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Conservative estimates suggest anywhere from 20 to 60 percent or more of people cheat on their spouses.Internet porn remains — as you probably know, quite possibly firsthand— wildly popular.“We have a romantic ideal in which we turn to one person to fulfill an endless list of needs,” the therapist says. But if throughout history, infidelity has always been painful, today it is often traumatic, because it threatens our sense of self.”Shannon Sennott, a psychotherapist and clinical sex therapy associate at Translate Gender Inc., further explained to me how cheating, as mere fantasy or in actual deed, and the desire to speak openly and without judgment about the sexual wants that can prompt it, has brought increasing numbers of well-heeled couples to sex therapy.“[T]o be my greatest lover, my best friend, the best parent, my trusted confidant, my emotional companion, my intellectual equal. “I don’t think it’s any surprise that the thing that’s bringing sex into the light is the idea of infidelity,” says Sennott.If a thing exists, there’s someone out there who’s into it sexually, and a site dedicated to it somewhere online.And regardless of what you thought of “50 Shades of Grey Americans have traditionally been prudish about sex, but in the midst of a more frank emerging dialogue about desire, one that includes being honest about what kind of sex we want and exactly how we want it, a new crop of influential couples counselors have come to prominence.Key to this discussion is infidelity, which is both increasingly commonplace yet potentially devastating for so many couples.
As Amy Sohn notes in a recent New York Times piece on the issue, these sex therapists “speak on topics like affairs, ‘gender-queerness,’ transsexual identity, kink, BDSM and pornography,” and they are changing the couples therapy model from a focus on healing bad feelings to putting sexual healing front and center.
“[W]hen we say ‘infidelity,’ what exactly do we mean? “Is it a hookup, a love story, paid sex, a chat room, a massage with a happy ending?
…[T]he definition of infidelity keeps on expanding: sexting, watching porn, staying secretly active on dating apps.”Perel posits that the modern idea of coupling, which insists people be all things to their partners and a mirror reflection of their most complete selves, has made infidelity even more consequential.
And I am it: I’m chosen, I’m unique, I’m indispensable, I’m irreplaceable, I’m the one. “People with the privilege to think about this stuff and talk about this stuff are opening up their relationships, or talking about non-monogamy, talking about polyamory. I think that the door, the sort of gateway drug to sex therapy, is a desire to not be punished for having attractions to other people.”Along with others Sohn describes as the “renegades of couples therapy” in her NYT article — a “sex-forward” group that includes “Suzanne Lasenza, Margie Nichols, Jean Malpas, Marty Klein, Joe Kort, Arlene Lev, Marta Meana and Tammy Nelson”— Perel and Sennott are helping couples rethink societally imposed sexual mores, gender identity, sexual ethics, turn-ons and kinkiness, gender roles, and long-held notions that can stifle fulfilling sexual expression and connectivity in couples of every kind.
One of sex therapy’s most popular and recognized voices, Perel believes cheating can redeem instead of destroy a relationship.In a TED talk from March titled “Rethinking Infidelity” that has garnered more than 2 million views, she discusses how cheating is more common than ever because its parameters have widened with technology.