It’s easy to see why the President of France might like to spread himself about a bit, especially if it means a tryst with actor Julie Gayet, but why would Gayet herself choose to go for a man who’s already got a woman? Why do any women have affairs with taken men?
To make it worth a woman’s while, a married man has to have something special to offer, some extra benefit that she can’t get by going for a single available man. Putting aside the moral objections and emotions for now, we can look at this from an economic angle: Among the Ache of Paraguay, it’s the best hunters that get extra lovers – because they can provide the meat. An East African tribal young woman might think an already-married guy is worth a shot if he has more than twice as many cows as the single men. This is called the Polygyny Threshold – the point at which the qualities or resources a man has makes it worth sharing him.
Cows or roasted monkey might not be your thing but there are plenty of other currencies. For instance, you might be able to get an extra sexy man (which translates into healthy with good genes for kids) if you’re willing to have an illicit liason – but in the French presidential case it’s hard to imagine a man nicknamed ‘wobbly pudding’ is going to provide this particular benefit.
Another option is that a married man might be in a position to provide more nice stuff than a singleton – perhaps showering his mistress with gifts and expensive dinners. Hmm. peut-être.
Or in fact he may be able to provide perks and a leg up in a professional capacity if he’s in a particular position of influence. Now here we might be getting somewhere – It was revealed last week that the French government had tried to nominate Gayet for a place on a prestigious arts panel, one that is widely seen as a stepping stone to greater things within the French establishment. So it kind of looks like Hollande was giving Gayet a bit of a hand in this respect.
Of course another motivation for going off with a taken man might be to have him for yourself, or to mate-poach in evolutionary psychology parlance. Perhaps Gayet has no intention of sharing. Maybe, in fact, she has her eye on the Élysée
Palace and fancies herself as the first lady of France? However, as we all know, men rarely marry their mistresses – only a tiny percentage of married men leave their wives for their lovers. Why? Because, aside from possibly being to lazy to move, ultimately their wives mean more to them – they have all that shared history, and this will be a particularly strong feeling if they have kids together. They’re not genetically related to their wives (one would hope), but the two share a common genetic bond with their children and can’t help being united in wanting the best for their kids.
But there’s a thing – the poor incumbent Valerie Trierweiler is not in fact Hollande’s wife, but his live-in partner, and they don’t have any kids together. Oh dear, I wonder if she’s packed her bags yet.