After Jeremy Paxman left his wife to move in with his researcher here’s how to tell and how to do something about it with relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr
Men and women have been cheating on their partners since time immemorial, but it seems that over the last few weeks the papers have been filled with stories of ageing male celebrities leaving their other halves.
Take former Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, who aged 66 has left his partner of 34 years and is now living with his 37-year-old researcher.
Now I’ve never met Mr Paxman, but I can tell you he ticks three of the boxes for someone who’s more likely to cheat.
Firstly, having a good education means perhaps you’re better at seizing opportunities –and covering your tracks.
Career success sometimes indicates a driven personality, one who wants things their way – including having another man or woman.
And an intense work environment often goes hand in hand with a sense of camaraderie, leading to feelings that you and your colleagues understand each other the way a spouse doesn’t.
Uh oh, soon sharing drinks a deux involves more than just a chat about how crazy your work is.
Here are the four main types of adulterer and the most common reasons cited for cheating.
The Revenge: Affair People have many reactions to discovering they’ve been cheated on and one is to strike out and have an affair themselves. In their fury and pain they think, “Right, I’ll show you!” For some couples it evens the score, but for most it plunges them even further into emotional chaos.
The Life-Changer Affair: This classically occurs in middle age when a person wakes up thinking, “Is this it, is this all I can expect from my life and relationship?” In a panic they seek excitement elsewhere. The divorce rate has never been higher among the 50-plus age group who fall victim to this. But it often happens when people face other life hurdles, such as
hitting big birthdays – 30 or 40 for example.
The Opportunist: These affairs happen when opportunity is presented on a plate such as the out-of-town work conference, where drink flows and people are out of the normal environment. Usually these are one-offs and the cheat regrets it.
The Risk-taker: This person is addicted to the buzz of infidelity. They love taking risks, feeling “alive” when embarking on something illicit. They’re repeat offenders with affairs and often have problems with sex addiction. Feeling neglected and bored in a relationship are two other big culprits leading to affairs.
How at risk are you or your partner of cheating? Take the test
1 How much less sex do you have now compared to a year ago?
A Almost non-existent now
B About half as much
C About the same
2 Have you/they cheated in a previous relationship?
A Yes, I cheated in a previous relationship/they have
B I have come close to cheating/they have
C No, I haven’t/they haven’t to my knowledge
3 Would you agree that you/they are impulsive and act before thinking things through?
A Yes, I’m definitely impulsive/they are
B I’m quite impulsive/they are
C No, I think things through/they do
4 When angry, do you/they storm off without sorting out the issue?
A Yes, I just want to get out of any argument/they storm off
B Sometimes I want to escape when angry/sometimes they do
C No, I try to work things out even when angry/they do
5 Do you have very differing levels of sex drive?
A Yes, and it’s caused lots of problems
B Sometimes we have mismatched sex drives
C No, we have very similar sex drives
6 Do you/they daydream about what sex would be like with someone else?
A Yes, I do frequently/I worry they do
B Occasionally I think about this/I think they might
C No, not really/I doubt they do
7 Do you/they make up reasons to pass an attractive colleague’s desk to chat? Do you/they find ways to spend time with someone else you/they find attractive, such as at your local pub or gym?
A Yes, I’ve done this/I’m sure they do
B I’ve been tempted to/I think they might
C No, I wouldn’t do this/I don’t think they would
8 Do you/they lap up attention when someone pays you/them a compliment?
A Yes, it gives me a real buzz/I’m sure they would
B It’s quite nice/I think they might
C No, I don’t take those things seriously/I don’t think they would
9 Do you feel badly treated or neglected by your partner? Or would your partner feel this way about you?
A Yes, I definitely do/I’m sure they feel this way
B Sometimes I feel this way/they might feel this way
C No, I don’t feel like this/they wouldn’t feel like this
10 Do you and your partner still flirt with each other?
A No, any flirting stopped long ago
B Occasionally we flirt
C Yes, we flirt with each other
11 Do either of you throw out the ‘D’ word (divorce) in arguments?
A Yes, the ‘D’ word gets thrown around
B Once or twice it’s been used
C No, we’ve never used it
12 Do you secretly resent your partner and find it hard to express this or vice versa?
A Yes, I resent a lot of what they do and how they treat me/I’m sure they resent me
B Sometimes I do/sometimes they probably do
C No, I try to express difficult emotions/they express difficult emotions
13 How long have you been together?
A 4-11 years
B 1-3 years
C More than 12 years
14 Are you/they coming to an age milestone such as 30, 40, 50?
B Just passed one
15 What level of career success do you/they have?
A High achiever in my career/they’re a high achiever
B Mid-level success/they have mid-level success
C Not much success/they aren’t that successful
How did you score?
5+ As: High risk of infidelity
You should be on red alert to improve things in your relationship, especially if you feel neglected, resentful and find yourself lapping up attention at work.
Don’t continue to take each other for granted. Make it a daily habit to come up with small gestures and offer loving comments. Learn to spot when you’re sounding negative, critical or harsh to your partner, and soften that voice.
Remind yourself why you originally fell in love – and tell yourself these reasons every day.
Start making special time for each other. Have proper dates, even if only once a month. If finances are tight, try a candlelit dinner at home with a romantic (or sexy) DVD.
Be aware of temptation. You might think it’s a little ego boost to flirt at work, but the road to a fling is an easy one.
Be honest if you’ve actually started flirting elsewhere. It’s best to have a frank discussion with your partner and maybe between you, you can stop an affair. Confiding in a friend can help get you away from the flirtation.
Spontaneity definitely helps freshen things up, so occasionally bring home small surprises. They can be random and inexpensive, but show you’re thinking of your partner.
Take time to look at photos from past holidays and happy times. Research shows a stroll down memory lane gives couple a renewed commitment to face difficult times. Resist sweeping things under the carpet – face them head on. And remember, neglect is a massive culprit. Put down your tech gadgets and carve out some time together.
If your sex life has disappeared, rekindle it slowly. You or your partner might harbour difficult feelings about this. Start with affection and see if you can coax each other into foreplay.
Get things sizzling between the sheets again by buying a sex guide and leaf through it together looking for ideas to try. Make it fun – flirt with each other and take turns choosing a new position to try.
Research shows couples get lazy and stick to the same tried and tested position – leading to bedroom boredom.
Have fun visiting a high street adult shop to look for some playful things, such as sex toys or sexy gear for each other.
Definitely let your partner know when you need straightforward cuddles and affection. Physical contact is crucial to stimulating emotionally-bonding chemicals like oxytocin.
5+ Bs: Some risk of infidelity
You or your partner are at moderate risk and it’s time to assess how you can both improve things. Check out the advice above.
5+ Cs: Low risk of infidelity
Although you or your partner are at low risk, if you’ve selected any “A” answers, for good relationship health see the above advice.