she has quite a lot to tell about all the layers it hides. Her approach is refreshingly realistic. In the beginning of the book she states that nowadays our one partner has to give us so many contradictory things and the expectations for the quality of the relationship so high that it is no wonder we are having trouble living up to those standards. Torn between the need for security and novelty at the same time trying not to lose the sense of "self" that so often gets diluted when there is not enough space between two people - those and other causes are discussed among with different specific mechanics why people stray and in the last parts - what happens when the unimaginable has happened?How do couples go on?She is not a judge and does not take sides. Instead Perel is so very emphatic and humane that the tone she uses, is at least as worthy of a reason to read the book as the information it holds and the interesting case studies she shares. It is a difficult subject and one that people are very opinionated and ofter polarised about, but I think she has done a terrific job in giving a non judgemental view on it.
    more
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone in a relationship should read THE STATE OF AFFAIRS: Perel is a wonderfully engaging writer, and raises so many thought-provoking questions and opportunities for deep thought and reflection. Marriage in America has gone through so many changes in a relatively short period of time, and this book gives both those who are happily coupled language to start a conversation and those who have dealt with infidelity an incredible perspective. Not to be missed.
    more
  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    "Our partners do not belong to us. They are only on loan with an option to renew - or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment. Rather, it mandates an active engagement that longterm couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency in the most positive sense." - Esther Perel, The State of AffairsI discovered Perel not through TedTalks, as many people apparently have, but because her podcast, "Where Shoul "Our partners do not belong to us. They are only on loan with an option to renew - or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment. Rather, it mandates an active engagement that longterm couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency in the most positive sense." - Esther Perel, The State of AffairsI discovered Perel not through TedTalks, as many people apparently have, but because her podcast, "Where Should We Begin?" popped up on my podcast suggestions list. People and their stories have always fascinated me, and that's precisely what Perel's podcast offers: listening into a couple's therapy session as they explore not only their own stories but also the nuances of their coupling. To me, it's pretty gripping because it opens a little window into human behavior and thought while illustrating that situations in any relationship - personal, romantic, platonic - are not black and white. Like most of life, all human interactions exist in shades of gray. Faced with 13 hours on the road, I decided to join Audible and listen to Perel's latest book. Don't let the provocative title fool you: though this book definitely centers on infidelity, it touches on so much more: jealousy, forgiveness, monogamy, indiscretion, romance in a digital age, and so on. This is not merely a book for people who have dealt or are dealing with infidelity. It is for anyone who is in a relationship - even if that relationship is the most solid romance ever.The brilliance of The State of Affairs is that it offers no solid solutions. It is ambiguous, but in the most satisfying way possible. I once read that the only two people who need to understand a relationship are the two people who are in that relationship. Therefore, every relationship is a crystal: unique unto itself. This is precisely why The State of Affairs can't offer solutions, but rather multiple possibilities - none of which can possibly be a perfect fit. Perel weaves research into her own observations, offering insight into both her interactions with patients and her startlingly intuitive interpretation of their issues. Although the book primarily focuses on heterosexual relationships (after all, like it or not, they are the majority of relationships), Perel occasionally references gay relationships and marriage, and how gay people historically have had to reframe concepts of romance and love. I very much appreciated this. At times I found my beliefs being challenged (or confirmed), my heart being opened, and, most importantly, my compassion being championed. Compassion. This really is the critical term for this book. If you're looking for a book to confirm "once a cheater, always a cheater" or "cheaters are always the villains", this book is not for you (though you should still read it). Perel refuses to think in and/or syllogisms. She very much operates in nuance. This book is for you if you're looking for something engaging, challenging, and frank. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this book changed me. I am all the better for having listened to it. I don't often listen to audiobooks, but I highly recommend this one - Perel is a lovely narrator with an enchanting accent. I do think, though, that I may go back and read chapters of it as well.
