Why I Don’t Cheat — The Other Reasons
A scenario that encompasses many of the problems with affairs
There are obvious reasons why we don’t cheat: we made a commitment, we love someone, it is the wrong thing to do, it is hurtful.
And then there are less obvious reasons, ones that I have considered based on my 36 years of experience, and my time spent around other married couples. More than a few marriages in my life have gone kablooey due to affairs. I’ve seen and heard a lot.
Here is a hypothetical scenario, that encompasses many of those kablooeys, and then I will explain those “other reasons”.
Rick is having an affair. It is with a professional peer.
It has been happening for a few weeks. It began with innocent flirting and mutual attraction and was precipitated by roaming eyes and a complacent marriage.
It eventually escalated as Rick and his then-acquaintance met for drinks after work. From there, it became far more than a mere friendship.
His cheating didn’t require many lies at first.
He typically spends time with his mistress under the guise of working late or being on work trips. What started as a simple lie became an elaborate over-arching story of a frustrating project, dubbed Project 6A, that has been eating up his time.
It was under this guise that his lies began to grow. Project 6A involves problems that didn’t occur, people that don’t exist, and lots of things that didn’t happen.
In reality, Rick’s job is easy. He could leave early every day, which he often does — but doesn’t go home.
While at home, Rick’s wife casually picks up his phone. She needs to get his mother’s new number. Usually, she asks before using his phone, but this time she doesn’t.
Rick panics internally. He forgot to delete the messages with his mistress that day. His discipline had slipped.
He makes it a point to stay cool as she holds up his phone, going through his list of contacts. His heart is racing. He knows that if he dives to grab the phone from her, it will seem odd, if not suspicious.
She finds the number without seeing anything. They move on.
The following day, Rick stops by the cell phone store and gets a second phone. He claims it is for work, for Project 6A.
But it is purely to communicate with his mistress. It is a side-chick phone and nothing more.
His wife is getting frustrated with his work keeping him out late. It is nearly 10 PM. She is texting and calling him. He is unable to respond for reasons his wife will surely hate.
He gets home and tells her, “It shouldn’t be this way much longer. My coworker, Steve, just started helping me with the project. It should move along quickly now.”
His wife asks, “Hey, did you finish that Netflix show without me?”
“No?” he replies. “Which show?”
She says, “Well that is weird. You know, that show we were watching? It says someone finished the last few episodes.”
Rick’s heart catches in his throat. He had been using Netflix at his mistress’s place. He forgot to mark the episodes as unwatched.
“Not sure,” he says, “Maybe I left it on mute and it auto-played?”
During a phone call, his wife says, “It is the weirdest thing. My friend, Cindy, said she saw you at the grocery store today.”
Rick was supposed to be, “Out of town.” But, in reality, he was spending the weekend with his mistress due to mounting pressure to give her more of his time.
Rick plays it cool and says, “Hmm. Must have been my lookalike? Not sure. That’s strange.”
His wife buys it. They move on.
He and his wife are at a work function. Rick steps out to use the bathroom.
While he is gone, his wife stands in a busy common area of the bar, where people are mingling. She suddenly bumps into one of his coworkers.
She says, “Hey Steve!”
Steve waves, comes by, hugs her, “Hey! How are you?”
She says, “How’s work? I hear you guys have been pretty busy with Project 6A?”
Steve scrunches his eyes, “Project 6A? What is that?”
And then Rick’s entire life comes crashing down.
Let’s set aside the obvious, glaring moral problems that are involved in Rick’s infidelity and discuss the other side of it:
If you ever had the audacity to have a huge affair like that, doesn’t it seem like a lot of work? A lot of paranoia? A lot of mental negotiation with yourself? If you aren’t a sociopath, which I hope you aren’t, you will be having a lot of tough conversations with yourself in that morning mirror.
Also, the affair would feel like there is this specter that follows you around everywhere, a ticking time bomb that is waiting to go off. Once you pull the pin from that grenade, it will eventually blow up, it is just a matter of time. You will be left constantly wondering when that time will come.
And when that grenade finally goes, you get a front-row seat to watch everything unravel. And, if you have a heart, you will feel like the biggest jerk on the planet, for a long, long time.
I have seen so many affairs blow up on people. It is always some silly detail or lack of extramarital discipline by the offender. They get used to their misconduct and their complacency becomes their undoing.
I’d prefer to skip that avalanche of guilt and chaos. And honestly, I don’t feel like having to remember a bunch of things. My memory was never that good anyway. I would be a piss poor adulterer.
And all that covering up seems like a lot of work, and when that work gets uncovered, when she finds your side chick phone, and all the crazy things you deliberately did to hide your behavior, it will only make you look dirtier. All of your secretive steps will look so much worse than a one-off incident where you got too drunk and had an “oopsie”.
It’s like they say, “The cover-up is worse than the crime.”
No thanks. I am good.
No guilt. No pain. No remembering things. No covering up. No emotional scars. No nuking my entire life.
I’m no White Knight. But the path of honesty seems a lot more efficient, a lot less work. Deviating from that path isn’t conducive to long term happiness.
Best of luck. Stay drama free. And stay faithful. You don’t need that extra hassle in your life anyways.