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Why Married Men Cheat

What makes married eyes wander?

Special Guest Post by Dr. Valerie Golden

Lots of married men cheat. Rich and prominent CEOs, world leaders, and movie stars have been known to fall for their (usually younger) female colleages--and everybody seems to have a story that proves this to be true. Sure, infidelity afflicts not just the rich and famous (and it is not just for men)--but it does seem to occur with some frequency in certain hyper-privileged circles. So, how come so many rich and powerful men succomb to affairs?

Do these masters of the universe live by a different set of rules, or at least believe they do? Is it just the thrill of clandestine sex, the challenge of getting away with it? Do the rich and powerful feel unworthy or guilty--and are they somehow secretly hurtling toward self-destruction? Does power drive arrogance, making them believe they will never get caught? The answer is: possibly yes, and then some. And here's where it gets complicated.

Imagine you are a newly minted billionaire, CEO of a major multinational corporation, a head of state, or some other type of power player. You can buy anything you want. Other fabulously rich and important people seek out your company. In fact, they all return your calls. Immediately. You have access to anyone and anything you desire. The honors, invitations, accolades and attention just keep coming. Beautiful women practically throw themselves at you (even though your eighth grade inner nerd is alive and well inside your psyche). You are surrounded by an entourage of admirers eager to cater to your every whim. Perhaps your success and good fortune are greater than you ever imagined--and if you have to pinch yourself, you will.

At home, however, your wife of 5, 10, or 20 years is not holding you in awe. Even if she still loves you dearly, it is hard for anyone to sustain in the flesh unconditional, constant adoration that others in your distant circle might lavish upon you for your worldly success. Perhaps your wife is quite accustomed to you being away from home, or has turned her focus to her own very full and interesting life. Likewise, your children almost surely see you as “Dad,” rather than the exceptional specimen of humanity that you believe you have become. Add to the mix, the fact that you have come to like the responses you get from the outside world. More and more, you may have come to expect the world to reflect how downright extraordinary, exceptional, and wonderful you truly are. It is not a big leap for all this to lead you right into temptation and ultimately disaster in the form of . . . gasp . . . an illicit affair or worse.

Power has been deemed “the ultimate aphrodisiac” for good reason. Without making excuses for bad behavior, it is a fact that the extremely rich and powerful can be confronted with greater temptations than the average bear--and they often succumb. That ever-present entourage of sycophants who pump up your ego, cater to your every whim, laugh at even your worst jokes, curry favor in every way imaginable, feign agreement with whatever you say, and almost constantly seek you out for your perceived wisdom and insight, can win out over . . . yawn . . . the humdrum virtues of humility and good judgment. Especially if they become your constant companion and frame of reference without the counterbalance/assault of reality that most of us have to confront in our everyday lives.

Most highly successful people have certain things in common that contribute to this “perfect storm.” They are often highly responsive to and desirous of praise and recognition from others. They may even need it . . . desperately. Without the drive to prove their self worth, further their own greatness and accomplishments, and get back the recognition of same from the world around them, they likely wouldn’t have become as focused, ambitious, successful and powerful in the first place. They also tend to be highly goal-oriented. Goals can include money, power, sexual conquests, social status, access to other prominent bigwigs, etc.. Taken to an extreme, these inclinations can become a fault rather than a strength. In either case, however, the taste for entitlement, power, greatness and the like can become intoxicating and addictive, distorting reality and eclipsing other more stabilizing pleasures of daily life such as true friends, home and family.

So sometimes rich and powerful men cheat--a perfect storm that leaves a path of destruction in its wake.

Stephanie Newman, Ph.D., is the author of Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show, which can be purchased fromBarnes & Noble, Indie Bound, andAmazon.