Another reader sends a relationship request.
Q: I cheated on my partner a few months ago. It was with a former colleague who was traveling and we met after his farewell party. It feels bad to say that, but I don’t really regret it.
We had been flirting for a few months and it felt almost inevitable that we would end up together. I haven’t told my partner but now this guy is back in town after coming home from an early trip.
We’re not working together this time, but I’m tempted to see if we can get back together like I enjoyed last time.
I’m worried that this could turn into an affair and while I don’t want to hurt my partner, I feel like I can’t resist the opportunity. The thought of it makes me excited, something I haven’t felt in a long time, and I just find this man so attractive.
Should I tackle it?
dr West replies: To be honest, you can resist. It is not mandatory to have sex with this person and it is your choice to meet and move on with them. This reads as if you will not take any responsibility for your actions and will use the excuse “it just happened”.
Affairs don’t just happen – people choose to engage in sexual behavior with others outside of their relationship. The fact that you’ve written to me shows that you have some concerns about cheating on your partner, but describing it as an “opportunity” is a pretty revealing choice of words. What is this chance? For illicit sex or to hurt your partner?
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When you make a conscious decision to have an affair with this person, you are also making a decision to open your partner up to harm, not to mention the potential physical harm you may expose them to if you pass on an STI. Your partner has consented to monogamous sex, so having an affair violates that consent.
Would you like to stay with your partner? It’s unethical to stay with him if you’d rather be with other people. If you want to see that other guy, then maybe it’s better to break up with your partner. You can then do whatever you want without the risk of harming an innocent partner at home.
Some people have affairs not just because they enjoy sex, but because having a secret annoys them, or because they are distracted by an unhappy relationship, or maybe even because they enjoy hurting their partner.
Whatever the reason, an affair leads to hurt rather than happiness, even for you.
What do you like about the idea of an affair? You may feel like it’s a reaction to a relationship you’re not happy in, but if that’s the case, having an affair isn’t going to fix that problem.
Relationships go through tough times as we face life’s challenges, and they won’t always be happy. They need work to maintain them, and that work is not always easy.
Have you reached a point in the relationship where it’s time to reflect on how well you work together and what kind of future you both see? It could be that your current relationship has just started but hasn’t been approached by either of you.
If you feel like it’s over and you’d rather date that new guy or be single, it’s important to talk to your partner. He may be happy and planning a future with you, so staying in a relationship you don’t want to be in would be cruel.
I joined an extramarital affairs website – it was both the best and worst decision of my life
You said you didn’t feel any remorse for cheating on him earlier, which leads me to believe you’re not too emotionally involved in your current relationship. If you know your actions would harm your partner and you still move on, it’s obvious that you are not caring about them the way your partner deserves.
It’s not just regret for a past event, it’s planning a future event with excitement instead of worrying about hurting someone you’re supposed to protect from harm. What some people say about affairs hurts them not only because of the sex aspect, but also because of the lying, the sneaking around, and the decisions that are made to go about the affair.
It shows that you are constantly planning to cheat, and for many people it is a step too far to forgive.
If you find monogamy fundamentally isn’t for you, you can talk to him about an open or polyamorous relationship—but these types of relationships aren’t just a code word for cheating and getting away with it.
They take work and honest and open conversations about boundaries, consent, and the type of relationship that works for all parties. They work really well for some people and are a disaster for others, just like monogamy isn’t for everyone.
Would the excitement still be there if you were single and could indulge in all the wild sex your body could take? Or is it more the idea of forbidden nature that excites you?
Some people get involved in affairs because of attachment issues, unwillingness to be in a monogamous relationship, or myriad other reasons that could be influenced by childhood role models, trauma, emotional immaturity, or something else.
Whatever the reason, it is your responsibility to address it and leave no trace of heartbreak in your wake. Think carefully about what kind of person you want to be and what you really want from your sexual experiences and romantic relationships. You deserve to have the kind of sex you want, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of hurting those we care about.
dr West is a sex educator and host of the Glow West podcast, which focuses on sex. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. dr West regrets that she cannot answer questions privately
https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/asking-for-a-friend-i-cheated-on-my-partner-and-i-dont-regret-it-im-tempted-to-see-him-again-should-i-go-for-it-41858477.html Asking for a friend: “I cheated on my partner and I don’t regret it. I’m tempted to see him again – dare I?’