The State of Affairs Book Summary - The State of Affairs Book explained in key points
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The State of Affairs summary

Esther Perel

Rethinking Infidelity

4.2 (261 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

The State of Affairs by Esther Perel is a book that challenges our cultural assumptions about infidelity. It explores why people cheat and how affairs can sometimes lead to personal growth and relational transformation.

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    The State of Affairs
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    Infidelity is hard to define, but most instances of infidelity have a few things in common.

    We’ve all wondered about it. Exactly how many people cheat on their partner? Is it a rare aberration or a common occurrence?

    Well, such questions are hard to answer, because cheating is difficult to define.

    There’s never been universal consensus on what constitutes infidelity. Today, however, the issue is even more complex, thanks to dating platforms and apps such as Tinder. For example, are you betraying your partner by engaging in flirtatious online chatting?

    But even if you ignore the internet, the boundary between fidelity and infidelity is hard to pin down. Are you cheating if you sleep with a sex worker? If you get a lap dance? What if you’re in a heterosexual relationship and you sleep with someone of the same sex?

    These definitional difficulties have resulted in widely varying estimates of infidelity in the United States. Some studies conclude that 25 percent of the US population has been unfaithful; others, that it’s closer to 70 percent. However, most studies concur that infidelity is on the rise.

    This increase is due, in large part, to an uptick in the sexual adventurousness of women. In fact, in 2007, psychologist Rebecca J. Brand conducted a study whose definition of infidelity included romantic feelings, kissing and touching. By this definition, college-aged women were more likely to be unfaithful than men.

    Now, despite this lack of a clear definition, it is possible to identify a few elements shared by the majority of infidelities.

    In the author’s experience, infidelities usually include one of the three following elements: secrecy, sexual chemistry or emotional involvement. An act may qualify as cheating even if none of these elements are present; however, more often than not, at least one of these things is part of the recipe.

    Secrecy, in addition to adding excitement to an affair, is often what hurts the betrayed partner the most. Learning that your partner kept you in the dark can be much more painful than knowing that your partner is having an affair.

    Actual sex isn’t necessarily part of a sexual connection. Engaging in intense flirtation can be just as sexual as having a one-night stand and can constitute just as much of a betrayal.

    Lastly, almost all affairs include some kind of emotional involvement. Again, the emotional side of infidelity often causes more pain than the merely physical part.

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    What is The State of Affairs about?

    The State of Affairs (2017) tackles the tough subject of infidelity. Cheating is widely condemned as immoral, and yet, at some point or another, many people do it anyway. This book offers a fresh look at infidelity and asks a difficult question: Is it such a bad thing after all?

    The State of Affairs Review

    The State of Affairs (2017) explores the complex dynamics of infidelity in relationships, presenting a fresh perspective on human desires and the challenges of modern love. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With thought-provoking insights and analysis, it challenges conventional notions of monogamy, inviting readers to reflect on the complexities of fidelity.
    • Through real-life stories and case studies, the book offers a deep exploration of the emotional, psychological, and cultural aspects surrounding infidelity.
    • By examining the impact of infidelity on individuals and relationships, it provides a compassionate and nuanced understanding of the many shades of love and betrayal.

    Best quote from The State of Affairs

    He that is not jealous is not in love. – old Latin proverb

    —Esther Perel
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    Who should read The State of Affairs?

    • Faithful lovers
    • Unfaithful lovers
    • Mistresses and manstresses

    About the Author

    Esther Perel is a psychotherapist who specializes in modern-day love, partnership and dating. For over a decade, she has worked with a wide range of couples, counseling them through every variety of emotional difficulty, from betrayal to trust, infidelity to forgiveness. She also works as an organizational consultant, speaks nine languages and hosts the podcast Where Should We Begin?

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    The State of Affairs FAQs 

    What is the main message of The State of Affairs?

    The main message of The State of Affairs is to understand and navigate the complexities of infidelity.

    How long does it take to read The State of Affairs?

    The estimated reading time for The State of Affairs is several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The State of Affairs a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The State of Affairs is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on the realities of relationships. It is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of The State of Affairs?

    The author of The State of Affairs is Esther Perel.

    What to read after The State of Affairs?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The State of Affairs, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
    • Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá
    • The Four Noble Truths of Love by Susan Piver
    • Daring to Trust by David Richo
    • Untrue by Wednesday Martin
    • The 3-Minute Rule by Brant Pinvidic
    • Opening Up by Tristan Taormino
    • Why is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond
    • The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
    • Dopamine Detox by Thibaut Meurisse