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Married and hoping for a holiday hook-up? First, know the rules.


It’s Christmas and holiday time, that special time of year when the frustrated, the bored, the sex-deprived and the married converge at oh-so-festive office and industry parties looking to make an extramarital hook-up. Logical? You bet…but not too smart, according to Judith E. Brandt, author of THE 50-MILE RULE: Your Guide to Infidelity and Extramarital Etiquette (Ten Speed Press, $12.95, 1580084141).

“Smart adulterers – those who want to go about their business without alerting their spouses – follow the rules,” says Ms. Brandt, whose brand of unconventional advice to the married-but-lovelorn has earned her the title of “the Bin Laden of love” from conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. “In this case, it’s the 50-mile rule – that spouse and lover should live at least 50 miles apart – that applies in a big way. You should never have an affair with anyone in your work or social circle, no matter how tempting the situation…and no matter how strong the beer goggles you’re wearing.”

Why? Because office and same-industry affairs generally lead to nothing but trouble you can do without. “One of the keys to successful affair management is knowing that actions have consequences, and office affairs can lead to all sorts of consequences, most of them bad,” says Ms. Brandt, whose book offers not just tips on how to keep both your marriage and extramarital activities running smoothly, but how to extricate yourself from an affair gone sour…although happy results aren’t guaranteed.

And affairs at work, even one-night stands or broom-closet blitzes, can lead to all sorts of complications. “For one thing, it’s hard to keep an active affair off the radar screen of your co-workers. If nothing else, body language will give you away. And what happens when you’re sick of the account exec down the hall, but she’s still crazy about you? At the very least, you might have to change jobs…or fend off a sexual harassment lawsuit.”

There are no secrets in modern offices, either. “Cel phones, the internet, e-mail, IMs, Blackberries…there are all sorts of ways that someone who has it in for you professionally can get the goods on you personally. That cel-phone video of you half-drunk and groping the guy from accounting isn’t going to stay in memory for long. It’s going to circulate, probably to your boss and maybe to your husband. It’s just not worth it.”

Which is not to say that having an affair is necessarily wrong, says Ms. Brandt. What IS wrong, is going about it in a sexual, emotional or drunken daze, with no thought to what happens if you’re discovered. “Affairs can rekindle feelings and emotions in you that you may have believed long buried. For some people, they’re the only things that make a long-term marriage tolerable. But successful cheaters play it smart, realizing that affairs, no matter how intense, often amount to little more than detours off the matrimonial highway.”

After all, THE 50-MILE RULE author claims, once you start to cheat, you generally want to continue, and that’s hard to do if you’ve got an aggrieved spouse cracking the whip over some discovered indiscretion.

So play it smart this holiday season. “Office romances are convenient, but that’s the only thing they’ve got going for them. The successful affair is the undiscovered affair. Don’t go out of your way to advertise your infidelity to the people you have to work with every day. Your secrets aren’t safe with them.”

Contact information: to request an interview with Judith E. Brandt, e-mail


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