Opinion: Celebrity cheating scandals reflect toxic relationship standards

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Celebrity relationships have always been under the spotlight. Few end well, serving as a reminder that the entertainment industry is rooted in superficiality. Although public figures shouldn’t be relationship role models, the publicization of their personal lives impacts today’s youth. 

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine had been married to Behati Prinsloo, a Victoria’s Secret Angel, for eight years before news broke out about his cheating scandal. On Sept. 19, Instagram model Sumner Stroh uploaded a TikTok video claiming she had been in a year-long affair with Levine. Since Stroh’s original post, several more women have come forward with evidence of messages that Levine had allegedly sent them.

The news, though unexpected, wasn’t surprising to most. Internet users found the situation humorous, making memes out of the explicit messages Levine sent. 

“I don’t know anything about Adam Levine, but the memes on Twitter are hilarious, and I saw a TikTok about how he [texts] like a 17-year-old boy,” said junior Yura Park.

Many also attacked Stroh, calling her a clout-chaser for not only participating in a relationship with a married man but posting it on social media for his wife to find out. 

The hatred towards the 23-year-old model, though justified, reflects media toxicity. Stroh is undoubtedly at fault; however, her incentive to publicize Levine’s private life reveals the deeper issue of media over coverage and sensationalization of cheating. Levine addressed rumors through an Instagram Story about his decision to “cross the line.” 

“My wife and my family [are] all I care about in this world. To be this naive and stupid enough to risk the only thing that truly matters to me was the greatest mistake I could ever make. I will never make it again. I take full responsibility. We will get through it, and we will get through it together,” Levine said. 

Cheating is so common these days anyways. It’s not even that big of a deal anymore unless you’re getting cheated on.

— Yura Park

The situation speaks volumes about societal values surrounding relationships as the constant media coverage of cheating-related issues normalizes the issue for both men and women. Although most know it’s wrong, many choose to turn a blind eye.

“I mean, if you’re going to cheat, just don’t get caught,” Park said. “Cheating is so common these days anyways. It’s not even that big of a deal anymore unless you’re getting cheated on.”

Though it is difficult to measure properly, infidelity is more common than most think. According to a study by Health Testing Centers,  of the 441 people polled, about 46% percent admitted to cheating in a relationship. 

Additionally, it’s important to remember that glimpses of relationships revealed in the news and social media are rarely authentic and shouldn’t be on a pedestal to the public.

Ned Fulmer from The Try Guys is a prime example of why people shouldn’t fully buy into public figures’ personas. He was known for being a “wife guy”— that is, of course, until he cheated on her

When the news broke out, many were devastated. Ned Fulmer had always been known for absolutely adoring his wife, Ariel Fulmer, and many people looked up to the couple as an ideal marriage.

“I have no more faith in love,” said junior Alice Salgado de Almeida Leme. “His wife was his entire personality. He loved her so much. And then I find out that he cheated.”

Ned Fulmer faced much worse backlash than Levine. He was fired from The Try Guys, and many took to bashing him on his social media accounts. Yet despite the negativity, the Fulmer couple has chosen to stick it out.

“Nothing is more important to me and Ned than our family, and all we request right now is that you respect our privacy for the sake of our kids,” Ariel Fulmer wrote in an Instagram post on Sept. 27. 

As public figures, though, the cost of infidelity is more than just a fractured marriage. Whether it’s right or not for media coverage regarding their private lives, the reality is that young and impressionable audiences are constantly exposed to cheating scandals. 

Because it is so normalized in media, the youth becomes desensitized to the gravity of cheating in a relationship. Seeking attention from members of their preferred sexuality has become a way of gaining validation and security. For many, casually talking to multiple people at once doesn’t even count as cheating.

“I know a lot of girls that always brag about having a lot of options,” Park said. “Guys too. It’s sort of a thing to brag about, which doesn’t make sense to me. I would rather have one person that I’m actually in love with instead of five that I only talk to because I think they’re attractive.”

Ultimately, public figures like Levine and Fulmer reflect a general social trend of lowered standards and expectations for commitment.