THE BLOG
06/01/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Infidelity, Narcissists, Cheaters and Our Culture Which (Almost) Let's Them Get Away with It

(I almost did not post this, but after showing it to a close friend, who is a psychologist, I decided to do so...because she said it could help women to understand...and that it was optimistic and hopeful...so here it is...)

"Infidelity is a patriarchal way of controlling women. It is about control"

The first thing that happens is your heart races in utter terror, then you go numb -- like catatonic numb. When you find out it has all been a lie, that the person you thought you knew and lived with not only is a stranger, but destroyed all trust not once, not twice, not with one woman...but repeatedly, with many women, almost daily. If he wasn't with you, anything was possible...hey and even when he was with you, he could be texting and emailing and calling other women (that is what he is doing in the bathroom for so long unless he is addicted to cocaine).

And you thought he cared for you, loved you...was the one you were going to spend the rest of your life with.... You believed his words. You wanted to have a baby with him, marry him, maybe you did. Everyone around you two thought he was in love with you...he seemed like a really great guy...it was like a fairytale...until it became a nightmare...

Then everything comes tumbling down. He has been sleeping with many many women, at work, in his office (those couches!), at parties, in Vegas, in Park City, Aspen, at conventions, on business trips, as he left the house "to go to work" in the morning, on the way home during that hour you could not reach him on his cell phone.

The scene was not pretty...I found out on my way back from setting up a beautiful table covered with Valentine's decorations at the beach...looking out to the Pacific, on February 13th...only years later would I realize that 13 was my lucky number and I had been saved from a life of what would have been the worst marriage for me anyone could have imagined. As one in the know acquaintance of his later said to me, "You dodged a bullet"...sadly these cheated upon wives in the news these days did not...and the fallout is emotionally catastrophic...it can lead someone to doubt so deeply, it can shake their very being to its core...one needs very good friends, loving family, and a strong strong sense of integrity to get through a betrayal like this.

Abuse victims react in many ways. It is heartbreaking. They lash out. Sometimes they go back and try to forgive. I made that mistake. People actually wanted us to work out. I was embarrassed to tell people about the cheating. I wanted to know where the man I had fallen in love with went...the reality was, he never existed. That too was a lie. Narcissists come on strong, are usually pretty intelligent and extremely charming...they are hard to resist. Many people thought I left because I did not like living in LA...the real reason I left was because it was unbearable and deeply unhealthy to remain with someone so manipulative, in a culture which not only supported but celebrated this superficial lifestyle. The culture of fame and money which permeates some sectors of Los Angeles, is all about narcissism. And yet the rest of the world seems to be obsessed by it. We need to ask ourselves "Why?" America is one big reality show and it is deeply disturbing because we are so much more than that!

The stages of shock, denial, anger, and finally mourning all came into play. When I found out about the cheating, I felt a mixture of numbing disbelief, and catatonic breathlessness. I took shower after shower for weeks...could not sleep, could not digest anything, wanted to hide...it was the worst experience of my life. The ground was no longer solid. But what I had to admit was, I had been walking on eggshells almost from the beginning...that dreamy fairytale state had actually given way to a golden prison long before I found out about the cheating. I had denied my intuition, and paid for it psychologically and physically. Did I know? I did not want to know, and when I asked he assured me it was "all in my head"...that is called "gaslighting" behavior.

He did the , "Let's get help, I'll go into therapy" trick...and I ended up with him, and alone in therapy several times a week trying to make this thing which was supposed to have become a marriage, "work out"...The reality is, these kinds of Narcissists try to "play" the therapist too...they are expert "players"...because they have been playing all their lives. People even end up angry at the women, not the guys who cheated, but the heartbroken wives, fiancées and girlfriends...and even mistresses...as if the very exposing of the truth was messing up the deal...for all cheating guys. I can tell you there are a heck of a lot of women out there right now in America wondering about the men they are with because of these recent headlines...

The therapist later said he wanted me to find out...there were a few women in LA, Laguna Nigel and New York who wanted me to find out too...why...because he had hurt them as well, especially when we became engaged to be married. The reason that some of this mess has come out in the headlines when it has is because of the fact that these men had lead the "other women" to believe they actually meant something to them...that their marriages were a sham...that they were "separated", etc. Mine did this as well, even telling some of the other women when we became engaged, "I don't want to lose you in case it does not work out with... (me)".

The stupidest comment I ever received was one a married wife of one of his best friend's said to me, "But you won! Those other women did not win!"...Win what? What exactly did I win? A Narcissistic Nightmare that took a long time to get rid of?!...His best friend told me to get pregnant, to slip up...I am lucky my good sense was still intact...that was what his then girlfriend now wife had done...you had to "trap" them...but I wanted true love...I wanted to be married and have a child together in a peaceful loving adult relationship...one in which spirituality and integrity had space as well. Most women want this...more than they want money or fame or anything so superficial...most human beings simply want to love and be loved and be happy.

I can relate to the seemingly endless number of "mistresses"...there seemed to be another one around every corner, leaving notes in the guest room, calling me at the beach house, calling him on the car phone...Besides the women of various ages, nationalities and financial status (a divorced mom of three kids who was a stockbroker, an Eastern European student, the masseuse, various women who were regular guests at dinners at our house, etc....) the "Other Women" included his mother. I still wonder if his need to receive approval and have almost every single woman he meets fall in love with him has to do with having that mother! (Actually I never think about that anymore but she reminded me of that ever-present mother floating in the sky over Woody Allen's head in New York Stories)...I think she took back every single Hermes scarf and purse we ever gave her and exchanged it after complaining! You could not please that woman... and he had been trying to please women all his life...

