I just returned from a week of what’s been dubbed, “Spring Break for adults” – the Cannes Lions Festival (the advertising one, not the glamourous film one). It was my first time there, due to my new job, representing my production company.
It was a blast (and the reason I couldn’t write a new blog last night, let alone form a coherent thought).
I had been warned. “You’re going to have the best time. It’s bonkers!” not to mention, “You’re so going to get hit on!” and “You’re definitely going to hook up with a French dude.”
The first two of the above happened. And when I got home, everyone seemed to want to know if the third thing transpired.
I guess it’s assumed, if you’re single and semi attractive (although I don’t think that even matters), that having a romance in Cannes is as easy (and allowed) as having a gelato after dinner or cigarettes when you don’t normally smoke.
(Disclaimer: The topic of this post can easily bring me to it’s close cousin, “Why do people cheat?” but I won’t go down that path here. This post is more about the prequel; the crumbs at the top of the treacherous infidelity path.)
It seems that being single has nothing to do with it either. I have never met so many married men without wedding rings on. I have never met so many men I had wonderful conversations with, where I thought something more than just a fling might develop, only to discover that they are married, with kids (I had to ask).
What is this about?
This behavior is not new. I’ve just never seen it in such a concentrated form, where it seems permissible.
By the way, I don’t judge it. You never know what is actually going on behind closed marital doors, and the weight of despair on someone’s mind. This opinion of mine stems from having had some experience. Because when I was married, in the subconscious stage of unhappiness – where I hadn’t voiced it aloud, or even to myself – was in retrospect guilty of concealing my marital status too. While I always wore my ring, and never attempted to stray, there were definitely times where I’d meet an attractive stranger at a party and “I” would escape from my lips, rather than “we.” ie. “I moved to Los Angeles…” or “I had people over for dinner…” Looking back, I’m mortified at my behavior, as subconscious and uncalculated as it was. Looking back, it was a major marital satisfaction barometer, and a harbinger of what was to come.
Why do we this? For some, it’s ego. I believe that some of the men (and probably women too) who were at Cannes without their rings on, probably wanted to see if they were still attractive and worthy of being hit on. It doesn’t mean they were planning on cheating (although some do, of course…there were magnum size bottles of Rose on every table). And some people have been married so long (as I was), that a fantasy develops – a romantic yearning – of what it might be like to be single; to be free to flirt and go with the romantic and sexual wind without consequence. It is human nature.
A friend of mine, when I told her about one particular married man who came on to me, after admitting he was married but on his way to divorce, exclaimed: “What an asshole!” I beg to differ. “He can do whatever he wants,” I replied. “I’d be the asshole if I went there, knowing the truth. It’s up to me.”
Do I have a point? Or am I too forgiving – perhaps too empathetic – because I understand how compromised (or even distorted) people’s emotions and behavior can be when they are unhappily married?
Perhaps I am just naïve. Perhaps I prefer to be. Us single women, who are still hopeful about our prospects and optimistic about marriage (me included), would like to remain enclosed in the naïve bubble, rather than get a glimpse into how rampant infidelity actually is. Having it confirmed, or worse, being the instrument to it, can only lead to disappointment, depression, and sometimes shame.
I think in this case, the phrase “ignorance is bliss” applies, and now that I’m back in the bubble that is my single life in NYC, I choose to cling to its clichéd wisdom.