As news broke recently about David Letterman’s admitted relationships with women who worked for him, it points again to the fact that people in the spotlight tend to act out when stressed and pursue illicit relationships. The Letterman scandal was brought to light by a CBS newsman who originally tried to use the information as part of an extortion scheme. The man was apparently desperate and deeply in debt when he tried to blackmail the talk show host for two million dollars, forcing the late night comic to acknowledge having sex with some of the women who work for him.
This accusation and subsequent admission on Letterman’s part has created a sticky legal and professional situation. Although the affairs were prior to his marriage to his long-time girlfriend, the couple was apparently together during the time of the indiscretions.
What’s Behind Serial Adultery?
I’m reminded of the circumstances surrounding John Edward’s affair. While some of the key details are different – Edwards had a family, his wife was sick, he was likely fearing her death and a drastic change in his family and career – many of the important details are the same. Both are men in the spotlight, under an immense amount of pressure. People in the public eye have a higher instances of affairs because they’re under intense stress on a daily basis, and therefore are more prone toward a self-medicated high to temporarily cancel out the stressful emotions they feel. Edwards and Letterman both have the problem of being serial adulterers, which I explain more in my book, Makeup Don’t Breakup. But the good news is that since both these men have come clean to their families and the public, this situation can actually bring their respective families closer. The truth is out in the open and ready to be dealt with.
Traditionally, men have a harder time talking about their feelings and therefore seek “comfort” by engaging in risky behavior. Once this behavior is discovered – often in the form of an affair – it doesn’t have to signal the end of a relationship. Instead, it can be used as a spring board for honest discussion. More information on facilitating these types of discussions following potentially disastrous indiscretions – relational, financial and otherwise – can be found in my book, Financial Infidelity.