This summer can be summed up with one word: Splitsville. It’s plagued many from Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to Miss Piggy and Kermit, and while divorce rates as a whole are on the downswing, Hollywood seems to be churning out more breakups than blockbusters lately. And recently, there’s been a subtext emerging: husbands cheating on their wives with nannies.
The tabloids have linked Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale and Ben Affleck each to their respective nannies. Since the cheating rumors surfaced, Affleck’s nanny has been seen in a barrage of paparazzi photos, poolside at a posh LA hotel. Both Rossdale and Affleck’s representatives have denied the men were romantically involved with the caregivers, but if the rumors are true, they certainly wouldn’t be the first celebrities to get down and dirty with the help.
In 2005, Jude Law had a tryst with his 26-year-old nanny, Daisy Wright, during his engagement to actress Sienna Miller. “I just want to say I am deeply ashamed and upset that I’ve hurt Sienna and the people most close to us,” said Law in a statement following his affair.
Arnold Schwarzenegger also kept a fling close to home, fathering a child with his longtime housekeeper, Mildred Patricia Baena. The child was born days apart from his youngest son to then-wife Maria Shriver in 1997.
So, what is it about nannies that drives men wild?
Past studies point to accessibility as a key factor for infidelity. “When people develop relationships, in general, it tends to be people who are in close proximity,” says Dana Weiser, Ph.D, a human development and family studies professor at Texas Tech University. “Having repeated exposures to people and having a chance to see them often, kind of creates liking more often,” said Weiser, who has studied infidelity and researched relationships for more than 10 years.
“Specifically when we’re looking at these relationships with housekeepers and nannies, it is the person who’s there. The celebrity might trust them more compared to some random person they meet at a nightclub who would sell a story,” added Weiser.
She noted that power dynamics are also likely at play. “Probably the strongest explanation as to why this is all going on is just power differences between these wealthy powerful men and typically young women who are working in their homes,” said Weiser. “The men feel the power to enact this and there is research that shows both men and women who feel like they have greater power tend to engage in infidelity,” she said.
Lawrence Josephs, a psychotherapist and professor at Adelphi University in New York also notes that most men hold polygamous tendencies, from an evolutionary standpoint.” That is simply the tendency of the alpha males to monopolize the females to increase their reproductive output,” wrote Josephs in an email to Women in the World. But he adds that only the most “narcissistic” and “entitled” males would cheat with the nanny. “It’s exploitative because it’s like any other situation where a male employer can abuse their authority to obtain sex from a female employee,” Josephs wrote. “I think the important takeaway is that even if all men have a sexual fantasy of sleeping with the nanny, not all men would act on it,” he wrote.