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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.

5 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.

5 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.

3 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.

4 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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eye opening

eye opening and interesting. Such an amazing view from years worth of clients. a must read for any therapist and couple.

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Not just for those involved in affairs...

This could just be my favourite book... ever.

I’ve been curious for some time about what sits behind the high divorce rate and the risks that people will take to have an affair.

This book explains it beautifully. We all dream that once we commit to one person, we are prepared to live the rest of our lives with faded eroticism (over time).

Not only does this book explain why we cheat, it also describes why an affair doesn’t have to ruin a marriage. In fact, Esther tells us that it can even improve a marriage ...and she goes on to say that the power of ‘the 3rd entity’, when consenting, can create an incredible, erotic, longstanding committed relationship.

The ideas in this book are game-changing for the future of relationships.

If you, or someone you know, either have a friend involved in adultery, or you’re wondering how to put the erotic back into your current relationship. This is a must-read.

Thank you Esther Perel.

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Love it

I have enjoyed this book a lot, I laughed and cried while listening to it. Found myself in some of the examples.
I would recommend this book to everyone who is looking for a better explanation of affairs and today’s relationship meaning.

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One of those books, you are so happy you read

Hearing Esther reading her thoughtful and deep book was another eye-opener into the world of relationships, marriage, Infidelity.... and the list can go on.

Every aspect, every angle, idea, theory, suggestion, experience, knowledge about the complex multifaceted subject is thoroughly covered based on multiple real-life case stories and Esters vast and deep expertise, experience and knowledge.

A thrill to listen to, a soul journey where I walk away grateful for her contribution to the web of understanding and clarity she abundantly shares in this highly recommendable book, and it's almost therapeutic to listen to her calm and elegant voice.

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Selma. High Wycombe. England

Simply brilliant!!

Esther takes you on a self journey to figure out, and question what you think and believe is right and wrong in a relationship.

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  • Maria Jorquiera
  • 31-10-17

Fantastic insight even for singles

I am single and while listening to this book, I have learned so much about myself. Amazing stories and new light into accepting that relationships are not black and white, and that is up to you to build one in the best way that serves you.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-11-17

Insightful and well produced

What a treat to hear Esther’s wisdom from her own mouth. I recommend the book to all couples, not just those affected by infidelity.

2 people found this helpful

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  • FAB
  • 22-06-21

I love Esther

Such an interesting book full of new ways to think about relationships and it’s always great to hear the writer read it.

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  • Erma
  • 11-06-21

Magnificent book

Listening to this book, so well narrated by Esther herself, has helped me immensely to understand relationships and its complexity. I will, very likely, return to it often, to also try to understand myself and my choices.

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  • Hem
  • 15-05-21

Illuminating read - for all

Another gem by Esther Perel. A fascinating listen in Esther’s beautiful French accent about navigating infidelity and relationships in general. I want to relisten and pick up the things I missed. Brilliant!

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  • Simon Morrish
  • 16-08-20

Fabulous book all couples should read

How do you give it to your partner to read though? in some respects even listening to this book brings the elicitness of having an affair!!

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  • Pearl
  • 12-05-18

amazing book

very insightful, emphathetic and full of wisdom. the book not only talks about infidelity but about the principle.behind human relationships

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-03-18

a must read for any relationship

enjoyed the book. I loved how it was segmented. it was honest, objective and the perspective very balanced. quite insightful & challenging. a great read for anyone in a relationship, going through a challenge, considering infidelity or trying to recover from it. I hope it starts the right conversations

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  • dan
  • 22-01-18

Interesting, but hard to follow

Interesting book and content, but Esther has a very thick accent and a reading style that i personally found difficult to understand

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  • CharbelB
  • 10-01-18

amazing therapy book

amazing book to deal with a breakup or trying to work through an affair. changes and heals perceptions.