In the past two weeks, famous men everywhere – that is, if you consider the lead singer of Maroon 5 and one-fourth of The Try Guys as famous – have been exposed for allegedly cheating on their wives.
Adam Levine and Ned Fulmer were otherwise known for being obsessed with their spouses. Since his wedding to model Behati Prinsloo in 2014, the Maroon 5 frontman has posted an endless amount of birthday tributes and loved-up selfies with his wife and children to social media. Ned Fulmer, the now-former member of the popular YouTube group The Try Guys, has featured his wife Ariel in a number of YouTube videos since they were married in 2012. There is even an entire video dedicated to all the times Fulmer has said “my wife” on their YouTube channel.
For those who need a refresher, Instagram model Sumner Stroh claimed that she had a year-long affair with Levine in a video posted to TikTok. The 23-year-old model shared screenshots of her flirty messages with Levine, which were sent over Instagram DM, and even claimed that he asked to name his third child after her.
Levine denied the cheating allegations, but acknowledged that he used “poor judgement in speaking with anyone other than my wife in ANY kind of flirtatious manner,” as he wrote in an Instagram statement.
Meanwhile, Ned Fulmer admitted to having a “consensual workplace relationship” with his producer. Fans began to notice something was amiss when the executive producer of The Try Guys – which boasts 7.83m subscribers on YouTube – was missing from recent videos and podcast episodes. Then, a Reddit user posted screenshots from a video allegedly taken of Fulmer kissing his co-worker, Alexandria Herring, at a New York City bar.
Fulmer was ousted from The Try Guys, and posted an apology with a similar sentiment to Levine’s. “Family should have always been my priority, but I lost focus and had a consensual workplace relationship,” he said. “The only thing that matters right now is my marriage and my children, and that’s where I’m going to focus my attention.”
Even in my mundane, non-famous existence I’m still constantly aware of the powers the internet holds in acting as a form of surveillance. Any person can take a screenshot of the embarrassing sexts that were sent to their DMs, and any man kissing someone other than his wife at a bar can be filmed for the entire world to see. If I’m so aware that the internet has the power to expose people online for their philandering ways, why aren’t famous men?
Dr Emily Jamea – a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Love & Libido podcast – has an idea. Being the famous men that they are, it’s likely that there will be more opportunities for them to cheat. And you know what they say when an opportunity comes knocking on your door.
“A lot of people who cheat do so because they have the opportunity to,” she told The Independent. “A lot of times it’s because maybe there’s something going on in their primary relationship, whether it’s emotional distance, sexual distance, conflict, whatever. You pair that then with the opportunity to act out sexually with someone else, and a lot of people will take that opportunity.”
Jeff Guenther – a licensed professional counselor and a mental health therapist with more than 2m followers on TikTok – seems to agree. Although, the stroking of a celebrity’s ego has a lot to do with it as well.
“If you have lots of opportunities to cheat, there’s more of a chance that’s going to happen. That’s just how it works,” he said. “Their ego is getting bigger and bigger everyday because of the profession that they’re in, and because of the attention that they get, they’re craving that constant reassurance.”
A 2017 study published in The Journal of Sex Research identified eight motivating factors that contribute to infidelity, one of them simply being opportunity. Opportunity, combined with situational factors such as emotional distance in a relationship, can make the chances of someone cheating more likely.
That isn’t to say that these Wife Guys, while they may not be exactly who they portray themselves as online, still don’t love their spouses. Whether you’re a celebrity, or someone with at least a semblance of a digital footprint, you are crafting an identity that might not be authentic. But isn’t that the nature of the internet? Yes, wife guys can love their wives. But their online persona can also be so closely tied to their businesses and personal brands that they lose themselves in the process.
“Anyone who is building a following on social media is essentially posting a caricature of themself,” said Dr Jamea. “They pick a part of themself about their personality or about their life, and they really focus on that, and we have to remember social media these days is a big business.”
“It’s hard when your business is related to your lifestyle because there’s just no separation between the two. I think when those boundaries get blurred, that’s when a lot of couples kind of lose sight of what’s really important.”
In fact, personal identity and infidelity (and fame) seem to go hand in hand.
“A lot of times if we cheat, whether you’re a celebrity or not, you are cheating with somebody because you are different with that person. You feel like this person really sees you, like you can be your authentic self with this person,” said Guenther.
“If you’re a celebrity, you possibly lose the thread to who you really are. If you have these secret relationships with people that really do see you how you are – whether they can or not – it’s sort of like you fall in love with this authentic, missing version of you that you lost touch with when you became a big deal.”
Does that mean that people like Tristan Thompson, who cheated on Khloe Kardashian multiple times, thought that every Instagram model or personal fitness trainer actually saw him for who he is? Most likely not, but he wasn’t really a wife guy anyway. When it comes to people like Adam Levine or Ned Fulmer, the breaking down of their online persona that we’ve come to love can create a real cognitive dissonance in how we see every other relationship, including our own.
“If both of these guys show their flaws and imperfections and actually kind of destroy the identity that they’ve crafted, or the role or character that they’re trying to express themselves as, that’s gonna really mess with our view of who they are,” said Guenther. “And then, can we trust anybody?”
Of course we want to believe the best in people, otherwise life seems very grim. But in an increasingly digital world – we literally have metaverses now – it’s hard to take anything at face value. Perhaps people on the internet shouldn’t be crafting online personas that they can’t live up to, but maybe we should also stop having such parasocial relationships with people we know nothing about. I mean, this is the same internet that invented Rick Rolling, people. Nothing is really as it seems.