The internet is buzzing with news of the latest celebrity marriage to be rocked by infidelity (prompting a ton of misspelled, grammatically challenged comments). The scandal is aising the usual questions: How could Jesse do that to Sandra? Didn't she see the red flags before she married him? And what's with the highly visible celebrities, celebrity husbands and politicians all thinking no one will notice (or give an exclusive interview to the Nat'l Enquirer) when they have affairs?
So then you start to wonder - If Sandra Bullock gets cheated on (or Christie Brinkley, or Halle Berry, etc., etc., etc.), how can the rest of us hope to escape? And incidentally, where are the female celebrities cheating on their significantly less attractive partners?) Why can't men in the public eye keep it in their pants? And why do they all tend to blame the media and public attention for blowing everything out of proportion?
For the answers, you can turn to the wisdom of two powerful, influential men who represent everything that is wrong about their gender. First, John Gray, who made a fortune stating the obvious (that men are different from women on a basic, biological level), but who got his start leading marriage counseling seminars while his own multiple marriages were falling apart. (I once met him when I performed at a party he threw for his 4th or 5th wife, and he told us, with a straight face, that when he saw her across the room, he walked up to her and told her, "God wanted us to be together." When I cracked, "That's one hell of a good pick up line", he wasn't amused . . . . )
Then there's John Edwards, who hit some new lows in cheating male behavior (at least Jesse James cheated while his wife's career was taking off, not while she was suffering a cancer recurrence). But Edwards did get more honest in his requisite press conference apology, and basically admitted that when a man is famous and powerful, he gets a sense of entitlement and feels like he's above mere mortal morality. (And it was a refreshing change from listening to other men tear up when they talk about hiking the Appalachian trail with their soulmates.)
Of course there are women who cheat, too - but publicly visible women tend to be too smart (and too busy with their careers) to fool around. You can see this basic behavioral difference all the way back in adolescence, when girls are daydreaming of having a boyfriend (or mooning over Taylor Lautner, Zac Efron, or, back in our day, David Cassidy). The boys are ogling posters of Farrah Fawcett and trading tips on how to unhook bras, not pining for romance. Our biology doesn't change as adults - men still want sex, women still want romance, only we're all too busy and too tired for much of either.
Which explains why stories about infidelity get such wide exposure - we're not prurient moralists delighting in the troubles of celebrities, we're just sex- and romance-starved busy people who get a little vicarious thrill reading about the sexual exploits of others. But we can learn a bit from these stories, too - mostly, A-list actresses should make sure their husbands are as busy as they are (so they won't have time to cheat), and the rest of us can console ourselves that we may not look like Halle Berry or Christie Brinkley, but we have somewhat better luck with men!