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I kissed a girl at work – and I want to do that again...
February 10, 2014 8:09 AM   Subscribe

A rather classic tale of infidelity and I don’t know what to do. As concisely as possible – went out with some colleagues for drinks and fairly early everyone disappeared apart from me and a girl who started in our office about a year ago. She is a bit younger than me, but we work relatively closely (same floor, a lot of crossover with our client work). I've liked this girl since she started. She is awesome pretty and on occasions over the last year I've not been able to get her out of my head – for weeks. We kept on and I suggested we carry on and go to another bar. It was just the two of us and I maybe shouldn't have done that, but that’s what we did and we ended up kissing.

We were both drunk, but I felt like we both really wanted to – I certainly did and she said afterwards she had some feelings for me. Anyway, we left, I got her a cab home (we kissed again multiple times) and I went home. Now I am about to go to work, will see her and I've got no idea what to say – because if I could, I’m sure I would sleep with her. I know I will be judged here and nobody is going to say ‘good idea’, but what can I do? Physically I am super attracted to this girl and if the opportunity even remotely arose, I would be trying to make it happen. My situation is such that I am only going to be at my office for another couple of months, after that my wife and I are planning on leaving and heading to the Midwest – for good, so I won’t be around much longer.
Small back story - I am 2.5 years married and honestly despite the above it’s quite happy. Not awesome, but part of leaving is for us to start a better life where we aren't both working so much and I’m sure that will have a positive impact. We don’t have kids. I happen to know we are also the couple that in our social set, people would be heartbroken and ‘if these guys can’t make it, who the hell can’ shocked if they found out I had done this – or indeed wanted to do something else. It’s therefore pretty out of character (or at least I thought it was). Work girl is in a long term relationship and says she really likes her guy, but I’m rationalizing that if I’m gone in a couple of months, I will be out of the situation and therefore the risk / temptation in short order.

I know likely all will say don’t do it, keep your distance and forget about it, but has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home? Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (85 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't cheat on your wife. All the other details are irrelevant.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:14 AM on February 10 [131 favorites]


Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts.

Personally, I'd be driven much more nuts knowing that I had betrayed my spouse knowingly and with intent after a perhaps forgivable drunken indiscretion. It's in the cold hard light of morning that we know who we are. It sounds like you're comfortable being someone I would not be.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:15 AM on February 10 [69 favorites]


1. Don't cheat on your wife.
2. Don't tell your wife you kissed this girl. The guilt is for you to deal with.
posted by Dragonness at 8:15 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


Erm. You know what to do. Don't sleep with her. Or sleep with her, but you should probably get divorced first, and also wait out her relationship.

You're in crush insanity-land. You cannot sleep with her and "keep things straight at home". Sometimes, you can't do what you want just because you feel like it. As you say yourself, it's only a couple of months—avoid her completely and/or keep things professional as much as possible; you know you'll try given the right situation, so don't let that situation happen. The going-nuts feeling will fade. Very simple.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:16 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


If you're "quite happy" with your marriage and spouse, then don't cheat on them. Get your head straight, and respect your wife and your marriage vows. There's no cheating clause that says "This is ok because I am leaving the state soon with my wife."

If she did it to you, would that be okay? Probably not.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:16 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


You should not be married, if you're being completely honest in your text above. 2.5 years in, and you want to fuck around, this is only going to intensify as time goes by, the fact that you don't have children means you should seriously consider ending the marriage, for the sake of yourself AND your wife.
posted by dbiedny at 8:19 AM on February 10 [58 favorites]


So you're certain that this type of temptation won't happen again after your move? I'd focus on where the urge (or inability to suppress it) is coming from, and then work on it if you want to save your marriage.
posted by gimli at 8:19 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Best case scenario: You give into your urges, make it with this girl, and no one ever finds out. You have a good time. She has a good time. It all ends and neither of your have hard feelings and you have fond memories. This is unlikely.

Worst case scenarios: Girl makes demands on you you hadn't planned on. Your wife finds out because you're acting distant, weird or leave your cell phone unattended. You break your wife's heart. You catch an STD. The girl gets pregnant. You leave your wife for a case of infatuation. Or, you realize you can get away with it and serially cheat because monogamy is boring, until something happens listed above.
posted by Issithe at 8:19 AM on February 10 [11 favorites]


Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts.

Okay, the alternative is cheating on your wife which is not only not that great but will have longer lasting implications for your future than not hooking up with this woman. You being driven nuts is not such a terrible outcome. It's part of being an adult, to me, dealing with the fact that you can't have all the things/people you want.

I think you need to ask yourself whether your intense attraction/urge has more to do with trying to make a transition out of your marriage (because there's a good chance that will happen) or if it's something else. Know thyself, in other words.

What can you do? You can not sleep with this other woman, not put yourself in a situation where you're likely to be alone with her, especially when drinking, and put your head down and handle this. If it were me or you were my friend, I'd tell you to come clean with your wife, but that's a decision that reasonable people can disagree on.

I’m rationalizing that if I’m gone in a couple of months, I will be out of the situation and therefore the risk / temptation in short order.

It doesn't sound like from your brief description that being "out of temptation" with this one situation is going to matter terribly much to you in the long run, but only fix this one issue in the short run. If you can kiss one woman you have an intense attraction to, what is to stop this from happening again? You sort of need to accept that no matter how out of character it is for you, it's a thing that you can possibly do and is now a thing that you have done. This is who you are. Now, is this how you want to be in the future?
posted by jessamyn at 8:20 AM on February 10 [15 favorites]


Work girl is in a long term relationship and says she really likes her guy, but I’m rationalizing that if I’m gone in a couple of months, I will be out of the situation and therefore the risk / temptation in short order.

That's rationalization, all right. And if you give in here, you're setting yourself up to do exactly the same thing the next time you can rationalize your way to doing so.
posted by valkyryn at 8:20 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


The issue here is not whether or not you should pursue things with this young woman; the answer to that is no. No, definitely not. Do NOT pursue things with this young woman.

The second issue is your marriage. Forget how your friends feel about your relationship; how do YOU feel about it? Do you think this young woman is so one in a billion special that she's the only person with whom you'd ever want to cheat? If so, the situation's over after you move and you don't cheat. Don't cheat.

If it's not the woman and it's you or your marriage, you have to sort out your own feelings. Maybe you're someone who has crushes on people -- I am! I have the most wonderful, amazing, loving husband in the world and I still get crushes a lot. My personal rule is that I have to tell my husband whenever I have a crush on someone so then it becomes a private joke instead of a fun special secret that makes me feel all warm and goopy (nothing kills budding romance like a spouse saying "Ooooh, your giiiiiiiirlfriend?" whenever you mention someone on whom you have a crush. Trust me on this.).

So:

If you're someone who has crushes but loves your wife and wants to be with her, figure out a way to deal with that, personal rules or outlets like telling your wife or therapy or a diary to get it out or sending cards to Postsecret or whatever.

If you're someone who loves your wife but wants/needs more than one partner, discuss it with your wife and see what happens. Make sure you are respectful of her needs; if she wants monogamy, there's nothing wrong with that. Don't mention this incident.

If this is because you don't actually want to be with your wife, figure that out on your own. It's about your needs and her needs, not what your friends want.

This is a thing you did and you need to take responsibility for it, but that doesn't mean having sex with this woman and it doesn't mean telling your wife, it means figuring out your next step in a way that is respectful to the woman you married and your own needs. Good luck.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:26 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


I happen to know we are also the couple that in our social set, people would be heartbroken and ‘if these guys can’t make it, who the hell can’ shocked if they found out I had done this

Just FYI, that's not exactly how it goes when your social set finds out you cheated on your wife. It's more of a, what the hell, how could Anonymous do that?!? Some of them will never trust or like you again. Is a short office fling worth that?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:27 AM on February 10 [19 favorites]


Are you a cheater? Are you someone whose fidelity to your wife is based not on honor and respect for her and to the promise that you made together, but on how likely it is you'll get caught? Is that truly how you're comfortable thinking of yourself?

