HarperCollins Publishers

The State of Affairs

Rethinking Infidelity


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About the Book

Iconic couples’ therapist and bestselling author of Mating in Captivity Esther Perel returns with a provocative look at relationships through the lens of infidelity.

An affair: it can rob a couple of their relationship, their happiness, their very identity. And yet, this extremely common human experience is so poorly understood. What are we to make of this time-honored taboo—universally forbidden yet universally practiced? Why do people cheat—even those in happy marriages? Why does an affair hurt so much? When we say infidelity, what exactly do we mean? Do our romantic expectations of marriage set us up for betrayal? 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? Perel weaves real-life case stories with incisive psychological and cultural analysis in this fast-paced and compelling book.

For the past ten years, Perel has traveled the globe and worked with hundreds of couples who have grappled with infidelity. Betrayal hurts, she writes, but it can be healed. An affair can even be the doorway to a new marriage—with the same person. With the right approach, couples can grow and learn from these tumultuous experiences, together or apart.

Affairs, she argues, have a lot to teach us about modern relationships—what we expect, what we think we want, and what we feel entitled to. They offer a unique window into our personal and cultural attitudes about love, lust, and commitment. Through examining illicit love from multiple angles, Perel invites readers into an honest, enlightened, and entertaining exploration of modern marriage in its many variations.

Fiercely intelligent, The State of Affairs provides a daring framework for understanding the intricacies of love and desire. As Perel observes, “Love is messy; infidelity more so. But it is also a window, like no other, into the crevices of the human heart.”

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Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“Sexologist Perel, a marriage crisis ‘first responder,’ excavates the messy psychology of infidelity, digging into such charged topics as the ‘new shame’ of wives—staying with a cheater—and why even happy partners sometimes stray.” — O Magazine, 10 Books To Pick Up Now

“The State of Affairs takes a fresh look at infidelity, broadening the focus from the havoc it wreaks within a committed relationship to consider also why people do it, what it means to them, and why breaking up is the expected response to duplicity — but not necessarily the wisest one.” — The LA Review of Books

“In her opinion, confronting and unearthing the why behind an affair with honesty and courage, can steer a relationship back from brink—possibly towards a place of erotic rediscovery.” — Esquire

“[Perel] deals with the mess and pain of fractured relationships with searing honesty, astute observations and compassion… If your marriage were in trouble, you’d want her help.” — The Guardian

“Relationship therapist Esther Perel is probably the world’s foremost authority on infidelity.” — GQ, UK

“Esther Perel is America’s first clear-eyed public intellectual on love.” — Quartz

“Esther Perel is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on marriage.” — Sunday Times Style by The Times of London

The State of Affairs examines infidelity from all points of view – the person who cheated, the person who was cheated on, and the third party – in an attempt to understand how to make modern relationships more resilient.” — Washington Post

“Perel is a master at what she does.” — The New Yorker on podcast Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

“Since publishing “Mating in Captivity” in 2006, Ms Perel has become a globe-trotting guru on sex and relationships... [In The State of Affairs, Perel dispels] myths and to show that affairs can sometimes even fortify relationships, so long as they spur a couple to discuss what has long been left unsaid.” — The Economist

“Ms. Perel doesn’t recommend that couples be unfaithful—far from it. But she thinks that affairs can happen in stable, happy marriages, and that they often have more to do with a person than a relationship.” — Wall Street Journal

“Perel suggests that one factor driving infidelity in otherwise happy marriages is the fact that we rely on our spouse for too much, particularly too much in our own quest for self-discovery.” — New York Post

“Through her research, [Perel is] able to dive into the sordid history of affairs, the modern prevalence of romantic love, and why, exactly, infidelity doesn’t always lead to the dissolution of a marriage. As it turns out, the widely accepted reasons for why people cheat don’t always apply — and the list of potential reasons is ever-evolving.” — Refinery29

“Esther Perel is one of the most influential and well-known psychotherapists in the world. Through TED Talks, best-selling books, a podcast (Where Should We Begin?), and her clinical practice in New York City, she explores the one subject she believes interests every human: relationships.” — The Cut, New York Magazine

“[One of the] best books of 2017... In The State of Affairs, Perel explores a vast landscape of the adulterous terrain... in a way that’s deeply humane and never preachy.” — NPR’s Guide to 2017’s Greatest Reads