    more
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    The funny (and probably unfortunate) thing about reading a book like this is that people automatically assume you're trying to save your marriage or something. haha. I discovered Esther Perel via Dan Savage. I love both their practical approaches to relationships. They deal with the realities of life, not idealistic dreams that often don't work in people's daily experience. Perel does not minimize the pain of infidelity. But she's a much needed voice in our culture about what infidelity means an The funny (and probably unfortunate) thing about reading a book like this is that people automatically assume you're trying to save your marriage or something. haha. I discovered Esther Perel via Dan Savage. I love both their practical approaches to relationships. They deal with the realities of life, not idealistic dreams that often don't work in people's daily experience. Perel does not minimize the pain of infidelity. But she's a much needed voice in our culture about what infidelity means and how it can be approached in relationships. My biggest take-away from the book is that we need to pull our judgemental noses out of the relationships of other people and stop judging them for how they choose to negotiate their lives. Stop looking down on your friend who stays when their partner strays. Stop looking down on people who view commitment and fidelity differently than you do. It's none of your business and it doesn't actually do anything to help your friend or family member.
    more
  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a huge fan of Perel's super realistic view of marriage. I've been following her work and this book did not disappoint. I know she's a sex therapist and so her focus on sex obviously makes sense and when you are a researcher focused on one thing, you tend to think that that thing is the most important thing. But I wish she had given a more holistic view of marriage apart from the sex/desire angle. Because I think this is part of the problem with some of our modern thinking about a marriage th I'm a huge fan of Perel's super realistic view of marriage. I've been following her work and this book did not disappoint. I know she's a sex therapist and so her focus on sex obviously makes sense and when you are a researcher focused on one thing, you tend to think that that thing is the most important thing. But I wish she had given a more holistic view of marriage apart from the sex/desire angle. Because I think this is part of the problem with some of our modern thinking about a marriage that has to provide all things, which is an issue she highlights. But yet she keeps coming back to the importance of desire and sex as though it is of central importance. That is a culturally specific view.
    more
  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    January 1, 1970
    Summary: Although the point of this book is to broadly examine the phenomenon of infidelity, what I enjoyed most were the anecdotes that gave an unusually intimate glimpse of many relationships."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 marr Summary: Although the point of this book is to broadly examine the phenomenon of infidelity, what I enjoyed most were the anecdotes that gave an unusually intimate glimpse of many relationships."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?" (source) Using case-stories from her time as a couple's therapist, Esther Perel addresses these questions.I have little to no sympathy for cheaters in fiction, so I wasn't sure about picking this up. It seemed like the author might be forgiving enough of such behavior that this could be a frustrating read. Instead, she carefully walked the line of trying to understand cheating without condoning it. She also clearly extended empathy to everyone she met with, which seems like being a good therapist to me. She wisely points out that if we simply condemn infidelity and don't talk about it any further, we miss an opportunity to not only learn more about why infidelity happens, but to learn more about relationships by studying them through the lens of infidelity. Having read her book, I have to agree. It was fascinating to get such an intimate look at so many relationships.Part of what pushed me to pick this up was having heard the author in an episode of the podcast Note to Self. She was an entertaining speaker on the show and was equally entertaining as an author. I often found her commentary witty and insightful and the stories she told were compulsively readable. Although all the couples and individuals she talked to had been impacted by an affair, each was unique. She talked to couples who were gay and straight, from different countries and with different cultural views on infidelity. She talked to couples where the cheater was a woman and where the cheater was a man. All the stories were presented with empathy and made for interesting reading. The author used these anecdotes to raise thought-provoking questions and make smart observations about human nature. This engaging read will almost certainly be on my list of favorite nonfiction of the year.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey
    more
  • Emmy
    January 1, 1970
    Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew—or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment; rather, it mandates an active engagement that long-term couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency, in the most positive sense. First read of this year and my conclusion is this – everyone should read this book. Regardless of your age, gender, relationship status, sexual or Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew—or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment; rather, it mandates an active engagement that long-term couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency, in the most positive sense. First read of this year and my conclusion is this – everyone should read this book. Regardless of your age, gender, relationship status, sexual orientation, previous experiences - if you are a human being you should read this book.
    more
  • Celine
    January 1, 1970
    I appreciate the way Esther Perel has sought to truly understand her clients. I'd like to be able to channel her level of empathy and insight someday. We'd likely all be better partners if more of us did the type of self-reflection and -exploration Perel encourages in The State of Affairs. Often easier said than done though, I think.
    more
  • Rachel León
    January 1, 1970
    A really interesting look at infidelity, through a lens of compassion and wisdom.
