#53 How Bad Was the Cheating?

Hello beautiful people, my name is Athol and this is Relationship Momentum.

Today I’m going to talk about a concept I’m starting to kick around inside of my own head. I’d love to get your feedback on it and if you think I’m missing something or it could be tweaked I want to know, leave a comment below.

When you’re trying to recover a marriage from an affair situation, it’s much easier to recover if it wasn’t that bad, compared to if it really was pretty bad. If it was deep, if it lasted a long time, then it becomes very, very difficult to fix. Not that I’m trying to make light of any affair situation but some go far deeper than others.

I’m wondering if it’s possible to create a tool, some sort of schedule or chart that’s going to quantify and qualify exactly how deep something was. So far I’ve got six different factors going into it.


Physical/Sexual Contact

The first one is just the level of physical and sexual contact. So if you can think of it like a one to ten scale, one being some sort of hand holding, incidental touch. Kissing is maybe a four. Full on vaginal penetrative sex a seven or an eight, and then really kinky, extreme stuff maybe eight to ten. Where everything else goes on that scale not quite sure but that’s kind of how I think of it. Obviously if your spouse has held hands with someone or kissed someone it’s not as bad as full on sex and it’s not as bad as super torrid crazy kinky sex.


Emotional Connection

The other factor that I could think of was emotional connection. Certainly some really intense relationships may never turn sexual, but you can certainly have an emotional affair. Thinking of it as a one to ten scale again. One is pretty incidental connection; three or four that it’s growing somewhat more. I think if you’re hitting a six or a seven there are some sort of exchanges of I love you or you’re important to me, and ten being they really are super important, more important than their spouse.


Length of Affair

The third thing I can think of is just the length of the affair. If it’s something where they met someone for just a day or a weekend or it’s the sort of one night stand-y sort of thing, than would be far harder to break than something that has lasted weeks, months or even years. And there’s certainly been some affairs that I’ve come across that have lasted a decade or more and those are incredibly difficult to unpick and put right compared to something that lasted a day or two, or a week or two.


Level of Deception

The fourth thing that I can think of as being a factor is the lying, the level of deception. At the low end of the scale, that’s simple things like changing your passwords and hiding your phone and not necessarily volunteering information. Three, four, five some sort of real lying. Some sort of I’m going to be here, instead I’m over there. Continuing to hide the affair, continuing to cover it up, continuing to gaslight your affair partner, that could be six, seven, eight.

I’ve even seen some things that are super, super extreme when it comes to lying. I’ve come across situations where the person that was cheating invented an entire business conference that they went to. Complete with flyers mailed to them to get their wife to say this was a really good idea that they go, and they just flew out of town to be with the affair partner. So you can see there’s a whole scale between completely fabricating stuff compared to little white lies and fudging some details. The worse the lying is, the harder it is to unpick.


Money Spent

The fifth factor that I can think of is money. How much money was spent on the affair situation. Obviously low end if it is a couple of bucks to meet him for coffee or a movie ticket or parking, whatever. Not as bad as starting to drop hundreds of dollars on dinners, not nearly as bad as dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on hotels. Is there buying gifts? Is there buying vacations? There’s a whole scale of things.

I think you also have to hold it in context compared to the level of income of the people. For some people dropping $100,000 on an affair partner may not be as much of their income as someone dropping $1,000 on an affair partner. I think the level of money, just the resources diverted from the primary relationship, I think that’s a factor.


Long-Term Consequences

The sixth one, and this is sort of a catch all and somewhat random, I think some affairs can have some really serious, nasty long term consequences that may or may not be kicking in. I’m talking about things like STDs, pregnancies, have people moved out of the house, how public is it? I think some of these things are potentially really significant. I mean obviously once you thrown in a pregnancy into an affair situation, it is so much harder to deal with compared to one where there isn’t. And things like STDs, I mean just having the disease can cause some long term negative effects.



If you look at those six factors as a one to ten scale of not quite so bad to really terrible, I think you’ll have a better idea of just how much impact an affair has. So quickly recapping: How much was the sexual contact? How much was the emotional connection? How long did it last? How deep was the level of deception to pull this off? How much money got poured into it? And are there random, serious long-term consequences that you’re always going to have to deal with?

There are no easy affairs to fix, but there are certainly ones that are easier than others. So that’s just a tool that I have sort of kicking around inside my head to just sort of qualify things. I would love to know your feedback, whether or not I’ve missed anything or you think something could be tweaked or added.

And that’s about it. I hope you enjoy the video. Please like, share, comment, subscribe and all that good internet stuff. And I will talk to you tomorrow.


Edit: YouTube comment suggesting adding a 1-10 scale for “Number of Affair Partners”. Because obviously (!) two affairs are worse than one affair.


  1. Nidhi says

    I know you’re speaking specifically to married men, but whether or not the cheating happened during your marriage, during the engagement, or while you were dating also has a role to play in my opinion. This dimension could be about age and maturity as well. If you were 18 when it happened, for example, even if you were married, it does seem not as bad as if you were 38. Then again, not all maturity is age related, but it certainly could be maturity related. So, exactly how mature were you at being able to manage your feelings like an adult. If you didn’t know any better, of course you did something bad, but it makes more sense why it happened.

    Whether you came clean or whether the partner found out also changes the “badness” – although possibly that factors into the “level of deception” dimension.

    Additionally, not that it’s an excuse, but the presence of alcohol or other substances is known to make you come to terms with emotions you haven’t dealt with and act out in uninhibited ways. While not entirely excusable, once again, the presence of drugs, which alter one’s rational abilities, could lower the “badness”.

    Finally, there is an element of intention which might require its own dimension. Did you know you were unhappy and put yourself in a situation where something might happen? Or did it happen without your intention? Intentional action makes it worse obviously.


  2. Madrooter says

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