Can An Affair Stay Secret Forever?

I sometimes hear from two very different subsets of people who want to know about the secrecy surrounding affairs.  I hear from people who suspect their spouse of cheating but who can’t elicit a confession or obtain proof.  So they wonder if they are ever going to learn the truth.

I also hear from people who are actively having an affair and who hope that the truth never comes out.  They’re trying to craft a plan where they keep this hidden forever because they don’t want to hurt or give up their spouse and family.

A faithful spouse might say, “call me crazy, but I know that my husband is cheating. I know it deep down.  But when I confront him, he acts as if I am crazy and paranoid.  I’ve tried to catch him or find some sort of proof that forces him to confess, but I haven’t been successful.  He continues to deny it, so nothing changes.  I am starting to think that I am never going to learn the truth.  I’ve even confronted the other woman that I think that he is cheating with and she looks at me like I’m nuts too.  Do people ever successfully get away with cheating forever – where the infidelity is never discovered?  Because that is where I think I’m headed.”

On the flip side, I sometimes hear requests like, “can you tell me how to keep an affair a secret forever?  I made a grave mistake and had a very short term affair.  I broke it off and it’s completely over.  But if my spouse found out about it, this would be a serious risk to my marriage.  I can’t have that.  I find myself constantly being paranoid that I’m going to act in a way to make my husband suspicious.  How do I ensure that the affair stays secret forever?”

I suppose there have been cheating couples who have been able to take the affair to their graves.  I’m sure that such people exist.  I just don’t think that this is very common.  Why? Because in order for the affair to never come out in the open, both people are going to have to never say anything to anyone else about it.  If even one of the affair partners spills the beans to friends, family, or coworkers, the chances of it getting around increase dramatically.  Most people who have affairs want to talk about it with someone.  And that someone can tell someone else.

Also, there are times when one cheating partner will decide to either confess to their own spouse or to tell the other person’s spouse about the affair out of spite or guilt.  That’s the problem – you can only control who you tell, but you can’t control who your affair partner tells – including your own spouse.

Surprisingly, many spouses find out about the affair from their own spouse.  Guilt has a way of eating away at someone so that some people end up confessing the affair even when their spouse didn’t know. However, for suspicious spouses, there are often clues.  Some people install spy cams or other things to catch their spouse.  Some hire private detectives.  If you really want to catch your spouse, you often can with a little patience and technology.

At least in my observation, most of the time, the affair is eventually found out in various ways.  It’s pretty unusual for its existence to never see the light of day, since so many things would have to happen correctly in order for this secret to survive.

That’s not to say that some people who cheat don’t get lucky or don’t have a spouse who just doesn’t investigate all that much.  But for many, it is not a question of IF the affair is going to be discovered or confessed to, it is just a question of WHEN.  That’s why if you are having an affair and you feel bad enough about it to try to cover your tracks, then you are better off ending it if your marriage is still important to you.  It’s really just not worth it.

To answer the original question, I suppose its possible for an affair to remain a forever secret, but it’s just not all that likely.  Statistics tell us that most affairs end.  Plus, of those that end, most end badly.  This is a recipe for things to blow up in spectacular fashion, which can be very difficult to keep on the down low. When the affair ends, most of the time, the affair partner who has been jilted isn’t really interested in keeping your secrets or sparing your spouse’s feelings.  Unfortunately, you don’t have control over what others disclose or tattle about, which only increases the odds that the truth is going to come out.

If you are worried that the affair is going to have repercussions, there is nothing wrong with educating yourself about healing so that you can be be prepared.  You can’t change the past, unfortunately.  But you do have control over how you deal with it going forward.  You’re welcome to read about how my family recovered  on my blog at

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