If not, then no, don't do this. Find another way around the temptation. See a counselor (or a religious leader if you're religious). Meditate. Exercise vigorously. Channel that energy into a renewed attraction for your wife. It's at times like these that a person's true character is shown -- the very definition of "temptation" is a desire to do something we know is wrong, after all. Absent that, it's just interest. You have total and perfect control over your own actions here; it is very easy not to sleep with this woman (if she truly is a girl, then you have worse problems than just infidelity); just don't talk to her, don't flirt with her, don't be alone with her, and don't sleep with her. You are not a helpless automaton; you are a rational and ethical person.

If that IS how you're comfortable thinking of yourself, and you feel fine acting in that vein? Divorce your wife first, because she deserves better to be married to someone who at best is a cad and at worst is a sociopath.
posted by KathrynT at 8:27 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]


Agreeing with everyone else. I will also add this as something to consider: There is a man in my office who regularly cheats on his wife with vendors and colleagues. A lot of people know about it, despite him thinking he's being clever and keeping it all on the downlow, and it has hurt his reputation quite a lot within the company and probably within the industry as well.
posted by something something at 8:27 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


This won't be the last girl you are tempted to cheat on your wife with, and who is "into you." What kind of person are you? A person who respects his marriage and the limitations that brings with it, or a person who is a slave to the whims of any willing girl who comes along? If it's the second one, tell your wife now, before you have children, before you buy another house together, before you move.

I won't judge you for deciding that monogamy is not for you, but you need to do it before your ties to your wife are cemented with children.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:27 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I know I will be judged here and nobody is going to say ‘good idea’, but what can I do? Physically I am super attracted to this girl and if the opportunity even remotely arose, I would be trying to make it happen

I am confused about this "What can I do?" question. Is somebody making you kiss this girl? Did she have a gun, and hold it to your head to force you to kiss her? Were you blackmailed into kissing her? Are you a spy, and this is a honey trap job? Because outside of those situations I am not sure how you are forced to kiss and pursue a sexual relationship with this woman. It is extremely normal to be attracted to other people outside your relationship, but that doesn't mean you're required to pursue those attractions. Actually, most people either negotiate with their spouse to allow outside-relationship liasons, or they suck it up and do not bang every person they find attractive.

I understand your dick is giving you all sorts of compelling reasons to have sex with this woman, but jokes aside you are in control of your dick and are perfectly able to tell it no.

If you are planning on continuing to cheat on your wife, at least man up and admit nobody is making you do it--you are the type of person who chooses to commit adultery and cheat on his wife. You can choose to not be this person, but otherwise, right now you're choosing to be an adulterer.
posted by schroedinger at 8:29 AM on February 10 [21 favorites]


I know likely all will say don’t do it, keep your distance and forget about it, but has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home?

"Keeping things straight at home" is a euphemism for lying to your wife, isn't it? If I were her, I'd really love to know that you were having these thoughts before I left my current home/work/support network and moved to the Midwest with you. I think you and your wife should pause plans to move and investigate counseling instead. It's incredibly unfair to make huge life decisions as a partnership when one of you only knows half the truth about her marriage.
posted by gladly at 8:32 AM on February 10 [42 favorites]


Ask your wife and see what she thinks about it.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:33 AM on February 10 [38 favorites]


You've asked us if anyone here has acted on this sort of urge and managed to keep things straight at home. I have not acted on this sort of urge, but I can see two ways in which things might be kept "straight":

1) You happen to have a spouse who is truly into the concept of an open marriage, and not just doing it to keep you around, which would never work in the long run.

2) You are an exemplary liar without a shred of conscience.

If either of the situations above describe you, then by all means go ahead and pursue this girl who might be into you.
posted by rocketpup at 8:35 AM on February 10


has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home? Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts.

Yeah, hi, me-from-my-early-20s.

I cheated, and I lied, and I managed to keep things "straight" with my ACTUAL partner. For a while, until the lies became untenable and I discovered that I'm not actually a sociopath because the guilt and other horrible feelings were killing me. I finally 'fessed up and there followed months of awfulness, and years of wrecked friendship (with the person I cheated on), and god at least we weren't married because then at least there weren't legal bills and divorce costs and all that. And I wasn't in a job where my reputation would've taken a serious hit.

I should have chosen to be driven nuts, which is a far more temporary, controllable and less expensive problem. But I wasn't really an adult at the time and couldn't think in those terms; are you? Can you? Can you act as if you are? Because you should.
posted by rtha at 8:45 AM on February 10 [28 favorites]


I know likely all will say don’t do it, keep your distance and forget about it, but has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home?

Or, you could rephrase this question. Out of all the people who've acted on it and haven't managed to 'keep things straight at home' - all those people who've dealt with horrendous pain and guilt and broken marriages, or marriages that limped back to health over several painful years, who've found that their feelings didn't disappear once they moved away from the 'temptation' in question, who've been faced with pregnancy or STIs as a result of the infidelity, or getting found out no matter how careful they thought they were being, or messing up relationships with friends and family and colleagues and employers, and once the short-term infatuation passed over, having to live with the long-term knowledge that they've caused horrendous, awful pain to their spouse, or live in constant fear that their spouse might find out at any moment, all those people who really, really regret ever cheating and wish they could go back in time and undo what they've done - how many of those people thought they'd get away with it?

Because I'm guessing the answer there is 'most of them', and you are very unlikely to be the exception.
posted by Catseye at 8:46 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


FWIW, I think there is a better than 50/50 chance that drunk girl wakes up this morning and thinks to herself, "What the fuck am I doing making out with a married co-worker." So, your fantasies of an office fling are more than likely going to stay fantasies, whether you want them to or not.

That said, the answer to "Should I cheat on my spouse" is alway no.
posted by COD at 8:49 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


You have two grown up options here. You tell your wife you've found someone else, you leave in as grown up way as you can and then you get to explore the sex possibilities with the new hawt shiny pretty girl who you are in lust with. Or you keep your pants firmly zipped, stay faithful to your wife and don't accidentally fall into sex with into sex with the hawt new shiny pretty girl you are in lust with.

How do you not accidentally have sex with her? First you start by realizing absolutely nothing that happened or is going to happen is "beyond your control" here. Yes you kissed someone pretty in a drunken haze and it was exciting that does not mean a smooth secret affair that no one ever finds out about or gets hurt about is something that will happen.

I was obviously going to write a long spiel about how much it will hurt your wife, but absolutely nothing in your post made me think you cared about what your wife would feel about any of this, in which case to be honest I think the kindest thing you can do is separate from your wife and then you can sleep with whomever you like without needing permission from a bunch of strangers on the internet.
posted by wwax at 8:49 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


[A couple comments removed. Please treat this like Ask Metafilter, and focus on keeping things constructive and civil to the extent possible, not so much going the straight-up "you're a terrible person" route.]
posted by cortex at 8:52 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home?

Nope! He could tell something was up, people talk, you're never as good as a liar as you think you are, and he hates me now. A lot.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:52 AM on February 10 [44 favorites]


Yeah, my dad did this. And then he fell in love with the woman he was cheating with and left us. It was really awesome. You've been married 2.5 years. What do you think is going to happen in the next 30 years? That you will never be tempted and driven crazy by another woman? Will you cheat and "keep things straight at home" every time you can rationalize it as an easy situation to get out of? Do you plan on bringing kids into the mix? You are showing a shocking lack of remorse for such a young marriage. You want permission to cheat because you feel like it? If you want to be single so you can kiss whoever you want, be single.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:53 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


There is something in how you describe both your wife and your crush that leads me to believe you don't respect women very much. You refer to your crush as a "girl" five times (is she twelve years old?) and you describe your marriage in a way that suggests you take your wife completely for granted. Women are people, not objects for your gratification.

A good start to a healthy relationship is acknowledging the fundamental dignity of the other person. If you were to treat everyone in this equation in a respectful way (including yourself) what would you do?
posted by ambrosia at 8:53 AM on February 10 [69 favorites]


You sound like maybe you are relatively young? And maybe you have not dated a ton?