  • Book
    January 1, 1970
    The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” is a provocative exploration of the many facets of the uneasy topic of infidelity. Best-selling author and psychotherapist Esther Perel takes the reader on a journey that addresses the pain and destruction of betrayal as well as the thrill and self-discovery inherent in transgression. This stimulating 341-page book includes fifteen chapters broken out into the following four parts: I. Settin The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” is a provocative exploration of the many facets of the uneasy topic of infidelity. Best-selling author and psychotherapist Esther Perel takes the reader on a journey that addresses the pain and destruction of betrayal as well as the thrill and self-discovery inherent in transgression. This stimulating 341-page book includes fifteen chapters broken out into the following four parts: I. Setting the Stage, II. The Fallout, III. Meaning and Motives, and IV. Ever After.Positives: 1. A well-written, well-researched book. 2. The fascinating but uneasy topic of infidelity. 3. Esther Perel has great command of a very wide and complex topic. She makes very good use of her experience and subject matter experts. Her style is one of going over case studies and providing provocative insights and analysis.4. Provides endless case studies from her practice and proceeds to analyze not judge their relationships. 5. Defines key terms and follows up with case studies throughout the book. “Affairs are an act of betrayal and they are also an expression of longing and loss.”6. Sometimes the best parts of the book are the questions more so than the answers. “When a couple comes to me in the aftermath of an affair, I often tell them this: Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?”7. Defines the key term of this book, infidelity. “For me, infidelity includes one or more of these three constitutive elements: secrecy, sexual alchemy, and emotional involvement.” “Secrecy is the number one organizing principle of an infidelity.”8. What the stories are about. “These stories make a critical point—many affairs are less about sex than about desire: the desire to feel desired, to feel special, to be seen and connected, to compel attention. All these carry an erotic frisson that makes us feel alive, renewed, recharged. It is more energy than act, more enchantment than intercourse.”9. Good quotes. “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.”10. The evolution of marriage. “We still want everything the traditional family was meant to provide—security, children, property, and respectability—but now we also want our partner to love us, to desire us, to be interested in us. We should be best friends, trusted confidants, and passionate lovers to boot.” “Hence we no longer divorce because we’re unhappy; we divorce because we could be happier.”11. Explains why betrayals hurt so much. “The shift from shame to guilt is crucial. Shame is a state of self-absorption, while guilt is an empathic, relational response, inspired by the hurt you have caused another.”12. Explores jealousy. ““He that is not jealous is not in love,” says an old Latin proverb, and when it comes to other people, we tend to agree with him, even if we do not apply the same logic to ourselves.”13. An interesting look at self-blame versus vengeance. “We often hear that revenge is sweet, but research and life prove otherwise. Behavioral scientists have observed that instead of quenching hostility, delivering justice, or bringing closure, revenge can in fact keep the unpleasantness of an offense alive.”14. Explores secrecy. “Secrets and lies are at the heart of every affair, and they heighten both the excitement of the lovers and the pain of the betrayed.” “Respect is not necessarily about telling all, but about considering what it will be like for the other to receive the knowledge.”15. Some observations may cause cognitive dissonance. “Psychologist and author Marty Klein points out that rather than enhancing trust, this actually thwarts it. “You can’t ‘prevent’ someone from betraying you again. They either choose to be faithful or they don’t. If they want to be unfaithful, all the monitoring in the world won’t stop them.””16. Why people cheat. “Because we cannot have the lover, it ensures that we keep wanting, for we always want that which we cannot have. It is this just-out-of-reach quality that lends affairs their erotic mystique and ensures that the flame of desire keeps burning.” “The one theme that I hear above all else from those who have bitten into the forbidden apple is this: It makes them feel alive.”17. The conundrum of security and adventure. “We seek stability and belonging, qualities that propel us toward committed relationships, but we also thrive on novelty and diversity. As psychoanalyst Stephen Mitchell has insightfully pointed out, we crave security and we crave adventure, but these two fundamental needs spring from different motives and pull us in different directions throughout our lives—played out in the tensions between separateness and togetherness, individuality and intimacy, freedom and commitment.”18. Fascinating observations. “This leads us to another common misunderstanding that Meana’s work has highlighted: We interpret the lack of sexual interest as proof that women’s sexual drive is inherently less strong. Perhaps it would be more accurate to think that it is a drive that needs to be stoked more intensely and more imaginatively—and first and foremost by her, not only by her partner.” “Many people have affairs not to exit their marriages, but in order to stay in them.”19. The dragging forces on sexual desire. “First, the