It starts with a joke, a giggle and a good amount of time spent together. It may not be in that particular order. Someone appears to be the persistent one and the other is the passive, vulnerable one. It's a dangerous chemistry of emotions - one that forces you to forget about your relationship with your boyfriend or marriage to the woman of your dreams. The strength of the feeling overpowers logic.
First symptom: the "couple" starts regularly taking lunch breaks together. They start sharing intimate details about their lives. Conversations deepen and go into the more private topics and answers to the most difficult questions in life. Are you happy with your life? Are you satisfied with your relationship/marriage? If not, are you willing to do whatever it takes to be happy?
Next symptom: the "couple" starts avoiding the others to have more privacy. Their conversations turn into private jokes and secrets that no one should know. They become super comfortable in each other's company that their brains are undressed and their mouths lose their filters. The duo becomes exclusive to them.
Then they push the boundaries further. They turn lunches into after work activities such as coffee talks, movies and dinners. Both parties start lying to their partners about their whereabouts. The husband blames the often unreliable transit system. The girlfriend blames the non-existent accident which caused hours of traffic.
While the partner and spouse accepts the excuse and quietly watches reality television, the "couple" laughs at a corny, 2D movie. They start holding each other's hand. They share a big tub of pop corn. The guy asks him to taste his drink and the girl obliges.
By the third week of their romantic adventure, deceit becomes their all too familiar. Text messages become scheduled messages that attempt to avoid any shadow of doubt. Adultery and infidelity become nothing but a part of a foreign language they do not care to understand. They are happy and free and living in the moment.
And then they have their first kiss.
The kiss, however, is never enough. There will always be room for something bigger, something better. They both allow themselves to sexually experience one another. Her heavy breathing silences the phone alerts coming from his wife. His weight distracts her from the boyfriend's persistent phone calls.
Then, it becomes a cycle of pleasure and deceit, a hundred times over until something cracks, someone suspects, someone investigates and someone finds his/her first clue.
It usually is the intuitive wife who feels the awkwardness. Her husband is usually not smiling after a long day at work. He has been spending a lot of time at the office when, only a few weeks ago, he was complaining about how boring his job is.
The clueless boyfriend, on the other hand, just wondered why the girlfriend has been so understanding lately. It's as if something (or someone) is filling the void in her life.
On a very low Saturday morning, the guy becomes all too sloppy. He leaves his phone open. The wife grabs it when she gets a chance and reads the flirting on their messaging app. The name has been masked to avoid suspicion but she knows that tactic too damn well. She confronts her husband and he denies it profusely even after showing the text messages and countless of photos hidden in his phone.
He tries to contain the situation but the wife goes on a rampage. She confronts the girl with the social media as their audience. The affair suddenly becomes the biggest scandal of the century.
Insults and threats are thrown at each other. Curious friends and co-workers are waiting for the next batch of posts on Facebook. Twitter is not spared though has limited reach.
The affair is suddenly put on a screeching halt. The guy who promised to put the girl first when things go awry is suddenly quiet. He is afraid of what his wife will pull of next: will she take away their child? Will she file a case against us? Will she hire someone to kill both of us?
Thoughts become exaggerated. Communication between the lovers is cut overnight. The feeling of his body on top of her is suddenly replaced with an overwhelming fear of embarrassment and hate towards her.
In the middle of trying to cope with the scandal, she cracks. She starts looking for another job, finds one, and leaves the company for good. She just want to have a fresh start.
Meanwhile, the guy who becomes a cheating coward of a husband, desperately tries to repair the marriage. He is afraid of incurring the wrath of his wife's family. He is ashamed of what transpired at work. He becomes too sensitive when jokes are thrown during lunch break. He eventually decides he couldn't take it any longer and finds another job.
They both start again and this time in separate spaces.
The office moves on the next best gossip.