Update: Jerry Falwell Jr. now says he’s resigning from Liberty University
Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. tried this week to put a “Fatal Attraction” spin on the infidelity drama involving his wife, Becki. The embattled president of Liberty University told one publication that he and Becki were the victims of an extortion attempt by a former Miami pool boy, with whom Becki Falwell had “a short-lived” affair.
But a plot point in “American Gigolo,” another ’80s erotic thriller, might offer better insight into what went on between the Falwells and Giancarlo Granda. In the film, a young Richard Gere has sex with a beautiful wife, while her older husband looks on.
In an interview with Reuters, Granda, denied an extortion attempt and insisted he had a sexual affair with both Fallwells that started when he was 20 and lasted for seven years. The nature of the relationship, he told Reuters, involved him having sex with Becki Falwell, 53, while her conservative Christian husband, 58, looked on.
“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda, now 29, told Reuters.
My latest. Giancarlo Granda speaks exclusively to @Reuters about his sexual relationship with the Falwells.
“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room.” https://t.co/RiSaTMKivC via @SpecialReports
— Aram Roston (@AramRoston) August 24, 2020
Falwell, a prominent Donald Trump supporter, denied having any role in his wife’s sexual relationship with Granda. But the allegations of a sexual triangle have taken on a life of their own and prompted questions about why some men get aroused by watching their wives or girlfriends have sex with other men.
Yes, it is thing, according to sex therapists. “There’s more of these guys out there than you may realize,” said Marty Klein, a nationally renowned Palo Alto-based sex and marriage and family therapist and author.
Klein doesn’t know the Falwell situation personally but he described the phenomenon of men who are known by such terms as “cuckolds” or “hot-wifers.” As Klein wrote in a recent blog post, these men fantasize about their wives or girlfriends with other man, or they may even try to make it happen in real life.
Falwell’s religious and political movement espouses traditional family values and ideas about masculinity, so one would think he would find it humiliating to be cheated on, especially if his wife is with a younger and subjectively better looking man.
But “cuckolds” and “hot-wifers” don’t get hung up on jealousy or the parameters that define “normal” monogamous relationships, Klein said.
“Freud would have a field day with these guys,” Klein added. Psychological issues driving these men include repressed homosexuality or bisexuality, low self-esteem and performance anxiety. These men also may fear rejection or abandonment and unconsciously arrange a partner’s affair to feel in control of it.
David Ley, a clinical psychologist, author and expert on sexuality, pornography and mental health, agreed that there are “complex” reasons for some men to get into wife-sharing.
In an email to this news organization, Ley said: “In general, this is a sexual behavior that emerges from a variety of different psychological factors, including latent bisexuality, interest in submission or masochism, or even simple voyeurism.”
Ley and Klein said that humiliation can be arousing for men who belong in the “cuckold” camp.
“Hot-wifers,” on the other hand, are proud to show off their wives and girlfriends and sometimes have them engage in exhibitionistic games, Klein wrote. These men also may “find that they are even more sexually excited by (their partner) after she’s been with another man,” Ley added.
Today’s “pornified culture” may also make it natural for some men to incorporate “a voyeuristic process” into their sexual relationships,” Ley wrote in a column for Psychology Today. Watching one’s wife have sex with another man may be a “next step” in a progression, Ley said. While researching a book, Ley said he heard from men who told him, “My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world to me. I’d rather watch her having sex than some porn actress I don’t know.”
For others, there is the thrill of the taboo, the excitement of breaking traditional rules around marriage and monogamy, Klein and Ley said. With regards to taboos, sex outside a “biblically ordained” marriage is forbidden by the student code at Falwell’s Liberty University. In this way, Falwell is another Christian leader busted for sexual hypocrisy, and giving sex “a bad name,” Klein said.
Still other men told Ley they embrace female empowerment and enjoy seeing the independence and confidence their wives or girlfriends gain from having sex with other men.
But at the same time, Ley wrote that most wife-sharing occurs at the husband’s request. “Wives simply do not often or unprompted go to their husbands and request permission to have sex with other men,” he wrote. There also is a subset of men who push their wives into affairs as a way of controlling or degrading them.
Klein and Ley don’t judge what couples do in consensual sexual relationships. In some couples, the husband and wife are pursuing “exploration of their sexual fantasies and limits,” Ley said.
But Klein wrote that problems can arise if the wife becomes “too enthusiastic about non-monogamy, or if the husband pushes his wife to do things she later regrets.
“Some innocent bystanders might protest that they’re being used without their consent,” Klein continued. “And of course there’s always the chance that the extra guy turns out to be a little nutty.”
Falwell told the Washington Examiner that the “extra guy” in his marital drama wanted money and threatened to go public about the affair to embarrass “my wife, family and Liberty University.”
But Granda said he only was seeking to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he had with the couple after their personal relationship fell apart. Granda managed and owned a share in a Miami youth hostel the couple purchased in 2013.
Granda told Reuters he believes the Falwells preyed on him, from the time he first got to know them while he was working at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. He said their encounters took place “multiple times per year” at hotels in Miami and New York and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.
“Whether it was immaturity, naïveté, instability, or a combination thereof, it was this ‘mindset’ that the Falwells likely detected in deciding that I was the ideal target for their sexual escapades,” Granda said.