Inside the Mind of an Unfaithful Partner

May 11, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Katie Simon
katies@smu.edu

What could a famous golfer, a motorcycle show host and a politician possibly have in common?

Well, they all seem to have each come down with the cheat-on-your-wife bug. Tiger Woods, Jesse James and John Edwards have all suffered from the wandering eye, which begs the question—are high profile people more likely to cheat than the average American?

While many might argue “yes”, especially since infamous cheaters such as Bill Clinton and David Letterman have always been around, what is seldom taken into account is the fact that their fame also leaves them more exposed than the average American. In the end, researchers and psychologists say cheaters are cheaters, famous or not.

“If we really compared the data from celebrities and non-famous people, they might not be that different,” said Dr. Margaret Pinder, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “It’s just that non-famous people don’t have others constantly checking up on them.”

The average American cheater, according to Dr. Pinder and Dr. Brian Gladue, the psychobiology director for the Office of Protection of Human Subjects at University of North Texas, goes astray for a number of reasons.

Some people like to take risks and see how far they can push the boundaries, so the reasons aren’t necessarily emotional. But for others, the reasons are completely emotion-based. Some partners feel that their relationship isn’t fulfilling a certain desire, while others are unhappy with themselves and seek another partner to find security.

Others, explains Dr. Pinder, are simply immature.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with their partner,” Dr. Pinder said. “It usually means there is something wrong with connecting with yourself.”

Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us!

Dr. Pinder said that people too often forget that celebrities are human too. The only difference between the average person and the person in the spotlight, she explains, is their level of public exposure.

“High profile politicians, athletes and celebrities get caught and make the news because they are high profile,” Dr. Gladue said. “Nobody would care about your average golfer cheating on his wife, because who cares about some guy at the local country club?”

That isn’t to say, though, that celebrities don’t have a higher level of temptation. With fame and success comes more access to more people.

Dr. Pinder explains that famous people are more exposed to elements in their lives that may make some of them more likely to cheat.

“Sex, money and power are very related,” Dr. Pinder said. “So when one is caught up in money and power and celebrity status, there is just a whole energy around passion and they will always be surrounded by people who want a piece of them.”

In a recent survey of 17 students, eight believed celebrities cheat because they need constant excitement to feed their already busy lifestyles.

Another eight students, however, answered that people make a big deal out of celebrity cheating scandals simply because they are famous—not because they are more likely to cheat.

“You can’t just generally expect them to be morally depraved and promiscuous,” said Rusty Haake, a senior mechanical engineering and math double major at SMU. “But you can’t be surprised when it turns out that way, either.”

So if the difference between a celebrity and an average American is the television screen and the tabloids, then what causes people to turn to infidelity?

Risk Takers

For some people, cheating may not be caused by something unfulfilled emotionally. Rather, cheating may be just another risk taken to get a thrill.

Dr. Gladue explains that every person has a biological set point for how much stimuli and sensation gets him or her excited.

“The way we approach the world is organized a little differently for everybody in terms of how their brain functions,” Dr. Gladue said. “Some people like to go all in during a poker game. For others, it’s simply reading a book cover to cover.”

While some people are really high on the risk-taking scale, others are naturally lower.

And, while not all risk-takers necessarily cheat, they do have a higher genetic predisposition to be more likely to do so.

“It’s pretty basic,” Dr. Gladue said. “People who are risk-takers will manage their risk a little differently than people who are cautious. They may be more prone to cheat, gamble or drive at high speeds. People who are very cautious, careful and methodical are less likely.”

Dr. Pinder believes that risk-takers like the thrill of having an intimate relationship with someone else because they aren’t forced to share every detail of their personal lives with them.

“Sometimes there’s just the fun and attraction,” Dr. Pinder said. “They don’t know your secrets and you don’t know theirs.”

So even though some risk-takers may be in a happy relationship, they may simply not be getting enough stimuli from that relationship. Therefore, they turn to cheating to get their excitement.

“I imagine lots of people do it because they think they won’t get caught and it satisfies an immediate need or curiosity,” Haake said.

But for those who are seeking a particular need, the reasons for cheating may be more emotion-based on reasons rather than mere curiosity.

Unmatched Lovemaps

One of the most common reasons for cheating is because one partner is not fulfilling something for the other, so the other partner looks for that need elsewhere.

And, while somebody who is more risk-oriented is probably more inclined to actually take action and seek that need while still in their relationship, many people who normally don’t take risks can find themselves in a situation that leads to cheating as well.

“People who would never dream of cheating find themselves having an affair,” explained Dr. Pinder. “And they don’t understand how they ended up in such a mess.”

“Sometimes you’re just so comfortable in the relationship that you don’t want to end it. Your relationship is going well and everything, but you’re just unhappy, and infidelity is a way to make yourself feel better,” said SMU sophomore Marguerite Kleinheinz.

