It's not just about the cheating.
While her marriage-ending affair with made-for-TV movie costar Eddie Cibrian is hardly a new story, LeAnn Rimes and her personal life have been all over the news this week after she opened up about her infidelity in the October issue of Shape magazine. And let me save you the suspense; as angry journalists, bloggers and commenting readers have explosively noted, she shouldn't have cheated. She made a horrible decision. No one should feel bad for her. Because cheating is wrong, and cowardly, and weak, and hurtful - and if you don't believe that, well, I'm glad that I'm not dating you. Break up, get divorced, go to couples therapy (before one of you has an affair, thanks)...just don't cheat.
But we all know these things, right? To reiterate this is to waste a valuable blog post.
LeAnn's major crime isn't even due to the circumstances surrounding her affair. She acted wrongly, of course, but no more so than Tiger Woods or Whoopi Goldberg or Brad Pitt or Meg Ryan or...(how awful is it that we can play this game forever?). As Wendy Williams rightly called out, LeAnn's affair was just sloppier than some of these other famous affairs. Was she acting plain dumb, getting caught kissing a man other than her husband in public and issuing weak denials through her publicist? Absolutely. But again, would I normally deem her and her decisions worthy of taking up my time (or yours or anyone else's)? Should we all spend our hard-earned moments of leisure hitting up the comment boards, yelling at her and swearing that she's the one who's going to get cheated on next? Nah. It's not worth it.
Except now, she's earned my wrath. As a young, single women of her generation, I'm pissed. Why?
Because in the Shape interview, she co-opts our language - the language of Millennials, of empowerment, of self-discovery, of gaining strength and knowledge through the triumph over adversity - to talk about the fact that she cheated on her husband. If he'd given this interview, and spit out phrases like, "After going through this, I know I can face anything," then I would have said, Bravo, Dean Sheremet! You did go through a lot, being publicly embarrassed and ditched for a guy with great dimples! Good for you!
But he's not the one going to the press and spewing these statements about overcoming hard times - she is. And in the process, as a 28-year-old woman, she is confirming everyone's worst fears about our generation. Namely, that we are selfish and entitled and so obsessed with our own growth and exploration that we are willing to hurt and ignore others in the process. Way to set us back, LeAnn.
Some highlights? Sure.
This past year, for the first time ever, I put me first. I'm sure some people are thinking that I was totally selfish, but the truth is, there are times in your life when you have to be selfish in order to find out what truly makes you happy.
I am all for being selfish, when necessary. As the co-founder of www.WTFIsUpWithMyLoveLife.com, I often encourage female readers to stay single for longer periods of time, and experiment with their own personal needs and wants by cultivating relationships with different types of guys (and friends and mentors and people in general). I believe that we, as women, should be embracing the post-dating world and should see it as an opportunity to, somewhat selfishly, learn about ourselves and strengthen ourselves and discover ourselves. Many of us could really use a friendly reminder, every now and then, to put ourselves first.
But that focus on self has nothing to do with cheating on your husband! You're supposed to max out on selfishness before you commit to a lifetime with someone else. When you're single, and don't legally or emotionally owe anything to anyone. So you got married too young? Too bad. Get a divorce. But don't use that as justification for cheating.
It's a matter of finding the magic combination of what settles you, relaxes you, and makes you happy.
Again with the self-centeredness. I'm supposed to be taking zen advice from this woman now?! Millennials may think that we have all the answers - as she clearly does - but overcoming the sadness of cheating on your husband does not make you a modern-day Buddha.
I think any relationship is hard to get out of, and I don't think the way I did it was right. I truly believe there are lessons in it for me to learn. Cultivating strength from rough situations is the most important thing. After going through this, I know I can face anything.
To me, this statement is the equivalent of punching someone in the face and then proclaiming that you've learned so much, thanks to your ability to overcome the judgments of those who thought you acted like an idiot. Which you did, in the first place. There are incredible, empowering lessons to be learned from victimhood. But you have to actually be a victim of something first. I'd be thrilled to hear that Sandra Bullock now feels she can face anything. But why should I see LeAnn as a role model of perseverance and strength?
What we have here is a big, public example of a modern Millennial woman who just doesn't seem to get it. And this delusional attitude hurts all of us. When I talk about finding myself, and gaining strength and knowledge from difficult situations, and overcoming adversity, I don't want anyone thinking - oh yes, I heard those very same words from LeAnn Rimes recently!
I, and almost all of the Millennial women I know, are not this woman, and don't relate to the personal decisions that she has made, and certainly are not planning to celebrate her newly-discovered sense of self and identity.
You know. Just for the record.