He was married. I was single. We had an affair—and we never even kissed. It was a yearlong emotional affair, a nightmare where everybody cries and nobody comes.
About a year ago, a single male friend of mine mentioned that his efforts at finding a long-term relationship were being hamstrung by the fact that an increasing number of the women he met on dating apps were already married. I became interested in the inner lives of such women, women rebelling against the constraints of monogamy or refusing to be married in the usual way. One woman, having heard about my interest, offered to tell me about her experience on Ashley Madison, a dating app designed for married people seeking out affairs. There was an element of excitement and danger, but alongside that were feelings of loneliness, insecurity, isolation, and shame, the same feelings that made her want to cheat in the first place.
Not between the wives and me, though I would be interested to hear their side. No, this discussion should happen between wives and husbands, annually, the way we inspect the tire tread on the family car to avoid accidents. A few years ago, while living in London, I dated married men for companionship while I processed the grief of being newly divorced. When I created a profile on Tinder and OkCupid, saying I was looking for no-strings-attached encounters, plenty of single men messaged me and I got together with several of them. But many married men messaged me too.
An affair is a romantic and emotionally intense sexual or emotional relationship with someone other than your spouse or partner. Generally, affairs do not last long though there are exceptions and occur between two people who are not married or otherwise committed to one another. Sex may or may not be involved in an affair, and cyber affairs can happen between two people who may never even meet one another. Typically, an affair is considered a betrayal of trust.