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  • The State of Affairs

  • Rethinking Infidelity
  • By: Esther Perel
  • Narrated by: Esther Perel
  • Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (869 ratings)

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The State of Affairs cover art

The State of Affairs

By: Esther Perel
Narrated by: Esther Perel
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Summary

Iconic couples' therapist and best-selling author Esther Perel returns with a provocative look at relationships through the lens of infidelity, providing the insight we so desperately need to help us move beyond a simplistic discussion.

An affair: it can rob a couple of their relationship, their happiness, their very identity. Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, and so, too, have the prohibitions against it - in fact adultery has a tenacity that marriage can only envy. And yet this extremely common human experience is so poorly understood. What are we to make of this time-honoured taboo - universally forbidden yet universally practiced? Why do people cheat? When we say 'infidelity', what exactly do we mean? Is there such a thing as an affair-proof marriage? Is it possible to love more than one person at once? Can an affair ever help a marriage?

Psychotherapist Esther Perel is recognised as one of the most insightful and original voices on modern love. For the past 10 years, she has worked with hundreds of couples who have grappled with infidelity. Betrayal hurts, she argues, but healing is possible. An affair can even be the doorway to a new marriage - with the same person. With the right approach, couples can learn from these tumultuous experiences, together or apart. Weaving real-life stories with incisive psychological and cultural analysis, Perel invites listeners into a truly revealing exploration of modern marriage.

©2017 Esther Perel (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Beautiful. A brilliantly intelligent plea for complexity, understanding, and - as always - kindness." (Alain de Botton)
"Esther Perel does nothing short of strip us of our deepest biases, remind us of our purpose in connecting as lovers, and save relationships that might otherwise sink into the sea-all with even-handed wisdom, fresh morality, and wise prose. Thank heavens for this woman." (Lena Dunham, author of Not That Kind of Girl)

What listeners say about The State of Affairs

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Eye opening, challenging, empathetic

Eye opening, challenging, empathetic, an inspiration for self reflection whether one is in a relationship or not.
Esther Perel's raspy accented voice is perfect in delivering slowly and passionately the numerous stories of pain in these pages.
She states clearly her attempt at understanding and unpacking instead of cheap fixes, and jumping to judgement. The raw voices of anger and pain bring authenticity to the clinical stories.
The guidance she provides on dealing and healing after an affair is a gift.
She is careful in acknowledging the several sides on a particular view or attitude. But also unafraid to say when she disagrees with certain therapeutic strategies.
The quotes and citations are clearly conveyed and add more value for readers who may want to pursue certain topics further.
I was initially hesitant to buy the book thinking I already have read and thought about all there is on designing our own relationships on the basis of honesty. After this book, I have discovered new points of view that had escaped me before.
Fantastic work, deep gratitude to the author.

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9 people found this helpful

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Listen with your partner

If you could sum up The State of Affairs in three words, what would they be?

A powerful, intrinsic reminder

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

From start to finish my partner and I were glued to this book. We played it during a long car journey and the conversations, insights and reflections that we both took away will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

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6 people found this helpful

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A very informative introspective on infedelity from many angles

Most people have a simplified view about affairs which sums up to either he has the affair because he is a sex addict or she has it because she lacks something on the relationship. This book shows a much more complex set of circumstances, motifs, developments and attitudes relating to affairs.

Some of the things you may not be expecting are the meaning the affair may carry for the infidel, a chapter devoted to the other person, and good final summary about how affairs end and affect relationships and a bit of advice on how to avoid them. The chapter on alternatives to monogamy is informative too.

Esther Perel reads her own book with a very clear voice. Following her style, the book is full of pompous words and you may not find many of them on common dictionaries. As this is an audio book, that amount of verbosity is not as bad as it is when you read directly on paper. She also likes to reinterpret words to give them different meanings like repair = re-pair. I find these two things a bit annoying, on an otherwise intelligent and very sensitive book.

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A mammoth of a topic

The topic of infidelity and monogamy is something we have collectively wrestled with increasingly in the modern world. Esther Perel explores all the nuances that encapsulate this cultural taboo. It’s definitely a book to revisit as you may rediscover things you couldn’t recognise in your present experience. This book is not only a start to having an in-depth conversation about infidelity, but a guide to understand that the act of cheating may be a lot more complex than what we see and the way we judge may need a bit more careful reflection. I absolutely loved this book. Thank you Esther for bringing this to our global awareness.

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3 people found this helpful

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Thank you

This book really helped my wife and I. With insightful learnings and practical discussion Esther shows you that you're not alone. Infidelity does happen, and for many different reasons. This book does not peach, but gently guides you towards your own conclusions relevant to your specific situation. An interesting and insightful read. I would recommend this to anyone whether married and affected by infidelity, or looking to help ensure it doesn't happen to you. I wish I had found this book and read it before I found that I really needed it.

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the way she was able to dive into people's lives

great read I really enjoyed it, this is worth a read especially to understand why affairs happened

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The Real Problem with Open Relationships

It is not simply about having opportunity to have sex with other people while in a relationship arrangement but that when you open your relationship you are losing many levels of intimacy that strengthens your bond with one partner. There is attention and affection that is divided between several people and that makes it harder to fully explore the depths of an intimate relationship. The time spent planning to be with other people means less time with one partner. The resources allocated to finding other partners limits the resources that could have been allocated to nurturing one relationship to its full capacity. The biggest loss is the affection and attention that is lost to other people instead of given qualitatively to one person. Life is already busy enough and demands plenty of time, attention, and resources. To divide that fairly with multiple people becomes a herculean task. I know there are benefits to having an open relationship, don't get me wrong. However the depths of intimacy that is sacrificed in the process leaves many couples worse off. All of my clients who are or were in an open relationship are unfulfilled and one party regrets the arrangements. The outcomes are also undesireable in the long-term. The success rates of open relationships are lower compared to monogamous relationships. The levels of joy and fulfilment experienced in monogamous relationships are far greater than those in open relationships. In the end it comes down to what your values are. What values will bring you deep joy and fulfilment in your life should determine how you choose your romantic partners and create relationship arrangements. Your values will determine the quality of agreement that you ultimately establish with any person you decide to enter a romantic partnership with. If you are committed to developing the highest levels of intimacy then you will be drawn towards monogamous partnerships and when you seek more hedonistic experiences as your highest values then you may be more inclined towards open relationships. Experiment and determine what works best for you. Definitely a good book to explore.

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Beautiful story of ugly truths

I was struggling with intrusive thoughts and tons of jealousy. This helped me to understand the depths of infidelity and ways of dealing with it.
Beautifully written, funny and thought provoking

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Full of nuance, compassion and insight

Another great book, which builds further on Mating in Captivity to bring a more comprehensive overview of Eros, relationships and infidelity. Absolutely loved it.

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Excellent book

Whether you’ve experienced infidelity or not, a truly insightful book helping you understand relationships and the roles we all play

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