By Carolyn Bushong
Tiger, a very private and arrogant billionaire golfer, is in big trouble. Why
does this matter so much to all of us? He says this is a private
matter, but he is a public figure and we want to understand what
Why would a
32-year-old man who has everything, including a beautiful wife, risk
losing it all for sex with other women?
Some people think maybe he’s a sex addict, and maybe he is. But I
believe he has the “I’m rich and famous and can do anything I want”
syndrome. OJ had it, Clinton and other politicians have had it, and
even some of my seemingly normal clients who make a lot of money
have it. They believe that there is a certain “entitlement” that
comes from being an exceptionally good provider. One couple I’ll
call Bob and Sue that I worked with here in my Denver office had
this issue. Bob made tons of money and cheated on Sue while they
were engaged, and she couldn’t decide whether to continue with the
wedding or not. She did decide to go forward, but with my help, she
set some conditions that he didn’t like very much. He of course
swore that he would never do it again. She didn’t believe him, but
said, “Fine then you won’t mind putting it in a pre-nup that if you
cheat on me again, all three houses will be immediately transferred
to my name, as well as the stock portfolio, then the rest will be
split according to Colorado law.” He gulped, but eventually agreed.
Is it true
“once a cheater always a cheater?”
Usually it is. Most men who cheat just get better at covering it up
as time goes on. As we know, Tiger’s wife, Elin, had checked
Tiger’s cell phone and found a name or names and phone numbers. My
female clients who suspect their men of cheating check their cell
phones and credit card bills online, as well as the bank
statements. Long-term cheaters have learned to have separate cell
hones and credit cards that they use only for their affairs.
do this because he wishes he was single again or wants to find
Men who cheat usually don’t want to leave their wives, instead they
want it both ways. They want the warm cozy family life as well as
the wildly exciting life of dating a variety of women. One of my
male clients here in Denver I’ll call George recently suggested this
to his wife of 30 years in a session with me. She had just found a
phone message from his assistant at work discussing her husband’s
plans to go away with her. Once confronted, he admitted it (which
is rare) and suggested, “Why can’t we just take a break from the
relationship and date other people for awhile and see what
happens?” You can imagine her response.
just get married too young to be able to settle down?
Tiger is only 32 and has been in a committed relationship since his
mid-20’s. He may not have sewn his wild oats, as they say. I have
a 26-year-old client I’ll call Sam who came in worried that he’s a
serial cheater. He says he married at 22 and cheated and then
divorced. Then he lived with a woman at 24, cheated and moved out.
And now is cheating on his present girlfriend. I told him that his
problem seems to be more that he is committing to monogamy too soon
to women he likes -- that he’s too young to know what he wants
long-term. If he was honest with them and dated around instead of
making promises he can’t keep, he probably would not be a cheater.
Sam says he has to give the women what they want to keep them. I
told him to tell them he cares about them, but is not ready to
settle down and probably won’t be ready for many more years. I
don’t know Tiger’s dating history, but I’m sure that being married
when you’re in your prime (both age-wise and career-wise and have
more opportunities than you ever dreamed of) is difficult. Tiger
said he wasn’t being true to his values. He may be too young and
immature to be able to be monogamous.
Am I letting
him off the hook? Absolutely not. Cheating is wrong.
When you make a commitment to someone, you should either keep it or
get a divorce. That’s the right thing to do. But is it what most
people do? No, because there’s usually too much to lose – children,
money, and in Tiger’s case, image.
So is Tiger
a good guy or a bad guy?
Neither. He’s a normal guy with flaws like the rest of us. But
that’s not the image he has projected. He has presented a “perfect”
image that makes us all hungry for this bad news. When someone
pretends to be “perfect,” we start to believe it at first, and then
we are very relieved when we find out that he is as “imperfect” as
we are. For us to love Tiger again, he has to come off the pedestal
and help us understand what really happened here so that we can
embrace his humanness.