Being relatively young and not having dated a ton do not entitle you to free cheating, of course. However, I think it's possible not to realize how much your feelings about your relationship and your partner can ebb and flow over time even in a good healthy relationship. You can be seriously, seriously physically attracted to people - yea verily, even people who are into you! - often, even during a good healthy relationship. If this hasn't happened to you before, it may be kind of a shock how strong the feelings can be, and the strength of the feelings may give you the impression that it is "destiny" or "inevitable" or somehow a unique situation and you absolutely have to go with it. But it will happen again, almost certainly. And these feelings will fade over time, the ones you're having now. You'll look back in a year and be like "yeah, she was really hot, but it's a good thing I didn't torpedo my relationship for a fling".

(Or not - I mean, if you are really dissatisfied with being married and this is your semi-conscious way of getting out of your marriage, yes, certainly, divorce your wife before you both quit your jobs and move.)

But the thing is, these feelings fade. It's hard to believe, because they are so strong in the moment. But they fade. One of the sad parts about becoming an adult, I think, is losing that belief that passion trumps everything else. When I was younger, an infatuation seemed to be the Only Thing, surely it would last forever, etc etc, and it felt like something I really could not control. Now that I have more ability to think long-term and more experience with my own personality, I recognize that I can decide not to have an infatuation - if I really, truly accept that it just isn't a good idea, I can let it go away. If I think "oh this isn't a good idea" but also secretly believe "well maybe it could happen if [magical thing]" then it doesn't go away. But really internalizing that an infatuation is a bad idea will diminish its power until it just - pop! - goes away. If I were you, every time I thought of this girl I would remind myself that a fling would be bad for your marriage and your career, and might have really bad consequences that you haven't even considered. Remind yourself of this over and over again until it sinks in.
posted by Frowner at 8:55 AM on February 10 [21 favorites]


I've never cheated but know people who have. Every single one of them, without exception, thought they could do it and 'keep things straight'. Things like not being able to deal with the guilt, getting caught or making a mistake brought there cheating into the light of day. For the majority it met the relationship ending. For some the relationship has survived but only after a lot of pain, stress and general crapiness. Actually I should talk about relationshipS as people cheating effects friend relationships as well, usually to the negative. Over the years two of my friend groups have been broken by couples where one person has cheated.

So yeah, if you want all this sort of fun an happy stuff to happen in your life go right ahead and have it with the girl. I'm sure all the potential consequences and risks will be worth it in the long run.
posted by Jalliah at 8:56 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you are looking for permission to cheat on your wife. Or assurances that you can do it and still be able to maintain a happy marriage and remain a good person. I don't think that's possible. You need to decide what is more important to you - your marriage, or an affair that will likely break down your marriage and possibly this other woman's relationship.
posted by barnoley at 8:58 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Let's play a game.

Ask Metafilter has an "infidelity" tag. There are more than a hundred questions underneath that. Some are from the cheaters' perspective, but many, many more are from the perspective of the person who was betrayed.

Here are the rules. I want you to take an hour - one, single hour out of your day - and go through those archives. I want you to read them, imagining that the person who wrote them is your wife. You know, your wife? The person you've spent the last two and a half years with. Think of her face. Think of her at her happiest, the best moment in your relationship, that one memory you have of when you loved her the most in the world.

Your wife is sitting in front of the computer, writing "I trusted him completely.
I am ashamed, sad, devastated, angry - I feel stupid, duped, ignorant, everything."


Your wife writes, I trusted him so so much and my faith in him was utterly shattered... I often ponder how evil (he) must be, as from the sound of it he planned on cheating to some extent, it wasn't just an in the moment mistake, and even worse, he knew that it was the worst thing he could have done to me. Why not just break up with me and do as you please afterwards?

I am extremely depressed, angry, ashamed, and a number of other negative emotions. I loved him... and still sort of do... I run over the situation of him cheating in my mind over and over again...The issue is I can never forget about this, possibly forgive but never forget. I can never fully trust him again. In fact I'm pretty certain that I hate him.


Your wife writes, "I have no idea what to do. I can't leave. I don't have any money and I don't have anywhere to go. I feel fat and old and stupid. What do I say to him?... I don't want to be around him. I don't want to see him, I don't want to talk to him, I don't want to sleep in his bed. I don't want him to touch me..."

And on, and on, and on.

Do it for one hour. That's not long, in the grand scheme of things, right? An hour? Use your imagination. Try, really try, to imagine hurting her. Imagine the moment when she finds out. Picture yourself, inflicting that pain.

If you truly feel nothing after an hour, then you have my permission. You should probably end the marriage, since you feel nothing for your wife, but beyond that, it's your choice. Go ahead. Do what you want.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:07 AM on February 10 [137 favorites]


The reason there's a resounding lack of anyone saying that this very thing worked out fine is because this sort of thing doesn't tend to work out.

No matter how well you've been able to balance things in the past, no matter how short you think this entanglement might be, it's NEVER worth it. It's a lot harder to keep a secret than you think it will be. And this girl you like, maybe she'll have an impossible time getting over it. You really can't know.

Consider what advice you'd give your best, most beloved friend if he or she were to ask the question you're asking. Or if your wife had asked this question. Then follow that advice.

People who cheat seem to cheat not because their relationship is failing them. They cheat because there's something missing in themselves.

Go for the long-term solution, not the short one.
posted by mochapickle at 9:07 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I just want to reiterate that there is no situation where you can't decide not to pursue an affair. If you pursue an affair, it is because you decided to pursue it - even if that just means "I really wanted this, so I put myself in temptation's way accidentally-on-purpose, and I accidentally-on-purpose arranged things so that it would be difficult to put the brakes on". Beware of "accidentally on purpose" - that is how you fool yourself into feeling that you "can't help" something or "it is destiny" or whatever.

"I just can't help acting on my sexual urges" is childish at best and rapist logic at worst.

Maybe you're weak-willed. I'm weak-willed about spending money - it's a huge character flaw. The only thing that works for me is to stay away from temptation - no browsing the sale sites, no unsupervised bookstore visits unless I am in a financial position to buy books, etc. But if I do put myself in temptation's way, that's a choice I make - it's not something that just happens to me.
posted by Frowner at 9:09 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


I know I will be judged here and nobody is going to say ‘good idea’, but what can I do?

You can control yourself.

Sounds harsh, but you're asking metafilter to give you permission to cheat on your wife. The answer is don't cheat on your wife.

The fact that you mention how this would hurt your friends and acquaintances, but not how your wife would be hurt by this, is pretty telling.
posted by inertia at 9:10 AM on February 10 [14 favorites]


I know likely all will say don’t do it, keep your distance and forget about it, but has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home? Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts.

So - years ago, this was me. I pursued it. It was hot and fun and all that. Both other halfs never found out.

Well - my other half got broken up with, out of nowhere, without an explanation that made any sense to her. Truth be told - it wasn't about her, it was about me, and the affair poisoned the well. My co-affair also got broken up with, because truth be told an affair is about breaking trust and any relationship that starts that way will end that way too. So - two broken hearts, all because of my actions.

Years later, I still battle a crisis of self. My family, friends, etc. all think of me as an upstanding citizen, someone who's trustworthy and loyal and all of that. And I am - except this big-time betrayal of trust, that I "got away with", meant I felt like a fraud, a cheater, a liar, all of those things. It took a fair amount of therapy to get through and nearly took down another relationship in the process.

So - tread very, very lightly. If any part of your personal self is built upon being a good, kind person who doesn't hurt others - this can supremely fuck you up, even if others don't find out. I wouldn't recommend it.
posted by rutabega at 9:10 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home?

I've cheated on a partner and not been discovered (as far as know). I was lucky, and nothing overtly bad happened to me. I'm also saying 'don't cheat' - if not for your wife's sake (as mentioned by others) then for your own.

