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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Adultery, Your Cheating Heart, The Affair
Related: World of Hurt, Mistaken for Cheating, The Unfair Sex, The Mistress, Good Adultery & Bad Adultery, Love Triangle, Hurt/Comfort, Partner Betrayal
See Also: "Your Cheating Heart"
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Infidelity is a trope where one character in an established monogamous/exclusive relationship cheats on their significant other (sometimes just a kiss, other times one night stands or an ongoing affair). It can apply to formally married couples as well as those in less formal relationships. It's a common trope; fandoms where it's particularly popular include Harry Potter, Sherlock, Bleach, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and bandom. Infidelity can apply both to canon couples such as Harry/Ginny and to fanon couples such as Sherlock/John.

As with many tropes, infidelity can function either as an enticement or as a warning. Some fans enjoy adultery as a general kink, like stories about non-preferred couples breaking up, or enjoy putting their preferred couples through the wringer. Some fans, however, dislike beloved couples being disrupted by infidelity.

Themes and Plots

Angst, hurt/comfort and smut are some of the common themes for this trope in fanfiction. Some common plots include:

  • Infidelity as a ploy to break up the original relationship and substitute another preferred by the author.
  • An affair causes tensions to rise which allow the characters in the relationship to deal with their issues.
  • One partner in an established relationship thinks it's exclusive, the other hasn't yet realised; infidelity often results in strengthening the original relationship.
  • An affair can be used to get Character A, who's in a relationship with Character B, together with Character C, without Character B ever finding out.
  • Character B believes Character A is having an affair, but they aren't.
  • Infidelity is a way of introducing a poly element to a two-person relationship.
  • Infidelity is associated with voyeurism, where the cheated-on partner finds they enjoy watching.
  • Next generation stories sometimes have children coping with their parents' actual or assumed infidelity.

External Resources