Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 10:50 am

Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. But does it have to be? Relationship therapist Esther Perel examines why people cheat, and unpacks why affairs are so traumatic…

In infidelity, she sees something unexpected — an expression of longing and loss. Perel is changing the conversation on what it means to be in love and have a fulfilling sex life.

“Why do we think that men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy, but women cheat out of loneliness and hunger for intimacy? And is an affair always the end of a relationship?” says Perel. Who has spent ten years travelling the globe and researching relationships that have been shattered by infidelity.

“There is one simple act of transgression that can rob a couple of their relationship, their happiness and their very identity: an affair. And yet, this extremely common act is so poorly understood. So this talk is for anyone who has ever loved.”

What constitutes cheating?

“The definition of infidelity keeps on expanding: sexting, watching porn, staying secretly active on dating apps. So because there is no universally agreed-upon definition of what even constitutes an infidelity, estimates on how many people commit adultery vary widely, from 26 percent to 75 percent.”

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“This talk is for anyone who has ever loved.”

“At the heart of an affair, you will often find a longing and a yearning for an emotional connection, for novelty, for freedom, for autonomy, for sexual intensity, a wish to recapture lost parts of ourselves or an attempt to bring back vitality in the face of loss and tragedy. “

“Now, all over the world, there is one word that people who have affairs always tell me. They feel alive…”

So how do we heal from an affair?

“Desire runs deep. Betrayal runs deep. But it can be healed…” says Perel. Watch the talk below to find out how.


This 20-minute talk is a must-watch for anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on, or who simply wants a new framework for understanding relationships.