Problems caused by cheating

Let’s look at the problems you fact if you start having a secret affair.

The edifice of lies

First of all, cheating by definition involves lying to your partner.
You have to avoid mentioning this new interest in another person, even though you’re probably thinking about them all the time.
You have to lie about where you’re going when you’re planning to meet the new person, and lie about where you were afterwards.
You have to lie about why you are suddenly glowing, or excited, or turned on.
You have to lie about how you learnt that new sexual technique.
You have to lie to your friends and family as well, to avoid word getting back to your partner through the grapevine.
You have to remember what story you told all these people and keep your story consistent.
You have to hide electronic traces of your affair as well as physical ones.
…and so on and so on.
It takes a lot of effort to build and maintain an edifice of lies of the size needed to hide a new relationship from a partner you spend a lot of time with. Personally I find this all far too difficult, and any lies of mine tend to be seen through by anyone who knows me.
Some people manage it, and even keep up the lies for years on end. Most are discovered sooner or later, and being discovered is always a risk. You can’t control every bit of information your partner receives – even if you did, this control would itself become obvious to them. In the long run, they are almost bound to find out.
Rona Subotnik and Gloria Harris, in their book Surviving Infidelity: Making Decisions, Recovering from the Pain, mention one woman who found out about her husband’s affair after his death – it was no less devastating than finding out when he was alive. And as he was no longer around to talk about it, she found it hard to work through what it meant about their marriage.

Lack of respect

Even your partner never finds out, the fact that you are lying to your partner means you are choosing not to give them any influence over one part of your life. Your choice to do this can only mean that your respect for your partner and their autonomy is lessened.
‘Oh no,’ you might say, ‘I’m keeping the secret from my partner because of my respect for them, because they would be upset if they knew.’
They will be upset one day anyway. And what kind of respect reduces someone’s ability to choose their response to the situation?
If you lie to someone about something this important, you are not respecting them – full stop.

Hidden means stifled

If a new relationship is hidden, it has little chance to grow. The new lover cannot become part of your life as new partner would usually do, such as by meeting your friends and family, going to events with you, being mentioned in conversation. If your new lover is single, they can’t start telling everyone they know about their new lover, so they become isolated. If they have a partner, they have to lie to their partner, so the same issues apply to as to your partner. (This doesn’t apply if the infidelity is a one-night stand or a series of one-night-stands, of course.)

It is often said that the secrecy and illicit nest of secret affairs is part of their attraction. Perhaps that is true, but compared with what you are losing through the secrecy, this seems a poor reason to have an affair.

2 Responses to “Problems caused by cheating”

  1. I’m so thankful that I was in a marriage that we could openly discuss our options as a couple. We never had to hide. And we were able to find someone together, matching us both perfectly :)

    Great post!

  2. Some people find lying too hard, and avoid it for that reason. I find lying easy, but also find that it destroys my self-respect and the integrity of my identity. When I lead a double life, my identity fragments: am I this person, this mask which I project to person A?; or am I this other person, who I am to person B?; or am I a sinister puppet-master, bwahahahahaha? I hate what it does to me so much that I went cold-turkey on lying 20 years ago, and haven’t told a significant lie since.
    PS: what “May” said.