This headline recently caught my eye: Jennifer Love Hewitt: I’ve Been Cheated on ‘a Lot’. From the article:
Asked by Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS-FM radio show Tuesday if she’s ever been cheated on, Hewitt replied, “Yes. A lot.” Without identifying the guilty parties, the Ghost Whisperer actress proceeded to count the ways in which she has found out about boyfriends’ extracurricular activities.
Cheated on a lot? A lot? Hmmm.
This, along with the last year of cheater headlines got me thinking. There are the political cheaters: dumb Gavin Newsom, dumber Mark Sanford, and dumbest John Edwards—and the most incorrigible politico cheater of modern times, Mr. I-did-not-have-sexual-relations-with-that-woman Bill Clinton. There are the egomaniac cheaters like Tiger Woods and Jesse James, who stupidly think they can be famous and serial cheaters and not get caught. And of course, thousands of others who cheat for various reasons. We all know someone who has been a cheater or been cheated on.
The thing about infidelity is that there isn’t a formula for the prevention or prediction of it. You can be gorgeous and perfect and still get cheated on (Halle Berry). You can be strong, wealthy, decisive, generous, and kind—and the girl next door—and still be lied to and cheated on (Sandra Bullock). But it’s Jennifer Love Hewitt’s admission that she has been betrayed repeatedly that makes me wonder:
Why do some women get cheated on all the time, and some don’t? Is there something in a woman’s personality—a weakness, a forgiveness—that men can sniff out?
Did Tiger know deep down that Elin was a pushover and he could get away with it? Did Mark Sanford and John Edwards secretly want out of their marriages? There are always two sides to every story. I’m sure that most cheaters do it because their relationships are lacking something. That said, I know there are also the sex/power/ego addict cheaters who have nothing wrong at home, but something wrong on the inside. No matter the reason, the damage is just as profound emotionally.
Did the women in those relationships ever lay down the law and tell their husbands straight-out what would happen if they cheated? I wonder. In my lifetime, I’ve known a few couples who struggled with infidelity. And women who pick a cheater every single time. Some couples divorced, some didn’t. Some wives were meek, others mighty. But I find the dialogue that happens prior to infidelity an interesting contemplation.
One couple I knew would repeatedly “joke” about whom they’d cheat with if they could. I found that incredibly foreboding and unhealthy. Why would you even talk about cheating, wanting to cheat at all? They ended up speaking it into existence—it’s like they expected it to happen instead of not. In another situation, the wife had no discernible mind of her own. She’s still with her cheater, but she evened the score by cheating on him. I say a leopard can’t change its spots. Once you’ve done it and gotten away with it, what’s to stop you from doing it again, when there have been no real repercussions?
Obviously we all hope that we are never betrayed by the one we love. But as women, we need to know that there is a certain game that has to be played, like it or not. You can’t guarantee fidelity, but there are ways to minimize the potential to stray. In his book “The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It,” marriage counselor and best-selling author Gary Neuman takes a revealing look inside the mind of a cheater and explains what women can do to “affair-proof” their relationships.
Following are excerpts of an interview with NEWSWEEK’S Jessica Ramirez and Neuman:
What did you find was the No. 1 reason men cheat?
…the majority—48 percent—[of men] said that the cheating was about an emotional disconnection.
What was causing this emotional disconnection?
The No. 1reason was feeling underappreciated. It was a lack of thoughtful and kind gestures. What I found is that men are far more insecure than they let on, and they do want to please their wives and feel valued. They like to win and as long as they are winning with their wife then they stay in the game. It is feeling underappreciated and like they can’t win—and maybe they do things that make it hard for her to appreciate him—that usually leads them into dangerous waters. Appreciation is what they first and foremost get from the mistress.
…This relationship between “appreciation” and a man’s need to “win”—how does that play out in the home?
Just watch your husband view a ballgame. You would imagine from the way he’s yelling that he has part ownership in the team he’s cheering for. That’s because men have been trained since they were little that winning and accomplishing is much of their definition. So they will watch a game to the bitter end if they [or their team] can stay in it. [In the home,] for example, if the husband makes breakfast and burns it, he still feels like he made a gesture. But if those sorts of gestures are met with what he did wrong instead of what he tried to do right, then that becomes, “I can’t win.”
…What sort of behavior will a man exhibit if this leads him to start thinking of cheating?
The No. 1 sign is more time being spent away from home. The No. 2 sign was less sex, and the No. 3 sign was avoidance of your contact, like cell-phone calls. What these things are saying is that a man is emotionally and sexually moving away from a spouse.
…There are also men—12 percent of those you surveyed—who will cheat no matter what. How can a wife tell if he’s worth trusting again?
If you have a husband who does not show remorse, is not willing to be completely transparent moving forward and is not truly apologetic for what he has already done, then I don’t see how a woman could entrust her vulnerability to that man again.
I swear, I think for the majority of relationships, what scores the man keeps him. That’s why I think to Gary Neuman’s advice you should add these pearls of wisdom gleaned from Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger’s tweet stream:
CHASE SPACE. Let the man pursue you. Let him call you. He NEEDS to be the hunter & enjoys it. Don’t take that joy away from him. 12:06 PM Apr 7th
LEAVE SOMETHING BEHIND. Little perfume on pillow, casserole in oven, tidy home, a note. A nice reminder makes him think about you all day. 12:44 PM Apr 5th
Quickest way to feel good? Exercise! Cheaper than Prozac + you’ll be in shape. Zelwegger didn’t catch Cooper while playing Bridget Jones. 2:55 PM Apr 3rd
PASSION COMES FROM FASHION: a stylish girl always dresses occasion appropriate which signals the eye of a quality millionaire. Red = romance 12:10 PM Apr 1st