Esther Perel explains why infidelity isn’t the “final betrayal”

IInfidelity is typically portrayed as the death of a relationship; the worst-case scenario without the actual death of a partner. But our view of infidelity as “the ultimate betrayal” is not necessarily correct, argues relationship expert Esther Perel. It is actually rooted in our own problematic views about romantic relationships. Perel recently met with Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris on the Red Table Talk to discuss why infidelity is now viewed as “the ultimate betrayal”. As always, her thoughts were confusing (in a good way).

“The modern romantic ideal is a tenacious model,” she explained. “The model is, ‘I’ll have everything with you that I should get in a traditional marriage, you’ll be a co-parent, and I’ll have economic support, and we’re going to be’ partners, but on top of that you’ll be my best friend and be my confidante and you will help me become the best version of myself. ‘”

When we expect all of our needs to be met by one person, infidelity becomes a multi-level crisis, she argues; it may seem holistically more meaningful than it absolutely is because we value our romantic relationships a lot. “I’m starting to think that the whole thing we created was a lie and the whole thing is collapsing,” explained Perel.

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The conclusion that infidelity comes about because of a lack in a relationship is generally wrong, Perel said. Also the conclusion that a relationship has to end because of it. “Everyone thinks that once you find out you’re having an affair, you have to get a divorce,” she said. “God forbid you still love the person who betrayed you.” Meanwhile, countless other traitors happen in relationships, she says, such as contempt, neglect and indifference. But “nobody tells people to take it to the devil,” she said. “It’s a real pressure, especially for women.” In fact, for the first time in all of human history, she said staying with an unfaithful significant other is a shame. (Recall the public criticism of Khloe Kardashian for refusing to leave Tristan Thompson or the conviction of Hillary Clinton after she decided not to divorce Bill.)

“Everyone thinks that once you find out you’re having an affair, you have to get a divorce. —Esther Perel

To this end, Smith agreed, “You could just be married to someone who has an innate sense of adventure – there are only certain types of desires that have nothing to do with you per se, but personal desires that do must be explored somehow. “

Even so, Perel doesn’t suggest that you simply tell your partner to “go on adventure” because it’s something they “need”. What she suggests, however, is that difficult conversations from the start about love and commitment, while remaining an autonomous being, can help couples navigate rocky waters, especially when it comes to infidelity. “I see relationships as stories. So when you choose a partner, you choose a story. But sometimes you get recruited for a piece that you haven’t auditioned for. It’s the role that is wrong, but people mistake changing roles for wanting to change the whole relationship and leave, “explained Perel.

For Smith, such feelings of ill-fitting roles led to a redefinition of her marriage to Will Smith as a civil partnership, by finding “the core of us who want to be together outside the constraints of traditional marriage because we weren’t”. work for us. ”And while this type of work may not produce the same results as in Smith’s marriage – whatever that may be – vulnerable communication about needs and desires rarely harms a (healthy) relationship.

“[When asked why they cheat]What people tell you all the time is not that ‘I wanted to find another person’ but that ‘I wanted to find another me’, “Perel explained. Her conclusion? You shouldn’t have to leave the relationship in order to to find the new you

IMO, Perel is a bloody genius. Find out why she thinks relationships are particularly troublesome these days, your sex life gets better as you age, and the rules of dating change too quickly to keep up. She also has tips for your friendships.

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