Pre thinking

Many people become couples during the college years, only to find themselves in divorce court. Often the precipitating event is an affair. Esther Perel gives us some ideas about why this might be and some ideas about how to recover.

 

Why You Should Listen

For the first time in human history, couples aren’t having sex just to have kids; there’s room for sustained desire and long-term sexual relationships. But how? Perel, a licensed marriage and family therapist with a practice in New York, travels the world to help people answer this question.

Who Is She

For her research she works across cultures and is fluent in nine languages. She coaches, consults and speaks regularly on erotic intelligence, trauma, sexual honesty and conflict resolution. She is the author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. Her latest work focuses on infidelity: what it is, why happy people do it and how couples can recover from it. She aims to locate this very personal experience within a larger cultural context.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do we think that men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy,but women cheat out of loneliness and hunger for intimacy?
  2. There is one simple act of transgressionthat can rob a couple of their relationship,their happiness and their very identity: an affair.that this is the only commandmentthat is repeated twice in the Bible:once for doing it, and once just for thinking about it. throughout history, men practically had a license to cheatwith little consequence,and supported by a host of biological and evolutionary theoriesthat justified their need to roam,so the double standard is as old as adultery itself. How does this affect our thinking about infidelity today?
  3.  Men relied on women’s fidelityin order to know whose children these are,and who gets the cows when I die. But the definition of infidelity keeps on expanding:sexting, watching porn, staying secretly active on dating apps.So because there is no universally agreed-upon definitionof what even constitutes an infidelity,estimates vary widely, from 26 percent to 75 percent. What is your personal definition?
  4. The core structure of an affair beside being a secretive relationship is an emotional connection to one degree or another; and a sexual alchemy. When marriage was an economic enterprise, infidelity threatened our economic security. But now that marriage is a romantic arrangement, infidelity threatens our….
  5. “Affairs are way less about sex, and a lot more about desire: desire for attention, desire to feel special, desire to feel important. And the very structure of an affair, the fact that you can never have your lover, keeps you wanting. That in itself is a desire machine, because the incompleteness, the ambiguity, keeps you wanting that which you can’t have.” In a short discussion with someone agree or disagree with her statement, and explain your position.
  6. As lifetimes grow longer, and healthier, is it “normal” to expect one person to meet all our needs and desires all the time?

Making connections

Here is a link to a story on “honor killing” that is directly relevant to Ms..Perel’s presentation:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/health-jan-june09-pakistan_0406/.

A Ted Talk that sheds light is , Why We Love, Why We Cheat, by Helen Fisher”: http://tedtalkspsychology.com/why-we-love-why-we-cheat-with-helen-fisher/

Rethinking Infidelity with Esther Perel

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