Sexual relations between a married person and someone other than his or her spouse. Prohibitions against adultery are found in virtually every society; Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions all condemn it, and in some Islamic countries it is still punishable by death. Attitudes toward adultery in different cultures have varied widely. Under the Code of Hammurabi (18th century BC) in Babylonia it was punishable by death by drowning, and in ancient Rome an offending woman could be killed, though men were not severely punished. In western Europe and North America, adultery by either spouse is a ground for divorce, though in the U.S. the shift to no-fault divorce significantly reduced the importance of adultery as an element in divorce proceedings. The spread of Western ideas of equality in marriage has resulted in pressure for equal marital rights for women in traditional African and Southeast Asian societies.
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Infidelity can be defined as any violation of the mutually agreed-upon rules or boundaries of a relationship, and is a breach of faith in an inter-personal relationship.
Sexual infidelity in marriage is sometimes called adultery, philandery or an affair and in other inter-personal relationships it is sometimes called cheating. A man whose wife has committed adultery is referred to as a cuckold, but no equivalent word exists for a woman whose partner has cheated.
Infidelity is not inherently sexual nature, although certain acts of infidelity could be sexual.
What constitutes an act of infidelity varies between and within cultures and depends also on the type of relationship that exists between people. Even within an open relationship, infidelity may arise if a partner to the relationship acts outside of the understood boundaries of the relationship. (See Blumstein.)
In addition between 10-15% of children are conceived as a result of an affair.
Infidelity that does not involve sex or conception may be referred to as a romantic friendship or an emotional affair. Some people consider virtual sex, which is an impersonal on-line relationship, as infidelity.
An office romance, work romance, or corporate affair is a romance that occurs between two people who work together in the same office, work location, or business.
Though office romances are generally considered to be unhelpful to business and work relationships, inter-personal relationships at work are common. These relationships are usually discouraged as part of company policy, and at times even prohibited.
The suspicion that an advantage is gained by 'sleeping with the boss' in a competitive environment ensures that these relationships occur by stealth.
Infidelity has been a theme in many films and in the theatre, including -