Infidelity and the Future of Relationships

 

Monogamy used to be one person for life, and now monogamy is one person at a time.

Esther Perel Psychologist; Therapist; Author, Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic...
Session

Infidelity and the Future of Relationships

Setup

Esther Perel is recognized as one of the most insightful and provocative voices on personal and romantic relationships and the complex science behind human interaction. The author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity, Perel believes that the most traditional aspects of a culture and the most progressive and radical changes in a society take place around sexuality. Much of Perel’s work—both lecturing internationally and advising couples in her private therapy practice—centers on the topic of infidelity. Why do happily married couples cheat? Why does the modern egalitarian approach to marriage quash desire? Are the heightened expectations we bring to modern love combined with our pursuit of happiness directly related to infidelity?

What’s wrong with the idea that our spouse is the answer to everything?
What’s wrong with the idea that our spouse is the answer to everything?
Modern relationships buckle under the strain of opposing needs
Men are long overdue for a conversation about sex and desire
Marriage has thankfully evolved, but it hasn’t stopped changing
1.

What’s wrong with the idea that our spouse is the answer to everything?

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07:50

Author and therapist Esther Perel cringes when she hears a lot of couples’ wedding vows. How can the promise to be their spouse’s everything and expect a marriage to last? Listen to Perel talk about why she thinks the romantic ideals of modern marriages are disastrous:

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What’s wrong with the idea that our spouse is the answer to everything?

2.

Modern relationships buckle under the strain of opposing needs

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16:40

What happens to a relationship when the people in it expect each other to be comfortable yet daring, familiar yet edgy, and steady yet growing? These tensions are fundamental to contemporary relationships, Perel says, and that’s why so many are doomed to fail from the outset. When spouses are expected to want both dependency and freedom in a relationship, something will inevitably buckle under the pressure of unmet needs.

3.

Men are long overdue for a conversation about sex and desire

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21:07

There’s a note of worry in Perel’s voice when she describes how men have fallen behind in discussing manhood, desire, and relationships, in contrast to an awakening of women’s conversations around those topics. For millennia these topics were the purview of men, and now that women have taken back the narrative men are stuck thinking of themselves in self-sabotaging ways. Watch as Perel calls for men to step up and have tough conversations about how they can think differently about themselves for the sake of stronger relationships:

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Men are long overdue for a conversation about sex and desire

4.

Marriage has thankfully evolved, but it hasn’t stopped changing

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29:59

The evolution of sex, relationships, and marriage over the past has moved the institution of marriage away from a model of economic necessity to one of love and passion, argues Perel. While that’s been liberating for many, especially women,  we have to be very purposeful about continuing the conversation. Perel wants us to keep talking about monogamy, infidelity, and what those mean in this new conception of marriage.

A new generation gets married

Parsing out exact reasons why people divorce is tricky, but millennials are undeniably divorcing at lower rates than previous generations. After controlling for factors such as age, the divorce rate has fallen as much as 8% between 2008 and 2016. Millennials are waiting to get married until much later in life, which allows partners to experience more together before committing to each other.

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