What Is Adulterous?

Adulterous refers to the act of committing adultery. Adultery is a voluntary sexual relationship between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. It can be between two married people or one married person and a single person. You can say someone is in an adulterous relationship or committing adulterous behaviors.

The term adultery is only used when someone is married and has sex with someone else. If you are not married but are in a committed relationship or civil partnership and have sex with someone else, you may be cheating or unfaithful, but it would not constitute being adulterous. Overall, disloyal acts such as adultery are a moral issue for many cultures and can ruin relationships. It is also important to note that in adultery the sexual acts are consensual between the two adults and not forced or rape.

While adulterous acts are commonly associated with sexual intercourse activities, especially for legal reasons, some people will claim that even mental cheating can be a form of adultery. Suppose you are married and daydreaming about being with someone other than your spouse or emotionally connect in a more than platonic way with someone else. In these cases, these actions can be considered adulterous.

Real-World Example Of Being Adulterous

Tiger Woods' sex scandal is a popular example of an adulterous act. Tiger Woods was married to Elin Nordegren, but his sexual relationship with a nightclub hostess named Rachel Uchitel was exposed. It later unraveled that he committed adultery with over a hundred other women including Mindy Lawton, Holly Sampson, and Joslyn James.

The result of the sex scandal led to Tiger Woods losing major endorsements with companies like Nike, Gillette, and Gatorade. He made less than half of what he earned prior to the scandal, and his golf game got worse as well, leading to fewer wins.

Elin Nordegren also filed for divorce. Tiger Woods had to give Elin Nordegren over 100 million dollars plus monthly child support in the divorce settlement.

Significance Of Adulterous Acts

It is significant to understand the ramifications of adulterous acts. This form of unfaithfulness can wreak havoc on marriages, careers, and families. Adultery can create mistrust within marriages and is a common cause of increasing divorce rates.

There can also be legal punishments associated with adulterous behavior. In some countries, caning or stoning are considered acceptable consequences for adultery. However, in the state of Rhode Island in America, you may have to pay only a fine for your adulterous crime.

Even in places where adulterous acts are no longer criminal offenses, they can have legal ramifications during divorces. For example, the spouse engaging in adulterous behaviors can lose custody of children or be denied alimony during certain divorce cases. So although it does not always have consequences for criminal law, adultery can have consequences in civil law.

History Of Adulterous Acts

Adultery is mentioned even in the Bible and, according to that book, is punishable by the death penalty. This penalty relates to a married or betrothed woman acting on any form of voluntary sexual relations with someone other than her husband or fiance.

In the 1700s, adultery was considered a serious crime. For example, in 1751, The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert, Volume One compared adultery to theft and said it was the most punishable crime after a homicide.

Severe punishments for adultery, such as mutilation or torture, are common historically. Certain Muslim countries still following Sharia law will also punish adulterous behaviors with stoning.

Adulterous vs. Adulteress

An adulteress specifically relates to a woman who commits adultery. In comparison, adulterous behavior can be by someone of any gender. These two words are commonly confused as they sound very similar, but "adulterous" is an adjective while "adulteress" is a noun.

Adulterous vs. Fornication

While adulterous behavior involves a married person, fornication refers to consensual sexual activities between two people not married to each other. Fornication can be acceptable in most cultures and belief systems that believe pre-marital sexual intercourse is okay.

Some religions prohibit sexual intercourse if you are not married, and some states in the United States had criminal laws on fornication. For example, as of March 2020, the states of Idaho and Mississippi still have laws banning fornication.

Adulterous vs. Infidelity

Both these terms are very similar but have slight differences. While committing adulterous acts can indicate you are unfaithful, it is commonly associated with someone who is married engaging in sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse.

Infidelity, however, does not limit the act to only married people. You can engage in infidelity by being unfaithful to a sexual partner that is not your spouse. An adulterous act can be considered an act of infidelity. But not all situations involving infidelity are adulterous.