Diary of a Separation (Esther Perel’s Take on Infidelity)

A not very good job interview and volunteering for a food charity

On my way to do some podcasting. Photo op near East London Radio (image by author)

Sunday 21st July 2019 — Friday 26th July 2019

I was glad to find that my The New Yorker online account had not been closed down, despite having severed ties with the magazine last year. I’d been a subscriber for many years but moving out forced me to re-asses my priorities. Magazines (plenty of subscriptions there) were not one of them.

Browsing through the weekly’s archive, I came across an article from 2017 on Esther Perel. The Belgian-born, New York-based, couples therapist and relationship guru has been on my radar for some time.

I thought Perel’s take on infidelity, the topic the feature focused on, was unusual. What she suggested was that we take a fresh look at the reasons why people stray. According to her, instead of demonising adulterers, we should acknowledge the “generative” possibilities of affairs.

Esther goes as far as to accept that it is permissible for the aggrieved partner to feel a certain amount of wild rage and sanctimony. But following that, a period of reckoning must ensue. It’s up to both partners to explore the meaning of and reasons for the affair.

All well and good, but doesn’t this approach go against our primal reaction when we’ve been wronged? Seek revenge? I’m not an advocate for vendettas, but I understand their place in a damaged relationship.

We often forget that relationships are based on love; therefore they have a degree of built-in vulnerability in them.

I’m not criticising Perel, who, as a relationship expert, is better placed than me to theorise on what works and doesn’t in unions. Also, anything that contributes to finding a humane solution to a conflict is fine by me. At the same time, though, I am a pragmatist by nature. Holistic approaches to human interactions need time and patience and yet, we live in a fast-paced world.

Jump to your own conclusions.

Our Time is a Mexican film that tells us the story of a marriage in crisis. Issues such as pride and masculine identity are combined with questions on the nature of romantic relationships.

Although I found the movie a bit too long for my liking (the scissors should have come out a few times), the thesis it explores is an interesting one, especially from a Latin American perspective.

A busy day today, which started with a job interview at Working Men’s College for a position as sessional ESOL tutor.

Perhaps the worst job interview I’ve done in my life.

A visit to Camden Market followed. I wanted to buy S a proper birthday present and I managed to find her a lovely hat. The sort that she can wear for either autumn or winter. The market was almost empty. Nothing like parading around stalls at noon whilst the rest of the world is either working or studying. A bit of misanthropy never hurt anyone.

I left Camden and cycled to East London Radio in Leytonstone. It was a special M&M podcast today (one of the Ms is leaving for another country on a year-long stay). As usual, there was a lot of fun and banter. As usual, this M was playing “oldies” music whilst the other M dealt with the chart stuff.

My third Felix Project shift this week. It always feels rewarding to volunteer for this charity. Despite the fact the bag I carried on my back weighed a ton, the smiles of the people at the refuge were worth all the effort. Good to see that unwanted (but still good to eat) food can still benefit people whose lives have dealt them a bad hand.

I went to Ao’s after.

London-based, Cuban writer. Author of “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner”, to be published by Austin Macauley. Has written for The Guardian and Prospect.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store