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Sex, Affairs, Sexting and Scandals: How Smart Men End Up Doing Really Stupid Things

As if the past few weeks hadn’t served up enough tales of savvy, political figures behaving badly, now we have a real weiner-roast of a story. Following in the wake of Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer, Marc Sanford, Chris Lee, Larry Craig, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, married Congressman Anthony Weiner’s admission of his recent Calvin-clad sex-tweets sent to several woman, none of whom who happened to be his new wife, offers up yet another example of how far a man can fall in pursuit of a sexual high.

And here, as in previous high profile cases the same questions arise:

  • Is there something about men in power that can lead to callous grandiose and inappropriate sexual actions?
  • How can some men, apparently smart enough to get into Congress or even the White House make such dumb sexual decisions?

First of all, it should be no surprise to anyone that it isn’t just men in power who act out sexually. Undoubtedly there are enough chronically unfaithful and sexually addicted regular guys currently screwing up their committed relationships, marriages and careers, either in online sexual activity, in strip clubs, massage parlours or with prostitutes and affairs, to prove that point. And while it is unfortunately true that some men in power mistakenly believe that their office and position can somehow insulate them from the sexual pratfalls of the ordinary guy, sex and intimacy disorders are readily found in every class, race, sexual orientation and job title – not to mention among both genders.

As to why smart people act out sexually (or otherwise) in seemingly stupid, addictive and poorly considered ways, that answer is simple: as human beings our intellectual ability and emotional development often run on differing, sometimes conflicting tracks.

Well-nurtured, emotionally healthy adults are usually able to keep their more primitive urges in check by using intelligence as their choice-making filter. Healthy people intellectually weigh the potential consequences of their actions before acting, which most of the time keeps them out of trouble. However for those people either challenged by an underdeveloped emotional life, one out of balance with their intellect, or for those under extreme emotional or other more external stressors, emotional decision-making can and will predominate.

Even the most well intended smart and committed dieter may ‘end up’ scarfing down those intellectually undesired brownies and chocolate bars unless following an eating plan, having healthy regular snacks and avoiding the buffet line when tired or emotionally vulnerable.

In a similar way powerful, overly stressed out intelligent, intimacy-challenged people who don’t necessarily intend to cheat, sext, have affairs lie and manipulate can ‘find’ themselves’ getting into impulsive and sexually addicted behaviors as an attempt to emotionally self-medicate and to feed themselves spiritually. These are not the unfortunate choices of bad people or decisions made due to low intellect or a lack of understanding of the potential consequences.

These repetitive, problematic sexual faux pas are the reactive, denial based, tunnel-vision decisions of overstressed, emotionally challenged individuals either unable or unwilling to accept the simple human needs we all share for honest, vulnerable, intimate connection, rest, self-care and an ongoing active process of self-examination.

Sex, Affairs, Sexting and Scandals: How Smart Men End Up Doing Really Stupid Things

Robert Weiss PhD, LCSW

Robert Weiss PhD, LCSW is Chief Clinical Officer of Seeking Integrity Treatment Centers. He is an expert in the treatment of adult intimacy disorders and related addictions, most notably sex/porn/relationship addictions along with co-occurring drug/sex addiction. A clinical sexologist and practicing psychotherapist, Dr. Rob frequently serves as a subject matter expert for major media outlets including CNN, HLN, MSNBC, OWN, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and NPR, among others.Dr. Rob is the author of Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency, Out of the Doghouse, Sex Addiction 101, and Cruise Control, among other books. He blogs regularly for Psychology Today and Psych Central. His podcast, Sex, Love, & Addiction, is rated as a Top 10 Addiction Podcast for 2019. He also hosts a weekly live no-cost Webinar with Q&A on A skilled clinical educator, Dr. Rob routinely provides training to therapists, hospitals, psychiatric organizations, and even the US military. Over the years, he has created and overseen nearly a dozen high-end addiction and mental health treatment facilities across the globe. For more information or to reach Dr. Rob, visit You can also follow him on Twitter (@RobWeissMSW), LinkedIn (Robert Weiss LCSW), and Facebook (Rob Weiss MSW).

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APA Reference
Weiss PhD, R. (2012). Sex, Affairs, Sexting and Scandals: How Smart Men End Up Doing Really Stupid Things. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Sep 2012
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