“The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” explores thoroughly one of long-term relationship challenges, namely, infidelity. I’m quite a big fan of Perel’s who’s not scared to say what’s true, even if people would prefer not to hear it. She also has years of experience in couple counselling so it’s certainly a voice that’s worth listening to. If you’re more interested in general relationship challenges people face in long-term relationships check out my review of another book by Esther Perel, “Mating in Captivity“.
Infidelity… We like to think about cheating as a disgusting thing that’s only done by dodgy people. We want to sweep it under the carpet with Ashley Madison users and creeps I’ve met that one time when I worked as a sexter. Perels shatters this vision with her book. People cheat for many reasons and it’s not as simple as “because they’re evil”. They sleep with other people because they’re dissatisfied and bored with their marriage life, because they feel insecure and conquering others is a way of feeling better about themselves or because it’s fun and they’ve been the responsible ones all their lives.
In years of her practice as a therapist Perel has seen it all and that’s perhaps why she has a very understanding and compassionate approach not only towards those who cheat but those who have been cheated on but want to stay in their partner too. None of these things are easy to deal with seeing how judgemental people are. Society tells you that if you’re cheated, you’re a bastard and if you stay with a cheater, you’re a walkover. This is not only untrue but also harmful for people who need to deal with infidelity in their own lives.
Perel discusses numerous examples of cheating and the reasons behind them to show the reader that nothing is black and white when it comes to love. As much as we’re allowed to define rules for ourselves and we may want to make them strict, we shouldn’t judge other people for wanting different things for themselves. We don’t really know what’s happening in a relationship and only the interested parties should be involved in decision making.
“The State of Affairs” apart from discussing infidelity, meaning a situation when one of two people who’ve agreed on monogamy breaks this agreement, also explores the topic of polyamorous relationships.
I have expressed my views on it in my post “Togetherness in Modern Relationships“. Brief, not for me. Still, reading Esther’s examples about polyamorous relationships and agreements people enter into is very interesting. Just like in monogamy people decide on just sleeping with their partner, in polyamorous relationship they may agree on only having sex with one-night stands, having no rules apart from sleeping with friends or anything else they fancy. Only breaking these rules is considered cheating.
All in all, Perel’s book is extremely interesting and very well written. I think anyone who is or is planning to be in a long-term relationship, regardless of whether it’s polyamorous or monogamous, should read this book to understand issues relating to infidelity better. For those of us, who tend to me judgmental (I’m guilty of it!) this book is also a very good eye-opener and helps us to be more compassionate towards alternative choices of others.
Have you ever cheated on someone or have been cheated on? What do you think about polyamorous relationships? Would you try being in one? Let me know in the comments’ section!