Sunday, July 22, 2018
Q&A with Kenneth Paul Rosenberg
Kenneth Paul Rosenberg is the author of the new book Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat. He is a physician who specializes in addiction medicine and sexual disorders. He is on the faculty of the Weill/Cornell Medical College and has a private practice in Manhattan.
Q: Why did you decide to write this book about infidelity, and what do you hope readers take away from it?
A: I treat sexual compulsivity. And as a result, I wanted to take what I know about treating “sex addictions" and apply it to garden-variety philandering.
I’ve come to believe that sex and love are the primordial addictions. In other words, our minds are made to become addicted to sex and love which is critical for our survival.
I hope readers will understand the fundamental psychological, biological, and cultural impacts that influence us and affect our desires for infidelity.
I also hope readers will have some compassion towards themselves and others, and I understand that to desire another lover as part of our nature. Which doesn’t pardon partners, but makes it easier to understand.
Q: In the book, you write, "Affairs are actually built not in the bedroom but in the mind." Could you explain more about that?
A: Affairs are often not about sex but about desires and expectations. But we feel we are lacking in life, and we hope that can be remedied by sexual tryst.
Q: What impact do you think the internet has had on infidelity?
A: It’s made infidelity much easier. People have a much easier time finding a new lover. It’s also made people more dissatisfied. Particularly because some of my patients become “addicted“ to porn, and find porn to be much more desirable than a true mate, or at least the mate they have available to them.
Q: You examine emotional affairs as well as physical affairs, and you focus on the idea of "emotional fidelity." How would you define that?
A: Emotional affairs are relationships with a person to whom you are attracted sexually.
Emotional affair relationships are characterized by deep intimacy, stolen moments, a yearning to be with your emotional affair partner instead of with your spouse, and most importantly of all, the extent and nature of the relationship is kept a secret from your spouse.
In other words, your emotional affair partner rivals your connection to your spouse. Sex may not be on the table, but it often is under the table. And emotional affairs often lead to physical affairs.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: A project on serious mental illness—on America’s tragic neglect of the severely mentally ill.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Nothing else comes to mind. Thank you.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb