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Should I Have an Affair? Why Cheating Is Never a Good Idea


Thea is a passionate writer who covers a wide array of topics, including film/tv reviews, opinion-based pieces, and relationship advice.

Your fantasies may cloud your rational judgment while you are engaged in an emotional affair.

Your fantasies may cloud your rational judgment while you are engaged in an emotional affair.

Learn to Separate Fantasies From Reality

Anyone who has been caught in lust's grimy grasps can testify that sometimes the feelings you have for another person transcend rational thought and become more like an obsession. A person may even catch himself daydreaming of the other woman (or a woman of a man—all throughout this article the genders are interchangeable). A woman may concoct circumstances inside her head where the other man helps her, protects her, professes his love to her, or any other time in which she may be close to him. A person may wonder if the other likes them back, become convinced that they do, and even go so far as to try to orchestrate events and meetings to make their best impressions and let hints drop in the process.

Even the best-meaning, most faithful people are not immune to adultery, and sometimes the only thing that can cut passionate fantasies and obsessions short is a strong dose of reality to get their heads out of the clouds and back in the real world.

If you are asking yourself if you should be unfaithful to your spouse, the answer is no. In this day and age, people say, "do whatever feels right," or "what the other doesn't know won't hurt them." I am here to give you the dose of reality you need. Cheating will leave you and others destroyed, and all for nothing. Below are several reasons why cheating is never a good idea in any relationship.

Why Cheating Is Never a Good idea

Different People, Same Problems

Someone once told me that the stupidest thing you can do is cheat thinking that it will fix your problems. When I asked why, this person gave me some great advice. They said that many of your relationship frustrations in your current marriage are also due in part to your personality. Barring abused spouses who are clearly in another category and should get away as soon as they can, most run-of-the-mill marriages have their fair share of conflict, disagreement, anger, eruptions, frustration, and contempt. If this gets so bad that you think that someone else can understand and comfort you (say, that successful wealthy, seemingly calm, tall, dark, and handsome friend), then you have crossed the line into a fantasy and an emotional affair. The problem is that you are comparing your real-world situation (being mad at your spouse) with a fantasy (he's perfect and I want him to hold me and tell me everything is alright). As my friend mentioned, all your anger at your spouse also has to do with your baggage and personality flaws, not just theirs. So, after the initial lustful passion of your affair wears off and you have to face the consequences of what you have done, you will find that you have very similar or even identical issues with your lover as you had with your spouse. If you struggled to communicate, you still will. If you got mad that he didn't tidy up, chances are, you'll still be griping about the same things. If you feel that he ignores you and doesn't satisfy you in the bedroom, after the passion has waned, those same grievances will come up. This point can be summed up by the old saying that is tried and true: The grass is always greener on the other side. If you think about this old saying, you will realize the philosophy behind it. It is greener, until you walk over to see it. Then the grass where you were standing looks greener and the grass you are on now looks brown. Never envy or covet or fantasize about another person. They are just as screwed up as you, and no, things will not be perfect if you end up having an affair with them.

Collateral Damage

Of course you will have all sorts of personal grievances and frustrations as you cheat, but how can I not mention how your selfish actions will affect those you love? While you are deep into the obsession and fantasy, your feelings of responsibility and duty are muted. You may not even be able to clearly picture in your mind how your actions may hurt others. But, even if you have to memorize it as factual information and are unable to feel due to emotional numbness, rest assured that your actions have lasting effects on those you love and care about. The first biggest collateral damage is your kids or children around you. If your marriage breaks up because you are caught cheating, your children lose their home and their security and will have suffered what the American Academy of Pediatrics refers to as an adverse childhood experience that could set them up for a lifetime of depression, anxiety, and other harmful issues. Yes, I'm telling the truth you don't want to hear: ruining your marriage before your kids are 18 will scar them for life. But your children are not the only who can suffer. If the other man or woman has children, then they will be the ones suffering an adverse childhood experience. If you fantasize about kicking mom out and being the new Mrs., you need to know that the children of your lover will always see you as the other woman, or as the person their parent cheated with and ruined their family. If they are able to forgive it in the first place, it would be a miracle. More often than not, you will struggle to gain their acceptance, and their grudges and anger toward you will reverberate into all future relationships. Children are not the only ones who can be hurt by an affair. Your parents and other family members will be sorely disappointed in your choices, as well as all of your friends and the community at large, which brings me to my next point.

Ruined Reputation

People talk. And they will talk about you and what you did. Be sure that they will add in raunchy details and embellish stories to make you look like a real freak. It will be a sensationalized hearsay all across town and every time you go in a store or anywhere else, people will smile and act nice, but mark my words, they will never forget what you did. You will be eating some serious humble pie for decades. It may seem like that is a small price to pay to be in that "perfect person's" arms, but remember you are emotionally numb due to the heightened state of your fantasy. You are not able to reason as a real-world individual while your obsession with another person is continuing. Let me just make this simple: no matter how much you think you are prepared to be scorned, bad-mouthed, and the talk of the town, you are not. You have no idea what you are signing up for. Even if you try to hide it from your family, it will get back to them and they will know what you did because everyone will know--pastors, former bosses, friends, colleagues, family, and anyone else who hears the rumor. Another old saying says, where there is smoke there is fire. People will most likely believe what is said about you because if enough people say it, there must be some truth to it.

Financial Ruin

Not only can it be expensive to have an affair (hotel rooms, food, alcohol, gifts, costs of hiding your escapades), but if you end up ruining your marriage for a roll in the hay, you will find that judges will not be too willing to rule in your favor regarding alimony, child support, and assets. It seems to be the rule that the deceived spouse receives half of all goods and many times the house. I have known people to cheat and ruin their financial lives and end up living in a low-end apartment paying all their extra money in child support or alimony. It is a miserable existence, and your children are raised in poverty and hardship. It is quite possibly the worst financial mistake you can ever make. You think it wouldn't come to that, but it does come to that every day for thousands of people. This is reality. The worst part is the ruined people realize after a while that they threw away a person that they could trust and that they once loved for an inferior person who showed himself to be perfect but really was full of deception and flaws.

You Can't Trust Them

Tell me again how you think you can trust your lover with your heart and your future? After all, they already cheated on their other spouse with you. What makes you think, when your love grows stale as it inevitably will, that they will not go off with someone else as soon as they feel undeniable passion? Even if they are single, they are still trying to get with you, a married person. It's deceitful and absent of morality to ruin your own marriage or someone else's because you can't control what's in your pants. The passion you feel will not last forever. A cheater is not someone to build a life with. An adulterer has no future. Infidelity is no foundation to build upon.

They Aren't Perfect

The person you are unable to stop thinking about is not perfect. They may seem like they have it all now, but I guarantee you that they have some seriously annoying (and infuriating) flaws. If they are workaholics, they will be after you ruin your marriage and theirs. If they publicly voice annoyance with their spouse, you will be the next target. If they look for things to satisfy themselves outside of marriage (um, hello? You!), they will continue to do that once you commit yourselves to each other. It is a cruel illusion to think that the person you fantasize about is perfect or somehow will be better or more satisfying to you. Every person in the world has serious hangups, and your lover is no exception. Their flaws may be different than your spouse's, but they are in no way less troublesome. Especially since your fantasy has you starting an illicit relationship, such a wrong start would ruin your relationship forever. A good marriage cannot be built on a cracked and wobbly foundation. You may as well invest your time and energy into saving the one you already have, which was probably built upon a better base.

Inner Conflict

You won't be able to live with yourself if you cheat on your spouse. It may seem like it's everything that you ever wanted at this time and you just can't say no, but you actually can and should. You will be so embarrassed and even loathe yourself for your decisions, especially how they affect your children, family and friends and when you hear the things they say about you. You may even lose friends and may suffer depression and panic attacks.

The person you are cheating with may seem perfect. But, they are not.

The person you are cheating with may seem perfect. But, they are not.

The Good News

There is good news, even though this super passionate feeling overcomes you and you feel like you can't stop it. The truth is that you can overcome it just by sticking it out and getting your head out of the clouds. Look around you. Try to remember why you got married and especially concentrate on what you will ruin if you cheat. Find ways to reconnect with your spouse and even seek marriage counseling. Avoid the other person that you are obsessed with. If you are forced to be around them (like a coworker or neighbor) be sure to force your feelings into submission and focus on bad things about them to remind yourself why they are not good for you. If you cannot subdue the fantasies and obsessions, just stick it out. It will not last forever, and through waiting it out and denying yourself, you are growing steadfastness in your character, which means you are growing in patience and self-denial, which are two very good qualities of a mature person. Withstanding temptation grows character. Giving into it grows weakness.

I hope this article has helped you realize that infidelity is never the answer. The better route to take is to work on the marriage you already have, because another person will not fix your problems.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Thea Tsayt


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 14, 2019:

Hi, AudreyLancho, years ago when I was a young man, I do realize that cheating though cheap could not help me, so I married the girl I loved. Ever since we had been faithful on the marital bed.

Any time one needs love, the other is there to help out. Thanks for sharing and educative article.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on June 13, 2019:

The goal of most cheaters is to hold onto all that is good in their primary relationship while addressing their other "needs" on the side. Very few cheaters are looking to (replace) one relationship with another. They want to add on or complement what they (already) have. Cheating is about having MORE!

Since cheaters don't expect to get caught they don't consider the potential consequences. Cheating is a (self-centered) activity!

Not all cheaters are the same either. There are three basic types.

1. The Incessant/Serial Cheater

This person has never been faithful in any long-term relationship. For them monogamy is the equivalent of going a strict diet. It's not a matter of (if) they will cheat but rather (when) they will cheat. They are always looking for the thrill that comes with being with someone "new". There motto is: "Variety is the spice of life!"

2. The Unbelievable Opportunity Cheater

This type of cheater is NOT proactively looking to cheat. They may have a secret crush on a co-worker, a stranger they see at Starbucks, or never really got over an ex. One day this person actually hits on them they realize they can turn a fantasy into reality. In other instances a they may be on a business trip or at a boys/girls night event whereby friends are egging them on to hookup with the "hot stranger". Immaturity and peer pressure can lead them to cave in to temptation. Sometimes this type of cheater will confess weeks, months, or years later to relieve themselves of the guilt they have been carrying.

3. The Discontented Cheater

This person blames you! If you had not did or stopped doing whatever they would have never stepped outside of the relationship. Oftentimes a betrayed person will buy into their excuse because on some level it empowers them to believe; "If I caused this to happen then (I can do something to prevent it) from happening again." It also gives them an opportunity to save face with friends and family after telling them for years that cheating was an automatic deal breaker. They can tell those folks that it was {them} who pushed their mate into the arms of another.

Ultimately both monogamy and cheating are choices the individual makes. The only person you can control is yourself!

Only you can decide if cheating is a "deal breaker" for (you).

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