"I was stupid," recalls one guy. "The only time I did it I was on the way out with my current girlfriend. A girl that I had mutual feelings for was on the outs with her boyfriend. Too many drinks later and we are going at it against a wall. Woke up the next day, broke up with my girlfriend. Girl didn't leave her boyfriend. I moved on, and have an amazing wife and life now, but this mistake will be with me forever. I was the guy who said I would never cheat and now I am not that guy."
"I was young, horny, and stupid. So a typical high school senior," said another. "I didn't realise the emotional pain it would cause my then-girlfriend, and looking back as an older, wiser, more mature person it's something I deeply regret."
Another man said that he had what is sometimes called a "revenge affair", meaning that he cheated as a reaction to his partner's prior infidelity: "[I cheated] because she cheated first, and lied to me about it," he said. "I then met a willing and sexually adventurous woman, and things happened." He admits, however, that this just helped to reveal a problem he already knew was there. "I was too much of a pussy to admit that the relationship had failed. I was determined to make it work, and I thought if I cheated, we would be equal, then I could move past her infidelity. I was wrong, and she broke up with me not long thereafter."
Of course, cheating isn't just about sex: one man recounted how he had multiple emotional affairs, which inflicted just as much damage on his relationship:
"I was honest about most of them when they were earlier on and changed how I was interacting with these women before it got to what I considered emotional cheating but there was one that I couldn't just smother away. I was honest about it and when I told my girlfriend, her words verbatim were 'I wish you just actually cheated on me'... It doesn't really matter what your intentions are or whether you are drunk or sober. If you do the deed then it is what it is. Some people would say that what I did wasn't 'as bad' because it wasn't physical, but it didn't seem that way to her and it is a burden I carry because I remember the look on her face and the sound of her voice every day when I think about it. Even if you don't love them, don't hurt the people you care about. Even if you only care for them a little, do what's right."
Other cases served as a handy reminder that it's important to be loud and clear when communicating about your relationship: "I thought we had broken up full stop," said one such woman. "He thought we were taking a break/not seeing other people. Imagine his shock when I was suddenly in a relationship with someone new. So I didn't cheat on purpose, but I still feel absolutely terrible about it."
This article originally appeared on Men's Health US.