Before You Cheat

By Guest Blogger Cristin Whiting, PsyD

We ran this article years ago, and it still draws quite a bit of traffic. We thought it would be great food for thought to post again. We welcome your thoughts and comments below. Feel free to post anonymously by leaving the name and email section blank.

Are you thinking about having an affair?

Perhaps you are in the early stages of heat and excitement; the stage where you swing between telling yourself that you could “never do something like that” and fantasizing about what it would be like. Perhaps you have already started an affair and are feeling “more alive” than you have in a long, long time. Whatever the case may be, before you have one more daydream, before you and your lover exchange one more text message, before you make up another excuse for where you have been or with whom you were talking to on the phone, consider this …

Affairs are common, especially among couples who have been married and have little kids, or who are about to have a new baby, or who are under financial stress, or have recently lost a family member, or are in a phase in their lives of relative smooth sailing. In other words, affairs are just common and there are as many “reasons” for someone to have an affair as there are people with which to have one.

The challenge with an affair is that the seduction creates a bubble. It creates another world, far away from reality in which to escape. It is a world of excitement, of high emotion, of sexiness and secrets. It is a world in which a person can feel like they get to express a part of themselves that has been long repressed or maybe never expressed before. All of that is incredibly seductive and it is the seduction that causes the people who are having the affair to lose sight of what life will be like when the spell is broken and the affair is over.

Oh, yes it will end. Some of you reading this might insist that what you have is true love and that it is the very answer you both have been praying for. Others of you might be a bit more practical about it and may know that this affair will never last but you insist that you aren’t hurting anyone because you won’t get caught. That is the kind of thinking that is a direct result of the seduction bubble. It is just not grounded in reality.

Whether you get caught or not, whether you feel like you “deserve” this indulgence or not, when we break our word with our commitments we tear down a piece of ourselves. That tear in who we are for ourselves happens because our integrity gets diminished. When we break our word in one area of our life, it gets a lot easier to break our word in other areas. Before you know it, all of life can start to feel a little out of control, all because of one decision. And imagine! You haven’t even gotten caught yet …

Yes, getting caught. Allow me to offer you a cold shower on that seduction spell. What getting caught looks like is moving out of your family home into an apartment that offers a significant drop in the standard of living you currently enjoy. What getting caught looks like is walking through the grocery store or going to church and wondering who knows your marriage broke up because you cheated. What getting caught looks like is your kids finding out you cheated and having to look them in the eye. What getting caught looks like is reality crashing down around you when the life you needed a break from, and that you are about to lose, suddenly seems so precious.

So readers, I offer this dose of reality with all compassion and no judgment. I offer this dose of reality because you are worth it and so are your families. Though the lure of seduction is a strong one, nothing compares to the freedom found in powerfully keeping our word to our commitments—especially when we don’t feel like it.


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3 thoughts on “Before You Cheat

  1. anonymous

    I wish everyone, who is even thinking about having an affair, would read this. My marriage ended because of an affair and five years later it still hurts deeply and the worst part is seeing your children upset, angry, confused, broken because of something one of their parents selfishly decided to do. Even though my kids are still too young to know why mom and dad got divorced, it turned their whole lives upside down and will be something they affects them forever. Please look beyond yourself, to the spouses, children, friends that you will affect if you have an affair.

  2. Anonymous

    Just to add, this is difficult . . . an affair did end my marriage. And it was heart-breaking! I have forgiven and I know that I am better off, now. However, when I found out and was left with the broken heart that I did not see coming it was the worst thing I have EVER experienced. Sometimes, affairs end great marriages. I loved my marriage and my husband and all of his flaws, but another woman took him. I judge others and then realize I am not supposed to, but I am human. We all sin, but I know that I try to do good everyday and try to do good to others and help those in need. I was the wounded once and needed help.
    If you are having an affair, my words would be “do not hurt others”. I pray that we all find the strength we need.

  3. Anonymous

    I haven’t been to your site in months if not a year. Interesting this was the front page post. I appreciate it and am so thankful for articles like this. I would love to remind people that everyone has a story that is influenced by our pasts. Behaviors such as this are completely inexcusable and there are certainly consequences to every action. But, to have people, friends, or family members judge behavior, shut people out and gossip is the last thing these marriages need. Affairs do not end marriages, bad marriages end bad marriages. Some people don’t cheat for the thrill of it. Some people are so desperate to have someone treat them with love and attention and respect and care for them, they have been hurting for years. Marriages have to be nourished and respected from both parties for a lifetime or they can become fragile and vulnerable. Please Protect yourself and your marriage everyday. But if this happens to you or someone you know….Love both people, reach out to both people, respect both people and give both people a chance to ask for forgiveness. Usually both people are extremely hurt to get to this point in their relationship. We all sin, all of our sins are equal, including those who judge “a cheater”, and no one is perfect. If friends and family start choosing sides and choosing victims, they are never accurate and it only further divides the family in crisis. Pray for them both and pray with them both. And let’s pray over each other, and love each other back together…these people have been through enough hate and blaming.


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