institutionalization of relationships—a passage from freedom and independence to commitment and responsibility. Second, the overfamiliarity that develops when intimacy and closeness replace individuality and mystery. And lastly, the desexualizing nature of certain roles—mother, wife, and house manager all promote the de-eroticization of the self.”20. Explores the topic of monogamy. ““When it comes to the innate-versus-learned debate, I share the view of activist-academic Meg-John Barker, who emphasizes that our relationship styles are “not a matter of nature or nurture, hardwiring or social construct. Rather the way we form relationships is influenced by a complex web of biological, psychological, and social aspects which would be impossible to disentangle.”” “Monogamy may or may not be natural to human beings, but transgression surely is.” “Marital sufferings and family crises as a result of infidelity are so damaging that it behooves us to seek new strategies that fit the world in which we live. I’m not suggesting that dissolving monogamy is the answer for everyone. But it is obvious that the current model is hardly a universal fit. Hence I respect monogamy’s dissidents and their contribution to creating new templates for relating.”21. Assessing the aftermath of an affair. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” “In my work I have identified three basic post-infidelity outcomes for couples who choose to stay together (with thanks to Helen Fisher for the typology): those who get stuck in the past (the sufferers); those who pull themselves up by the bootstraps and let it go (the builders); and those who rise above the ashes and create a better union (the explorers).”Negatives:1. At times it’s hard to follow the never-ending but necessary case studies. 2. Lack of supplementary material to complement the narrative. No graphics, no charts, and no formal bibliography.3. It’s frankly uneasy to appreciate the conclusions of the book because of the complexity of the human experience. As an engineer by trade I have difficulty feeling comfortable with Perel’s conclusions but I do appreciate and respect her knowledge on the topic. Don’t expect conclusions that state the following, the scientific community has reached a consensus that this behavior results from blankity blank. It’s not that kind of book. Each case is different and the results are different.4. The book is not intended to provide advice on how to deal with infidelity. It’s intended to share her observations of infidelity and at times that may or may not include steps taken that led to successfully keeping the marriage together.In summary, I really enjoyed this book. Esther Perel explores infidelity through a book-wide variety of cases and makes use of her gut knowledge, experience and the best that the industry has to offer to analyze modern relationships. As an engineer, I struggle with the ambiguity of the analysis of the human experience but not the lack of fascination for the topic. A very solid book I only wished the author would have complemented the excellent narrative with visual material. That said, Perel covers a wide-range of examples and provides her very astute observations that are worthy of a high recommendation.Further suggestions: “Mating in Captivity” by the same author, “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan, “Healing from Infidelity” by Michele Weiner-Davis, “After the Affair” by James A. Spring, “Love Sense” by Sue Johnson, “the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” and “The Science of Trust” by John Gottman, “Attached” by Amir Levine, “More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory” by Franklin Veaux, and “Surviving an Affair” by Willard F. Harley Jr.
    more
  • Kristal
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book from Goodreads. This book should be read by everyone in a serious relationship or maybe before marriage. Very thoughtful and full of insight.
  • Azita Rassi
    January 1, 1970
    Getting used to Ms. Perel’s accent took me a while, but the ideas and guidelines were interesting and to some extent original.
  • Miri
    January 1, 1970
    I came to this book with some friendly skepticism; I’d heard Esther Perel on several podcasts I listen to and I found her engaging and thoughtful, but as a therapist I was a bit turned off by her use of outdated Freudian concepts. However, this book was very light on the Freud. I loved how seamlessly Perel wove in her anonymized patients’ stories along with her own theory and observations. She didn’t cite much research or anything like that, but she didn’t need to, because this is a book about n I came to this book with some friendly skepticism; I’d heard Esther Perel on several podcasts I listen to and I found her engaging and thoughtful, but as a therapist I was a bit turned off by her use of outdated Freudian concepts. However, this book was very light on the Freud. I loved how seamlessly Perel wove in her anonymized patients’ stories along with her own theory and observations. She didn’t cite much research or anything like that, but she didn’t need to, because this is a book about new ways of looking at things, not about the psychology or sociology of affairs.I was also delighted that Perel included plenty of stories from LGBTQ individuals/couples, and also paid keen attention to race, ethnicity, and other factors when discussing her patients. There was also an entire chapter at the end about nonmonogamy and how it can and can’t prevent violations of trust in relationships. So few therapists/authors dealing with sex and relationships include these topics in a culturally competent way, and Perel did so brilliantly.
