“I knew that what I had done meant nothing,” said Seth, a New York-based entrepreneur in his early 30s.
“It felt like a bit of an adventure, and I went for it.” But anxiety about these dalliances gnawed at his conscience.
How could he and his fiancée promise to be monogamous for a lifetime if they were already struggling to stay loyal to each other?
Did their momentary lapses of judgment spell bigger problems for their union?
For help answering these questions, Seth and his partner went to Esther Perel, a Belgian-born psychotherapist who is renowned for her work with couples.
Her two talks – about the challenge of maintaining passion in long-term relationships and the temptations of infidelity – have been viewed over 15m times.
“I had jealousy, insecurity, anger, fear,” he recalls.
“It was really hard to talk about it.” He wondered whether his fiancée’s infidelity meant there was something fundamentally wrong with their otherwise loving relationship.
When Perel is not seeing clients in New York, she is travelling the world speaking to packed conferences and ideas festivals about the elusiveness of desire in otherwise contented relationships.
Americans are increasingly intolerant of adultery, but Esther Perel believes they should take a more European attitude.
Emily Bobrow met the country’s most celebrated – and controversial – relationship guru Americans are increasingly intolerant of adultery, but Esther Perel believes they should take a more European attitude.
He worried it was a sign that their marriage would be doomed.
He also still felt guilty about an indiscretion of his own years earlier, when he’d had a one-night stand with an acquaintance.