I'm a Dave Letterman fan. My husband and I TiVo his show and watch it a few nights a week. I happened to be watching last Thursday night when Dave announced that he had done some "very, very bad things."
By now, most of you have heard the story. If not, the gist is that a CBS news producer, Robert Joel Halderman, asked Dave to pay him $2 million. The hush money was intended to keep Dave's "very, very bad things" a secret. The secret involved Dave having sexual relationships with female members of his staff. If Dave did not pay up, Halderman was threatening to expose Dave's forays in a screenplay. In other words, according to police reports, this was an extortion attempt.
Over the weekend, The New York Times followed up on Dave's announcement with an article on blackmail, and there have been subsequent articles covering Dave's apology and the possible aftermath. What I would like to follow up on is the topic of single women having affairs with married men. I don't know all the details of David Letterman's story, but his announcement awakened my curiosity about why women are dissing other women by having affairs with their husbands.
A search on Google for "why do single women have affairs with married men" results in 1.7 million hits. Guess it's a hot topic.
Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, Rielle Hunter and John Edwards, the Argentine woman and Mark Sanford. The story of the single woman having an affair with the married man. These are the stories of public figures, and the private stories are even greater in number.
In a discussion group on Oprah's website, many women shared their experience of their husband having an affair with a single woman. One woman said that her husband had an affair with a co-worker and that the woman knew he was married and had kids. Even though she had this information, she would text and call him at all times of the night wanting him to come over and be with her. "How can a woman do that to another woman?" she asked.
My question exactly. Why are women hurting other women? Why are they willfully stepping into a situation that can damage lives (their own included)?
One explanation might come from Susan Sheppard, founder of Getting What You Want, a life and relationship coaching organization with a mission of promoting sacred intimacy. She says: "The woman who gets involved with a married man is... looking for attention and affection."
I did some more research and other reasons I found are: Enhanced self-esteem, self-image and power; excitement, risk, and challenge; and sex.
Probably most important is what showed up in the online discussion groups revealing that there are lots of women who feel they are gaining some kind of power from "taking a man away" from another woman.
It's ironic to me that some women list "enhanced self-esteem and power" as their reason for having an affair, when it seems the exact opposite is true. By deceiving another woman, she is actually depleting her power. In other words, by deceiving another woman, she is causing more pain and damage to the feminine psyche and is perpetuating a pattern of mistrust among women.
"Many women cannot be trusted... they are gossipy, catty, and will stab you in the back," wrote one woman in the discussion group on Oprah's site.
"Women compete with each other... we live to tear each other apart," said another.
Wow. Do we really need to continue this pattern? Is it possible to support each other as women? What would it be like if there was a sisterhood among women where if you knew a man was married, you would leave him alone? Hmmm....
In my opinion, the more we deceive each other, the more we will lose trust in our gender -- and this really isn't good for our self-esteem. If we want to be powerful, how about saying, "no"?
What do you think?