[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/08/t1.fidelity.jpg]Alyssa Caplan
For many of us 360 staffers, today was supposed to be a much coveted “Summer Friday.” With no live show to produce, our usual late night schedules were replaced with the promise of champagne wishes and caviar dreams — a rare chance to get out of work while the sun still shines, meet friends on a roof deck, beat traffic out of town, or in my case, complete a blog post on which I had been working, but hadn’t had a chance to finish. Then I planned to re-unite with my all but estranged “normal working hour” friends and tend to my vitamin D deficiency.
So I settled at my desk to tackle the post I had conceived about infidelity – inspired by some comments former major league baseball player José Canseco told the TV show "Extra" several weeks ago when the whole A-Rod/Madonna situation was playing out in the media.
Little did I know how timely the topic would be, or how crazy this day would become. Instead of finishing the post, I ended up spending the next two hours booking guests like crazy as the news broke that Sen. Edwards admitted that he did indeed have an affair. So much for an early night!
But I digress… several weeks ago I barely had the volume turned up on my TV when I heard the following comment that haunted me for days, “It's hard enough to have a relationship in today's society," Canseco said. “But a guy like Alex Rodriguez - good looking, money, playing with the Yankees. It's over."
There was something about the comment that rattled me to the core, despite it hardly being a novel concept, nor being delivered by exactly the gold standard authority on relationships. I suddenly found myself wondering if we’re wired to pursue that which is most harmful for long-term stability when seeking a mate.
So I set out to conduct a highly informal and un-scientific inquiry, and pose the following question to some people who I figured would have a wide-array of takes on the topic:
“Is being attractive, wealthy, and having a high profile job a recipe for relationship infidelity? Is it possible to be attractive, wealthy, high profile AND faithful?”
You may, or may not be surprised to learn that I reached out to several publicists of high profile people, and very few got back to me. One in particular, said, “Yeah right. We’re not going to touch this.” I think that speaks for itself. Next.
So here we are. It's Friday. Scandal time. Live program. Game on. Tune in tonight as we spend the hour looking at the latest on Sen. Edwards.
Below you will hear some of the answers people sent me in regards to my fidelity question.
Dr. Gail Saltz
Author, Anatomy of a Secret Life
Is there a correlation between how desirable you are and how likely you are to cheat? Do handsome, rich, powerful, successful men end up straying from their partner because they are presented with a bevy of women who are after all those attributes? I don’t think that anyone has done the research, but there are a number of issues which make such a possibility potentially true. Attractiveness is often interpreted by a member of the opposite sex as a reflection of good genetic material and good health. Men with higher levels of testosterone tend to display certain facial features, such as a very square jaw, and women will seek out high testosterone males because they are strong, can protect and have good genes. Women may look for softer facial features when it comes to choosing a husband but for the affair, particularly data shows at midcycle time when they are ovulating, they will pick a very handsome strong featured man. From an evolutionary perspective the goal is primarily to get strong male genes to mix with your female genes and your own genetic material is more likely to survive.
Similarly women are often drawn to men with power and wealth. They are both representations of their success and again reflect genetic material that bodes well for the woman’s offspring. Aside from an evolutionary view, women certainly like the idea of financial security and the excitement of power and prestige. They want to be associated with it. Sleeping with that man gives many women a sense of owning a piece of him and thereby getting to have some of that status and power themselves. Even being with a high powered man can allow a woman to identify with him and his lifestyle and she can vicariously enjoy having those attributes.
So, if more women are gravitating to the good looking, wealthy successful guy…you have to think that either he has more willpower than the guy who gets hit on less, or he succumbs more often. Here….we would need some data to really predict what happens. But for celebrities there is one more factor that may tip the scales. Celebs tend to be surrounded by an entourage that provides constant “yes, you are terrific and can have anything you want” feedback. Those close to the celeb tend to yes them to death because they want to hold onto their own proximity and good will. They too want to be rich, important and successful by association. So sadly for a celebrity they may start to believe that they really are entitled to have whatever they want and that the rules do not apply to them. This may contribute to the seemingly large number of affairs and marriage break ups in the celebrity community. Sometimes they get what they seem to want up front and it ends up being very self destructive in the end.
Fmr. NBA Player
Wife of Doug Christie/Entrepreneur
Doug Christie: “Having been in the NBA for over a decade, with much success, I personally never found it difficult to be faithful to my wife. I don’t agree that having a high profile job provides an excuse for infidelity. In the sports world, you have to make sure that you’re conveying to others that you’re off the market – period. Yes, people will continue to make advances but the onus is on the athlete to remove themselves from any conversation or situation that does not respect their marriage, family or relationship.”
Jackie Christie: “It is absolutely possible to have a monogamous relationship with a professional athlete; my marriage to Doug is a testament to that. Although I am the wife of a professional athlete, I’ve never viewed our marriage on those terms. Our love and commitment to one another is more important than the money and notoriety that comes with his profession or NBA contract.”
Doug & Jackie Christie: “It is really disappointing that infidelity among entertainers and athletes today is widely accepted and forgiven. Divorce among couples–both in private and public spheres–is considered the norm. It is imperative that we ask ourselves what message this sends to today’s youth, the next generation. We’ve been happily married now for over ten years and have been ridiculed and mocked all for having a solid marriage! Hopefully, society will shift its views, focus and begin to value the benefit of committed relationships.”