For example, after I cheated, and felt bad and decided not to do it again:
- it felt utterly bizarre to have my lies believed. As though reality was unstable.
- I hadn't addressed my dissatisfactions with the relationship - I'd cheated instead, and relied on that buzz to tide me over. So I remained unhappy.
- I didn't know how to behave in my relationship any more. How could I challenge, discuss or negotiate anything? I was a horrible cheater. I let my partner behave pretty badly towards me. I thought I was making it up to them by turning a blind eye (or, put more overtly selfishly, I wanted them to be the one in the wrong because it made me feel better). This entirely stuffed up the way we related.
- I then stayed in the not-very-good relationship (which I'd helped to create) for far longer than I should have, because I felt I owed it to them. I'd put beyond my own reach both the tools to deal with relationship problems, and the antenna to know when something was wrong.

So it's a terrible idea, I'd suggest. I've not touched on the ethical side of it - other people have done that very well - because even in terms of total self-interest there's enough to advise against it. Even if the affair only lasts one week/month/night, the after-effects can mess with your head and relationship for years.
posted by Socksmith at 9:10 AM on February 10 [16 favorites]


I've made this comment on other 'should I cheat' questions, but these emotions and this temptation are kind of like crack. Or like candy to a little kid. You cannot trust the things your mind says to rationalize taking just a little more. You have to make the decision using your adult mind (or by listening to us) and then go through the incredibly painful withdrawal process. Only then can your "taste buds" regain their taste for wholesome food. In most of our life, I think most of us trust our feelings to some extent (this feels bad and therefore it's probably wrong), but in this case, the signals you're getting are reversed. Breaking up with the work crush will feel awful but is (I believe) the right thing to do.
posted by salvia at 9:13 AM on February 10


Here's my comment from another thread that I just mentioned.
posted by salvia at 9:16 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


If you did get away with it (doubtful, in the long term, but it's unlikely your wife would find out two seconds after) every single time your wife said "I love you" you'd think "how could you, you don't even know me." Everytime she said "you're wonderful," you'd think "no I'm not." Suddenly you wouldn't be deserving of the affection your wife gives you, and what's the point of even being in a relationship at that point?
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:17 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Just chiming in to say I find it a bit disturbing that you describe being married for two and a half years as a 'small back story'. There's a huge, huge difference between a drunken indiscretion that makes you feel absolutely horrendously awful (and I don't think your question suggests you feel like this?) and a drunken indiscretion that you want to build on. I think a relationship can survive the former, but not the intention, planning and deceit involved in the latter. If you want to be with someone else that much, and your only worry is whether your wife finds out or not? I think maybe you're not ready to make a huge move and really settle down with your wife. Is it the fear of this big move that is perhaps making you want the 'freedom' to cheat?
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 9:18 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I know likely all will say don’t do it, keep your distance and forget about it, but has anyone faced something like this, acted on it and managed to keep things straight at home?

Probably, but you never really hear about those people, do you? What does "keep things straight at home" even mean? Maybe for a week or month or whatever, but I suspect that doing this will change you and since your wife sees you everyday, she'll pick up on the change. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.

Doing this will change you. Either you'll get away with it and probably gain a sense of arrogance about how smart you are and want to do it again. You may grow contemptuous of your wife in some way, because she wasn't smart enough to figure it out immediately. It may cause you to question how much you really love her if you're cheerfully fucking someone else. The other woman may fall head over heels for you and want you to divorce your wife. She might fall in love with you and then grow to hate herself and one day just completely go nuts. At work. In front of everyone. Who knows? Why risk it?

Here's the thing about doing things you never thought you'd do: You have to live with yourself, forever, aware of your capabilities to be selfish and hurt others. You can cross this line, but there's no crossing back.

Go home and talk to your wife about what you're feeling. It may be the first step to a divorce or the first step to stronger relationship. No one knows, but at the very least, but honest with her about where you are with your feelings. It'll be painful. She'll be angry and hurt. That's ok, it's natural, just as your feelings of attraction to another are. The goal at this point is how to navigate this minefield without blowing yourself up and causing damage to others. It's possible, but it won't be easy.

Finally, take this lesson I learned in college: if you're going to do dumb shit, do with your eyes wide open and go into the experience with the goal of learning about yourself.

Good luck.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:22 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


From the way you phrase your question, you seem to believe there's a way you can be the exception, that it's okay if you find some sort of justification, that you can cheat at cheating. Sorry, but no. There's no safe or kind way to cheat.

if I could, I’m sure I would sleep with her

The only person in the world who believes this is out of your control is you. No one else buys it. The other woman doesn't. Your wife wouldn't. Adulthood is about being accountable for your actions, and doing what's best for yourself and others even and especially when it's a far more difficult choice. If you want to hear success stories, ask the people who have found themselves in this situation, recognized that the bad far outweighed the good, and left with a clear conscience and a still-intact relationship.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:31 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Oh man oh man oh man. You are seriously crushing because you FEEL ALIVE again.

There is this wonderful dialogue in My Dinner with Andre where Andre Gregory says that affairs are all about the small questions--they let you focus on the here and now. "Will she nibble my ear next time? Will she kiss me like that?" Whereas long term relationships, real and meaningful long term relationships, are like getting on a ship and sailing into the unknown. You have only your willpower and yourself and this other person you've chosen. It takes stamina. It takes being able to sit alone in a room and the ability anchor yourself to a question, to something ephemeral.

Affairs are all about knowing. About needing to grasp something that you don't have the strength or patience or introspection to find on your own. Discussing affairs purely in terms of "character" is misleading, I think. Affairs are about existential crisis. Affairs are about not yet having figured out how to be comfortable with not knowing.

Here's the deal: I've been the wife. I've been the cheater. I've been the divorcee. I've been the mistress. And I've been the faithful.

It took me a long time to learn what many people already know: Until you get comfortable with you, you'll always be tempted to assuage your fears and unknowns with the sympathy of a beautiful someone, and you will destroy relationships with people who are real and good and important in the process.

Moving is not a fixall. You need to sit and think a while. Don't do anything yet. Doing is distraction. I strongly suspect there is something else nagging you that you are afraid to name.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:32 AM on February 10 [87 favorites]


Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts

The degree to which you have disregarded your wife's feelings, and more importantly, any sense of remorse, with regards to this incident raises some red flags.

You might go to a psychiatrist and ask them how to cheat on your wife and not have your friends get upset and see what they have to say.
posted by jnnla at 9:42 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


Why did you even ask this question? What could we possibly tell you that you don't already know? "I really want to do this incredibly, incredibly stupid thing that I know I am not supposed to do. I reeeeeeeeeeally want to. What do I do?"

You are a grown-ass adult, so fucking just don't.

The other thing that bothers me (having been asked my opinion of a potential cheating situation before) is that the good people of AskMe are pouring out their hearts and minds to try and find the one special tidbit that will convince special you to man up and not do this incredibly, incredibly stupid thing. 10 bucks says it really won't matter what any of us say.

Here's what I think: People make mistakes. But there is something is wrong in your head if you think this could be acceptable in any way. Ask yourself: why is that? What are you missing in your life? How have you created this weird version of "normal"? What happened to you in your past that got you to a point where you think this could ever be any variety of okay?

Figure that out. Fix it. NOW.
posted by Madamina at 9:43 AM on February 10 [26 favorites]


And really, when it comes to AskMe relationship questions like this, there's an achingly simple process flow. It even works offline.

Does [WHATEVER ACTION] make me a jerk?
> if NO: Are you sure?
> if it's still NO, proceed.
> if YES, don't do it.
posted by mochapickle at 9:51 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I dunno, why don't you ask your wife what SHE thinks about it. After all, she's got an interest in how this goes.

If she's okay with you having flings with people at the office, then go right ahead. I'm sure you'd accord her the same courtesy. Then you have an open marriage, and you can set up ground rules and stuff like that. People do this.

Ask your co-worker if she'd be interested in being a part of your marriage, and if she'd be comfortable dating you, knowing that you'll be leaving the area, with your wife in a couple of months.