    more
  • Eve Dangerfield
    January 1, 1970
    Such an interesting and important book. Brain crush on Esther Perel has gone up 100,000,000
  • Anamaria
    January 1, 1970
    "No woman should give any man the power to shatter her romantic ideals."
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Esther Perel is one of my favorite theorists when it comes to sexuality, particularly as it relates to monogamy and infidelity. Esther is bold and brave enough to open discussions that have long been taboo, and to challenge traditional ways of thinking about relationship and transgression. She recognizes that, despite our desperate attempts as a society to cling to tradition, monogamy (as it is currently defined) is not always the most successful relationship model. In fact, its success rate is Esther Perel is one of my favorite theorists when it comes to sexuality, particularly as it relates to monogamy and infidelity. Esther is bold and brave enough to open discussions that have long been taboo, and to challenge traditional ways of thinking about relationship and transgression. She recognizes that, despite our desperate attempts as a society to cling to tradition, monogamy (as it is currently defined) is not always the most successful relationship model. In fact, its success rate is relatively abysmal in its strictest form, and she suggests that perhaps we’re in need of a new cultural perspective. At the very least, we need a lot more open dialogue in relation to sexuality, relationship structure, possibility, and evolution of cultural norms. There are many components to said dialogue, and Perel reviews them in this book. One fundamental precursor to engaging in this discussion, however, is evaluating infidelity from a nuanced, contextual standpoint rather than from a place of black/white, good/bad, victim/perpetrator rigidity. Stepping into the gray, we can more fully understand the benefits and pitfalls of monogamy; the individuality and uniqueness of every person and every relationship; the needs and nature of humans in general; the allure of the forbidden; and the potential for reconstruction, reorganization, and renegotiation of relationships following major crises. What can we learn from infidelity? A lot, according to Perel. And having spent her professional life working with struggling couples around the world, there’s hardly anyone more qualified to start the conversation.
    more
  • Danika
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to read a book by Esther Perel and this was the only one the library had in their catalogue. I liked how the author pulled not only from other sources but from engagements with clients and their reflections with regards to the affair that took place in their lives. Personally I am a person who is paranoid when it comes to commitment but this book not only shed some light on the topic of infidelity but defines it and then goes into the results, reasons and outcomes. Culturally a lot of l I wanted to read a book by Esther Perel and this was the only one the library had in their catalogue. I liked how the author pulled not only from other sources but from engagements with clients and their reflections with regards to the affair that took place in their lives. Personally I am a person who is paranoid when it comes to commitment but this book not only shed some light on the topic of infidelity but defines it and then goes into the results, reasons and outcomes. Culturally a lot of light is directed towards the precuring of this obscure thing called love but since it cannot really be pinned down, not a lot of attention is directed towards how one can secure it and what to do when things go unexpectedly wrong. Since it wouldnt be socially acceptable for me to go around asking people who have had affairs their respective realisations with regards to the outcome, this book was well worth my time.
    more
  • Lila Lamrabet
    January 1, 1970
    I love Esther so much.
  • Kelly Deriemaeker
    January 1, 1970
    Stof tot nadenken maal honderd. Boeiende materie!
