Recently a married friend of mine admitted she cheated on her husband with an ex-boyfriend. The affair lasted about 6-months before she called it off. She didn’t think her husband would ever find out and she didn’t have any plans of ever telling him.

However, she admitted that every time she looks at her husband now she feels guilty. Every time she picks up the kids, she feels guilty. In fact, there is rarely a second of the day where she doesn’t feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.

There wasn’t much I could say in the way of advice. We talked but even I, morally flexible individual that I am, could not condone her cheating. We all know cheating is wrong. It didn’t help that her husband is perfectly good to her. She just “got bored” and thought there might be “something better out there.” It happens, I guess. When our conversation ended, I realized her true punishment is the fact that she will bear the burden of guilt until, if ever, she decides to confess to her husband.

As I wrote about in, Someone Else’s Girl, when I was younger, I knowingly (and I’m sure unknowingly) was “the other man” to a married woman. There is no excuse for my actions, so I won’t bother offering any. As the single one, I felt the responsibility of faithfulness fell on her, the married one. I realize now this logic was flawed, but at the time, I honestly did not care. Plus, I failed to fully account for the effect my actions may have on others.

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With age, I have begun to wonder how I would react if the circumstances were reversed. If my wife cheated on me, would I want to know? I’m not sure.

The obvious exception is if we are only in a committed a relationship. For example, if my girlfriend cheated on me, I would want to know. This would give me an opportunity to assess whether I want to continue in a relationship with her when she has already demonstrated that she may be unable to remain faithful. On the other hand, the more strongly defined bond of marriage would cause me to hesitate ending the relationship.

I don’t trust many people. In fact, I have Trust No One tattooed on my chest as a constant reminder to myself and others of this fact. Furthermore, I am not a very forgiving person. If my wife ever cheated on me, I’m not sure I could bring myself to forgive her. I cannot see us moving beyond that failure in our relationship; at least I would not.

Knowing this about myself, I figure it best my wife not tell me. This is not to say I give my wife permission to cheat but if she does, ignorance is bliss. Conceptually, I recognize we are human. At times, we grow weak. I can understand that between the period of “I do” and “until death do us part”, my wife will be tempted to stray. Nevertheless, saying “I do” meant she made the decision and commitment to resist such temptation, by any means necessary.

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With that said, if infidelity occurs and it is a onetime fling, I don’t think I would want to know. The reasons for her cheating are her problems to resolve. Should she feel she cannot or that she will cheat again, feel free to confess. Realize though, doing so will effectively end our marriage as far as I’m concerned. It is one thing to try and prevent yourself from cheating by working through a critical relationship issue together. It is another to seek forgiveness after you have already committed adultery.

I find that many people apologize with the expectation they will be forgiven or they confess in order to relieve their own guilt. This is selfish and practically as bad as the act of cheating itself.  For starters, rather than come to me to work out the problem(s), you sought resolution outside of the marriage. Worse, when the guilt became too much, then and only then did you decide to offload some of it on me – in the form of a so called confession – in an effort to make yourself feel better. Additionally, now you want my forgiveness for your wrong doing?

It is possible I will forgive and forget…but I doubt it.

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So readers, if you cheat and are NOT caught and it is likely you will NEVER be caught, should you still confess to your significant other? If your significant other cheated on you, would you want to know? Is the act of physically cheating the only form you are interested in? What if they step outside the relationship with someone else emotionally? Mentally? Lastly, if you cheat on someone, do they have the right to know?