In celebration of her new book, The State of Affairs, I figured I would share an oldie but a goodie from one of my absolute favorite relationship experts. When we talk about infidelity, chances are you have a strong, even visceral, response. Esther Perel challenges us to rethink these gut reactions and redefine what we think we know about infidelity and, by extension, about the fundamentals of relationship. In this TedTalk, Esther Perel explores the changing climate of infidelity in the age of social media and our instant ability to connect with others without even leaving our home. Put plainly, “It’s never been easier to cheat, and it’s never been more difficult to keep a secret.”
Giving the transformation of modern marriage historical context, she discusses the traumatic impact that today’s infidelity can have on a marriage due to the foundation of modern marriage being built on love & compatibility more than ever before. With that comes the unattainable expectation we put on our partners to be our lover, best friend, soul mate, intellectual inspiration and solver of all problems. Imagine trying to achieve all of those things at once while still maintaining your individuality? Not possible right? Thus, today’s infidelity doesn’t just threaten the relationship, it threatens our entire sense of self.
Does that mean the damage and traumatic backlash of infidelity is insurmountable? Certainly not. In fact, her research debunks several age old myths and addresses questions like “Why do loving and committed partners cheat?” Perel suggests that affairs are often more about desire than sex, and concludes that marriages can heal from infidelity and can actually be more fulfilling, passionate and healthy than ever before. In this video, she also shares some concrete steps couples can take after an affair is exposed. Perel’s work reminds us that our relationships are as multifaceted and fluid as we are as she challenges us to take an earnest look at love, desire, commitment and the expectations we use to define ourselves and our partners.
For more information on Esther Perel, visit her website.