  • Zora
    January 1, 1970
    I am an Esther fan, and could not resist this book when it fell into my hands. As readable and insightful as her previous book Mating in Captivity, I was less absorbed by this one and not only for personal reasons. The almost unrelenting focus on married couples and / or marriage was irritating despite due nods to gay or poly couples. I know more long term unmarried couples than I do married ones and while many lessons here apply in any case, the marriage frame undermined some of the more radica I am an Esther fan, and could not resist this book when it fell into my hands. As readable and insightful as her previous book Mating in Captivity, I was less absorbed by this one and not only for personal reasons. The almost unrelenting focus on married couples and / or marriage was irritating despite due nods to gay or poly couples. I know more long term unmarried couples than I do married ones and while many lessons here apply in any case, the marriage frame undermined some of the more radical insights on offer.
    more
  • Cristine Mermaid
    January 1, 1970
    It's hard to rate this without getting too personal because so much of it resonated at an intimate level with me. I will try to take myself out of it and from a sociological point of view review it that way.I found it brilliant. Her insights and research and truths about human relationships was fascinating and resonated strongly with me (there I go, not taking myself out). She articulated incredibly well beliefs I have always had (that made me feel like a bit of a freak in out society) that went It's hard to rate this without getting too personal because so much of it resonated at an intimate level with me. I will try to take myself out of it and from a sociological point of view review it that way.I found it brilliant. Her insights and research and truths about human relationships was fascinating and resonated strongly with me (there I go, not taking myself out). She articulated incredibly well beliefs I have always had (that made me feel like a bit of a freak in out society) that went against what we are taught. (one person should be able to fulfill all your needs, 'infidelity' is the worst thing you can do to another person, if you are happy in your relationship you will have no attraction to any other person ever for the rest of your life, strict monogamy is what everyone really wants )I didn't give it 5 stars because the first half of the book was about how destructive affairs can be but I think that's been covered a million times in a million ways. It was the second half of the book that really appealed to me.
    more
  • Sam Stone
    January 1, 1970
    The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity follows up on Esther Perel's previous excellent book Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. These two books are really well paired! This book addresses such questions as: Why do good people in happy marriages/relationships cheat? And, why do people, even in open & polyamorous marriages/relationships, cheat?Perel explores human nature (and our paradoxes) and how we human beings crave adventure and novelty as well as safety and security. The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity follows up on Esther Perel's previous excellent book Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. These two books are really well paired! This book addresses such questions as: Why do good people in happy marriages/relationships cheat? And, why do people, even in open & polyamorous marriages/relationships, cheat?Perel explores human nature (and our paradoxes) and how we human beings crave adventure and novelty as well as safety and security. And, most importantly, she explores the question, how do we appreciate and keep the adventure and mystery in our ongoing relationship(s). This should be required reading for all people interested in monogamous or nonmonogamous relationships. This is not just for people dealing with or having had to deal with infidelity. Highly recommended!
    more
  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    I really appreciate the work that Perel does. I appreciate that she dives into things that people both don't want to talk about (publicly) and are desperate to talk about (to their therapist). Things I liked: the concept of "side-by-side" vs "face-to-face" love. Context being that a couple in the immediate aftermath of discovering infidelity is face to face in the way that people are when they are first falling in love - it's when people are taking the full measure of each other, catching every I really appreciate the work that Perel does. I appreciate that she dives into things that people both don't want to talk about (publicly) and are desperate to talk about (to their therapist). Things I liked: the concept of "side-by-side" vs "face-to-face" love. Context being that a couple in the immediate aftermath of discovering infidelity is face to face in the way that people are when they are first falling in love - it's when people are taking the full measure of each other, catching every detail, sharing and being shared. Compared to side-by-side, which is the quotidian love that develops later, when you're living and working, and tired, and leaning on each other, and living together, but aren't necessarily tuned in to the same degree. Things I didn't like: casual use of a quote by Hugo Schwyzer.
    more
  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    An incredibly well written and readable book on our long standing institution of marriage and the infidelity that has come along with it through the centuries. I found this books so helpful in providing new language and frameworks for beginning to articulate where I stand in the midst of this shifting institution both for myself as well as someone (pastor) who speaks with couples about to get married, in the midst of infidelity, hurting years after an affair and with people just trying to unders An incredibly well written and readable book on our long standing institution of marriage and the infidelity that has come along with it through the centuries. I found this books so helpful in providing new language and frameworks for beginning to articulate where I stand in the midst of this shifting institution both for myself as well as someone (pastor) who speaks with couples about to get married, in the midst of infidelity, hurting years after an affair and with people just trying to understand the various new commitment frameworks surrounding them. With as much objectivity as possible, a ton of stories and insights everywhere Petel made a hard subject accessible for me.