“The Book is sure to spark intelligent conversations that will have readers everywhere examining their belief systems… A thought-provoking take on relationships and essential reading for couples dealing with infidelity.” — Publishers Weekly

“Unfailingly empathetic…. The State of Affairs is packed with such sage insights…. Through her formidable elegance, Perel manages to infuse some dignity into the pettiness of most betrayals.” — Bookforum

“Perel takes an unconventional look at infidelity.” — Associated Press

“With a Francophone accent that sounds just as knowledgeable as it does erotic, to say Perel is easy on the ears is an understatement.” — Vogue on podcast Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

“Perel takes a peel-the-layers approach to infidelity that surprises on every page…. [She] weaves together a collection of personal stories that is both thrilling (you feel like you’re eavesdropping) and moving.” — Goop

“Perel spends much of her book examining the psychological meaning, motivation, and impact of these affairs.” — CNN

“If anyone knows the varied ways cheating can impact a marriage, it’s Esther Perel.” — Health magazine

“[Perel] uses her findings to confront some of the most controversial and uncomfortable topics…. Here is a woman who, after spending three decades listening to tales of lies, pain and illicit sex, still believes in our ability to love and be loved in an honest, nuanced way.” — RED Magazine

Sure to get a lot of people talking.” — Megyn Kelly on Megyn Kelly TODAY

“One of the most respected voices on erotic intelligence, she views sexuality as a lens through which to examine the progressive or conservative forces at work in a society.” — The Georgia Straight

“As someone so completely plugged into the world of relationships, it makes sense that Perel would have some incredible insight into the most important one of all: the relationship we have with ourselves.” — Shondaland

 “Excellent.” — Nasty Galaxy, the Nasty Gal blog

“Perel uses conversation, knowledge, intuition, and creativity to make incisive interpretations that, at their most elegant, are not only helpful but artful. Listening to these sessions is deeply provoking.” — Slate on podcast Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

“[Perel is] a genius in this area of understanding deep relationships.” — Tony Robbins, The Tony Robbins Podcast

“[Perel] is the real deal and very, very insightful…. Highly recommend [The State of Affairs].” — Tim Ferriss, The Tim Ferriss Show

“She has an incredible ability to speak the truth in a way that cuts you to the core and also makes you feel safe to explore topics we usually don’t talk about.” — Lewis Howes, The School of Greatness podcast

“There’s a reason Esther Perel is the sex expert people can’t stop reading: she gets results.” — The Leslie Roberts Show

“It’s fascinating because it makes you question your beliefs on the nature of adultery when you view it in a less one-dimensional way.” — The Times (UK)

“It’s the knowledge and research Perel has amassed on infidelity over the years, through her work as a couple’s therapist, that’s most compelling…. Perel is defiantly non-judgmental.” — Telegraph (UK)

“Perel proposes a radically new way of thinking about infidelity that goes beyond the havoc it wreaks and drills down to its motives.” — The Globe and Mail (Canada)

“The real-life examples and quotes from people who are working through the aftermath of a discovered affair offer insights into the sadness, betrayal, innocence, resentment, love, and denial that are part of this complex package. Perel’s advice to these couples will resonate with anyone going through a similar situation, providing comfort and guidance without the need for an actual therapy session. Poignant stories of couples facing the aftermath of an affair and the highly knowledgeable analysis and advice they received from a well-trained couples’ therapist.” — Kirkus

“This is an addictive read. Beautifully written by Esther Perel, author of bestseller Mating in Captivity, [The State of Affairs] delves into the murky world, of deceit, betrayal and ultimate pain.” — Starts at 60 (Australia)

“Where marriage was once a means for security and reproduction, it’s a lot more complex these days. ‘Now, we want our partner to love us, to desire us, to be interested in us,’ writes world-renowned relationship expert Esther Perel in her new book, The State of Affairs.” — mindbodygreen

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062322586
  • ISBN 10: 0062322583
  • Imprint: Harper
  • On Sale: 10/10/2017
  • Trimsize: 6 in (w) x 9 in (h) x 1.09 in (d)
  • Pages: 336
  • List Price: 26.99 USD
  • BISAC1: PSYCHOLOGY / Human Sexuality
  • BISAC2: PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Counseling
  • BISAC3: FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Marriage & Long Term Relationships

The State of Affairs by Esther Perel

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