What message is Khloe Kardashian sending by taking back cheating Tristan Thompson? Marchelle Abrahams consults the experts.
Having someone cheat on you, and then having the drama play out in the public eye is one of the most devastating things that can happen to anyone.
When news of reality TV star Khloe Kardashian’s bae cheating on her broke, it was tabloid fodder, feeding our need to wallow in another person’s misfortune.
Then when she decided to take Tristan Thompson back, everyone and their mother had an opinion about it. Headlines like “The struggle behind Khloe Kardashian’s decision to stay with Tristan Thompson” and “Kardashians furious at Tristan Thompson”, didn’t help the NBA player’s case either.
“Very little is private for a high-profile celebrity, who lives in the public eye,” says Louisa Niehaus, a psychotherapist who specialises in trauma therapy.
She has a plausible reason for the mass interest in the scandal: “Fans tend to identify with celebrities and see that even their icons are not immune to pain and heartbreak, and so the interest is even more intense.”
Jogini Packery is a counselling psychologist and SA College of Applied Psychology (Sacap) head of student services at their Joburg campus. She believes that the intrusiveness of social media also plays a big part - it exposes them to the spotlight and public criticism.
“Celebrities are not only exposed to the opinions of others, they are also subjected to forms of negative criticism and cyberbullying,” she observes.
This could be the reason why Kardashian disabled the comments section of her social media feeds, days after her daughter was born. And even then she waited for the storm to die down before posting pictures of new baby, True.
Whether you’re a Kardashian fan or not, everyone has an opinion when it comes to celebrities cheating and then getting caught out. For most fans it was either: dump him or forgive him. But many who have experienced infidelity in their relationship know that it is more complicated. There are always grey areas.
“There are many factors that lead to infidelity. Cheating on one’s partner is symptomatic of issues within the relationship,” says Niehaus.
She brings up issues such as boredom, lack of common interests and commitment phobia, as just a few of the reasons why a partner would choose to stray. The difficult part is deciding when to give up. “It’s a decision that needs to be weighed up," she says.
“If there are constant and recurring themes in a relationship such as infidelity, there is clearly a problem.”
Kardashian has more than 76million followers on Instagram. This makes her one of the most influential celebs out there, and unfortunately her fans feel they have a say in her life.
Many feel that she’s setting a bad example as a role model by taking her cheating man back. It doesn’t help that the Thompson cheating rumours started as early as 2016, when they started dating and his ex was six months' pregnant at the time with his child.
Sources claim he was a serial cheater with an existing “side chick”.
Whatever the truth is, Packery has a different sentiment, saying: “By choosing to stay with a partner who has been unfaithful, she is simply sending the message that she still has hope in the relationship, and that internally, she is not ready to leave for a number of reasons.
"If you look at it from this point of view, there’s a sense of empathy. Expecting someone to exit a relationship before they're ready “causes more turmoil for that person, because they're acting to please others".
Niehaus also makes an interesting observation, adding that Kardashian is especially vulnerable as she’s just given birth. “This is a time when she would expect her partner to be supportive and involved.”
In reality, there is no wrong or right way to deal with infidelity. “Some people choose to stay in a toxic relationship, seek professional support, and make a success of it,” comments Packery.
“However, some choose to stay and end up being sucked into a dark hole of turmoil, which may have terrible implications for them.”
The feminist angle
While she’s never outright admitted to being a feminist, the Revenge Body star has been very outspoken when it comes to empowering females. Even her Good American clothing line has been lauded for being a feminist act in itself for catering for women in all shapes and sizes.
Packery recently completed her master's in community-based counselling psychology (Wits) and explored the realm of sexualised identities in SA.
She believes there is confusion surrounding the feminist movement, especially as far as Kardashian is concerned. “Feminism does not only focus on combating women abuse and unequal treatment of women - it speaks about free will and every woman’s right to agency,” she says.
* Louisa Niehaus is a psychotherapist specialising in trauma therapy. Visit: www.louisaniehaus.com