The clue to these questions is, can I come right out and ask all the parties their opinions? If the other two people, can't know about each other, for this to work for you....then it's probably not a good idea.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:52 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts

Not being judgmental but you might exercize some maturity here. You're in a marriage. It's no longer "all about you." Try thinking about somebody else for a change. . .like your wife. You live for her now, and in a perfect marriage she lives for you. Drop the "drive me nuts." You're not sixteen anymore.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 9:52 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


1. Do not cheat.
2. If you do not want to be with your wife, then tell her that and make arrangements for separation/counseling/divorce. See 1.
3. If you want to be with your wife, then never see this other girl out of work context again and within work context never alone. So that you (see 1).
4. If there are problems with your wife, then work on them with your wife. If there are no problems with your wife, then don't make any. See 1.
posted by zizzle at 9:59 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Are you married?
Do you love your wife?

If the answer to EITHER question is "yes" then stop. It is adultery and it is wrong. Wrong morally, wrong to your relationship, wrong to your wife, and in some places wrong legally.

And...how would you feel knowing she violated your trust and your vows by sleeping with a guy from her workplace?

Don't cheat on your spouse. If you want to date a girl from work, get a divorce first.
posted by Leenie at 10:03 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


To add to rutabaga's comment - I know a couple of people who imagine they're like that and just haven't noticed that some people are treating them differently. Not assigning them to certain teams at work, warning single people about them socially, etc.

You can keep things straight at home. Or you can not ignore this woman. She sounds like a quality romantic partner, by the way, kissing married men is a wonderful sign of character. Given what you know, why not trust her with your marriage and career.

Honestly - can you even reread your question with a straight face?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:12 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I very, very much understand where you're coming from. Here is what I wish I knew then:

No, you cannot keep it straight. At worst you will be found out. At best you will always know what you did and you will lose a little part of your sense of self. Guilt is horrible to live with.

There is no "just this once". There will always be a next time. You might end up in an affair that is long-distance; geography isn't a barrier even if you think it is.

The attraction is a symptom of a disconnect, not the cause. You are moving away partly because you are both working a lot which suggests to me that you have not been paying enough attention to each other. Putting your energy into thoughts about someone else will only fuel that disconnect until you are too far apart to get your relationship back. Now is the time to decide how much you want it back.

Sex and desire and feeling desired are intrinsic to a good relationship. If things are ok apart from the sex, then they're not ok. You need to have a serious conversation about both of your wants and needs - and they are needs - and work out if you can meet them for each other. If you can't, then the relationship needs to end because settling will only lead to this situation happening again, for either of you.

If you think there is a real possibility of a relationship with this woman you need to do it "clean" when you're both single. My marriage is over and I'm in a place where I will probably end up with the person I had the affair with, and there is real love there. But I still wish I could have done things differently, and ended the first relationship before starting on the second, because I will never get over hurting my husband.

As you can see from this thread, some people will judge you, some very harshly. But other people will surprise you with their understanding. We, too, were the couple that everyone was shocked about. But you might find that it gives people the safety to open up to you about their own experiences, or relationship issues, because suddenly they don't have to keep up with you if that makes sense. People who love you can be really understanding about things and you'll find support from unlikely places.

TL;DR Is your relationship enough for you? If there is something missing can you meet it at home through talking and maybe therapy? If so, do not be alone with this woman ever (golden rule, enforce it religiously, because some people don't understand the "I didn't mean to but it just happened" power of physical feelings, but I do). Put all your thoughts and efforts and attention into your wife. But if there is something that will always be not quite right, end the relationship before you act on anything with another person. Both you and your wife (and the other woman and her partner) deserve to be able to live your lives fully openly and without guilt and anxiety. I wish you luck and feel free to memail me if you need to.
posted by outoftime at 10:14 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Oh by the way, in the end, EVERYONE finds out and you're the office joke for YEARS.

You sound super into image if your biggest concern isn't the grief and pain you would see on your wife's face WHEN she finds out, but what your friends would think about the 'perfect couple'.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:28 AM on February 10 [14 favorites]


"part of leaving is for us to start a better life where we aren't both working so much and I’m sure that will have a positive impact"

I can tell you from personal experience that moving somewhere new isn't going to fix your relationship. Fixing your relationship is what is going to fix your relationship.

She's not going to be the only "awesome pretty girl you can't get out of your head" in the world. Fix what's wrong in your relationship. I can't believe there's ever been a situation that cheating has made better.
posted by Beti at 10:34 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I strongly suspect you are going to chose to continue to put yourself in compromising situations with work-girl, and act surprised when the 'inevitable' affair occurs. But hey, its ok if A, your wife never finds out and B) cause youre moving soon. Well... no. no, this is not work appropriate, marriage appropriate, and depending on your own values, not you appropriate.

I fully understand the appeal of OMG, SO HOT, SO INTO ME! but choosing to cheat/put yourself in situations where cheating is 'inevitable' is not an appropriate response. ESPECIALLY NOT if youre justifying it by 'i'm moving away soon, so its ok to cheat'
posted by Jacen at 10:38 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Physically I am super attracted to this girl and if the opportunity even remotely arose, I would be trying to make it happen.

I don't understand the question here. Are you saying, 'Can I get away with cheating on my wife?'

Yeah, probably. People cheat on their spouses all the time. Sometimes for understandable reasons and often because they don't want to do the raw emotional work of creating and sustaining intimacy with another person over a long period of time and they feel old or unattractive or bored or whatever, and once marriage is boring and people are phoning it in and rolling their eyes, it's pretty fucked and hard to climb out. So not that these are great reasons, but "because this other 'girl' is really hot" is pretty low on the human-understandable scale for cheating. This is what jerking off is for.

You say you love your wife? Either don't cheat on her or divorce her.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:40 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me is going to drive me nuts.

Get over it.

I mean that sincerely, not flippantly. Part of being an adult is coming to grips with the fact that we don't get to act on all our impulses. It also means learning how to sit with uncomfortable feelings. The inability to do either of these things is at the heart of an enormous amount of avoidable misery.
posted by scody at 10:45 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


Enjoy knowing that someone you're so into is hot for you.
Don't damage your life over it, just enjoy knowing.
posted by anonymisc at 10:52 AM on February 10


I know I will be judged here and nobody is going to say ‘good idea’, but what can I do?

What you can do is the following:

1. Lay down firm boundaries with the girl you kissed. Apologize. Say you were drunk. Say whatever. Be kind but be clear that it can't happen again. Do not do this in writing. Communicate it verbally when the two of you are alone.

2. Spend a week or so sweating it out and hoping and praying she doesn't take this as an affront and decide to tell your wife. Honestly, that sword's going to be hanging over your head for a while - until you move, at least - so this is a good place to cut it off, since "Your husband kissed me at a bar one night" stands a smaller chance of cratering your marriage than does "Your husband and I have been having some seriously nasty sex for the last month." The thing about any dalliance is that you lose all control over the situation after you break up. Under normal circumstances, you're always rolling the dice that they'll take the end of the relationship hard, and they'll start hating you. Doesn't always happen, but it's not vanishingly rare, either. You may not think this woman is the kind of person who'd react that way, but that's the thing: no one ever does, and then it happens. Now, under normal circumstances, if you hurt someone's feelings during a breakup, they might just kind of shit-talk you to their friends and/or block you on Facebook or whatever. But under these circumstances, you run the risk of hurting the feelings of someone whom you need to keep a really important secret. A secret whose outing could ruin you personally and financially. So be glad if she doesn't get vengeful and that all you did was kiss.

3. Keep a respectful distance from this work lady. If you need motivation to keep it in your pants, imagine your wife, your lovely beautiful wife whom you love so much, and then imagine her heart completely broken, and imagine a world in which she only talks to you because she has to (as part of a divorce settlement) and will never, ever be happy to see you again. Never again smile when you walk into the room. Never start phone conversations with, "Hey baby," or whatever she says. Imagine losing all of that. Should help keep your pecker in your pocket.

