Let's be clear: We really don't care who is gripping Tiger Woods' putter. Neither should you. He's rich and famous and if he wants to shag every waitress who serves him a drink, what business is it of yours? People cheat. Even famous people. Stop acting so surprised.

But there is one giant, unanswered question in this whole tawdry tale of Tiger versus the morality police, and it's this: How the hell did he get caught? Shouldn't someone with his sexual appetite and means be smarter about his dalliances?

In the spirit of helping average Joes and Janes not to follow in Tiger's footsteps, we talked to a few experts on the subject of cheating — divorce lawyers — and put together the following list. Heed their advice if you're talking a walk on the wild side.

No. 10: If you're having an affair, don't let it end. It's unlikely to end well, and that may be your undoing. Don't even argue with your paramour. Orlando attorney David Roberts, of Roberts & Robold, says affairs often come out when the third party calls the betrayed spouse in a fit of pique and spills the beans. "I think that's the biggest fear people who are cheating have," he says. "They're walking on eggshells."

No. 9: Don't flaunt it. One suspicious spouse found her husband's real name and picture on, a "dating service" for those already married, says Andy Zelman, of Winter Park law firm Cotter & Zelman. Of course there are stupid moves, situations in which getting caught is inevitable, such as one tangle Zelman recalls in which each spouse was cheating with the other's sibling. That revelation provoked the same reaction from divorce lawyers as it would from anyone: "Oh my God, how did they think that was going to work out?" he says. "What were they thinking?"

No. 8: Play it cool. Often what gets the ball rolling is a change in behavior, making a spouse a little suspicious, says Joel Wilson, an attorney at the Wilson Law Firm in Orlando. A lack of interest in sex or a sudden change in long-standing work and travel schedules can spark suspicion. That may encourage a spouse to snoop, install key-logging software on your computer, even hire a private investigator, Wilson cautions. A jilted spouse can be just as ingenious and dedicated at exposing an affair as you are at concealing it. "Not everything they do is necessarily legal," Wilson warns.

No. 7: Sometimes your luck just runs out. Maybe there's a schedule change that you can't foresee and can't control — "the old ‘Surprise, honey, I'm home early!,'" as Wilson calls it. Or maybe one of their friends spots you sucking face and tattles. And trying to explain away those anomalies on the fly is an added risk. "Just being caught in lies" is a biggie, says attorney Joanna Mitchell, of Joanna Mitchell & Associates of Oviedo.

Nor is it easier for the non-famous to slide by, according to John Wallace, of Richard A. Heller Law Offices in Orlando. Though Tiger Woods was constantly in the public eye, in many ways he had the perfect setup: He was expected to be all over the country while his wife was stuck at home with the kids, Wallace says. If she caught him anyway, you could be caught too. "Not everybody has as much money as Tiger and has a built-in excuse for being out of town," Wallace notes.

No. 6: Speaking of money, mind it. Credit card bills can be a big slip-up, as can stray receipts in general, says Andrew Windle, a lawyer at DeWitt Law Firm, Orlando. If spouses see a bill for flowers that never arrived or an outsize bill for a romantic dinner they never shared, the heat is on. Orlando attorney Jeff Sunday agrees; even the location of spending can bust you, such as booking a hotel room in Orlando when you're supposed to be out of town.

No. 5: Those absences, whether unexplained or flimsily disguised, are an even bigger clue. People make up social clubs, outings with friends, even — for some reason — bowling leagues that don't exist to cover their trysts, Windle says. The most common excuse, however, is Tiger's alibi: work-related travel, or staying late at the office. "It seems that work is almost uniformly used as a cover," Windle says. But that too can easily be checked, so it's a weak spot.

No. 4: Understand technology better than the person you're trying to deceive. When the Internet "exploded" about 15 years ago, it not only opened new vistas for would-be cheaters but a whole new arena in which to catch them, Sunday says, whether by staking out chat rooms or reading history lists. "The Internet really opened up a lot of investigative tools for spouses trying to find out what's going on," he says.

No. 3: The telephone is your enemy. It takes incriminating messages, usually leaves a trail of recently called numbers and can instantly connect people who shouldn't be talking to each other. Maybe your little secret gets forgetful and calls for you when your spouse is there to answer the phone, Sunday cautions. Oops.

No. 2: By far the most common way cheaters are caught today is what trapped Tiger. Communication technology is the secret lover's biggest downfall, say Mitchell, Wilson and Windle. Text messages and e-mails — which hang around until intentionally deleted, and which often expose a telltale first line to a casual eye — can immediately blow your cover. "A lot of people are not very discreet in what they say in text messages and e-mails," Wilson says.

No. 1: Here's bad news for cheaters: What's the best, indeed the only foolproof, way to avoid being caught in an affair?

Don't have one. The effort needed to hide an affair or two or three (or 10) far exceeds the demands of a good marriage, making the whole game a losing proposition, Zelman says. "It ain't worth it. Make a good decision in the first place as to who you're going to marry," he advises.


More by Jim Gaines


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