Does Monogamy Only Make Sense If You’re Rich?
The AMC drama Mad Men has been roundly criticized over its seven season run for its rampant portrayal of infidelity among the show’s main male characters, all of whom are rich, powerful businessmen.
But are the underhanded sexual escapades of Don Draper and Roger Sterling, among the show’s other characters, a more accurate representation of reality than society, collectively, would prefer to acknowledge?
First, consider that rich men are more likely to cheat on their spouses than poor men, according to research.
Secondly, think of a man as a business. When you’re a small startup company, you can’t afford to do anything to jeopardize the relationships you have with your investors. An abrupt halt to the money being pumped into your company can put you out of business. Similarly, if you’re a married man with a limited income, jeopardizing your marriage could lead to a personal financial crisis in the form of alimony and child support payments.
A wealthy man, on the other hand, is better equipped to absorb the perpetual costs of divorce, and therefore may not think as much of putting his marriage at risk. His lifestyle won’t change nearly as much as his more impoverished counterpart after the divorce settlement.
Men with a lot of money who are also public figures are no exception to the research that’s been done, but they present an interesting conundrum: Even if they can withstand the ongoing expenses of divorce, why would politicians such as Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner, or former CIA Director David Patraeus risk their careers and reputations?
A survey of 1,561 professionals, conducted by researchers from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, revealed that men (and women, for that matter) who hold positions of power in their professional lives are more likely to cheat, and not just in relationships. They tend to feel more entitled in all kinds of situations.
For example, upper-class drivers are four-times more likely to cut off other drivers at busy four-way intersections, and three times more likely to cut off pedestrians trying to cross the street at a crosswalk, according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley.
What do all these studies and findings ultimately imply about marriage? Should you avoid marriage unless you’re rich?
The short answer might be yes.
But it’s not as if having money guarantees a higher chance of having successful relationships. I’m only arguing that, as prevalent as divorce is throughout every demographic, the wealthy are better equipped to brace for the impact of a failed marriage as far as their personal economics go, and that men in lower income brackets need to be especially careful about the women with whom they’re entering into marriages. It’s easier for the latter group to devolve into a lower standard of living if things don’t work out.
It’s also worth noting that while rich men tend to be cheaters, poorer woman are more likely than rich women to be unfaithful to their partners, according to research. Impoverished women have the potential to gain assets such as money and social standing if they’re able to upgrade from their current partners.
In our capitalist culture of corporate ladder climbers and socialites jockeying for influence, it takes a certain type of person to withstand, to a certain extent, the lure of material and superficial gains in favor of a monogamous relationship.
That type of person might be hard to find, but nothing worth having comes easily.
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About Luke Harold Luke Harold is a journalist who has written for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register.