Jesse James. David Letterman. Tiger Woods. We all know what these names have in common!
Celebrity affairs are nothing new, yet somehow we're shocked every time one comes to light. Are we made into fools with our love of our favorite stars? Is it the gleam of the glitzy and glamorous that blinds us to the true nature of their relationships?
It seems like you can't go a week in Hollywood without someone breaking their vows, and every time it just gets worse. The girls get younger and the details get more salacious - one guy will cheat on his wife with a prostitute, and another will leave his spouse pregnant and heartbroken. At home, we groan and shake our heads, but we still devour every bit of new information like the gossip hounds we are. We ask ourselves: why? We also ask ourselves why people like Arnold Schwarzenegger are not using places like Ashley Madison, where they can have discreet affairs, and not get caught up banging their employees, and becoming headline news. It is actually amazing that a huge homosexual affair scandal hasn't blown someone's marriage and Hollywood career apart yet.
Why do celebrities cheat? How do they think they'll get away with it? When their wives are already super models and megastars, what more could they possibly want?
One possibility is despite having millions of dollars, celebrities experience boredom, especially traveling all the time. What looks glossy and exciting to us is actually old hat for them - interviews, screaming crowds, red carpet appearances, etc. Even celebrity nightlife has its limits, and it's something revered by tabloids worldwide. We say we're tired of seeing Lindsay Lohan stumble out of nightclubs, but how do you think Lindsay herself feels, experiencing the same scene in the same clubs with the same paparazzi night after night? Is it any wonder she has to drink herself unconscious just to escape the monotony of it all?
Affairs can be a breath of fresh air for the work-weary celebrity. Sex is exciting; *illicit* sex is an even bigger thrill. When you're a celebrity, wealth becomes work and luxuries become so commonplace they lose their comfort. To find a bigger high, you need a bigger risk.
Affairs can also provide an ego boost to the insecure celebrity. Think about it - we go starry-eyed at the thought of all those actors running around Vancouver and Los Angeles, but to an actual actor, they look at the same people and only see competition. There's nothing special about being an actor surrounded by other actors. Go into Wal-Mart, however, and it's an entirely different story. It's not uncommon for male celebrities to find themselves craving the attention of less-famous women or even anonymous prostitutes - it means they're fawned over in a way they can't get with their spouse, especially when that spouse is famous themselves. Celebrity marriages are often fraught with competition, jealousy, and self-doubt. When a couple works in the same industry, butting heads and comparing themselves to each other is inevitable. By having an affair with someone outside (or even just on the fringes of) Hollywood, celebrity men find themselves empowered and validated in a way they can't get with their wife.
Affairs can also stroke the constitutions of struggling and B-list celebrities. Jon Gosselin, for example, was almost certainly looking for an ego boost when he cheated on his wife with a 20something from Utah. He'll never walk the red carpet, but to a young country women he might as well be Johnny Depp.
Of course, even with all the justifications in the world, these men are still cheaters. They may be rich and famous, but that doesn't matter to an angry and embarrassed wife. Just look at Tiger Woods - when his wife found evidence of another woman on his phone, she chased with him one of his own golf clubs and caused him to crash his car right into the smiling fangs of the paparazzi. Then some TWELVE other women came forward admitting to having affairs with Tiger Woods.
Most celebrity cheaters don't expect to get caught. They'll give large sums of money to their mistresses to keep them quiet, assuming that will buy their loyalty. (They're mistaken.) They find themselves lax - too lax - about things like sex tapes and being incriminated in public. Photographers are everywhere, just waiting for someone to screw up.
When they get caught, the public backlash can be significant, especially if the wife is a well-liked celebrity in her own right. When Jesse James cheated on Sandra Bullock, the outcry was angry and immediate. When Tiki Barber's affair hit the tabloids, he was practically crucified.
Of course, it didn't help that his wife was eight months pregnant while he was cheating with a 23-year-old intern.
Despite the scandal, however, sometimes celebrity couples can pull through. Victoria Beckham has endured several claims that husband David Beckham was unfaithful with prostitutes and personal assistants. Coleen Rooney stood by her man even when he publicly admitted that he'd solicited sex workers while she was pregnant - he apologized and the couple are still married and raising their son.
Though it's rare, sometimes an unlikely affair can turn into a beloved Hollywood couple. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie only came together through the dissolution of his marriage to Jennifer Aniston, and for a long time the media considered them both unforgivable home-wreckers. But with time - and by starting a family together - they're remade their image into a loving duo and media darling.
We may never know for sure why celebrities have affairs. We can speculate, but the only real judges are the celebrities themselves, and most of them get pretty tight-lipped at the question. Maybe it's the added pressure of being famous. Maybe they're just like regular couples who have relationship issues, except theirs are splashed across magazines in a way that ours aren't.
Regardless, it's probably best not to build your marriage using Hollywood as a guide.