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Top 10 Things You Should Avoid Doing If You Don't Want To Get Caught

Although I can’t claim to have personal experience avoiding “getting caught,” here’s some advice to those of you engaging in extramarital (or extra-relationship) affairs. (If you want to know if your partner is cheating, see here and here for what does and doesn’t count as cheating.) It doesn’t surprise me that people have affairs (my research suggests that 24-51% of men and women cheat on relationship partners1). It does surprise me that these affairs seem to reduce the cheaters’ number of functioning brain cells.

So, those of you out there cheating on your partners, here’s a list of the Top 10 Things You Should Avoid Doing If You Don't Want To Get Caught.  (I’ve based each on real cheating scenarios. Check your own knowledge of celebrity cheaters below.)

10) Do not email, text, or otherwise send naked or partially naked pictures of yourself to the person you are having an affair with or hope to have an affair with (read more here and here).

9) Don’t forget to use birth control. It is hard to deny sleeping with someone who has given birth to your child. (unless you fancy an appearance on the Jerry Springer show)

8) Avoid the emotionally unstable. At all costs.

7) Do not write an entire book about the person you are having an affair with. It is hard to deny your admiration for your lover if you have written a 352 page book about him (or her).

6) If you do write a book about the person you are sleeping with, don’t title it “All In.” This is a dead giveaway.

5) Don’t do anything illegal that will draw attention to you (e.g., make payments to prostitutes in cash).

4) Don’t get caught leaving a voice message for your lover in which you ask him or her to deny your affair.

3) Don’t create an implausible alibi (e.g., hiking the Appalachian trail).

2) Don’t leave genetic evidence of your infidelity (e.g., on a blue dress).

1) Just don’t get caught. But, when you do, don’t deny your infidelity and drag out the ordeal. Admit to your wrongdoing and move on. 


And the “winners” (i.e., perpetrators of the above infidelity goof-ups) are:

10) Anthony Weiner
9) John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger
8) John Edwards
7) David Petraeus & Paula Broadwell
6) David Petraeus & Paula Broadwell
5) Eliot Spitzer
4) Tiger Woods
3) Mark Sanford
2) Bill Clinton
1) All of the above

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1Brand, R. J., Markey, C. N., Mills, A., & Hodges, S. D. (2007). Sex differences in self-reported causes and consequences of infidelity. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 57, 101-109. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9221-5.

Dr. Charlotte Markey - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Markey's research addresses issues central to both developmental and health psychology. A primary focus of her research is social influences on eating-related behaviors (i.e., eating, dieting, body image) in both parent-child and romantic relationships.

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