If you must cheat…

Keep it quiet

Shefali O'Hara
2 min readJun 11, 2020


Photo by whoislimos on Unsplash

A friend of mine cheated on his wife.

He knew it was wrong. He justified it to me.

“She wouldn’t go with me to conferences,” he said.

“Doesn’t excuse it, dude,” I told him. “Besides, didn’t you guys have kids?”

“Well, yeah… but it was a conference in Prague.”

“I get it,” I said. “Hey, if it was me, I’d be on the plane with you in a heartbeat. But, I mean, how old were your kids at the time?”

“I don’t know… pretty young, I guess.”

The look on his face told me he’d gotten my point, but he didn’t like it.

Then he tried another tack.

“I was drunk at the time…”

“OK,” I said. “So it was a drunken one night stand.”

“Exactly. It’s not like it was an affair or anything.”

“I get it,” I said. “You’re human. Mistakes happen. So was that the only time you cheated on her?”


I shook my head. “Then why did you tell her?”

I already knew what happened next. He’d confessed to her to assuage his guilt. It had eaten him up inside.

This is what confessionals, therapy or best friends are for. Or write it on a piece of paper, then burn the paper.

I gave him my advice years too late.

“It’s bad enough to cheat,” I told him. “You should never cheat. But if you do… you never tell. Because that’s the most selfish thing you can do.”

“I wanted to be honest with her,” he explained.

“Seriously? Was it really about honesty, or was it about you feeling guilty and wanting absolution?” I sighed. “Maybe you meant well. But what you really did was burden her. Do you think she wanted to divorce you?”

He shook his head. But I’m not sure he got it. Or if he did, that he wouldn’t do it again. Because for him, it was about his own need. His need to have her with him on his travels, even though she needed to stay home with her babies. His need to have sex in Prague, rather than waiting a few days. And finally, his need to confess, hoping it would make him feel better, rather than letting her be at peace in their marriage.

He’s not a bad person, but he’s selfish. But then, all of us are. It’s something we have to fight, our own selfishness.

I think you should never cheat. But I get it. People slip sometimes. My advice? If you do — keep it to yourself.



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.