Cheating: what next?

What practical tips does renowned American Slate advice columnist Emily Yoffe have for those who have committed adultery, are thinking about cheating, or are otherwise involved in an extramarital relationship? What does she advise people who suspect that their partner is making a slip or is having a real and serious affair with another man or woman? According to her, how can you, as a person involved, limit the damage of adultery as much as possible and get your marriage or relationship back on the right track?

A Checklist for Cheaters’

A Cheater’s Checklist is the title Emily Yoffe gave to her popular advice column ,Dear Prudence, in Slate magazine on November 13, 2012. Emily Yoffe is an advice columnist who answers serious questions from readers in the Washington Post and the American magazine Slate with a good dose of human knowledge and the necessary humor.

Unsolicited advice about an extramarital affair

The special thing about the episode of her advice column entitled A checklist for cheaters is that this time it is not solicited advice, but unsolicited advice. Yoffe’s advice is intended for David Petraeus, whose extramarital affair had recently come to light. This David Petraeus had made his mark as a military commander in Iraq and Afghanistan for years and was highly respected in the Western world.

The qualities of this man, whose father was a Frisian merchant marine captain, were also highly appreciated in the Netherlands. For example, on March 16, 2012, he received the award of Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau with swords from Hans Hillen, the Dutch Minister of Defense at the time.

David Petraeus was head of the CIA from September 6, 2011 to November 9, 2012. His impressive career came to a sudden end when his adultery with his biographer Paula Broadwell was revealed.

In the Netherlands, such an affair would have caused relatively little commotion, unless there had been a possible leak of secrets. However, this is different in the United States : there people expect high-ranking people to have an exemplary life record. Otherwise the pressure to resign will be very great. However, this does not always have to be the final end of a great career. By expressing extensive remorse, a high-ranking person in the US who has been caught in adultery or other deception can often continue a previously successful career at a later date.

Emily Yoffe often receives questions from readers about adultery, love triangles and other activities that can put pressure on a marriage. This time in her advice column she imagined that David Petraeus had asked her advice about his extramarital affair. This advice columnist has a number of tips for him and other people who are cheating, or who know about other people’s cheating, or for those who are partners of someone who is cheating.

Her most important advice essentially boils down to the following.

  • Confess everything if you get caught
  • Keep a slip in an otherwise happily ever after marriage for yourself
  • Be discreet with details of each other’s meats or fantasies about them
  • Don’t make a big deal about other people’s cheating
  • If you see someone flirting, it does not always mean adultery
  • Before you press ‘send’, look at photos of your children
  • What is the value of marriage after adultery?


Confess everything if you get caught

The suspect of a crime is often advised by his lawyer not to confess if the evidence against the suspect is relatively weak.

However, advice columnist Emily Yoffe advises people who have been caught cheating by their partner to immediately confess everything, even if only part of the deception has come to light. She believes that in these types of cases, telling the truth is less painful than when new facts come to light every time. No matter how painful the situation is, once the partner knows everything, there is a basis for rebuilding trust.

Keep a slip in an otherwise long and happy marriage a secret

Emily reports that she often hears from people who have had a slip-up during a long marriage. Often such a person is consumed with regret. He or she then considers confessing something to his or her unsuspecting spouse. Her usual advice is to view the guilt as a justified punishment. In her eyes, an admission of the brief affair, especially if it amounted to little or nothing, is an unnecessary slap in the face to the loving partner.

Be discreet with details of each other’s meats or fantasies about them

General Petreaus and his mistress Paula Broadwell, despite their respective experiences in the Secret Service, were clumsy enough to communicate juicy details about their relationship via anonymous email. Anonymous ultimately turned out not to be anonymous enough and now the whole world is witness to the all too personal details.

Yoffe recommends that certain details that others should never hear should only be whispered into each other’s ears.

Don’t make a big deal about other people’s cheating

According to Yoffe, it is unwise to reveal someone else’s (alleged or otherwise) cheating. Before you know it, others discover something in your own history that cannot tolerate the light of day.

If you see someone flirting, it does not always mean adultery

For example, if one person addresses the other as darling, darling, my darling or my love, this may have a more or less innocent background. Even a regular flirt does not have to mean that the two share a bed. Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. Before you know it, you are destroying good relationships with people who only enjoy being in the company of the opposite sex and who are absolutely faithful to their partner.

Before you press ‘send’, look at photos of your children

Emily Yoffe doesn’t want to be a moral knight, but she does like to provoke thought. For example, she advises looking at some photos of your children before sending a racy photo of yourself or a description of an exciting get-together. How could you explain something like that to your children? She stimulates people who engage in certain activities outside their permanent relationship.

What is the value of marriage after adultery?

Emily Yoffe’s advice to cheated partners is: don’t throw everything away. Over the years, she has received many letters from cheated spouses who wondered if they were crazy for actually wanting to stay married to the cheating spouse.

Yoffe believes that each case must be viewed on its own merits. In her view, ending the marriage can be a foolish action if the deception is not part of a pattern, if the cheater has confessed and sincerely repents and wants to fulfill his marriage promise again. She also believes that a cheated partner should not care about the well-intentioned advice of his or her family and friends. In her eyes, a marriage is something between two people where other people are better off keeping their judgments to themselves.

No one who ties the knot expects to have to deal with an adulterous husband or wife. Sometimes you can recognize in time, before you get married, whether you are dealing with the wrong partner. In other cases, after discovering the extramarital affair, it is a matter of considering whether your relationship with your partner deserves a new chance.

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