No matter your personal stance on the morality of cheating and having affairs, these things happen—pretty often! Probably the best thing to do, in any case, is to have a discussion with a significant other before going forth and having a secret affair (Lying isn't nice!), but this isn't how things always pan out. A recent Ask Reddit thread called for those who've had secret affairs to reveal their feelings for their exes and ex-lovers alike. These are their stories.
1. "I still love her [and] consider her one of the great loves of my life."
"I was 19 when we met, she was 32. We worked in the same field but not the same office. I felt drawn to her the first time I saw her, and the first time we talked she blushed all the way up to her hairline. She'd been married 12 years at that point.
"Two years passed and we start having an affair. I was desperately in love, and no one ever suspected a thing...I was so much younger, she was so prim and proper. I went on family vacations with them.
"She kept saying she would get divorced and then we would be together. She dumped me a month after the divorce was final. We'd been together, if you can call it that, for four years.
"It was one of the best breakups I've ever had. She threw me a going-away party (when she ended it I decided to move away), and after everyone left we fucked and it was awesome. We both knew it was the last time, I've never had that before or since.
"I still love her [and] consider her one of the great loves of my life. We talk occasionally." —scoonbug
2. "The only thing I regret was skipping a killer New Year's party to sleep with her."
"I was the other man. I was horny, lonely, and wanted my ex-fiancée back.
"I came home for Christmas, and by this time she and I had been broken up for three or four months. She still wanted to be friends, and I did not. She convinced me we needed to at least talk about what was going on between us and get some closure. So I went over to her apartment and we sat and talked for a solid two hours, during which I found out she was engaged. Ideas start forming in my head that I might get laid. She goes on to say how he works rotations, only home two weeks at a time, doesn't call her often, and even when he's home he spends more time on [World of Warcraft] than with her.
"Thirty minutes later, we were screwing. I also came back that New Year's Eve to fuck some more. She ended up breaking things off with that guy so we could restart a tentative long-distance relationship, but I have no idea how much he was told. A month and a half later she and I broke up again, and two weeks after that she was engaged again (to a third guy).
"The only thing I regret was skipping a killer New Year's party to sleep with her." —TooBadFucker
3. "I realize that the only person that really got played was me."
"A few years ago, I was spending time with somebody [who] had a long-distance boyfriend. We began to hang out a lot, more than friends should. She told me all the things I wanted to hear—how he was an insensitive douche bag, and how I treated her so well in comparison. I told her that if she kept hanging out with me, things will start to get serious. She didn't listen.
"Eventually I made a move, she reciprocated, and we started physically seeing each other regularly. Her boyfriend became suspicious, but he never really knew. When I expressed that I had real feelings, she got 'confused' and basically couldn't decide whether to leave the guy and go with me.
"Four years later and they are married. She never brought it up to him. I met him once during a social function and he had no clue who I was, and I felt like shit. He was not the 'douche bag' that she described him [to be]. I realize that the only person that really got played was me. I really feel sorry for the guy, because he's married to a dishonest [person]." —PwimbyPwnis
4. "The person I cheated with was an acquaintance who made me feel good about myself."
"I was in an unhealthy, unhappy relationship with zero self-esteem and no spine. I felt old and unlovable. Every attempt at leaving ended in my self-esteem being put through the wood chipper.
"The person I cheated with was an acquaintance who made me feel good about myself. We became good friends and that friendship gave me confidence. I wasn't used to someone listening to me without judgment or belittling me. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little infatuated, it was the first positive attention I had gotten in years, but I never acted on it. My then-partner disliked this person and got very jealous. I stopped hanging around them, but we still messaged.
"My partner began telling all our friends [that] I was cheating and started playing the poor, cuckolded victim. [They] alienated me and assassinated my character, so I'd feel worthless, unloved, and dependent again. It got to the point where everyone was already saying I was screwing this person and treating me like crap over it, so why not? It was a move made out of spite and desperation. I regret using this person like that, but I'm pretty positive they knew what was happening. Looking back now they knew the position I was in and was either offering me comfort/a way out or maybe just simply taking advantage.
"I don't talk to either now. The affair gave me the confidence to leave my then-partner. I quickly realized the nature of the relationship with the affair partner wasn't healthy either (not to mention the guilt) so I ended that rather harshly. I regret how it all went down. It wasn't a proud moment but it happened. I just remind myself to learn from it and never let myself get into that position again." —trashbinny
5. "I began emotionally cheating on her with another girl."
"One year and seven months ago, I began dating the woman I now plan to marry. At the time, my brother was fighting what would be a terminal case of cancer, and I was just out of a relationship in which I had been cheated on for eight months. It's safe to say she was a rebound at first.
"But we kept dating, and we got serious. She was suicidal, and I thought she would kill herself if we broke up at one point. It's why I put up with serious flaws in our relationship. Yelling. Fighting.
"I was too scared to really address anything, and I didn't feel any emotional support from her. This excuses nothing. I should have been a man and worked it out with her. Instead I hid, and I found support outside of our relationship.
"About a month into our relationship, I began emotionally cheating on her with another girl. I thought it was OK, because nothing physical was happening, but I knew I was lying to myself on some level. Sometimes our messages were even sexual, though nothing ever graphic.
