Cheaters never prosper. But they sure do proliferate.
Not long after Tiger Woods crashed his SUV and set off a chain of events that would expose his alleged dalliances with a dozen different women, we watched his televised apology and figured this would surely be the biggest celebrity infidelity story of the year. The strippers, the “sexting”, the brief retirement from golf and deeply scrutinized comeback... gossip sites and late night monologue writers couldn’t have dreamed of a better scenario.
But then came Jesse James, whose affair with icky tattooed model Michelle “Bombshell” McGee destroyed his marriage to heartbroken girl next door Sandra Bullock, just weeks after she professed her love for him while accepting her best actress Oscar.
As per the celebrity modus operandi, James recently apologized on ABC’s Nightline, saying that cheating made him feel like a dirtbag and deep down he wanted to get caught.
Whether it’s Jude Law snogging with the nanny, Bill Clinton finding creative uses for a cigar or that woman in Toronto suing Rogers Wireless because her cellphone bills tipped her husband off to her affair, infidelity appears inescapable. And don’t think that we’ve forgotten about you, Hugh Grant, and your seedy sex act off the Sunset Strip 15 years ago this month. You were with Elizabeth Hurley for pete’s sake!
Are these high-profile cheaters the exceptions to the rule? Or are extramarital activities more widespread than we’d like to admit? Does our fascination with infidelity come from watching political leaders and Hollywood heavyweights being embroiled in real-life drama? Or do we take so much interest in them because their actions and antics hit close to home?
Given the success of infidelity-fuelled businesses like extramarital matchmaking site AshelyMadison.com and the infomercial/reality show Cheaters, the latter would seem to be true. Lots of us cheat, and at the very least most of us have let our minds wander, if not our private parts.
With all that in mind, and to dig deeper into what already seems like the Year of the Cheat, Sun Media and Leger Marketing conducted a confidential survey of more than 1,500 Canadians coast to coast, and we’re sharing the results in this three-part series.
We asked people if they’ve thought about cheating, if they’ve ever acted on the impulse and if they know whether or not they’ve been cheated on. We wondered if there was ever a justification for cheating, or if Facebooking an ex can be a purely platonic act.
We asked what people would do if they knew they’d been cheated on, and if the identity of the other person in the affair could make it better or worse. Finally, we wondered if emotional infidelity was more easily forgiven than physical cheating.
Today, we reveal the ugly truth that one in three Canadians say they’ve had an affair, with Ontarians and Quebecers the most likely to have stepped out on a partner (36% and 34% respectively.) Married men are much more likely to have cheated than married women (13% vs. 8%) although when it comes to having a physical relationship with someone else who is married, the genders are nearly neck and neck.
More than half of us believe everyone thinks about cheating at some point, over a third of us figure cheating doesn’t mean a lack of love for one’s partner, while 18% of us think cheating once can actually be positive for a relationship. Quebeckers are especially forgiving, or at least understanding, of infidelity – 53% of respondents in La Belle Province said cheating on someone doesn’t mean you don’t love them, and 28% said a one-off affair can actually be beneficial to the relationship.
A startling 40% of Canadians say they know they were cheated on at some point, but that doesn’t mean we think it’s right. Only 13% of us think being unhappily married but staying together for the kids’ sake is justification for cheating, and even getting back at a cheating spouse is only a reasonable excuse for 18% of us.
Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Tiger and Jesse, it’s that there’s no excuse for being a dirtbag.