4. Allow yourself to think about the super hot crazy awesome sex you might be having with this woman if you were not married, if you had never met your wife. Your breath in her ear, her body up against a wall, the smell of sex in the air as you lie together among twisted sheets in the aftermath. Let that all wash over you. Then turn it into fuel, and go home and fuck the shit out of your wife. If she asks why this sudden flood of passion, just tell her she's looking good lately. Do little nice things for her. Repeat every time you find yourself given to thinking about this other lady. The end.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:59 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Hi. I'm your wife.

One day, maybe six months from now-- after you've thoroughly cheated on me with this woman, you slip up. It doesn't matter how I found out, but I found out.

As I happen across the proof of your tryst, I am filled with dread. It hits me like a sucker punch in the gut... I can't help but look -- and unable to pull away, I start to pore over all the details of your affair, even though each thing I uncover feels like daggers.

At first, I can't believe it. I mean, you love me, right? We love each other, don't we? We're the couple other couples are supposed to be envious of. I never in a million years thought you'd ever do this to me. It has to be a lie, right? It's not real. It's a mistake. I go through the messages, hoping that I'm wrong-- maybe it's not really you. But instead of reaffirming your faithfulness, I realize that it's true, as all your lies begin to unravel one by one.

It is real, and it's staring me in the face and I can't deny it--the shock gives way to incredible hurt and anger. I start to ruminate on every detail of your affair. I wonder what she looks like. I wonder whether she's cuter or smarter or funnier than me. I wonder about how you flirted with her, did you touch her like you touch me? Cuddle her? I even wonder stupid things, like if you have a pet name for her.

What does she have that I don't? What did she have that makes her better than me?

The knowledge of this makes me weep. I think about you, and her, in bed together and I torture myself with those images. The thought of it makes me want to vomit. Sex is the enemy now -- I can't get turned on, I can't even think about it without my mind instantly flashing to an imagined image of you and her, trapped in your lust for each other... ugh.

I hate you.

But I love you. I loved you. How could you? It hurts. It hurts so much. Three years ago I put my trust in you when I married you. I gave you my heart, and with it I said, "this is for you. I could give it to a lot of people, but I chose you to give it to you. Please be gentle. It's yours now, and you have the power to crush it, but I trust you not to."

So you took that gift, threw it under the bus, and steamrolled it for good measure.

After a while the hurt gives way to anger and loathing. I'm mad. Furious. I feel so dumb. I feel so stupid.

I want to cry all the time. We fight. You cry, too. I say I want a divorce. You tell me you don't want that. That it was ages ago, before we left for the midwest. I wonder how long you liked her while you worked there. You tell me you love me. You tell me it was just sex, attraction. I don't believe you. You say you couldn't help it, I wonder if you just fell into her arms or what.

I can't stand to look at you any more. It makes me feel physically sick to be around you. I can't interact with you without there being all this pain now. You try to comfort me-- part of me wants you to, I'm in so much pain and you're supposed to be my umbrella in the rain. But you're the cause of my rain, and, I can't stand to be in your presence.

You keep telling me, 'it meant nothing,' pleadingly, but all I hear is 'you meant nothing.'

Because that's what it means, right? For you to do this? It means I mean nothing to you.

I look back at our memories, the very first time we kissed, our first date, the cute way we held hands, and suddenly, all of that makes me feel ill. Every memory is tinged with sadness, now. That sadness settles over all the good thoughts of us, like a poison causes a flower to wither and die. Those memories, that made me so happy-- they will never bloom again. Everything that made you and me special is tarnished, in the aftermath of this.

I wish I could go back in time, and undo your cheating.

No, actually. I wish I could go back in time and undo our marriage.

I wish you could have left me, instead of keeping me here three years when you never really wanted me in the first place. You wanted her. You wanted her more than you wanted not to hurt me.

But I can't do either of those things; I can't go back in time. Your choices cannot be undone any more. So mostly, I just cry. We're getting a long overdue divorce now, but, I'm having trouble dating again. I don't trust men anymore, you see. The man I trusted to be by my side betrayed me. I'm not sure I'll ever trust again. Undoing the hurt of the past is a long difficult road for both of us.

I am not your wife, but this is what it feels like to be cheated on and betrayed. You're only listening to the side of you that wants instant gratification. Don't. Listen to this side-- this is the actual reality of adultery.

You have the power to stop this eventuality, and believe me-- some form of this WILL be the eventuality-- so don't do this.
posted by Dimes at 10:59 AM on February 10 [145 favorites]


Seconding everything 'Dimes' just said.
posted by Leenie at 11:05 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


You keep telling me, 'it meant nothing,'

And this could certainly be true. Looking at it from the other side for a second, think how the other woman feels, she has a crush on you and/or is falling in love with you. And then she finds out that your love your wife and would never leave her in a million years. Think how her feelings are hurt, too, how all your interactions with her "mean nothing". This is very painful for her as well; all women, all people, have feelings.
posted by Melismata at 11:10 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


@Dimes

Yep.

You reading this anonymous writer? Is destroying your wife's intimate life worth 30 seconds of endorphines and dopamine?

Anybody can get laid. This situation you're in, anonymous, is nothing new. You think you're not going to have this problem after you move to the mid-West? What will you do after you move when you meet an even HOTTER woman? Oh man! And she's younger than the earlier "work girl!" And there is NO doubt she is into you! And you can't move again because you just got here! Oh the problems! Oh the dilemmas! What to do!

Answer: Just grow up. Forget about work girl. Forget about every other work girl. Command your mind and your body. You're not a kid anymore so stop acting like one.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 12:10 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


It's not very unusual to feel a strong attraction for someone outside your marriage. And of course you want to sleep with her: you've done a lot of kissing and you know she wants you too.

I've known people who've thought that because they feel that way, they almost have to be sexual with the new person. That's not true. These very powerful feelings don't mean that your marriage is over, that your love for your wife isn't enough, that you need to be with the woman you kissed.

If you do get involved with the woman, you'll have to lie a lot. You'll have to do a lot of pretending, because your exhilaration will be leaking out all over the place. If you try to carry on an affair and stay married, there's going to be a lot of pain for your lover, if not for you. Even if your wife never finds out, it's likely that a lot of harm will come of it.

Fidelity can be really difficult sometimes, especially if you believe that it "just happens" or "you ended up" doing something -- that you didn't actively choose to do the things you've already done. It's hard to stay faithful, and that's why you made a vow. If it were easy, you wouldn't have to stand up in front of your family and friends and make that promise.
posted by wryly at 12:12 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


In one of the most memorable (out of many) conversations I had with my dad, it occurred as we drove to attend my mom's (his wife) funeral. He told me that he had some regrets and would give about anything to have another day with her, but one thing that sustained him was that for his run-of-the-mill faults he has always been faithful in their marriage. I was, and am, proud of my dad for this because a clear conscience is invaluable.

Nobody knows what the future holds but I would challenge you to seek the high road here. There will come a day that you either feel ashamed of yourself or content. Keep the long view in mind and do the right thing by your wife.
posted by dgran at 12:40 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I'm the woman in your office, a decade in the future.

We went from a tipsy night out in a big group to a tipsy night out alone together to a heavy-duty makeout session to a one-night stand to five more one-night stands to effectively dating to falling in earth-shattering, mind-altering, be-all-end-all love. For years. Even after he moved across the country. And through it all -- so romantic! so doomed! -- we had to maintain the meticulous and ever-expanding web of lies that had become so deeply enshrined in our daily lives, because neither of us wanted to get found out. It takes much, much more time, effort, attention, and unhindered amorality to hide an affair than you seem to be bargaining for. Because that's what you want us to tell you that you have permission to do, because your situation is just so exceptional: You want to start an affair. Curious how that term of art appears to have failed to make it into your lexicon.

