Infidelity has gone mainstream.
Once the domain of paparazzi journalism, the guilty-pleasure rags you might casually flip through waiting in a checkout line, celebrity indiscretions have become real news. Tiger Woods' image shattered late last year and has dominated headlines on and off since, but his is neither the first nor last case of celebrity cheating to make recent news. Letterman, Kobe, MJ, Pitt, and now even The Boss are all sports or entertainment figures who need no further identification and who are either confirmed or rumored cheaters, past and present. Sandra Bullock was still wondering where to put the Oscar when her husband's indiscretions hit the press (probably giving her a couple fresh ideas of where to put it).
And if even Bill Clinton could not hide an intern under a desk, you would think other politicians might learn a thing or two. Negative! Elliot Spitzer could not hide his hooker, John Edwards, his baby, or Mark Sandford, his mistress (even in a completely different hemisphere!).
So what do philandering celebs, jocks, and politicians have to do with you? How does the world of the rich, famous, and high profile intersect with that of working cops? Well, maybe not in many ways, but the threat and devastation of infidelity is real to both. In this article we will be looking at some of the common - but often unique - dynamics that bring the threat of cheating to law enforcers' relationships.
What do law enforcement officers have in common with the likes of the above celebrities? Probably more than you might think. Driven, take-charge, risk-taking alpha personalities are prominent among those who rise to the top in business, sports, and entertainment. They are also prominent, even necessary, in cops. And they may also make you more likely to have an affair. Alpha personalities exhibit traits of confidence, athleticism, and leadership abilities. They can take charge of a crisis, tend to have financial stability, and are often charismatic. These traits, especially in men, are very attractive to the opposite sex. For women, this cuts the dating pool significantly because most likely you will find beta personalities unattractive, ruling out the majority of potential partners. Another reason alpha personalities may be prone to affairs is they often have some traits of narcissism that feed the belief they are too smart to be caught in an indiscretion. Or they believe even if they are caught, they will have the charisma to charm their way out of it. Alpha personalities often believe others will not leave them, so the risks of an affair may not be a deterrent.
Power and Proximity
Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac - Henry Kissinger
Countless people, across all professions, can thank power and status, real or perceived, for their amorous success. Think about it. Supervisor and subordinate, professor and student, athlete and fan, politician and page. Many times the attraction and feelings are based on all the things that make for good, healthy relationships, sure; but very often they are based on an attraction to the power or status the boss, teacher, jock, or politician holds. In that event, there is at least a real attraction to something about the person. But sometimes the subordinate, student, fan, or page is altogether uninterested in the person, or even the power and status of their position, and is instead cynically focused on what can be gained personally from the relationship.
And as the police you are living, breathing, and accessible representations of power and status! For some admirers, the authority of the job is key; the power is an aphrodisiac. For others, perhaps someone you have helped or protected, or even just treated with kindness, gratitude turns to admiration and attraction. And for yet others, cozying up to a cop is a means to an end; the officer and relationship are merely tools to be kept for future benefit.
The proximity issue is actually a twofold problem for cops. Like the professions of the rich and famous that demand much of their time, while placing them up close and personal with admiring hordes, policing presents unique risks to a relationship. The job can put physical and, if you are not careful, emotional space between officer and spouse with its often long and unusual hours. Conversely, it can put you in very close contact with attractive coworkers, with whom you share common schedules, traits and experiences, and citizens you get used to seeing and visiting with every day as you cover your beat. And there is nothing wrong with going car-to-car with that colleague or befriending the sweet waitress at your favorite lunch stop or coffee shop, unless the friendship develops into greater emotional intimacy. When that happens, emotional connections develop that will supplant those between the officer and his or her spouse. Even if the emotional affair never turns physical (although it likely will) the damage to the officer's relationship at home has already been done.
In the town Mike works we have a central downtown filled with excellent restaurants, bars, and upscale shopping. It is very crowded and popular during the summer months attracting people of all ages, including the young, beautiful college co-ed. It was not uncommon when Mike was working late evening and very early morning hours that he and other officers would receive a lot of attention, flirting, and even outright propositions from these ladies. Mike knew from experience that if he was out of uniform, these same ladies would never notice him in his polo shirts, jeans or khaki shorts, and white trainers. He knew it had nothing to do with him; the badge (or what it represented) was far sexier than he had ever been accused of being! So, if Mike was the wandering type and wanted to have an affair, the picking would have been easy. Police officers have fans and followers of the opposite sex: Groupies, otherwise known as badge bunnies.
In fact, there are complete websites devoted to women and men in the pursuit of dating and marrying a cop. The allure of the badge is so powerful to the extremists in this subculture even your wedding ring is not a deterrent. All they see is the pursuit of the uniform. In fact some extremists plan to trap the officer through planned pregnancy thinking it will force you to stay in their lives. Badge bunnies offer a serious risk to LEOs staying faithful to their partner. Whether you are in a committed relationship or not, run very far away from the bunny for they will only bring you chaos, heartache, and have been known to ruin many a career.
A unique bonus and feature of your job is the repetitive adrenaline rushes. As much as they offer a rush of emotions and energy at the beginning of the adrenaline release they also cause the emotions to plummet after. Adrenaline is released whenever an officer needs to be hyper-vigilant in a job duty. The adrenaline allows the officer to be keenly aware of small details that keep him safe, for instance when weaving around traffic and watching for pedestrians while running hot to a call. The emotions feel good and the adrenaline rush makes the officer feel alive. However, what goes up must come down. By the time the officer arrives home, the adrenaline has worn off and feelings of boredom, and possibly even emptiness, begin to settle in as the body rebounds. However, repetitive adrenaline dumps take a harsh affect on the emotions and can leave an officer in a constant state of loneliness, frustration, and boredom. If an officer is not aware why the emotions are there they often mistake these emotions as something needing to be fixed. Officers will often chase the adrenaline rush to feel good again through risky behaviors. If an intimate relationship is not going well in their life or suffering, and they feel empty, the riskiness of an affair offers an adrenaline rush and feelings of affirmation.
Working out tough relationship issues is neither fun nor exciting but starting a new relationship fresh, even illicitly and at the peril of home and family, can be. But is it worth the risk? Are you ready to lose everything you value? And if you think it will never happen to you, remember there are many before you who thought the exact same thing. Next month we will continue on this topic by exploring tactics to safeguard your relationship from affairs.