When Khloé Kardashian was days away from giving birth, her boyfriend, NBA star Tristan Thompson, was allegedly caught cheating on her during a trip to New York. He joins a list of famous men—from Anthony Weiner to Kevin Hart to Hank Baskett—who have been unfaithful while their partner is pregnant. So are men more likely to stray with a baby on the way?
Dr. Terri Orbuch, a professor at Oakland University and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage to Good to Great, says plainly, no.
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“I don’t agree with that theory at all,” Orbuch tells People. “In my research—and I’ve been looking at relationships and following them over time with 370 couples for 30 years, funded by the National Institutes of Health—the main reason men have affairs is that they’re not being noticed. They desire affirmation, to be validated, to be seen, and not be taken for granted. So that has nothing to do with being pregnant.”
She says that in actuality, based on evolution, having a pregnant partner should draw a man closer.
“There is an evolutionary desire to procreate, and have their genes be passed on from generation to generation,” Orbuch says. “And if they don’t stay with that partner who is having their child, they may lose that bond. They do want to stay with their partner until she has the child, so that’s against the notion that when a man’s partner is pregnant, he goes and has an affair or cheat.”
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However, men in positions of power—from athletes to musicians to actors to politicians—are more likely to cheat in general.
“There are several reasons why powerful men like Tristan Thompson cheat. First, it’s the notion of invulnerability—they really don’t think that they’ll get caught, and they assume that even if they do get caught that they won’t get in trouble because they have the resources or the people who will cover it up,” Orbuch says. “Powerful men think that they’re superman, that they’re invulnerable.”
And when they’re traveling—as Thompson was with his road trip to play the New York Knicks—the feelings of loneliness and a need for companionship come out, which Orbuch says “triggers infidelity.”
Additionally, men with these high-stress jobs also crave excitement in their relationships.
“They enjoy those challenges and high-stress situations, and often, when you’re with one person for a long time—pregnant or not—we know that the excitement declines,” Orbuch says. “It’s inevitable in all relationships. So when you’re used to high-stress and excitement, you might seek it out in affairs because your current relationship doesn’t have that. I call these people adrenaline junkies, because they’re dependent on this rush.”
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But Orbuch says that it all comes back to a need for validation, even for powerful men.
“In my long-term study, the number one predictor of unhappiness in relationships, and the number one predictor of divorce reported by men, is that they need to be validated and affirmed often by their partners,” she says. “Tristan gets that from his fans, but that means he really expects it from his partner. I’m not saying Khloé isn’t giving it, but that is the number one predictor of affairs.”