Adultery is consensual sexual intercourse between a married man or woman with a man or woman other than his or her lawful spouse.
The term is not related to adult (Latin a-dolescere, to grow up, mature), but to Latin ad-ulterare (to corrupt).
Common synonyms for adultery are unfaithfulness, having an affair and cheating. It was also known in earlier times by the legalistic term "criminal conversation" (another term, "alienation of affection", is used when one partner deserts the other for a third person).
The sexual partner of a married person committing adultery is often referred to in legal documents, especially in divorce proceedings, as a co-respondent. A husband whose wife commits adultery is a cuckold.
A marriage in which both spouses agree that it is acceptable for the partner to have sexual relationships with other people is termed open marriage. The resulting sexual relationships the partner has with other people, though still legally considered adulterous, are not treated as such by the spouse.
Someone may commit adultery to humiliate their spouse as a form of sadism. In particular, they may do so while their partner is in bondage and is a helpless witness. The spouse may be complicit in this, in which case it is an open marriage scenario.
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