When Esther Perel Talks About Infidelity I Get Vertigo.
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March 31, 2015


Mt. Rainier couldn't make me dizzy (It was one year ago right this minute that I was on her!), but the whirlwind that is overspeak on infidelity from Ms. Perel has my head spinning.

I don’t speak nine languages. Hell, I picked my college because I didn’t have to take a language. Or math. And I’ve not taken a psychology course either. Regretful? No. Relieved. Because I am flat out exhausted reading the words of Esther Perel on infidelity. All those languages and courses taken in big stone buildings must encourage one to complicate the crap out of stuff to make those efforts seem worthwhile.

On my top ten list of things I’m grateful for as I live through infidelity and divorce is that I chose to not read anything written by “experts”, mainly those with degrees in psychology. Intuitively, I knew the last thing I needed to stimulate was my mind as I healed. In fact, the most magical turning point of all was when I learned how to limit my mind to processing only and “thinking” turned into “sensing” and “knowing”.

And this is where Ms. Perel and I speak different languages. I sensed that I created the experience of infidelity in my life to expedite my emotional and spiritual evolution.

Ms. Perel says, "As therapists, we should look for death within the unfaithful person, because the encounter with death is like a mirror that reflects an existential truth we don't wish to see - we are terminal, ephemeral - and hence the need arises within us to bring back to life inside us what is dead. We are unfaithful not only because we want to distance ourselves from the person we are living with, but because we want to distance ourselves from the person we have become." 


My former spouse had an affair because he made an unconscious, emotionally stunted choice. He wasn’t aware of who he was enough to choose to want to distance himself from that person. C’mon, now.

For the last four years I’ve spent every day examining infidelity and its fallout. From every possible angle. I’ve EXPERIENCED it. For those who think in terms of word count, I’ve written 500,000 words on infidelity. That’s equivalent to six books. And this doesn’t take into consideration the hundreds (over three thousand) of comments and emails I’ve read and replied to.

I am pausing and breathing every third sentence so as not to make this an Esther bashing. For that is not my purpose. Without her words I couldn’t bring mine forth. So with gratitude I say, you’ve got it mostly wrong, Esther, as good as your intentions and formal education may be.

People cheat to shake things up. To create a set of circumstances that blows up the status quo giving them a new set of circumstances to deal with as they evolve.

People cheat because no one has given them a good enough reason to not.

Now let’s clean up this muck.

We are in a crucial moment in our evolution as humans. This is like the first year of law school – a real ball breaker. The physical stuff was easy. Our environment changed and we adapted so we didn’t get eaten. But the process of emotional evolution is trickier. Because for recent generations, it’s very new.

Just take a look back 50 years and witness the incredible changes in how we interact with each other. We are experimenting at an unprecedented rate. Children were seen and not heard and are now the center of attention. Sex happened behind closed doors and now is dripping from every surface of our awareness. We are trying to co-exist in the workplace without losing our identity – whether masculine or feminine or a blend of the two. Men are staying home to raise children; women are carrying breast pumps to their offices. And people are switching genders. And documenting it online.

It’s a wild, wild, world where the pendulum swings erratically as we experiment with life as a soul in the skin of a human being.

The uptick in infidelity feels like a perfectly crafted inciting incident on a grand scale to expedite our emotional and spiritual evolution. As with all characters in stories, we now have a choice to make: Evolve or not.

While many point to committed partnerships having benefited from infidelity, that is not an accurate statement. The partnerships that remain intact after infidelity haven’t benefitted from infidelity. Choices were made after the revealing of an affair. In the cases of those who remain in the partnership, those CHOICES benefitted them.

And those choices all stem from the choice to emotionally evolve.

People get honest, with themselves and each other. Sitting in a puddle of tears they find themselves being vulnerable. And when their partner chooses to be vulnerable too, the experience is transcendent. A new cord between the pair forms. This cord is not about combining resources or raising children or not growing old alone or wanting to be a princess for a day. The relationship is no longer an external validation of worthiness. It’s been stripped of all that chains it down. And it either gets blown to pieces or it’s reincarnated. But infidelity doesn’t birth it. Emotional evolution does.

In her first book (she is writing the second book exclusively about infidelity), Ms. Perel includes this quote from Alexandre Dumas: “The bonds of wedlock are so heavy that it takes two to carry them, sometimes three.”

Choosing to be ladylike here...nonsense.

Let’s call out infidelity for what it is: a choice, that requires deceit, made by an individual who had other options.

(Most disturbing about Ms. Perel’s methods for dealing with infidelity is her suggestion that one may want to lie about the affair if it has yet to be discovered. Yikes.)

Nothing good ever comes as the direct result of infidelity.  Choose to have a conversation and not an affair so we can evolve without betrayal. It’s remarkably easy and the generations that follow will respect us for it.  

Love yourself,



PS: I asked Ms. Perel to speak with me about infidelity for this post and she declined, saying that the best way for her to help those dealing with infidelity is to focus on her book on the subject.  

Find me on TWITTER and FACEBOOK so we can have conversations with sentences that have actual meaning and not just lots of words.  And join me for The Weekly Call where we talk about PRACTICAL, yet magical ways to evolve after betrayal.

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