Infidelity’s Greatest Hits

Posted on June 12, 2012


Before there were MP3’s and compact discs (when “CD” meant certificate of deposit), we used to get our music on fragile vinyl discs (aka records).  Before the extremely successful, “Now, That’s What I Call Music” series, K-tel records used to release compilation albums of hit songs.  It was a great vehicle for getting a few more royalties out of a one-hit wonder.  Pop and rock music has, of course, never been known for high moral standards.  Over the past 50 years, various artists have offered a variety of songs ostensibly justifying infidelity.  Interestingly, none of them seem to have regretted it.  This is substantially different than what we see in therapy after an affair or other infidelity.  If K-tel had seen fit to release “Infidelity’s Greatest Hits” this is how the album might have been, along with a review of the record.

Side 1:

Me & Mrs. Jones – Billy Paul

Saving All My Love For You – Whitney Houston

Love the One You’re With – Stephen Stills

Run to You – Bryan Adams

(If Lovin’ You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right – Luther Ingram

Side 2

Follow Me – Uncle Kracker

The Other Woman – Ray Parker, Jr.

Right Next Door (Because of Me) – Robert Cray Band

Cheatin’ – Gin Blossoms

Get It Faster – Jimmy Eat World

When I Come Around – Green Day

Side 1 opens with “Me & Mrs. Jones” which has long been a slow dance staple.  The reality is that it is a song about an adulterous relationship between the singer and a married woman.  After the admission that they both “know that it’s wrong,” the only justification offered is that the relationship is “much too strong to let it go.”  Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You” has a seemingly romantic and catchy pop hook sung by one of the greatest vocalists of her generation.  On closer listening, the song is about a woman looking forward to her next sexual encounter with her lover who is married with children.  The singer admits that she has long dismissed any expectation that she and her lover will end up together.  She has accepted her role as mistress.  Even for 1970 in the middle of the hippy movement, “Love the One You’re With” seems callous.  The refrain, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” suggests that the expectation of fidelity is limited to line of sight.  Out of sight; out of mind.  In “Run to You,” Bryan Adams explains how he cheats on a woman with a “heart of gold who’ll never let me down” because his lover “turns him on.”  Luther Ingram’s “(If Lovin’ You is Wrong), I Don’t Want to be Right” closes side 1.  The title basically says it all.  The song is about a man with a wife and two kids asserting that the most important thing to him is continuing his liaison with his mistress.

Side 2 begins with “Follow Me,” a song that suggests that the singer is open to one-night stands whether or not his lover is married.  His only caveat is “as long as you don’t ask me stay.”  In the first verse of “The Other Woman,” Ray Parker Jr. explains his understanding of fidelity, “I’m just the average guy.

I fooled around a little on the side.”  Now it seems he finds himself in love with the other woman much to his lament.  In “Right Next Door (Because of Me),” Robert Cray explains to us that he is such a “strong persuader” that he was able to seduce the married woman who lives next door to him.  One could assume that the Gin Blossoms meant for the refrain from “Cheatin’” to be taken as tongue in cheek.  “You can’t call it cheatin’; she reminds me of you.”  Jimmy Eat World (Get it Faster) give us the observation that “I wanna do right by you.  I’m finding out, cheating gets it faster.”  Finally, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong sings “Dry your whining eyes. I’m just roaming for the moment sleazing my backyard so don’t get so uptight you been thinking about ditching me.”  Most readers will note the flaws in the thought processes conveyed in these songs.  Like an addiction to drugs or alcohol, distorted thinking sets in.  Among the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (APA 2000) criteria for Substance Abuse are “continued use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects” and “recurrent use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations.”  (Meeting any one of the criteria is sufficient for the diagnosis).  As The Little Red Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (1986, p. 23) asserts, “we have been strangely insane.”

The reality is that infidelity is devastating to marriages and families.  There is an impaired thinking that accompanies sexual acting out that causes songs like these to ring true in the moment.  However, after the discovery, I have never heard anyone say, “It was so worth it.”  Many couples are able to find healing after an affair, but it is a difficult process and generally requires therapeutic support.


Alcoholics Anonymous (1986). The little red book. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th ed., Text Revision, DSM-IV-TR). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

“I work with individuals, couples, and families to help develop secure connections
and craft manageable solutions.”

More information is available on my website  I am also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats

Scott Wood is a registered marriage and family therapist intern (IMF67385) and is supervised by Dr. Melinda Reinicke, Psychologist (Psy11011).