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Interview: psychologist Anjula Mutanda, author of How to do Relationships, analyses why Spencer Matthews cheats

November 18, 2013
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Made in Chelsea's Spencer Matthews is no stranger to relationship drama and attention from girls near and far.

The BAFTA-Award winning series has seen its resident lothario admit to cheating on his past three co-star girlfriends — Louise Thompson, Lucy Watson and Stephanie Pratt.

Psychologist and author of How to do Relationships Anjula Mutanda shares her expert opinion with HELLO! Online. Why does Spencer cheat? Why did Louise go back to him? And did his behaviour really influence Louise to cheat on Andy Jordan?

© Photo: Getty Images

Why do you think men like Spencer cheat?

"Well I think with Spencer, he's got the behaviour of a commitment—phobe, which is somebody who loves the thrill of the chase and pursues someone with a great deal of intensity, but at the same time could also be looking over his shoulder at other girls. He gets off on knowing that he can get away with it. It's really thrilling and really exciting. If you're in to that kind of short—term buzz, and you get your kicks out of seducing people, you can become almost addicted to that kind of behaviour.

"Somebody like that, their default setting is that relationships are short—lived and 'I'm going to find fault with you so you dump me,' or 'I'll make up a story that is so disgusting that I will dump you.' That's what he does. "And there are a lot of people, men and women, who do do that. Their default setting is that 'relationships aren't safe.' And so commitment is an unsafe thing because people will always let you down."

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Spencer and LucyWhy do women still date Spencer or cheat with him when they know he has a girlfriend?

"There are girls who go into a relationship with guys like Spencer with their eyes open. They know what he's done to past girlfriends but they really believe that it's just because he hasn't met the right kind of person. So they think they can turn him around. But you can't – you can't just turn a guy or a woman like this around, they have got to turn themselves around. "Spencer is also a fantastically good salesman. He's good at selling himself so lots of girls know what he's like but they still want to date him. He's always using his body language, very intently staring into a girl's eyes, telling her what she wants to hear and making her feel like she's the only woman in the world, so even if she knows he has a girlfriend somewhere, they're thinking, 'Yeah, but he prefers me.'"

© Photo: Getty Images

Spencer and LouiseWhy do you think Louise kept going back to Spencer, especially after they first broke up?

"When you've broken up with someone you've really cared about you want to go back and recreate the good times. You try and fix it and make sense of what happened. The person that has been hurt is in some way carrying some self—blame about it. That's the seduction of the cheater. They can still look you in the eye after cheating on you and say, 'I'm really sorry, you're beautiful, and you're a wonderful person.' All the positive strokes make you forget the negative hellhole you fell in to after they've cheated on you. "It could also be that Louise is co—dependent to Spencer and may be addicted to him. It's quite a hard pattern to break. He's obviously re—seduced her and said Louise, 'Let's keep this a secret, our special thing that one thinks about.' And then it comes out and it's terrible because she's the one that looks like a fool and what happens? He gets away with it again. She's no more terrible or good or bad than he is, but she's the one that comes off deeply scarred."

© Photo: Getty Images

Andy and LouiseSpencer said that he's rubbed off on Louise and it emerges that she did cheat on her next boyfriend Andy. Is that possible?

"It doesn't mean that if you've been cheated on you're going to go and cheat with someone else, not necessarily; it depends on your state of mind. If Andy was a rebound, then Louise may have had residual feelings left over from her relationship with Spencer. It's kind of getting your revenge back, but on the wrong person. It doesn't make any sense, but it's kind of the emotional state she could have been in because she was so damaged by what happened to her. So it's almost a perverse way of getting back a sense of self—control or self—respect."

Do the other characters on Made in Chelsea affect Spencer's behaviour?

"His group of guy friends are all enablers. They don't really step in and stand up for the girls and say 'I'm never speaking to you for what you've done.' They don't really have that much respect for the girls, and that's the problem. They might say, 'What you've done is terrible,' but the next thing, they're having a drink together and find it funny. It's very hard to say which guy is the worst because they're all enjoying the salaciousness of it. "So until there's an intervention where his friends say, 'We will never speak to you again until you stop that', or girls say, 'No one is going to date you until you stop that', he will carry on. So why would you stop if everyone around you is feeding your habit?"

© Photo: Getty Images

Spencer and StephanieDo you think Spencer being on a reality TV show has anything to do with his behaviour?

"Yes, I mean quite possibly he has been encouraged to do that it could be quite seductive as a storyline. Girls always love a bad boy in a storyline and that could be feeding part of his ego and keeping him on the show. And not only is he getting away with it by the people he's surrounded by, he's also getting away with it on screen, so why stop now?"

Can relationships ever get back on track after one person or both have cheated?

"It depends on the motive for cheating. If the cheating was a symptom of something else in a relationship that was very wrong, if you'd stopped communicating or sleeping together or spending time together, and both of you were guilty of that and one person has gone, 'Right, I'm really upset with you that you've done that to me' and they've gone off with someone else, those kinds of relationships can be repaired with a lot of work. It's not a walk in the park but you can sit down with a third party, usually with a psychologist, and work through it. You literally have to rebuild your trust from scratch. "There are other relationships where you've got somebody who is a serial cheater, who loves to get off on it and is addicted to that kind of behaviour. You are never going to win that person back under any circumstances. If they are enjoying that addiction and if you have become an enabler of that – so no matter how many times they cheat you forgive them and take them back— they'll never change. You'll never leave them so why bother changing?"

Anjula Mutanda's book How to do Relationships is out now.

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