If you want to keep your illicit encounter a secret, you need to ask yourself some questions. It's no small thing to keep a rendezvous under-the-table, no matter who from. The first thing you should ask yourself before going to so much effort is: Why am I keeping this secret? Then you can work backwards from there.
If you’re arranging trysts behind the back of a committed, monogamous romantic partner, you might feel that you should to take a look at that relationship, and interrogate why it is you're looking elsewhere for something you’re not getting at home. By asking yourself this question, there's the chance that you could improve your situation before you've even done anything to jeopardise it.
It's one thing to do something because you want to - you need more sex, more affection, your kinks attended to - and another thing to understand why. Questioning yourself and considering the motivation behind your philandering can be the key to keeping it on the down-low.
The best way not to get caught cheating, of course, is not to take any risks.
Always use protection with your dates - especially if you are still sleeping with a long-term partner, and especially if your flings are one-night stands or semi-anonymous encounters. Unprotected sexual activity can result in unwanted surprises - and we’re not only talking having to take a trip to the clinic here. You don’t want to have to be funding a trip to England as well.
Which raises another good point: finances. Make sure to cover your tracks financially. If you're spending on hotel rooms, taxis and dinners for your lovers, make sure money's not so tight that this money will go missed in your household accounts.
If there’s any danger of your partner opening a bank statement or a telephone bill or a list of credit card charges and asking uncomfortable questions, avoid it at all costs. Many banks and phone operators now offer paper-free billing, leading many cheaters the country over to become environmentally-conscious. You can get your statements emailed directly to you, or accessed with a username and password. And it’s not like you’re sharing an email address, or giving away your passwords, right?
“Limit your exposure,” Don Draper tells his colleague, Sal, in AMC’s Mad Men, when he finds out that Sal has been using work trips to arrange illicit flings. It's the tagline he later pitches to their client - but it's also good advice. If you can limit the amount that your secret affairs spill over into your 'real' life, you have much less chance of getting them mixed up - calling someone the wrong name, mixing up your engagements, leaving yourself logged in to burner email accounts on a shared computer, that sort of thing. Have one method of contact that you use for forbidden trysting, and leave it at that.
Have a plan for if you're caught at it. What if your partner finds out about your love nest? What if your sister finds out you've been sneaking taboo quickies with her fella? Is it your parents you're hiding your illicit encounters from - do they disapprove of your taste in partners, and you'd rather avoid uncomfortable conversations?Know exactly what it is you're getting into with an illicit encounter and, if you're ever caught, it will be quicker and easier to know in advance whether you're going to cop to it, try to lie your way out of trouble, or whether starting a new life with your lover is the eventual goal. Harm is done when someone knows they're being lied to, but goes along with it anyway.
On lying: the best advice I ever got - and I am a terribly unskilled liar - on telling tall tales was that you have to actually believe the lie. "Get so far into it that you almost do get sick," she said - she was advising me on how to pull a sickie from work - "but at the last moment, pull it back from the brink, so you can enjoy your day."