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Inside the Mind of a Cheater

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Marriage and family therapist Shannon Fox explains why people cheat.

Gordon Ramsey

When we realized we had celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's alleged mistress Sarah Symonds on tape speaking of a past affair, we were riveted by the never-seen-before footage. The thing that struck us most was how unemotional she sounded, how laissez faire she seemed about the whole thing.

We asked momlogic marriage and family therapist Shannon Fox to analyze the videos and share her thoughts.

momlogic: How does a mistress justify her actions?

Shannon Fox: Being a mistress is a very selfish act. It doesn't take other people's feelings into account. A mistress' self-esteem is so low, she will take any crumbs of attention the cheating man will give her. She will give the man the utmost attention and the best sex, thinking she can win him over and then that will make her worthy. She so needs the man to build her up, she will do whatever it takes. She can't see beyond her own needs.

Oftentimes, mistresses were cheated on themselves. At one point, they might have had a sense of sisterhood with other women, but once they were cheated on, that went away ... and now it's all about revenge. Women are so competitive. If a woman can win a man away from another women, that means she wins. If he would choose her over his own family, that must mean she's desirable! This just feeds her poor ego.

momlogic: Why does a high-profile man who seemingly has it all cheat?

Shannon Fox: Part of it is because they can. In general, cheating is an issue of character. But it can also be an issue of opportunity. There are some men out there who don't cheat now, but they might if they had women coming up to them all the time offering sex. Famous men walk into a room and know that 8 out of 10 women would sleep with them.

For someone's who's famous, it actually takes more effort not to cheat than it takes to cheat. A normal guy would have to go out of his way to cheat with someone, but a famous guy has to say "no, no, no" all the time in order to stay faithful.

Part of what makes a man famous also helps him be a cheater. He's powerful and charismatic. He's often away from his family on business. He's surrounded by people who tell him yes, and how great he is. That makes it very easy to cheat.

Why do men in power -- whether it be a pastor, politician, athlete, or actor -- cheat? Everyone is in love with their persona, except their wife. Their wife is the only person in the world who really knows their flaws. Cheating is their opportunity to live as their persona. They might cheat with an adoring sex kitten who thinks they're perfect, but then they go back home to their wives who talks about bills and the fact that their socks are out of the hamper again. He doesn't want to live in the real world. He wants to be who everyone thinks he is ... because it sure would feel a lot better.

momlogic: What can we learn from these tapes?

Shannon Fox: The lesson to be learned here is that affairs almost always come out, especially if the person if famous. With my experience with clients, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to keep an affair under wraps. 65% of marriages will end in divorce if there is an affair. That means only 35% of marriages survive. That's a pretty serious gamble to take.

When things are going wrong in a marriage, many people think cheating is the easy way out -- but it leads to a much harder road in the end. Think about what the lying and cheating and betrayal does to the marriage and the family, and the trust. It would be so much easier if you would go to your spouse and say, "We're having some problems, let's figure this out before something happens that we both regret. Let's see a counselor." If you're tempted to cheat, just remember it's not the easy way out, not by a longshot.

I also thought it was fascinating how Sarah Symonds was shocked that her married boyfriend lied to her about not sleeping with his wife. Of course he's lying ... that's the definition of a cheater. If he lies to his wife of 12 years, you think he won't lie to YOU? What a shocking revelation to learn that cheaters lie!

Why do you think people cheat? Comment below.

next: Mom, Why's My Room a Home Gym?
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
amanda November 28, 2008, 12:59 AM

Well how come in this article, your talking about famous people cheating and saying normal guys would be the most faithful, when nine out of ten “normal guys” are the ones to cheat? Im married now…but I have been cheated on and it hurts…terribly. I mean, who hasnt been cheated on? The normal guys are the ones who are more likely to cheat than the famous guys (dealing with careers and other “important” things) even though they’re all equal beings. I look at it like this, if a guy is going to choose to be in a relationship (serious or not), then why should he have to have another female in his life? Why would a guy need to cheat on a woman if he has what he chose to be with? Even kissing and sentimental hugging, and talking certain ways to another woman…IS CONSIDERED CHEATING! It’s not just having sex with someone that makes you become a cheater, because once you do something behind your partners back that they would disapprove of because of the way they see things is considered cheating. A guy has stepped down from being a man back to being a little kid if they’re going to cheat on there partner. So its not just the “famous people” that are more likely to cheat, because all guys are the same, they just have different knowledge about women and common sense about relationships. A guy doesnt deserve to be called a man if they have cheated on their spouse. If you ask me when it comes to a guy cheating or anything that can be considered cheating they dont have a right to be called human because only animals screw around…a dog isnt going to stick to having sex or being with one dog at a time…they’re going to screw any dog that walks…and when a guy cheats or does anything considered cheating…they only deserve to be called A DOG!!! because thats what dogs do! All guys bleed the same, everyone bleeds the same, so when a guy can prove himself to a woman is when they earn the right to step up from being a DOG to being a MAN! I know im married, but that wont stop my husband from cheating on me, so for future references for anyone including myself…this is some helpful advice. You dont need a guy in your life to make you happy, or keep you living. Keep your head up and remember this “If a guy has to cheat, he’s nothing but a DOG. He becomes a MAN when he proves himself to be a faithful person.”—Amanda Jones, VA—

Anonymous December 14, 2008, 12:02 AM

Most people lack courage and honor.

Only a very few of us are left…

A sad state, very sad indeed.

g k December 21, 2008, 1:19 PM

I’ve been married for 15 years and just discovered my husband cheating. He said it wasn’t because I got sick and his fear of losing me but, because he was at the top of his game with his career. He felt powerful out in the world and helpless at home.
How can he feel like this woman has a good heart when she knowingly slept with another womans husband? she’s a marriage and family therapist!!
-seriously thinking of bringing her before a review board!

WMS January 17, 2009, 12:28 AM


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