Dear Em & Lo, Can Rehab Cure Jesse James & Tiger Woods?

Dear Em & Lo,

What is your opinion on the Jesse James fiasco and the Tiger Woods disaster? I cannot put myself to understand why a guy, who is married, needs to go out and ruin his marriage and family by sleeping with other girls. And why do these girls, who KNOW that these men are married, go along with it? Where is the sisterhood? I feel so sorry for Elin and Sandra. These women shouldn’t take back these cheating men, those guys obviously knew what they were doing so they cannot blame their actions on a thing like sex addiction.

— Vicariously Mad

Dear V.M.,

Okay, we’ll answer the easiest question first. For as long as there are men who want to cheat on their wives, there will be women willing to sleep with them. There may be an international sisterhood treaty, but observing it is entirely voluntary and not exactly widespread, so far as we can tell. So if a woman is willing to sleep with her nerdy married accountant boss, why wouldn’t she, in our celebrity-obsessed culture, sleep with a celebrity? Even if she wouldn’t sleep with her nerdy married accountant boss, attention from a celebrity can easily make her forget about the international sisterhood treaty.

A certain kind of woman loves the forbidden fruit of a taken man — perhaps it makes her feel like she’s won some kind of competition? And if that forbidden fruit is hugely rich and hugely famous with a wife who is a ridiculously gorgeous model or actress? Then it must be even more awesome to “win” that competition, we would assume. It’s gross and despicable but there you have it.

As for Jesse James and Tiger Woods: while we are not particularly qualified to discuss the subject of sex addiction, in our non-professional opinion, these men are most definitely douche-bags and probably not sex addicts. Power (or fame, they are interchangeable in this instance) does a weird thing to some people (women included) — it makes them think they are invincible, that the usual rules don’t apply to them. If there weren’t so many people willing to sleep with these power-mongers (either for the affirmation, the story or, in Eliot Spitzer’s case, for the cold hard cash), then maybe we would see these douchebags jumping off skyscrapers instead, believing they could fly.

That said, we don’t think rehab is a terrible idea. A decent rehab center can provide a humbling, thought-provoking, soul-searching experience for the rehabber, no matter what they tell the press they’re there for. Of course, these two men have to actually want to change. If they’re going to rehab just to get their wife back and avoid losing half their fortune, or if they’re there just to save their public image and multiple sponsorships deals…well, it would take a pretty tough counselor to break through that. But if it can happen in the movies, maybe it can happen in real life: Ever seen Sandra Bullock’s 28 Days?

Speaking of Sandra. Well, the cynics in us say that if you marry a bad boy who has previously dated/married/cheated on a rather select group of tattooed pornstars, what do you expect? Not that we have anything against tattooed pornstars, but again, we’re not sure that America’s sweetheart, a.k.a. the ultimate girl-next-door, can totally cure the biker dude of his bad boy ways anywhere else but in the movies.

Of course, Tiger Woods isn’t exactly your typical bad boy. In fact, he seems like kind of a nerd to us. But we guess that if you throw enough money, adulation, and women’s underwear at a nerd, eventually he’ll start to believe in and nurture his inner bad boy; we’ve seen plenty of men, who got no play in their nerdy youth, make up for lost time with a vengeance (and not much class) once they become successful. So maybe Elin has a greater incentive to take him back — maybe she thinks that rehab can help him rediscover his inner golf nerd/nice guy.

In the end, who knows why anyone takes a cheater back? Security, blind lust, companionship, love? A belief that everyone deserves a second chance to be a better spouse? A lack of faith in the concept of monogamy? A huge diamond ring? A desire to be in the Oval Office?

We wish we had a less depressing answer for you. Hey, at least Sandra won an Oscar! And if nothing else, maybe men like Tiger Woods and Jesse James can make us all appreciate the decent men and women, famous and non-famous, who don’t think they are invincible and don’t take monogamy for granted and who work damn hard to stay faithful to their one-and-only — or who at least are open about their extracurricular desires with their committed partner and try to negotiate an arrangement (or a breakup) before any behind-the-back betrayal begins.

Team Fidelity,

Em & Lo


  1. Good grief — a measured and thoughtful answer and response. I can always count on Em and Lo to miss out on the fun of being hysterical and preachy and drawing sweeping conclusions from the behavior of individuals. I mean, until I got here today, I thought the universe had repudiated extramarital fornication, as proven by Lefty beating Tiger in the Masters …

  2. In my opinion most people could qualify as sex addicts. sexual behavior is compulsive and it feels great so the majority of us humans just find it irresistible. Calling it addiction is a cop out and is nothing but a way for one to not accept the blame for irresponsible behavior! Heroin, Cocaine, Alcohol… those are addictions but no one writhes in pain because they don’t get laid.

  3. If I looked like Jesse James and had my pick of any “pen” I wanted to throw my “pig” into and I could graze all day at the trough of debauchery and sin it would be extremely hard …. to stay focused on just plowing one field.

