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Tiger Woods, Twitter and Insatiable Voyeurism

December 6, 2009

This week, following the disclosure of Tiger Woods’ “transgressions,” Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree, with the question, Why do men cheat? Why do women cheat? Thousands of tweeters weighed in with comments ranging from the pithy to the raunchy. Researchers supplied the latest figures on those who self-report infidelity. (C’mon those numbers are low—after all how many people honestly own up to that one?)  And we also have the fact that while the number of infidels goes up, the disapproval does as well.

I think the widespread fascination with Tiger Woods (or Jon & Kate, Madonna & A-Rod, former Govs Spitzer, Sanford; former presidents and presidential candidates), is a Rorschach reflection of our own prurient interest and obvious identification with the possibilities of what lurks within our own hearts and relationships. So why do men and women (even those in good marriages) cheat? The answers are pretty simple:

  • Opportunity
  • The desire for adoring attention
  • A feeling of loneliness in your relationship
  • The erotic excitement of mystery
  • The arousal secrets hold
  • The allure of fantasy
  • The mundane security of domesticity

But the unasked yet far more crucial and elusive question is:  “How do you develop mature love and quell threatening urges?”

  • Remember that feelings of attraction to another don’t do damage unless you act on them.
  • Friends must also be friends of your relationship
  • Denial, self-justification and rationalization of your actions are not grown-up coping strategies.
  • There’s a difference between privacy and secrets. Don’t have secrets.
  • Drinking and flirting are kissin’ cousins of affairs. Do so at your own risk.
  • Learn to become emotionally vulnerable.
  • Resolve hurts and slights. Don’t let issues build into resentment and mistrust.
  • Focus on the aftermath of an affair before you have one. It isn’t pretty.

After a sobering glimpse into the abyss, pull back from it. A crashed car, broken glass, bruises and cut lips, that’s only the public face after an affair. The inside view I’ve seen, from my chair as a couples therapist, looks much worse. Let’s learn from Tiger.

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