TED | 重新认识出轨行为
演讲者：Esther Perel 艾斯特尔·佩莱尔
Why do we cheat? And why do happy people cheat? And when we say "infidelity," what exactlydo we mean? Is it a hookup, a love story, paid sex, a chat room, a massage with a happy endingWhy do we think that men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy, but women cheat out ofloneliness and hunger for intimacy? And is an affair always the end of a relationship?
For the past 10 years, I have traveled the globe and worked extensively with hundreds of coupleswho have been shattered by infidelity. There is one simple act of transgression that can rob acouple of their relationship, their happiness and their very identity: an affair. And yet, thisextremely common act is so poorly understood. So this talk is for anyone who has ever loved.
Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, and so, too, the taboo against it. In fact,infidelity has a tenacity that marriage can only envy, so much so, that this is the onlycommandment that is repeated twice in the Bible: once for doing it, and once just for thinkingabout it(Laughter) So how do we reconcile what is universally forbidden, yet universallypracticed?
Now, throughout history, men practically had a license to cheat with little consequence, andsupported by a host of biological and evolutionary theories that justified their need to roam, so thedouble standard is as old as adultery itself. But who knows what's really going on under the sheetsthere, right? Because when it comes to sex, the pressure for men is to boast and to exaggerate,but the pressure for women is to hide, minimize and deny, which isn't surprising when you considerthat there are still nine countries where women can be killed for straying.
Now, monogamy used to be one person for life. Today, monogamy is one person at a time. (Laughter) (Applause)
I mean, many of you probably have said, "I am monogamous in all my relationships." (Laughter)
We used to marry, and had sex for the first time. But now we marry, and we stop having sex withothers. The fact is that monogamy had nothing to do with love. Men relied on women's fidelity inorder to know whose children these are, and who gets the cows when I die.
Now, everyone wants to know what percentage of people cheat. I've been asked that questionsince I arrived at this conference. (Laughter) It applies to you. But the definition of infidelity keepson expanding: sexting, watching porn, staying secretly active on dating apps. So because there isno universally agreed-upon definition of what even constitutes an infidelity, estimates vary widely,from 26 percent to 75 percent. But on top of it, we are walking contradictions. So 95 percent ofus will say that it is terribly wrong for our partner to lie about having an affair, but just about thesame amount of us will say that that's exactly what we would do if we were having one. (Laughter)
Now, I like this definition of an affair -- it brings together the three key elements: a secretiverelationship, which is the core structure of an affair; an emotional connection to one degree oranother; and a sexual alchemy. And alchemy is the key word here, because the erotic frisson issuch that the kiss that you only imagine giving, can be as powerful and as enchanting as hours ofactual lovemaking. As Marcel Proust said, it's our imagination that is responsible for love, not theother person.
So it's never been easier to cheat, and it's never been more difficult to keep a secret. And neverhas infidelity exacted such a psychological toll. When marriage was an economic enterprise,infidelity threatened our economic security. But now that marriage is a romantic arrangement,infidelity threatens our emotional security. Ironically, we used to turn to adultery -- that was thespace where we sought pure love. But now that we seek love in marriage, adultery destroys it.
Now, there are three ways that I think infidelity hurts differently today. We have a romantic ideal inwhich we turn to one person to fulfill an endless list of needs: to be my greatest lover, my bestfriend, the best parent, my trusted confidant, my emotional companion, my intellectual equal. AndI am it: I'm chosen, I'm unique, I'm indispensable, I'm irreplaceable, I'm the one. And infidelity tellsme I'm not. It is the ultimate betrayal. Infidelity shatters the grand ambition of love. But ifthroughout history, infidelity has always been painful, today it is often traumatic, because itthreatens our sense of self.
So my patient Fernando, he's plagued. He goes on: "I thought I knew my life. I thought I knewwho you were, who we were as a couple, who I was. Now, I question everything." Infidelity -- aviolation of trust, a crisis of identity. "Can I ever trust you again?" he asks. "Can I ever trustanyone again?"
And this is also what my patient Heather is telling me, when she's talking to me about her storywith Nick. Married, two kids. Nick just left on a business trip, and Heather is playing on his iPad withthe boys, when she sees a message appear on the screen: "Can't wait to see you." Strange, shethinks, we just saw each other. And then another message: "Can't wait to hold you in my arms."And Heather realizes these are not for her. She also tells me that her father had affairs, but hermother, she found one little receipt in the pocket, and a little bit of lipstick on the collar. Heather,she goes digging, and she finds hundreds of messages, and photos exchanged and desiresexpressed. The vivid details of Nick's two-year affair unfold in front of her in real time, And it mademe think: Affairs in the digital age are death by a thousand cuts.
But then we have another paradox that we're dealing with these days. Because of this romanticideal, we are relying on our partner's fidelity with a unique fervor. But we also have never beenmore inclined to stray, and not because we have new desires today, but because we live in an erawhere we feel that we are entitled to pursue our desires, because this is the culture where I deserveto be happy. And if we used to divorce because we were unhappy, today we divorce because wecould be happier. And if divorce carried all the shame, today, choosing to stay when you can leaveis the new shame. So Heather, she can't talk to her friends because she's afraid that they will judgeher for still loving Nick, and everywhere she turns, she gets the same advice: Leave him. Throw thedog on the curb. And if the situation were reversed, Nick would be in the same situation. Staying isthe new shame.
So if we can divorce, why do we still have affairs? Now, the typical assumption is that if someonecheats, either there's something wrong in your relationship or wrong with you. But millions ofpeople can't all be pathological. The logic goes like this: If you have everything you need at home,then there is no need to go looking elsewhere, assuming that there is such a thing as a perfectmarriage that will inoculate us against wanderlust. But what if passion has a finite shelf life? What ifthere are things that even a good relationship can never provide? If even happy people cheat,what is it about?