A rockstar, an international soccer legend, an internet celebrity, and an NBA coach all have something in common. They’re all cheaters. Adam Levine, Gerard Piqué, Ned Fulmer, and Ime Udoka are four prominent men who have all been caught in extramarital affairs in the past six months. Three of them (Fulmer, Levine, and Udoka) have been caught in the past two weeks. But this is an unsettling trend that continues to permeate. Levine’s scandal shocked the internet as his wife, Behati Prinsloo, is currently pregnant with their third child. Piqué and Fulmer both cheated on their partners of 10+ years. Both Piqué and Fulmer also share two children with their partners. Udoka cheated on his partner, with a staff member of the Celtics organization, and has since been suspended. Similarly, Ned Fulmer’s relationship with an employee of his media company has led to his removal from the company. Personally, Fulmer’s affair shocked me to most. How could someone whose wife is his whole personality could cheat on her? These scandals have dominated social media platforms, with the shock of these prominent men cheating on their wives whom society hails as accomplished, beautiful, and talented women. But more importantly, these very public cheating scandals have opened up a conversation and have posed the question: why do we cheat?
A study by the Institute for Family Studies found “Men are more likely than women to cheat: 20% of men and 13% of women reported that they’ve had sex with someone other than their spouse while married, according to data from the recent General Social Survey (GSS).” One must point out that this doesn’t mean men are the only ones that cheat. In pop culture recently, we’ve seen the PR disaster that is Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles’ affair while filming Don’t Worry Darling. Yet studies show that men and women cheat for very different reasons. According to a 2017 poll, women tend to cheat for emotional reasons, whereas men tend to cheat for physical reasons. Most women who cheated on their partners cited that they felt like their partner no longer was giving the attention they needed” or that they were doubting their relationship. Men who cheated on their partners said they cheated on their partners because the person they had an affair with was attractive, that they weren’t getting enough sex, or that they were being hit on. There is a clear distinction between physical and emotional cheating between the sexes.
We also need to take into account the social context for this divide between men and women. Historically, men have been given a ‘license’ to cheat. Men were allowed to have extramarital relationships with little to no repercussions. Women were not. Relationship expert and psychologist Esther Perel argues, “We have all these evolutionary theories and biological theories to explain why men are not by nature monogamists. Whereas women are these domesticated creatures. We don’t know what women would do if they were given the permission to do the same without the consequences that they face, which are very different than those of men”. In a 2009 interview with Cosmopolitan, Adam Levine was asked, “Why do guys cheat?” and he responded, “Instinctively, monogamy is not in our genetic makeup. People cheat.”Ironic, considering where the singer finds himself now. But Perel and other psychologists would disagree with Levine. The modern conception of monogamy is a product of this historical trend. Sociologist Dr. Julia Carter, who is a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England specializing in marriage and relationships, told Glamour UK, that we might never know if humans are truly monogamous creatures because the societal expectations for men and women have ruled our relationships.
While scientists and academics search for a social or biological reason for cheating, the reality of it is this: cheating is bad. It’s ridiculously lame. Looking at the recent scandals (and scandals of the past), cheaters never get sympathy. And just a reminder: if you get cheated on, know that even Victoria’s Secrets Models get cheated on (and he probably didn’t deserve you anyways).