Emily Ratajkowski: The Serial Cheater: Why Do People Constantly Betray Their Partners? | Company
Last month, we were surprised to learn that supermodel Emily Ratajkowski and her husband, Sebastian Bear-McClard, had called it quits. They have been married for four years and have a one-year-old son together.
It was People magazine who confirmed, through an anonymous source close to the couple, that Ratajkowski had decided to end the relationship and that she was going to file for divorce. The reason for the separation apparently lies in the series of infidelities committed by Bear-McClard.
“Yeah, he cheated on her,” another unnamed source said. “He’s a serial cheater. It’s all very unpleasant.
The term “serial cheater” is derived from serial killer… it implies an irrepressible urge to cheat, regardless of the health of a relationship. If these alleged infidelities were confirmed, it would seem that Bear-McClard didn’t care that his wife was the mother of his son and one of the most sought-after models in the world.
Of course, the Ratajkowski-Bear-McClard affair is not the only one of its kind. Throughout history, much more famous personalities – like John F. Kennedy, Elisabeth Taylor, Jack Nicholson, Tiger Woods, Brad Pitt or Chris Rock – have been accused of having a tendency to sleep with several people behind their backs. of their partner.
If the serial cheater really exists, what triggers the urge to be unfaithful? Why can’t people control themselves? To find the answers to these questions, El País spoke with therapists Inés Bárcenas and Ainhoa Plata.
Characteristics of a serial cheater
“In psychology, there is no such label,” Plata explains, “but there are personality traits that make some people more prone to cheating.”
According to Plata, this behavior is due to certain psychological pathologies that many cheaters have in common.
“It is most likely a narcissistic personality disorder,” continues the doctor. “Narcissists use others to feel loved and admired. They enjoy challenges and continually prove to themselves that they are above others. For this reason, they like to experience the passion of falling in love…they feel more admired and valued in this space than in a long-term relationship.The narcissist is not satisfied with a stable and lasting relationship, because over time his partner gains independence and ceases to idolize him. [subsequently] satisfy the narcissist’s needs.
According to Bárcenas, narcissists also tend to suffer from histrionic personality disorder, which means they place a high value on physical attractiveness and sexual appeal. “Perhaps they never manage to consummate the act of infidelity”, says the psychologist, “but they like to please and flirt. They are incapable of maintaining a purely friendly relationship with someone of the opposite sex. .
Bárcenas identified an avoidant attachment in many of these patients. “These people have generally been taught in childhood that love is overwhelming…intimacy is harmful, overwhelming. This means that in their adult relationships, when things get serious and their partner invites them to commit more firmly, they rebel against him by developing behaviors in response to the supposed “intrusion”.
The therapist also notes that low self-esteem is another driver of this type of infidelity. “The serial cheater seeks to validate themselves by feeling attractive to others. These are people who have been valued by their environment based on their beauty or beauty, charisma… and never unconditionally.
“[You hear] absurd justifications in consultation with people who have long histories of infidelity,” Plata adds. “Humans are unfaithful by nature, but we are not ready to understand [this quality] and that is why it must be hidden. People don’t tell the truth out of altruism, so as not to destroy their partner, so that their children do not experience family conflict.
“Often they create a version of reality in which the infidelity is almost the partner’s fault,” Bárcenas explains. “I can’t help it…it’s just that I’m so attractive that other people cling to me… [cheaters] are never responsible for what happens to them and this is what is most frustrating for their partners. They also do not fully understand the impact of their behavior on those around them; they are incapable of putting themselves in another’s place. In fact, one of the most important tasks in therapy is to help a patient understand and integrate the effects their behavior has on others.
“That being said, not all cheating people have personality disorders or mental issues. Sometimes infidelities have to do specifically with a partner.
The effects of social media and the pandemic
Although infidelities have always existed, it seems clear that social media and dating apps have produced a multiplier effect regarding the possibilities, varieties and ease of being unfaithful to your partner. According to a 2014 study in the UK, social media was cited as a reason for separation in a third of cases. The numbers have since increased further.
“Networks and apps have totally changed the game for serial cheaters,” says Bárcenas. “Now it’s much easier to contact people, create fake identities and hide everything from your partner. In fact, in every case I’ve seen, people were repeatedly cheating on their partner, dating apps and social media were involved.
According to the therapist, these applications lead us to see people as consumer goods. “They make us think, ‘If I don’t get along with this person, there are a thousand others I can flirt with.'”
As if that weren’t enough, the pandemic has exacerbated relationship issues. According to Plata, “After the pandemic, psychologists were overwhelmed with work.” But the opposite effect also happened. Bárcenas remembers: “I saw couples who were in deep crisis and who, thanks to spending so much time locked up together with less background noise, were able to resolve their difficulties. I think the pandemic has been a catalyst for both good and bad. »
A problem that can be solved
“In psychotherapy, we always say if there’s a problem, there’s a solution,” says Plata. “However, for a solution to be effective, it is essential that the person really wants to change the negative aspect of his character.”
“It’s one of the hardest things to work on,” concludes Bárcenas. “There is no quick treatment. You have to work on identity, self-esteem… it’s a very long road that consists of exploring and reconfiguring the link between yourself and others. But yes, it is possible to improve yourself and be better for others.