Even if only one area of a relationship is unfulfilled, it can still serve as enough to lead a person to cheat.

Dr. Gladue said that everybody has what is called a “love map.”

“It is the core concept of what turns them on, what they like in a person—whether a sex partner or a romantic partner,” Dr. Gladue said. “What they see is what they need fulfilled.”

And when somebody is mismatched with the wrong person, he said it can almost be guaranteed that the relationship won’t last. For some though, the relationship continues, but the loyalty does not.

“Breaking up is hard, and getting what you need physically or emotionally, which tends to lead to physically, from someone else in this environment is often easier to do,” Haake said.

In celebrity cases such as Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, Dr. Gladue says that it is very likely that Jesse was intrigued by Sandra, but that his core “love map” fit better with somebody else.

When an element of the lovemap is missing, many people actively look to find that missing element while still in their relationships.

Insecurity and Immaturity

Most people hate to hear, “It isn’t you, it’s me.” But with cheating, sometimes this line speaks the truth. People who often feel hopeless, depressed or insecure, she said, are often much more vulnerable.

Sometimes, Dr. Pinder explains, the desire to cheat stems from simple immaturity.

“If someone really hasn’t done their development work and they think ‘me first’ or ‘more pleasure,’ they don’t really have critical thinking skills,” Dr. Pinder said. “As people increase their critical thinking skills, they improve their ethical decisions.”

Opinion Blog: The All-American Comeback

April 9, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Christina Murphy

With the Masters teeing off this weekend, America has their eyes on the golfer who is now the most controversial athlete in the world, Tiger Woods. Once the world’s most untouchable competitor, Tiger has to overcome the loss of many fans while competing for the sport’s most prestigious trophy, the Green Jacket.

While Tiger’s reputation is in its highest state of jeopardy, the golfer has admitted he is nervous to take to the greens in Augusta, Georgia, fearing that his fans might be absent and the verbal rift raft might be disturbing. But come on, Tiger! Are you that naïve? America loves the comeback kid. There isn’t one celebrity who hasn’t prevailed from adversity. If Kobe and President Clinton are getting away with the unthinkable, you will too, Tiger!

The Easter dinner table topic was a divisive one to say the least. The baby boomers, such as my parents, think Tiger has ruined his reputation and it will not be forgotten. However, those of us Generation X thinkers believe Tiger will get past the scandal once he makes the cut this weekend at the Masters. Although Tiger isn’t par for the course in the minds of Americans, he will soon remind fans and competitors why he is a force to be reckoned with and soon everyone will forgive him for his faults.

People forget that humans are the most resilient creatures. Although Tiger’s wrongdoings are unacceptable and won’t be forgotten, he, as an individual, will move on because time always heals. Like the cliché says, “what doesn’t kill us, will only make us stronger.” He will prevail. Because the game of golf is known as a testament for gentleman and reassures those who play it have the ability to compartmentalize individual priorities, Tiger will show America why he is still the champion that everyone still loves.

The Daily Update: Wednesday, March 17

March 17, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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Opinion Blog: Every Stroke Counts

February 22, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Christina Murphy

Moments after watching and listening to Tiger Woods cry for forgiveness, social networking sites exploded with commentary about the golfer who obviously wrecked more than his car.

Facebook friends and “Tweeters” updated their statuses with comments like “Blah blah blah, Tiger,” and “Tigers never change their stripes.” It became very clear that the world was not impressed with the golfer’s first round. And one who didn’t see the speech might be wondering why?

When the world’s most famous golfer stepped up to the tee box at 11 a.m. EST Friday, to deliver what he might of thought would be a par for the course, he began with an apology that some might argue, quickly became a direct statement to his wife, Elin Woods.

“Tiger is obviously trying to save his marriage,” tweeted Joe Murray, a fan of Tiger.

For those who didn’t see the Friday morning press conference, Tiger said Elin’s name a total of 14 times. It was a lot for a public statement. However, the golfer is suffering for his infidelity because he is in the public eye and previously has done such a quality job at keeping his private life blank.

Tiger made it clear in his statement that he is formally apologizing to those who were present in front of him- family and friends. While his actions and behavior is inexcusable as he acknowledged, it is his personal life and he is learning the tools and gaining the support he needs to become a winner, again. So for those people who are disappointed the golfer isn’t “scratch” in the game of life, that is your problem, not his.

Although Tiger didn’t give an answer to the public on his estimated time of return to golf, he did recognize that character is not defined by many achievements but by things one can overcome. While this is the best answer he can give to fans at this time, perhaps, it will encourage everyone to work on their short game, too. After all, every stroke counts in the game of life.

VIDEO: Mustang Minute, Friday Feb. 19

February 19, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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