Saturday, November 7, 2009

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Monday, November 2, 2009

international affairs

It's not that Americans cheat any less than the French -- in fact they cheat a bit more -- it's just that when Americans do cheat on their spouses they feel so damn guilty about it, it's a wonder they ever had the affair at all. To Americans, "it's not the cheating, it's the lying." And couples who don't break up over infidelity often turn to therapy and support groups, which, ironically, frequently encourage cheating spouses to reveal every last detail about their illicit relationships to regain the trust that was lost when their pants came off in the first place.

So goes the American infidelity script, as it is unraveled by former Wall Street Journal reporter Pamela Druckerman in her new book, "Lust in Translation." Druckerman traveled to 10 countries to investigate, as her subtitle puts it, "The Rules of Infidelity From Tokyo to Tennessee." Author met a lot of people, found new friends and through dozens of interviews with middle-class urbanites, the author, who devotes a chapter to each country she visits, debunks -- and sometimes confirms -- national myths, stereotypes and pastimes. Along the way she discovers that people in poor countries tend to cheat more than people in wealthy countries, that in America men and women under 40 have nearly equal rates of infidelity, and that everyone, all over the world, sometimes gets hurt. While the evidence she presents is primarily anecdotal and backed up by statistics that even she admits are imperfect, Druckerman still manages to give a structure to national sexual habits, a kind of cultural script for how affairs are supposed to go -- even if they don't always go so smoothly.