Gabrielle Union On Feeling Guilt Over Infidelities In First Marriage

Gabrielle Union On Feeling Guilt Over Infidelities In ‘Dysfunctional’ First Marriage: ‘I Was Horny For Validation’

Gabrielle Union is keeping it real about her growth, especially in the areas of marriage, infidelity, and needing validation. That conversation happened with actor Dax Shepard on the first 2023 episode of his podcast Armchair Expert. 

More than halfway through the interview, Gabrielle spoke about her ‘dysfunctional’ first marriage to Chris Howard. Here’s what the actress said.

Shepard and Union were discussing Gabrielle’s experience filming Bad Boys 2 in Miami. She explained that it was a fun period of time and that co-stars Martin Lawrence and Will Smith made certain she was “treated well.”

Gabby was in her early 30s and married to Howard, but admitted she wasn’t “getting wife of the year awards” during that time. Shepard followed up by explaining his dueling guilt and lack of it over some of his infidelities.

Gabrielle responded:

‘In our first marriage, neither one of us felt like the marriage should get in the way of our dating,” Gabrielle said. “A part of it was like keeping up with his activities, like, ‘Oh, that’s what you’re doing? You’re going to feel this one.’ And I just felt entitled to it as well I was paying all the bills. I was working my a** off and I felt like that’s what comes, the spoils of riches and like my dad before me, whoever has the most gets to do whatever the hell they want is what I thought. It was just dysfunctional from day one.”

Gabrielle Union On Feeling Guilt Over Infidelities In 'Dysfunctional' First Marriage: 'I Was Horny For Validation'
Gabrielle Union and husband Chris Howard during Bad Boys 2 Premiere After Party Sponsored By Sprite Remix at The Supper Club in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Gabrielle Union On Feeling Guilt Over Chris Howard Infidelities And Seeking Validation

As the conversation continued, Shepard and Union ping-ponged about their past experiences with cheating and feeling guilty. Union says she wishes she felt more.

“I wish I had more guilt for some of that. I think, it was just, it was such a stupid relationship that should have never got out of the dating phase.”

Gabrielle said she attended gifted therapy with Howard. During the first session, the therapist allegedly told them she didn’t know how they made it past dating. Additionally, the therapist suggested they should look for a way to “amicably dissolve,” Gabby said. Their therapist added that the former couple had “not one thing in common, no morals, no values,” except other people.

Shepard cracked a joke about them being horny for other people and having that in common.

But Union said:

“I was horny for validation and having certain kinds of guys like me and want me. That made me feel like I was worthy and good and valuable and deserving.”

As of Wednesday, Howard hasn’t responded to the new interview. However, Gabby’s reveals aren’t all that new–she’s previously spoken about her frosty union to Howard in her 2017 memoir We’re Going To Need More Wine. In the text, the actress shared her uneasy feelings during their wedding ceremony in 2001.

Gabrielle Union Says Men Can Be Big Groupies Too: ‘It Was A Trade’

Union admitted that ‘in hindsight’ she absolutely needed something from the men she cheated with that she wasn’t getting from herself or her marriage.

But she says the men also benefitted. Adding that, “guys can be just as big of groupies, if not more, than women, so it was a trade-off.” 

On the topic of seeking validation, the actress added it takes so much time and energy to be a cheater.

“I don’t move through the world in the same way, but I also recognize that hurt people hurt people and hurt people seek out other hurt people,” Union said.


That lifestyle is now far in Gabby’s rearview mirror. She now married to Dwyane Wade since 2014. They welcomed their daughter Kaavia, 4, in 2014 and also share three children from Wade’s previous relationships. Earlier in the interview, she gushed about feeling both neutral and overjoyed to speak about her husband in interviews.

When asked what’s different about her relationship with Wade, she said:

“I think initially it wasn’t different. I think over time, we both had to commit to ourselves and then through that inner work, we randomly came back around as more healed people and more open to understanding our complicity in some of the challenges that we created for ourselves.”

She added that through healing, they’re now free to choose themselves and each other every single day.


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Here’s the full podcast interview:


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