LEWIS HOWES: Yeah, because he hasn’t been able to express that in other ways, or he doesn’t know how to.
ESTHER PEREL: That’s right. So in those situations, I would say, “Do you need sex to be in a good-” No, you don’t. But when it is part of your vocabulary, it’s like, “Do you need to eat certain things in order to-” No, you can live on a lot of things. It depends which is the life you want to lead. I am less interested in sex, the performance, that’s for sure. I am interested in the erotic connection, in the intimacy, in the pleasure that people can experience with each other. Getting it done is really not an important thing. You can have junkfood and you can have junk sex. And it leaves you with a bad aftertaste.
Then I began to hear more and more people come into my office and say, “I love my partner, I’m having an affair
LEWIS HOWES: Very bad, yeah. Wow. In your sessions with couples, and mostly with couples or is it one of the pair? Is it mostly individuals or-
LEWIS HOWES: What is the percentage of male and female infidelity? Are you saying it’s pretty much right now and both sides are doing it equally as much or is it [inaudible]?
ESTHER PEREL: I think the gap is closing. Everywhere you look, the gap is closing. And that means it’s not men who are doing more of it necessarily, but we know that women for the first time are leaving their home. They’re going to conferences, too, they have jobs away from home. You need to have a certain space away-that’s what he had. The thing that maybe we need to add [inaudible] because it needs to be said. When you have a conversation about infidelity, it sometimes looks as if you’re justifying it. You could be justifying it, and I think that understanding isn’t justifying.
Longing for an emotional connection, longing for intensity, longing for a different sexuality, longing to reconnect with lost parts of ourselves
ESTHER PEREL: Yes. To try to understand something isn’t a way to make it right. And to not condemn something isn’t a way to condone it, because I think some of the people that are listening here need to be very clear on that. That we’re talking about it as if it’s a subject, same as when you talk about abuse. You talk about it like it becomes a subject of conversation while other people are aching in their belly.
ESTHER PEREL: I see couples, I see partners in the couple, one of them. And I see other partners, business partners who deal with betrayal, too. This is not the only betrayal. And people whose trust has been violated. So the themes like why did I want to write a book about infidelity because I think that you’ll learn about resilience and strength from looking at the worst experiences people can have. You learn about trust from studying betrayal, you learn about fidelity and loyalty from studying infidelity. You learn about how people recover by looking at what happens when they are in the worst of the crisis is that-and this is one of the many crisis that couples can experience.
LEWIS HOWES: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from researching and doing this work on this topic for the last few years? The biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself or about humanity in general?
ESTHER PEREL: The two things that I think that-actually, three things that probably stand out. One, I, too, for a long time thought affairs only happen in troubled relationships. If you have everything you want, there should be no reason to go looking elsewhere. ” In the same way that when I wrote Mating in Captivity, people would say, “I love my partner. We have no sex.” And I was like, “I thought if you love, you desire.” And now, “I thought if you love, you’re faithful.” So this idea that not all affairs are symptoms of relationships gone array that people in happy relationships also stray and it isn’t because of their partner or because of something in the relationship. That there is another theme here, that affairs, and this led me to the second thing, which is that you always have to look at infidelity from a dual perspective. At the heart of affairs is betrayal and hurt, but there is also longing. Longing to suddenly feel alive because people have allowed themselves to feel dead on the inside. That what it did to you, and what it meant to me that you have to be able to figure out both is a much more useful way to help people.