  4. I heard a psychologist on tv say that sexual behavior like this is often a symptom of another disorder (sorry, I can’t fully attribute this). Which reinforces my opinion that sex is not an actual addiction to be treated directly.

    As for Tiger, it was so clearly about power. All his women were not powerful, not the most attractive, not wealthy. People often say ‘Elin is gorgeous; why would he cheat?’. But that’s exactly it — he wanted someone who would be submissive, who needed him, and who was not (by herself) in a position to cross him. If one of these girls had come out in a tabloid, no others and without the car crash, would anyone really believe her? There is apparently evidence that the Enquirer knew about one of them but suppressed the information once he promised a cover story for Men’s Fitness.

    Of course, all of this is much wordier than: He’s a douchebag. Or nutwrinkle. It’s your preference.

  5. I was reading through the posts and Johnny you hit it on the head. I think they just cheated. The end and the excuse is addiction and rehab. Will that become the excuse for everyone now. Being famous has to harder for men. Women throwing them free stuff all the time. Don’t think it makes you have an addiction.

  6. I agree that monogamy is not natural. I think people can do it successfully, but I think that generally people are are wired to be non-monogamous. Which doesn’t make it OK to cheat if you made a monogamous commitment to someone else…but I think as a society we need to re-examine our obsession with monogamy.

  7. I should have edited that. It was a low fee of just $3,000 a night. And I misspelled a lot of stuff I ought not to have.

  8. Johnny RE: Asshole ReHab! LOL! The greatest. You could make millions of dollars with an “Asshole ReHab Clinic.”

    “Are you an insufferable D. Bag? Do you hear the word “Asshole!” and automatically turn around? Do you think the world revolves around YOU? You have Asshole Behavior Managment Problems. Check into our Clinic (at the low, non-insurance covered fee of just $3,00 a night, food included) and we will tell you how it isn’t your fault for as long as you need to hear it. OR choose our Platinum Plated Plan and we sit you and a room and have Johnny let you know just what a F. Face you really are, until you repent.

    Check in today! It could either get you out of a lot of trouble, (the “It’s a disease, it’s not your fault” plan) or you might actually learn something that in 20 years of relationships proved you weren’t paying attention. We also have a shuffleboard court.”

  9. Too true! Although I suspect there would be a waiting list at the Asshole Rehab clinic…

  10. There’s nothing wrong with those two dudes sexually. Would that we could all bang our favorite porn stars.

    They don’t need sex-addict rehab. They need asshole rehab, a divorce, and never to get married again. They should never have promised monogamy (if that’s in fact what they did) knowing that they couldn’t provide it.

  11. Exactly! Maybe once upon a time “wandering” was necessary for human survival, but not anymore, we can chose and If you don’t believe in monogomy then DON’T SWEAR YOU WILL BE FAITHFUL!!! They are called vows, if you don’t intend to keep them don’t disrespect them and your partner by making them!!

  12. Thank you Em&Lo, I am happy to be in a relationship that is monogamous and we want to be monogamous. I would hate to be in Elin and Sandra’s situations, and yes, women do cheat too, but its mostly the men who have these headline stories.
    I respect the people who say monogamy is not natural, but we are beings of intelligence, we are not ‘animals.’ Yes, people cheat because they can, or in bad relationships, etc; but people have the power to talk about it to their partners, just communicate about what is missing from the relationship. Don’t go behind their backs and cheat. If the relationship isn’t what you wanted, get out. It’s sometimes hard to do, but its a lot better than to be labeled a cheater.

  13. I remember an article about unfaithfulness in which a shrink explained that unfaithfulness is a bad answer to a good question. I firmly believe it’s true. I believe people cheat because they’re unhappy or because they feel something is missing. Also, As Clinton said about his own affair, they cheat because they can.

    I’m always amazed by the concept of “sisterhood” perhaps because it doesn’t really exist in my country. Have you read John Edwards’ mistress article? You’ll have your answer: they sleep with married men because they can, because they want, and because they’re deluded.

    Monogamy might not be natural, but the point is they chose it. They should stick to it or leave, period.

  14. Evan, you’re right: We don’t have ALL the information and thus it is impossible to judge the situation. But their actions started a national conversation about infidelity and sexual addiction and rehab, so we thought we’d join in (at the request of a reader). Nonetheless, even without knowing all the details, we definitely think there is something to be said about the particular way that powerful/famous/rich people cheat.

  15. Monogamy is not natural. One can choose it, but it’s not the default way of being for humans.

    So give someone (a) a lot of time traveling away from the partner, (b) a lot of money, fame, and/or power and (c) a lot of willing partners, and many of them are likely to stray.

    V.M. should first off discard the notion that this is somehow a male vocation – many, many women cheat, too – and for the same reasons.

    Also, remember that you know nothing about the relationships they’re straying from – was there a healthy sexual relationship? Was there some degree of negotiated nonmonogamy? Was the relationship ending anyway for unrelated reasons?

    People’s bedroom behavior is no one’s business but theirs and their partners’. Thinking you can judge the morality of someone’s actions from afar is foolish, at best.

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