The commonality between these men, the Tigers Jesses and my ex, was that they were Narcissists, very "successful" (if you can call screwing up the best thing that ever happened to you" success") and expected to have their cake and eat it too...they wanted the nice presentable one at home and at their professional appearances...but in private they wanted things most women cannot imagine...a healthy sex life is one thing...what these guys in the news recently have been doing is not healthy nor normal...it is deeply disturbing...and it demonstrates a complete lack of boundaries...not respecting one's own boundaries nor those of others nor those of a marriage or committed relationship. The highs are indeed like an addiction...but hey, I don't care...an addiction is called an addiction because it is bad for you. Heal yourself already! And women, don't become part of the patriarchy machine! We live in the free Western world and do NOT have to accept these situations! Don't be part of the problem! There ARE evolved good men out there.

The cheating world of the rich, famous, those Vegas casino trips with the boys, Aspen long weekends with the buddies, etc etc also applies to those business guys who aren't so famous, seem to be much more "respectable"...these guys cheat because they can, and think they can get away with it. And in some cases they do get away with it...they may lose one woman, but there are always a zillion others lined up dying to live in that big house...it's almost as if you could cut out the photo of the partner standing next to them and replace it with a new woman...they wouldn't really know the difference...they live shallow lives, in which even when there is negative drama and the woman with them is hurt, jealous, or they go to therapy...it is always always about THEM.

In order to heal, I started to write a book about my experiences in this weird world...thinking it could make an interesting and even heartbreakingly funny film because of all of The Player type of absurd situations I had exposed to due to "my Narcissist"...I titled it, "Breaking Up at Spago: How Hollywood Might Kill You But Films Can Sometimes Save Your Life"...and I wrote eight (sad but sometimes hilariously painful) chapters about losing love, waking up to the nasty truth of the mechanism behind that world of fame, money and narcissism...and then realized as I sat down to write one day...that that world, and those people...simply were not interesting enough to write about...much less make a film about...I mean who the hell cares about players and bored housewives in Beverly Hills and their meaningless problems and superficial relationship drama (oops I guess a couple million people do...the audiences for reality shows proves it...throw out your televisions people!)...as I said, Narcissists can be charming...but in the end, there is no there there...and what makes for a good soap opera is NOT how you want to live your life.

Most disturbingly, the quote at the beginning of this article, about infidelity being about a deeply troubling need to control women, about a sick kind of patriarchy...is still true even in the 21st century! That is why these women should leave these men It is the only way to keep their integrity intact. And in the case of there being children, it is the only way to be a role model. By staying it is demonstrating that men can get away with this. The whole rehab thing is getting to be ridiculous. It took destroying everything important in their lives for them to go to rehab?! I say, sorry too late, go to rehab even though I have left you. Go to rehab because you know in your soul you are a disaster waiting to happen again and again and again.

Don't fool yourselves women, it will happen again. Narcissists are next to impossible to "cure".

I hope that every single one of these women who has been cheated on... will be able one day be able to look back (and it took a while to reach this place of peace) and forgive herself for being a bit of an idiot and even eventually be able to laugh about how absurd it was...granted, I broke off the engagement , did not marry him and thank God did not have children with this ex-fiance (their children are usually Narcissistic extensions of themselves, as are their dogs...both tend to just adore without asking questions)...but it really feels good to finally put it behind you and even be able to laugh at the whole thing...even at myself, my own weaknesses which allowed me to ignore that little voice which told me right from the beginning..."Stay away! He's a Player! You have next to nothing in common with this man! He has more hair care products than you do!" But it does take time...just don't let this bad experience steal more precious time. Life is too short!

The last night before I broke off the engagement we ran into the one person in Hollywood who actually could not stand my ex...(and I encourage all women in these situations to seek out and speak to at least one person who cannot stand their man and find out why) this person had felt betrayed in business by him (if they'll do it to their wives, they'll do it to you in business) and was one of the few people my ex was actually afraid of...because he saw through his "game". This man asked to see my engagement ring, then looked at me in the eyes...and I knew...I had to get out of this relationship...it was a sham. My feelings had been honest, but the construct was a sham. In the end, I was not afraid of becoming just another one of his exes, nor being alone and starting over again. I was a grown up, made a really bad mistake, and had to live with it...until I didn't have to anymore...and I moved far far away, started life back over again...decided that was just an annoying chapter...and moved on...(and never again had to worry about becoming like his mother!)

Life goes on...and it only gets better...heck, there is a real world out there...people have real problems and are dying and starving out there...forget these narcissistic jerks, forgive yourself and move on! If you have to deal with them because you have children with them, outline it all legally and stick to it and NEVER let them back into your heart! Mourn it, but mostly know you are mourning a dream which never existed, that the man you thought he was, the one you fell in love with NEVER EXISTED...you do not love the cheating man he really is...Mourn the child you may never get to have because he took up fertile years of your life...that is perhaps the hardest part...and go help make the world a better place...and start with yourself...there are great guys out there. You will meet one. Just keep believing. You have to...because if you lose faith, the cheating bastards have won!