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The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel
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The State of Affairs Quotes Showing 1-30 of 63
“We expect one person to give us what once an entire village used to provide, and we live twice as long.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“The shift from shame to guilt is crucial. Shame is a state of of self-absorption, while guilt is an emphatic, relational response, inspired by the hurt you have caused another.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“The best ideas rarely arise in one isolated mind, but rather develop in networks of curious and creative thinkers.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“The “symptom” theory goes as follows: An affair simply alerts us to a preexisting condition, either a troubled relationship or a troubled person.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“But when we reduce the conversation to simply passing judgment, we are left with no conversation at all.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“[I]nfidelity has a tenacity that marriage can only envy.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Everyday in my office I meet consumers of the modern ideology of marriage. They bought the product, got it home, and found that it was missing a few pieces. So they come to the repair shop to fix it so it looks like what's on the box. They take their relational aspirations as a given-both what they want and what they deserve to have-and are upset when the romantic ideal doesn't jibe with the unromantic reality. It's no surprise that this utopian vision is gathering a growing army of the disenchanted in its wake.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“It is always astonishing how love can strike. No context is love-proof, no convention or commitment impervious. Even a lifestyle which is perfectly insulated, where the personality is controlled, all the days ordered and all actions in sequence, can to its own dismay find that an unexpected spark has landed; it begins to smolder until it is finally unquenchable. The force of Eros always brings disturbance; in the concealed terrain of the human heart Eros remains a light sleeper.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Sometimes, when we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t our partner we are turning away from, but the person we have become. We are not looking for another lover so much as another version of ourselves.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Once we strayed because marriage was not supposed to deliver love and passion. Today we stray because marriage fails to deliver the love, passion, and undivided attention it promised.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“When marriage was an economic arrangement, infidelity threatened our economic security; today marriage is a romantic arrangement and infidelity threatens our emotional security.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Until now monogamy has been the default setting, and it sits on the premise (however unrealistic) that if you truly love, you should no longer be attracted to others.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“We seek connection, predictability, and dependability to root us firmly in place. But we also have a need for change, for the unexpected, for transcendence. The Greeks understood this, which is why they worshiped both Apollo (representative of the rational and self-disciplined) and Dionysus (representative of the spontaneous, sensuous, and emotional).”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Terry Real, who has written extensively about men in relationships, describes a particular “unholy triangle” between “the powerful, irresponsible, and/or abusive father, the codependent, downtrodden wife, and the sweet son caught in the middle.” These sons, he expands, become unhealthily enmeshed with their mothers, and as adults, they “become afraid of their own range of emotions.”2 They are kind souls who feel they must curtail their own feelings and take responsibility for the happiness of Mom and the women who follow. Real calls this “intrusion trauma,” which lives not just in the psyche but in the body—hence its power to inhibit physical intimacy. Garth fits this pattern well, and it goes some way toward explaining why he feels so beholden to the women he loves, yet is unable to be aroused by them.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“But one theme comes up repeatedly: affairs as a form of self-discovery, a quest for a new (or a lost) identity. For these seekers, infidelity is less likely to be a symptom of a problem, and is more often described as an expansive experience that involves growth, exploration, and transformation.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Humans have a tendency to look for things in the places where it is easiest to search for them rather than in the places where the truth is more likely to be found.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“By turning our backs on other loves, we confirm the uniqueness of our “significant other.” “I have found The One. I can stop looking.” Miraculously, our desire for others is supposed to evaporate, vanquished by the power of this singular attraction.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“The honeymoon phase is special in that it brings together the relief of reciprocated love with the excitement of a future still to be created. What we often don't realize is that the exuberance of the beginning is fueled by its undercurrent of uncertainty. We set out to make love more secure and dependable, but in the process, inevitably we dial down its intensity. On the path of commitment, we happily trade a little passion for a bit more certainty, some excitement for some stability.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Because I believe that some good can 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 not recommend having an affair than I would recommend getting cancer.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living. —Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Adultery is often the revenge of the deserted possibilities.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“The person I once was, but lost, is the person you once knew.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“The historian and essayist Pamela Haag has written a whole book about marriages like Danica and Stefan’s, which she calls “melancholy marriages.” Analyzing the plight of these “semi-happy couples,” she explains: A marriage adds things to your life, and it also takes things away. Constancy kills joy; joy kills security; security kills desire; desire kills stability; stability kills lust. Something gives; some part of you recedes. It’s something you can live without, or it’s not. And maybe it’s hard to know before the marriage which part of the self is expendable . . . and which is part of your spirit.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“At their peak, affairs rarely lack imagination. Nor do they lack desire, abundance of attention, romance, and playfulness. Shared dreams, affection, passion and endless curiosityーall these are natural ingredients found in the adulterous plot. They are also ingredients of thriving relationships. It is no accident that many of the most erotic couples lift their marital strategies directly from the infidelity playbook.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Once divorce carried all the stigma. Now, choosing to stay when you can leave is the new shame.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“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.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Monogamy used to mean one person for life. Now monogamy means one person at a time.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“The swiping culture lures us with infinite possibilities, but it also exerts a subtle tyranny. The constant awareness of ready alternatives invites unfavorable comparisons, weakens commitment, and prevents us from enjoying the present moment.”
Esther Perel, The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity - a book for anyone who has ever loved
“Affairs are always harmful and can never help a marriage or be accommodated. The only way to restore trust and intimacy is through truth-telling, repentance, and absolution. Last but not least, divorce affords more self-respect than forgiveness.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
“Often, when one partner insists that they don’t yet feel acknowledged, even as the one who hurt them insists they feel terrible, it is because the response is still more shame than guilt, and therefore self-focused.”
Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

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