Why people cheat: Part 2

Relationship expert Esther Perel on how to heal after being cheated on

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Couples want to learn how to affair-proof their relationship. In part one of Tony’s podcast interview with relationship expert and therapist Esther Perel, they talked about the reason why most people cheat: it’s because they or their partner are not incorporating their whole selves into the relationship. Esther emphasizes reconnecting with yourself, allowing yourself to be playful and focusing on giving instead of getting. 

Here, in part two of the podcast, Tony and Esther continue to talk about creating a healthy relationship by learning from failed ones. They explore how to recover from an affair and how you can divorce your story and marry the truth.

Affair-proofing your relationship

Cheating doesn’t have to happen in any relationship. Learning how you may be able to avoid infidelity is much easier than asking yourself how to heal after you’ve been cheated on. As Esther discussed in part one, fulfilling your partner’s six basic human needs is paramount. Those who have affairs are not having their needs met by their partner and therefore look for it elsewhere. 

Esther stresses the importance of giving your partner what they want rather than what you think they need, as these are often not the same things. She says that too often, “we give to the other what we want them to give to us.” That is, we give them what we need, not what they need. How do you know what they need? Ask the right questions. Ask questions that help you understand who your partner is. 

Neglect, contempt, loneliness, frustration: When we don’t truly connect with our partners, we seek that connection elsewhere. As Esther explains, “People are hungry for want, for care, for attention, for presence, for someone to laugh at their jokes.” If it isn’t you, it may be someone else.

Extraordinary relationships don’t just happen. Tony often says that “If you want your relationship to get better, you’ve got to get better. If you want your life to get better, you have to get better.” The ideal time to do it is before you even have a problem. 

How to reconnect after cheating

It can be tempting to automatically throw in the towel after you’ve been cheated on. Sometimes we even feel pressured by friends, family and society to do so. Yet there’s a flip side to cheating we don’t like to acknowledge: People say they feel alive – even the person who has been cheated on. They may be in pain, but they still feel alive. And the pain doesn’t make the love go away. Esther emphasizes in all of her work that it’s okay to say that you want to learn how to reconnect after cheating.

She acknowledges that not all relationships can come back from affairs, but if both partners are committed to saving their relationship, it can be done. The first step is acknowledging that a wrongdoing was committed and that it hurt their partner. The second is to prove how much they want to stay in the relationship and give their partner back the value that was stolen from them when they cheated.

reconnecting after cheating

So can real greatness come from healing an affair? Esther believes it can, and she talks candidly in this interview about how she has had multiple marriages – but they’ve all been with the same person. Listen now to learn how to heal after being cheated on, whether you choose to stay with the person or not. 

Esther says that “When people cheat, they are looking for the lost parts of themselves.” If you are not growing within the relationship by constant reinvention and recreation, you will find this through affairs or new relationships with others. But you don’t have to look outside your relationship. Get Tony’s Ultimate Relationship Program and improve your partnership in ten days. You’ll learn how to keep the spark alive by continuing to grow with your partner, fulfilling their needs and recapturing the thrill of passion.

Esther Perel Podcast Show Notes


[01:23] Ana introduces the episode
[02:25] Novelty and surprise create moments of passion
[03:30] The lost parts of yourself
[03:50] In passion, what works is a disaster
[04:00] The differences that make a relationship passionate
[04:20] How Tony found happiness in his first relationship
[05:10] Constantly changing and becoming a pleaser at home
[06:00] The toughest decision of Tony’s life was also the best decision
[06:20] Asking yourself what you really want
[06:40] Why Esther wrote The State of Affairs
[07:00] Getting inspiration from failed relationships
[08:00] Having many marriages with the same person
[08:30] What we do in the name of growth and change
[09:00] The vast majority that has experienced infidelity in some capacity
[09:30] Everybody has been impacted by affairs in some way
[09:55] Why affairs are so common
[11:00] The definition of affairs is ever-expanding
[11:30] How everybody lies about infidelity
[12:10] The triggers for affairs today
[12:25] Neglect, contempt, loneliness, sexual frustration
[13:00] Why not get divorced instead?
[13:20] Even in happy marriages, people cheat
[14:20] What it’s not about
[14:35] Experiencing a different “part” of yourself in an affair
[15:00] Why an affair makes someone feel “alive”
[15:25] They want to leave the person they have become
[15:45] The dual perspective of affairs
[16:15] The need for certainty vs. the need for variety
[17:15] Why a woman who had it all cheated
[19:00] People will violate their own values to fulfill their needs
[19:45] Understanding and fulfilling your partners’ needs
[21:15] Why are people willing to risk everything for an affair
[22:10] How to recover (if you can) from an affair
[22:20] The acknowledgment of the wrongdoing
[23:20] Proving how much you want to stay – giving back your partner’s value
[24:00] Honesty after an affair
[24:50] What you really want to understand after an affair
[25:05] Hating and loving someone all at once
[25:40] The social implications of staying in a relationship after an affair
[26:15] The Hillary Clinton example
[26:50] Now women have an option
[27:00] Infidelity shatters the grand ambition of love
[27:30] In the U.S. people are more judgmental of cheating
[28:15] Infidelity in France
[28:50] Getting both sides to understand their contribution to the affair
[29:40] A new conversation about infidelity
[30:15] Many partners who are also not participants
[30:20] The impact death has on mentality
[31:00] No-fault affairs
[32:30] When you discover they are having an affair…
[34:30] How to communicate after an affair
[35:50] Do you want the answer to the question, or do you want your partner to know you have the question
[36:40] The questions to ask
[38:00] Crimes of passion
[39:00] Do not make decisions in the beginning
[41:10] Why Esther started her podcast
[42:50] When you listen to others, you are looking into a mirror
[44:15] Divorce your story and marry the truth
[45:00] Where to find resources: podcast, Youtube, sessions with Esther
[47:00] Applying this knowledge to cofounder relationships
[48:20] The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships
[48:50] This isn’t something that just happens naturally
[49:50] The greatness that can come after the hurt of infidelity
[51:00] We tend to give to others that which we want to receive ourselves
[51:30] Learning how to give your partner what they uniquely want
[53:00] If you want something more you have to invest in it
[54:30] You are fully invested when you stop trying to simply avoid conflict
[55:00] The beauty that can come after a healed affair
[55:45] It’s not just about healing, it’s about rebuilding
[56:00] Turning a crisis into an opportunity
[57:30] You want to change another person then change yourself
[59:00] When you ask a question, ask the ones that help you understand who your partner is
[59:50] Trust is an active engagement with the unknown
[60:35] There are two forces: fear and faith
[62:00] Listening to your partner at times when you are most polarized
[63:30] When you think you are punishing someone else you are really just punishing yourself

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Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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