"But three months in, me and my girlfriend finally worked things out. We sat down and we talked through what our relationship was going to be like. I cut off ties to the other girl and desperately tried to forget her (I had to have known I was doing something wrong).
"[My girlfriend and I] continued dating, and I've fallen absolutely in love with her. She found out about the whole thing five months ago almost a year after this whole thing happened. I did what I thought the honorable thing to do was, and I read every single message with her. To this day it [was] the worst day of my life, even worse than when my brother died last year. It was the worst day in her life too. I could see it in her eyes. It killed me.
"She worked toward forgiving me for three months. I transformed the problems with transparency in our relationship. I think our future might still be bright. She wants to get married in a few years.
"I don't deserve her. I don't deserve any of this. I only stay because I know how hurt she would be and out of a selfish desire for the life I want with her. I'm a piece of shit, and I can't stop thinking about how terrible this was." —throwawayPMME_REGRET
6. "She looked at me with a pained expression and said, 'I have a fiancé.'"
"I was working at a restaurant this summer at a beachside resort. There were a ton of workers from all over Europe and the Middle East. One day a new [employee] was hired, and she was the girl of my dreams with red hair and deep brown eyes, and although she barely spoke English, we started talking. I took every chance I could to speak with her—she had a calming presence whenever I was around her. I'm not very good about asking girls on dates. One day I was talking to her about a church that would feed the foreign workers for free and apparently the food was pretty good. She offered to take me there, but she didn't have any free time until the next week since she was working two jobs. I happily accepted the offer and I was walking on cloud nine for the rest of the week.
"The day of the date came, and we decided that we should go to the beach instead of the church, which was nice because going to a church on a first date is a little strange. For some reason she was insistent on going to a secluded part of the beach. She didn't tell me why. I got to know some more about her (and see her in a bikini). We had a good time at the beach until a storm started to brew on the horizon. We made a quick escape to a diner on the boardwalk. After we ordered, she looked at me with a pained expression and said, 'I have a fiancé.'
"As she said this, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour started. She confessed to me that she had invited me to the date because after dating this other guy for so long, he had begun to neglect her. She was far from home in a country where she barely spoke the language, she was scared and lonely. She just wanted to feel wanted and loved again.
"Obviously I felt very conflicted about this. I paid for the meal, against her protestations, and I walked her back as far as she would let me to her house.
"I asked her on another date, where it also rained, but we had our first kiss after watching the Exorcism. Things kind of escalated from there. Her fiancé never found out. At the end of the summer she needed to go home and I needed to go back to college. I miss her every day. I think I love her. She's coming back this summer, but I won't be there..." —Vikingbearlord
7. "We'd sneak into an office closet or wait for everyone to leave for the day for quick kisses when we could."
"Mine was with a coworker. We were both married. I'd say it started when we went on a work trip together and just got along really well. The last night of the trip, we lay in the hotel bed together talking but nothing else happened.
"We eventually started talking and texting a lot after that. Going an hour without some kind of exchange was unusual. We only got physical a handful of times because finding time and privacy for that was obviously difficult. We'd sneak into an office closet or wait for everyone to leave for the day for quick kisses when we could.
"She ended up moving across the country with her husband but we still talked. Phone calls when we could, texting all day otherwise. I'd take the long way home to talk on the phone longer, and she would call anytime she had the privacy and time.
"Then I found out my job wanted me to move to the same place and I was ecstatic. But about a month after I told her, she became distant until I finally asked what was up. She wanted to break it off and I was crushed. She divorced her husband and now [she and I] work in the same building. I still care about her and it hurts knowing she doesn't feel the same way, and that I have no one to talk to about it because of the secrecy." —Psychmega
8. "I was missing the aggression that my S.O. used to bring—the animalistic approach never happens anymore."
"My work routinely puts me in contact with physically fit men coming in and out the door, seen only minutes a time, a few times a day. After 15 years of monogamy, my bedroom had become a little dead. I was missing the aggression that my S.O. used to bring — the animalistic approach never happens anymore. I've talked to my husband to tell him what I need in the bedroom, but the delivery [wasn't] happening.
"At work, several states away, I was approached by one of these men for a party invite and I gave him my number. Texting became sexting and then phone sex with mutual masturbation.
"I saw him at work and was turned on easy as a switch. Easily as fingertips brushed across the back of my arm with a soft 'Good morning' in passing when my back was turned, or a quick full-body gaze of desire. Any touch would take my breath.
"He knew where I lived. My back door was unlocked. He entered in silence one morning on my last day in the city. [I was] momentarily startled and the next second [was] immense arousal with no thought of consequences. He took me and delivered what I had been missing for a few years. Demanding submission, yet making the moment intimate with gestures like eye contact and holding hands. The memory is still arousing.
"We showered after. He left and I drove the eight hours home later that day. It has been my only time of infidelity in a 19-year relationship.
"I will never tell my husband. I love him and enjoy our life together. I have mixed feelings about the event. I needed the sexual release and enjoyed the entire experience, but I feel horrible for not having the control to abstain." —muddyshorts
This post has been lightly edited for clarity.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.