Dr. Jenn Mann is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and InStyle columnist. She is best known for her hit VH1 show, Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn, and is a bestselling author, most recently of The Relationship Fix.
Our worst Lemonade fears were seemingly confirmed when Jay-Z released his confessional album 4:44, alluding to infidelity. But it wasn’t yesterday, when Jay-Z referenced his cheating outright in an interview with T: The New York Times Magazine that we were 100% sure.
Any time an idealized celebrity couple struggles with infidelity, it can push our buttons. In addition to crushing our romantic fantasies about perfect relationships, it puts personal anxieties into high gear. I have had more than one person in my therapy practice say, “If [insert gorgeous star here]'s husband cheated on her, what hope is there for me?” But the assumptions behind that thinking is flawed—that cheating is about how attractive, sexy, or desirable a partner is. Really, that's not what infidelity is about.
I find that most often, people cheat because of a lack of connection in the relationship. Most people don't realize how important creating, maintaining, and nurturing connection in a relationship is. There will always be temptations—for preternaturally beautiful celebrities, multiply that by about a thousand—but when a couple is feeling connected the odds that a partner will act on those temptations decreases significantly. Studies show that only 7% of cheating women and 8% of men cheated due to sexual dissatisfaction, the vast majority cheated either because a lack of emotional connection in the relationship or a combination of a lack of emotional and sexual connection in the relationship. It is clear from Jay Z‘s words that this was the case for him. He has shared how his experience from his childhood made him shut down emotionally, making it difficult to connect.
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There is a misconception that if a couple loves each other, they can put their relationship on autopilot, and it will be fine. That is not the case. Relationships require time, energy, and investment in order to remain strong. Celebrities face added challenges like tour schedules that require them to be apart, adoring fans that make for easy cheating opportunities, love scenes in movies, and handlers who won’t call their bosses out on bad behavior for fear of losing their jobs. At the same time, I have worked with many celebrities who have created powerful connections in their relationships that provided the load-bearing structures in their lives necessary to avoid infidelities. The bottom line is that connection is the antidote to infidelity.
Putting time and energy into your relationship is the most important thing that you can do to create a strong, unbreakable bond. That means expressing affection through actual face time as well as digital communication, giving one another eye-contact-strong attention, bringing fun into each other's lives, and making an active effort to remain physically intimate. Those are by no means simple charges, but they are the keys to providing both partners a sense of fulfillment within the relationship, and that's true whether you're Beyoncé and Jay Z or, truly, anyone else.