What makes a happily married woman cheat? Why would a woman in her forties – a good wife, a good mother, a good daughter – start having steamy sex in the back of a car with a man who’s not even her type? Why would she risk it all when she’s got so much to lose?
Esther Perel thinks she knows the answer. The sex therapist and author has been studying infidelity for years. In an article in The Atlantic, she takes a different look at the subject – from the perspective of the person doing the cheating, rather than the person who’s been cheated on.
Perel knows that she risks being labelled “pro-affair” with what she’s writing. But as a therapist, she doesn’t take betrayal lightly.
“Not condemning does not mean condoning ... and there is a world of difference between understanding and justifying.”
Traditionally, it’s been accepted that people who cheat must be unhappy in their relationship. That’s certainly true, to some extent. People who describe their relationship as “not too happy” are three times more likely to cheat than people who describe their marriage as “very happy”. But even people who describe their marriage as “pretty happy” are twice as likely to cheat as those who describe their marriage as “very happy”.
It seems that being “pretty happy” just isn’t enough anymore.