    more
  • Petras
    January 1, 1970
    Kartais atrandu tokių knygų, kurios sugeba man visiškai nepažįstamą jausmų temą logiškai sudėlioti į lentynėles: porų psichologės Esther Perel knyga apie neištikimybę būtent tokia. Ne tai kad būčiau ieškojęs žinių tokiomis temomis – knygos apie psichologiją ir santykius dažniausiai mane purto savo abstraktumu ir perdėm sudėtingu pseudomoksliniu pasakojimu, tačiau šita, netikėtai užmatyta pernai metų geriausių knygų sąrašuose, užkabino.Daugeliui puritoniškų amerikiečių Esther Perel knyga kelia pa Kartais atrandu tokių knygų, kurios sugeba man visiškai nepažįstamą jausmų temą logiškai sudėlioti į lentynėles: porų psichologės Esther Perel knyga apie neištikimybę būtent tokia. Ne tai kad būčiau ieškojęs žinių tokiomis temomis – knygos apie psichologiją ir santykius dažniausiai mane purto savo abstraktumu ir perdėm sudėtingu pseudomoksliniu pasakojimu, tačiau šita, netikėtai užmatyta pernai metų geriausių knygų sąrašuose, užkabino.Daugeliui puritoniškų amerikiečių Esther Perel knyga kelia pasipiktinimą, nes joje vyrauja gana liberalus „europietiškas“ požiūris į neištikimybę (autorė yra kilusi iš Belgijos, bet konsultuoja JAV): neištikimybės pagundų išvengti beveik neįmanoma, o itin griežtas požiūris į klystelėjimus tik griauna šeimą. JAV (bet juk ne vien ten) vyrauja kultūrinė nuostata, jog paaiškėjus, kad sutuoktinis tapo neištikimas, būtina skirtis – kitaip juk negerbi savęs. Bet ištikimybės ir neištikimybės laipsniai labai skirtingi (vieni neištikimybe laiko vien apsilankymus tam tikrose internetinėse svetainėse, o kitų „raudona linija“ nubrėžta tik tiek mylėjimusi be prezervatyvų) ir daug kas galėtų priklausyti nuo sutuoktinių sutarimo. Dažniausiai neištikimybė turi du svarbius požymius – intymumą su kitu žmogumi, kuris paverčia santuokos ryšį nebe tokiu ypatingu ir išskirtiniu bei paslapties faktorių: jei tai neslepiama nuo sutuoktinio, tai nėra neištikimybė.Nežinau, koks turėtų būti sutuoktinių požiūris į vienas kito neištikimybę: tikriausiai tai kiekvieno susitarimo reikalas, nors mintis, jog visuomenė primeta per griežtas normas, kurių galbūt net neįmanoma palaikyti, yra įdomi. Labiausiai visgi knygoje man patiko logiški aiškinimai apie neištikimybės priežastis. Tai būna ir noras pabėgti nuo rutinos, pasijausti tuo, kuo galbūt galėjai tapti, bet jau nebebūsi, nuotykių troškimas, bėgimas nuo nuobodulio ir panašiai. Standartiškai yra kaltinama tik ta pusė, kuri „nuklydo į šoną“, bet to priežasčių galima atrasti abiejų pusių elgesyje. Galbūt žmona jaučiasi užguita, užsisėdėjusi namie, o vyras grįžta iš darbo pavargęs ir jam visiškai nereikia romantikos, galbūt žmona, auginanti vaiką, užsikasusi buityje, ir jai visai nesinori tenkinti vyro seksualinius poreikius – ji nori tik pailsėti žiūrint serialą. Kita vertus, rašoma, jog tokios žmonos labai greitai gali atgauti savo lytinį potencialą horizonte pasirodžius kokiam žaviam santechnikui – su juo jos jaučiasi vėl patiriančios nuotykį ir gali trumpam pamiršti savo motiniškas ar žmonos pareigas. Būtent dėl to sakoma, jog seksas „iš reikalo“ (kai žmona savo pareigas atlieka tik tam, kad patenkintų vyrą, o ne pati patirtų malonumą) irgi nepriveda prie gero: seksas su savo vyru, kaip kokia namų ruoša, tampa darbu.Dar vienas netikėtas skyrius knygoje kalba apie meilužių jausmus. Tradicinėje porų terapijoje konsultuojami tik sutuoktiniai, o meilužes ar meilužius stengiamasi ištrinti. Jų jausmai irgi būna svarbūs: neretai įsimylėjusi meilužė metų metais taikstosi su tokia savo padėtimi, nes vis viliasi, kad vyras dėl jos paliks savo žmoną. Deja, dažniausiai viskam paaiškėjus meilužė tampa nereikalinga: arba vyras stengiasi grįžti į doros kelią, arba šeimai iširus, meilužė nebėra „nuotykių“ šaltinis ir jos patrauklumas sumenksta.Nežinau, ar su viskuo knygoje galima sutikti, bet susimąstyti ji tikrai privertė. O tokios knygos man labai patinka.
