Ever Been Unfaithful? Here’s What 8 Cheaters Would Change About Their Affairs
Cheating in a relationship is often seen as something that happens in a moment.
You have one drink too many and make a bad call. Your coworker touches your arm and you fall into a kiss. An old flame calls you to say they’ll be in town before teasing out their hotel room number.
In reality, every act of cheating takes place within a chain of events. It’s a build up by numerous contributing circumstances, including (but not limited to) what you learned about love and self-worth as a child, the state of your current relationship and how much your sex drive factors into your life.
But which one of those aspects is most important when it comes to someone actually crossing the line and cheating? AskMen spoke with eight different individuals who have cheated on a partner about their regrets in order to understand what they’d change if they got a chance to do it all over.
I Regret Trying to Turn a Fling Serious
“My partner and I worked fairly opposite schedules so I didn’t get to see him as much as I’d like. Our sex drives were also on a different wavelength (mine being a bit more active, his more passive), and both of those factors led to me behind his back and seek out other ways in which to fulfill those desires.
I guess the main thing I regret was going beyond just sex and going for more friendly, ‘platonic’ hang-outs with them, too, which led to me ultimately ending things with my previous partner in pursuit of what I thought would be a more ideal relationship with this ‘extraneous’ person (if you will).
Ultimately, this plan didn’t quite work out. For a few months afterwards, I felt a combination of guilt and silliness; that I might’ve given up something that was adequate-to-great for fried chicken and a few decent f*cks. And let me tell you, there was a shameful amount of Taylor Swift for a while.
Two years after the fact, I did end up coming clean to my ex-partner as a means of reconciliation with both him and myself, which ended up ruining the friendship that we had been re-establishing since the break-up.” – Benny, 27
I Regret Having an Unhealthy Relationship to Secrecy
“I’m still recovering and processing, but I’m able to be more candid about it now that I’m less in denial. I think that’s what seems like the most poisonous part about cheating — the secrecy.
I guess some people know not to live with secrets, but this was a lesson I learned a very hard way. It is intertwined with my private nature and my hard shell put in place to protect myself from intimacy.” – Marika, 32
I Regret Not Being Able to Separate Sexual Attention From Self-Worth
“Abby, my girlfriend at the time, decided to get back together on a provisional basis a few weeks after breaking up. We weren’t officially a couple again, but in the few weeks we were apart, I met someone who was very attracted to me. I wasn’t really used to that feeling yet, and it was helping plug the hole of sadness I was feeling.
I ended up pursuing physical intimacy with the new person without telling Abby, and we had sex twice — once late at night and again in the morning when we woke up. Later that afternoon, I was in the process of telling this new person that it couldn’t happen again when Abby texted me to break things off for good.
I feel horrible, though, that I essentially used someone else to feel better about myself during the waning days of a relationship that actually mattered a lot. I think about that a lot and it still bothers me, 10 years later.” – Eric, 32
I Regret Not Coming Clean About My Sex Life While on a Break
“I was dating someone for a while and we ‘took a break.’ I went on a solo trip to Mexico for a few weeks, sleeping with around 10 people in that time. We got together again after and I never told.
My next relationship was an open one, and I’ve never lied about my ‘extramarital’ activities with a partner since. I believe omission is a lie … still feel guilty about it.” – Carol, 29
I Regret Pursuing Things Outside of Failing Relationships Rather Than Ending Them
“I have developed significant crushes that I was really invested in near the end of relationships that I knew were failing. I guess it was a way of looking for what I wasn’t getting from the relationship I was in.
I let a boy buy me a drink at a bar and gave him my number when he asked, though I think I was drunk enough to tell him I was trying to break up with someone. He was about 5 years younger than me and in school for massage therapy.” – Robin, 30
I Don’t Really Regret Anything
“I wanted to break up with my boyfriend of almost four years, who was also the first guy I ever slept with, but didn’t know how. I was sexually frustrated and ran into an (even) older guy who was very into me, and went over to his house. It was basically a spur of the moment decision. We were watching TV and I got on his lap, taking off my top while he was on the phone.
I think we slept together a total of two or three times, but it was enough to make me realize what I had been missing, not just in terms of the quality of the sex, but also in terms of how lighthearted, fun and exciting relationships/dating can be.
I don’t really have big regrets because I don’t know if I would have found the strength/coherence to leave the relationship without the cheating experience. It definitely electroshocked me into realizing the breakup needed to happen, and there was no going back afterward.” – Kathryn, 31
I Regret Not Being My Truest Self
“I was in a different city than my then-partner, so this affair involved more than sex, expanding into the public, going to dinners, etc. I developed feelings for this person, often keeping in touch with them online.
I realize I was hurting myself more than my past partner, self-medicating to numb out issues I should have been dealing with more directly. These were linked more to revenge, as previously to these experiences, my then-partner had admitted to cheating on me. However, I can’t say I regret it because that was how I was dealing with those issues at the time.
The only thing I regret is letting myself down because, since my partner never found out, I was left with the weight of understanding how I wasn’t my truest or highest self. However, I have actively reflected on my actions and have attempted to learn from them, and have openly discussed my actions and motivations with my current partner, who I have never cheated on. – Astrid, 28
I Hate That I Hurt People, But I Learned a Lot About Myself
“I used to have regrets, but I’ve learned that I do not have the amount of control I wish I did. My wife was my first love and only sexual partner who I had been with for seven years.
I hate that I hurt my wife (whom I came clean to a month after, due to feelings of guilt and fear of being outed, but mostly a desire to build a relationship on a foundation of honesty and trust).
I also hate that I blew up this other person’s life by accepting, and then actively continuing, a relationship that would not be good for either of us.
But I am also glad I did it. I learned a lot about myself, the human condition, emotional pain, the complexities of love and friendship, the importance of honesty. I feel wiser and more empathetic, given that that experience led me to feeling things I never even imagined were possible.” – Frederick, 32