So in my case, he went from begging me to promise eternal secrecy to confessing that he'd never loved anyone so much in his life to swearing that he was going to leave her any day now. Of course he didn't, because people who engage in this sort of behavior don't have the nerve to choose long-term benefit over short-term gain even if it means they're going to completely fuck over the people they claim to love while they're busy looking out for #1. And I went from scared to even more scared to resolutely intoxicated to stubbornly dishonest to completely shattered and suffocated by guilt. I am still buried in guilt, every day. Living with the weight of what I've done is still a minute-by-minute struggle.

Two years after that first night, his wife called me at 3 AM and asked me if I was sleeping with her husband. I lied, of course, as you do. But three years after that, I told her everything, because I couldn't live with it -- him, myself, everything -- anymore. So please be sure that you truly grasp the gravity of what you're about to do. You are about to entrust a co-worker you barely know outside of work with your entire past and your whole future. If she slips up or can't bear the guilt anymore, you're going to have a lot of explaining to do. Are you ready?

I'm sure you'll go ahead and do whatever you want, but trust me: You're setting up to ruin lives here. Stop while you're ahead. Actually, just stop.
posted by divined by radio at 12:42 PM on February 10 [21 favorites]


Think long and hard about whether a sense of personal dignity matters to you. The dignity that comes from living your life in an admirable way, that makes you strong and generous and makes those around you value your friendship and love. Think about whether you want to undermine yourself by acting in a dishonorable way. Do you want to look back on your life and see all of the ways that you betrayed those around you and betrayed the pledges you made to yourself? I'm not talking about little white lies or resolutions that fell by the wayside, I'm talking about whether you were able to summon the inner strength to do the big things in your life properly. A deep sense of personal dignity is something that only you can give to yourself, and it's something that you build that can't be taken away. It's also something that you can burn to the ground. That's the choice.
posted by quince at 1:24 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I'll second what Dragoness, Mrs. Pterodactyl, and whimsicalnymph have all said.

I've been very close to where you are now, years ago. I know it's thrilling and awesome and it makes you feel alive, but unless you're a.) ready to call it quits on your marriage, or b.) a sociopath, you're setting yourself up for a world of pain. I like the allure of forbidden fruit just as much as the next sensation-loving fellow, but you can't lose perspective. You may not have kids, but you're a family. The odds are in favor of infidelity costing you your family, friendships, as well as a fair amount of reputation. People don't give marital infidelity the same wink that they give pulling a one-night stand with your college girlfriend's suitemate. These are the big leagues and that stuff doesn't fly. Rationalizing is just excuse-hunting.

My advice: kill those feelings and kill them with fire. Don't associate with that girl anymore. Your explanation can be "No offense, but I'm a weak-willed asshole and I can't be around you." Compartmentalize and move on. Let it die on the vine. And as for what has already happened, that's for you to live with. Don't blow up your wife's world by unburdening your digressions on her under the guise of being honorable. If you're serious about your marriage and you want it to survive, that's now your cross to bear.

Good luck.
posted by JimBJ9 at 2:04 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I tried to ignore your post, because heck, you even said you already knew what the answers would be.

I won't waste my time telling you the effects on your wife or the office 'girl' because it doesn't seem you care much about either of their feelings anyway. If you care about yourself at all, though, it's still a terrible idea.

The fact is, your wife might not catch on right away. She may never know. But that is what is out of your control if you do this. If you think your crush's boyfriend is some kind of insurance against her ever telling your wife, you are wrong. If you think you can just deny, deny, deny when your wife gets details and knows in her gut that you're lying, you're wrong about that too.

Consider this, if you will. Once you do this, and things begin to crumble, you might come back here saying, "How do I save my marriage?" but you'll most likely not introduce yourself as the OP of this post. In fact, you'll maybe change some details so people don't put it together. Why? Because you wouldn't want to be that guy. And so what--it's just a web community, and you can find another, but please realize it's also picture of how duplicity burns bridges that are far more important, and ask yourself if you really want to live as a fraud among family and friends. Stated differently, if you'd be embarrassed for a bunch of internet strangers to know you went through with this, imagine the shame you will carry if/when other people find out.

Thinking this will end because of geographical distance is extremely naive. Please take the advice so many people have generously given, and control yourself.

Do not be alone with this woman, not even to tell her why it's not gonna happen. You might feel she deserves an explanation. She doesn't. You're married and she's in a relationship; that's explanation enough. Her feelings matter, but you are not the one to protect her. Will she think you're a jerk? If so, problem solved.
posted by whoiam at 2:56 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


You could try to make some notes on your life, what you want the future to be like, what's been good in your life, what's been bad, what the happiest days have been this past year, how you want to live, what's most important to you. For me that kind of exercise can shift the gears of my mind and re-connect me to myself. As a side-effect of entering a more grounded state, the big balloon of agonizing sexual fascination deflates on its own.
posted by Paquda at 2:58 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


PS Why do people always pussyfoot around the idea of being judgmental? OP, you are asking us to make a judgment. We judge (to a person) that this is unequivocally the wrong thing to do.

So often I see people use the word "judgmental" as some sort of defensive label to try and stave off the pronouncement that they could be wrong. Well, you're asking if you're wrong, and the answer is yes. There you go.
posted by Madamina at 3:29 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


Man I was reading this question wondering where the bit about the wife would come... and it was such a throw away where your marriage is described as a small back story. Dude, she is your WIFE.

Look, I feel you, I'm married and I thought when I got married no-one would be attracted to me anymore cos I'm taken so I had nothing to worry about. And its kinda nice when someone is into you despite that, but you know who is really into you? Who is so into you she wants to spend every night for the rest of her life with you? Who wants to be with you in tough times, grow with you, learn with you? Your goddamn wife, that's who!

This won't be the first time temptation comes your way in marriage. In fact it might come your way when you aren't happy in your marriage. It might come your way when things are tough, maybe there's a medical condition and physical intimacy is on hold for a year, maybe you are in a tough financial situation and having a lot of stress and arguments. How would you like to think you'd handle that?
posted by Admira at 8:04 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


There are practical reasons not to do this, apart from "don't be a dick." Secrets are hard to keep. If word gets out through her, it could come back to you. If someone gives someone herpes, people will know cheating has been going on. Etc.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:57 AM on February 11


I agree with pretentious illiterate (nice name btw): "You should probably end the marriage, since you feel nothing for your wife, but beyond that, it's your choice."

The amount of text that you typed on this question before your wife was mentioned is quite telling, IMO. I'm not being judgy, it's just something I noticed.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:38 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Small back story - I am 2.5 years married and honestly despite the above it’s quite happy.

You're deluding yourself about it being happy; it's noteworthy that you kept on about how great this (not your wife) girl is, and then about halfway through your post it's oh by the way I have a wife.

Four points:

1. Only a couple of years married, and you are losing yourself to another? That's not good.

2. If you have sex with another, then you cannot have un-sex. Once you've cheated on your partner, you've cheated. And you can blame it on your hormones, feelings, alcohol, whatever, but it's still your choice. You cheated, on your wife of less than three years.

3. Solution? Grow up, cut yourself socially off from your fling, park your ass in therapy and be brutally honest with yourself and figure out why this is happening. It may go on from there to marriage counselling or therapy. You do need to address this. Totally your choice whether to, or not.

4. If you want to stay in denial, it carries on, your wife finds out and you lose everything in the divorce then, well, your fault.
posted by Wordshore at 9:07 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but:

Not acting on this, especially knowing this girl might be into me

Is just what a responsible, mature married person does. Nothing about your situation changes that. You're married. A moment of drunken indiscretion can potentially be excused. What does it say about the level of respect you have for your wife that, after that indiscretion, you're considering willfully cheating on your wife because you just might get away with it?

Nthing the call for therapy to examine why the possibility of getting away with betraying your wife's trust for a one time fling is so appealing to you.
posted by adamp88 at 10:15 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


>>I happen to know we are also the couple that in our social set, people would be heartbroken ...

