On the way to work today I heard a radio personality muse about the rampant sexual infidelity among politicians and sports figures. They talked about how people (i.e., men as the stereotype goes) in power have much more opportunity for sexual acting out because they have more women offering themselves to them. Probably true…
But, is it that they have more opportunity (and thus more chance to give in to temptation) or is it because they have a personality that sets themselves up for infidelity? And would you have a different answer if we were talking about bribe taking or other financial temptations instead of sexual indiscretion?
I think they are the same AND I think every has opportunity (some more than others). What matters is one’s perceptions of self and others. While personality plays a part of our self awareness, the drive to win, be the best, to get the prize, listening only to one’s fans, the sense that you are better than others also is formed from self-talk. Thus, opportunity makes it possible but failure to be self-critical is the key feature that makes opportunity become reality.
6 responses to “Infidelity: personality or opportunity?”
I like the way this musing is summed up: Thus, opportunity makes it possible but failure to be self-critical is the key feature that makes opportunity become reality. There is no doubt that opportunity is much greater for some than it is for others. Personality can also be a factor in infidelity. However, people who would have thought they had personalities that would “never” give in to infidelity have been surprised that it happened to them. So I agree, being self-critical is very important. It will help us make wise choices and avoid tempting situations whenever possible. Sometimes people seem to set themselves up for problems like infidelity and porn addiction. Being self-critical and aware of our needs, weaknesses, and self-talk can help prevent much heartache. When necessary, it may be helpful to get some assistance from a psychotherapist as well.
Coming from a characterlogical perspective, I’ve found that most unfaithful men have personality traits along the narcissistic spectrum…and it also happens that many powerful people need narcissistic traits to get into those positions where opportunity is increased so it goes hand in hand.
Grandiosity, lack of viewing others as equal beings, desires for admiration to prop up an impoverished sense of self, lack of acceptance of limitations…all of these seem to contribute to infidelity.
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I wonder if the impetus to fall (or throw one’s self) into those kinds of things isn’t the result of a uniquely staged cocktail of circumstances: personality traits + present stressors + history of disappointment + quality of Christian community + sudden/exciting opportunity. If the demons that surround us have had a lifetime to study us, and unlimited hatred for the image of God in us (Christian and non-Christian alike), I’d assume they’d use any combination of resources available to mar that image as publicly and ostensibly as possible.
I’m sure these are all true. I would add one more to your cocktail: the history of self-talk. How we talk to ourself about our circumstances and value shapes how we will respond to opportunity.