On staying faithful in Hollywood and elsewhere

After news of the Kristen Stewart mini-scandal broke this week, I was contacted by IBTimes writer Justine Ashley Costanza about infidelity amongst the famous and not-so-famous.   With her permission, I’m reprinting the conversation we had in preparation for her IBTimes article that appeared July 25th.

Dr Snyder, you’ve said you’re sympathetic to Stewart?

Absolutely.   She’s 22.  How many of us would like all the mistakes we made in our 20’s to be recorded on videotape?

Why would a 22-year-old woman cheat on her boyfriend of three years with a 41 year old married man?

Fidelity has lots of advantages, but absolute fidelity doesn’t come naturally.  It takes commitment. At 22, one is still learning from one’s mistakes.  It takes longer than that to know who you really are, what you really need, and how to resolve your conflicts.

Could it have anything to do with the fact that he’s her director?

The undivided attention an actress gets from her director can be very erotic.   As I mentioned in Twilight and the Art of Foreplay, that kind of attention can be very attractive to a woman. Look at all the Hollywood actresses who’ve ended up marrying or involved with their directors.  It’s staggering.

Can a couple ever get over this kind of thing?

Maybe not get over it, but get through it.   If there’s sincerity and real regret over what happened.

Do you recommend anything to read for couples struggling with the fallout from infidelity?

I like Janice Spring’s After the Affair.  It’s no-nonsense, and it captures the feeling of total disorientation experienced by the person who’s been cheated on.

What’s the hardest thing about when one’s partner or spouse has had an affair?

Partners who’ve been cheated on usually say the hardest part is having been lied to.    This has led some people to espouse so-called “ethical non-monogamy,” where one takes the emotional risk of telling one’s partner if one is thinking of going outside the marriage.

Do you think that’s feasible for most people?

I think it would be a stretch for most people.   The human impulse to say “mine” in the sphere of love is so strong.  And it’s reinforced in our culture from childhood on — all those candy hearts on Valentine’s Day that say “Be Mine.”    We’re raised to idealize the couple on the wedding cake.

What other advice would you give to couples trying to stay faithful?

Being in a committed relationship won’t stop you from developing romantic or sexual feelings for people outside the relationship.   If that happens, just enjoy the feelings as evidence that you’re still alive.   But don’t nurture them. They’re just feelings. They’ll usually pass if you don’t act on them.

Any parting advice for Kristen Stewart?

Remember your mistakes.  Having made this mistake at 22, you’ll be less likely to make it again at 41.

stephen snyder md author photo Stephen Snyder, MD

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