So people have covered the issues of fidelity, work reputation, effect on your wife - I want to say that the line I've pulled from your question makes you look like a narcissist. I just - I'm really struggling to convey to you how surprised I am that you think you appearing to have a successful marriage is an obligation to your 'social set'. I mean, "grandma dotes on me, and she die if I did anything immoral", that I could get - but your social set holds you in such esteem, and you are so important to them that staying in a marriage that's not working is more important than loving your wife?

Is this the kind of person you want to be? The kind where the opinion of people outside your most important relationship is more valuable than choosing an ethical, compassionate, kind and loving behaviour?
posted by b33j at 1:55 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


If you perceive your marriage to be "happy" yet only worth mentioning as a "small backstory," then perhaps your perceptions of other things -- such as what your social set might think of you -- may be off as well.

Just a thought.
posted by Madamina at 1:58 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


I agree with pretentious illiterate (nice name btw): "You should probably end the marriage, since you feel nothing for your wife, but beyond that, it's your choice."

Careful. That's not what pretentious illiterate said, but the last line of a post that directs Anonymous to read for an hour a day and then if he doesn't feel anything then...

3. Solution? Grow up, cut yourself socially off from your fling, park your ass in therapy and be brutally honest with yourself and figure out why this is happening.

I don't think one drunken fling should necessarily lead to therapy. I do think, since the situation with the work colleague is a short term problem, that you should avoid her as much as he can in a work situation - and never be alone with her outside of work.

I would suggest you think about what you're asking here - and why you think this might be okay. There might be a problem in your marriage - or you might have self-control issues. This is okay, as long as you can learn to control yourself - and not just find excuses to lie to yourself and your wife.
posted by crossoverman at 8:14 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Two years after that first night, his wife called me at 3 AM and asked me if I was sleeping with her husband. I lied, of course, as you do. But three years after that, I told her everything...

See, here's the thing. You are conspiring to convince your wife that she is crazy. Women are not stupid. They know when they are being lied to. Even if they don't know it the minute the lie leaves your mouth, they figure it out. So they question the lie. And liars say "What? No! I didn't do that! Why would you say that? You're jealous! You're crazy". But we aren't. We know. Deep down inside we know.

But now she's struggling. Because she loves you. Because she's built her life around you. Because she isn't a liar, and she doesn't want to believe that you are either. She loves you. She wants to trust you.

And there's the rub. She will trust you, because she wants to. She will ignore that nagging feeling in the back of her mind. She will ignore her own instincts. She will try to convince herself that it's nothing, that she's wrong about you. She will live your lie with you. The "we're so happily married" lie. The "we love each other" lie. The "we're best friends" lie.

But the mind doesn't rest. She will know it's all a lie, just as you will. She'll overeat. She'll stop taking care of herself. She'll try to convince herself that she doesn't mind that you don't have sex with her. Or that you do, but it's perfunctory. In the meantime, you will start to resent her, and the fact that she has "let herself go". You'll use it, this mental illness that your selfishness has created within her, to justify your affairs. You'll start to tell yourself that it's her fault that you cheat.

Eventually, some how, some way, it will all come out. Maybe it will be screaming matches in front of your kids. Or maybe you will come home one day and find the locks changed and your bags on the porch. Or maybe you will both soldier on for years, "for the sake of the children", no longer with cheerful smiles on your face, but rather a resigned dread. And your kids will end up in therapy or on Metafilter saying "I wish they'd just gotten divorced".

After all of that, what she won't do is trust you. Ever. But what's worse, she won't trust herself. She will question her judgement. She will question her logic. Her intelligence. She will stop making decisions because she won't trust that she knows how to make good decisions.

This insecure, self-doubting, self-loathing woman was the pretty, friendly, confident, smart girl that you met that onetime, who you couldn't believe agreed to go out on a date with you. But that girl doesn't exist anymore. Because you chose to be selfish.

Stories about affairs never end with rainbows and unicorns.
posted by vignettist at 10:07 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]


If nothing else, this thread should have shown you how people will feel about you if you go through with this and get found out. Since your friends' opinions seem to be so important to you, that's another reason to get a handle on yourself. Your friends might be heartbroken if you divorced, sure, but don't be surprised if they also get out the pitchforks and torches for you when they find out WHY.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:38 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


What they all said. It is super likely that it will hurt your wife badly, no matter how it plays out. And that's not ok. You promised to be on her team, not to take a chance like this. If this thing feels so unbearably powerful that you can't resist it, then you tell your wife you need to go do this. If it's resistable then you step away from it like the thinking feeling human being that you are and you spend some time thinking about whether you really want to be married or not. This is not a game, this is very important stuff. Often life isn't fair, or isn't under your control, but you still have choices here that will have really big impacts.

Props to you for asking. You must have known you would get strong opinions. It's hard to take advice from other people, but you know how sometimes you think to yourself, oh I wish I could be younger but know the things I know now? I wish I could go back and tell myself such and such? I wish I could just change that one thing I did? This is one of those things. You have the potential here to do something that will make yourself either cringe later or like yourself more.
posted by eggkeeper at 10:54 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


On review, I see you ask a specific question about having done this and been able to keep the secret. I remember wondering about that really intensely. Probably you can tell from my answer above that I have. Done this. Not to my husband (hi honey!) but in a committed enough relationship that I still regret it. One time I never told and one time I did. It didn't matter either way. Both make me think back and wish I had been more honest, i.e. getting out of the relationship I had been in before cheating, or just not having done it at all. Either way it just eventually makes you feel shitty, I promise. And I was young, and I had issues, and I had been drinking, it doesn't matter, I would like to be able to look back now and not have done that. You grow up either way and learn things and hopefully become a more decent and interesting person no matter what you choose, but if you really want to do this then you don't want to be married the way most of us promise when we get married. And if you don't really want to do this then just don't! I swear to gawd it's not worth it no matter how hot it is. Keeping a commitment is ultimately much more interesting that breaking it.

Huh, I still have a lot of feelings about this I guess. I think this is the most I've written about anything the entire time I've been here.
posted by eggkeeper at 11:08 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Okay, okay. I haven't really answered the question yet, just given my opinon on your motivation so here goes with the actual answer:

Yes, in fact, I have been faced with this. There have been women at work who have been very attracted to me. I've been told I look like Brandon Frasier and Christopher Reeves so that doesn't hurt. I also have a fascinating biography and a caring but masculine Alpha male attitude which my wife loves.

Have I acted on this attraction some women have for me? Of course not! I don't want my life and the life of my wife to be thrown into unmitigated hell. Why would I entertain such a notion like screwing around on her? I'm trying to succede and be happy in this life not sabotage it.

Have I managed to keep things straight at home? Well, for the most part sure. One of the many things that helps me keep it together is knowing that I'd have to be out of my mind to cheat on my wife.

Happy Valentine's Day. I bought my wife flowers and candy and tonight I'm helping cook some gigantic lobster tails in celebration. Life is good when you're married to only one woman.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 3:16 PM on February 14


If you're so sure you could sleep with this girl, then just pretend like you already did. Actually doing it sounds like a whole lot of trouble, and I can count at least three hearts that run a high probability of being broken: your wife's, this girl's, and the girl's partner's. Then yours, when your wife finds out and either leaves you, or decides "fuck it" and does the same.

We all get tempted, man. Some of us get that close. And, sure, it would feel good, it would feel different, you'd connect with something deep and forgotten in your genetic heritage, but you'd never be able to look at your wife the same way again. Everything would be clouded, and everything she did or said would cause you to stumble and fumble and second-guess.

You'd be snuggling on the couch, watching a movie. In the movie, a guy cheats on his wife with a woman from his office. Your heart will beat faster and your throat will dry up, and the arm draped over your chest and the head resting on your shoulder will notice.

Remember when you were a kid, and you did something wrong, and attempted to hide it from your parents, and it was all you could think about? Everything you did or thought or said was refracted through the lens of that wrong thing you did, and it is just a massive waste of time and energy. Tell this girl that you are sorry for what you did, and that you are a happily married man and what you did was a mistake, and that you wish things were different but you now have to give her the cold shoulder for the remainder of your time there, and would appreciate it if she did the same for you.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:37 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


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