It is a shock that makes us question our past, our future, and even our very identity. If Priya’s husband, Colin, were to stumble upon a text, a photo, or an email that revealed his wife’s dalliance, he would be devastated.
We should be best friends and trusted confidants, and passionate lovers to boot.
Contained within the small circle of the wedding band are vastly contradictory ideals.
(I am using pseudonyms to protect the privacy of my clients and their families.)The damage that infidelity causes the aggrieved partner is one side of the story.
For centuries, when affairs were tacitly condoned for men, this pain was overlooked, since it was mostly experienced by women.
Around the globe, the responses I get when I mention infidelity range from bitter condemnation to resigned acceptance to cautious compassion to outright enthusiasm.
In Paris, the topic brings an immediate frisson to a dinner conversation, and I note how many people have been on both sides of the story.
Generally, there is much concern for the agony suffered by the betrayed.
And agony it is—infidelity today isn’t just a violation of trust; it’s a shattering of the grand ambition of romantic love.
In the focus on trauma and recovery, too little attention is given to the meanings and motives of affairs, to what we can learn from them.
Strange as it may seem, affairs have a lot to teach us about marriage—what we expect, what we think we want, and what we feel entitled to.
By the time we tie the knot, we’ve hooked up, dated, cohabited, and broken up.