    more
  • Shevon Quijano
    January 1, 1970
    “Our romantic ideals are too entangled with the belief that a perfect marriage should deafen us against the rumblings of eros.Couples who feel free to talk honestly about their desires, even when they are not directed at each other, paradoxically become closer...When we validate each other’s freedom within the relationship, we may be less inclined to go looking for it elsewhere.Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew—or not. Knowing that we can lose them “Our romantic ideals are too entangled with the belief that a perfect marriage should deafen us against the rumblings of eros.Couples who feel free to talk honestly about their desires, even when they are not directed at each other, paradoxically become closer...When we validate each other’s freedom within the relationship, we may be less inclined to go looking for it elsewhere.Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew—or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment; rather, it mandates an active engagement that long-term couples often lose.”Esther Perel has a magnificent mind. I recently read Mating in Captivity and listened to her podcast “Where Should We Begin” which have all led to some excellent conversations with my husband and some close friends.If you are struggling with an affair this book offers compassionate insight into all parties, the person committing the affair, the partner, and the other person. State of Affairs offers none only insight, but more importantly HOPE that a relationship can not only survive but thrive after infidelity.
    more
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite quote: “Because I believe that some good may come out of the crisis of infidelity, I have often been asked, ‘So, would you recommend an affair to a struggling couple?’ My response? A lot of people have positive, life-changing experiences that come along with terminal illness. But I would no more recommend having an affair than I would getting cancer.” Full of piercing insight, this book was both painful and freeing. It had me cringing in the face of my worst fears (which I thought I’ My favorite quote: “Because I believe that some good may come out of the crisis of infidelity, I have often been asked, ‘So, would you recommend an affair to a struggling couple?’ My response? A lot of people have positive, life-changing experiences that come along with terminal illness. But I would no more recommend having an affair than I would getting cancer.” Full of piercing insight, this book was both painful and freeing. It had me cringing in the face of my worst fears (which I thought I’d already faced), and hopeful - less afraid. She presents the very blatantly Christian “absolute truth” that transgression is part of human nature; I’m still processing, mostly through the Christian lens that I’m finding is inseparable from my thinking, what I genuinely think about her takes on minimizing the pain caused by the transgression of an affair. Perel’s incredible compassionate empathy, which is not devoid of judgment or justice, had me reexamining ideas I never could have seen myself open to.
    more
  • Paula Martin
    January 1, 1970
    I picked this up at the library to read because I have been thinking about what affairs do to relationships (even though this doesn't apply to me), but more specifically, why people will put up with emotional abuse, gaslighting, lack of intimacy, and many other things but just say "well at least they aren't a cheater!". It's an interesting line that we've drawn in the sand, and I was hoping to learn more about why. This book uses examples from the author's experience in counseling couples who ha I picked this up at the library to read because I have been thinking about what affairs do to relationships (even though this doesn't apply to me), but more specifically, why people will put up with emotional abuse, gaslighting, lack of intimacy, and many other things but just say "well at least they aren't a cheater!". It's an interesting line that we've drawn in the sand, and I was hoping to learn more about why. This book uses examples from the author's experience in counseling couples who have infidelity in their relationships. It defined infidelity and talked about some of the ways it can happen, including emotional affairs. It covered why affairs hurt, why some hurt worse than others, jealousy, and a lot of other important ways of understanding affairs. I thought it succeeded in that.At times it was a little repetitive, but that was easy enough to fix (by skipping ahead).
    more
Write a review