To outsiders, Pete’s life was a model of success. Having risen through the ranks of the police force to become a detective, he owned a business with his wife of 23 years, with whom he had two children.
But for two decades he had kept a secret. He was a serial cheater, and had slept with at least 23 women in as many years.
Fully aware of the shocking scale of his infidelity, Pete stresses that he was compelled to cheat because of his addiction to sex, and his longing for unconditional love when his wife's attentions were drawn to their young children.
The 53-year-old is among the one in five adults in the UK who admits to having an affair. Pete has chosen to speak publicly about his story in a new Channel 5 documentary “Me and My Affair”, alongside five others who have also been unfaithful.
Pete, from Warwickshire, met his wife in 1984, in their last year of university. He was “roguish, bold, brash and loud”, while she was “very smart, and very shy.”
“I was bowled over by her looks,” he says recalling the moment he saw first saw her in a lecture. “She was engaging and different to any other girl I’d dated. There was an air of sophistication about her that was really alluring.”
After dating for three years, they married in 1987. Egged on by his “laddish” friends to sew his wild oats, Pete had cheated on his previous girlfriends. But he experienced a new level of commitment with his wife, and he rejected his old lifestyle. Combined with is new, full-time career in the police force, Pete felt as if he had finally grown up.
But his faithfulness unravelled when he was assigned to a 14-week training programme with the police, meaning he was only at home on the weekends.
“The time in the evenings was our own.” He says. Pete and his colleagues would often unwind in pubs and clubs, and indulge in a culture of womanising.
It was at a club in Birmingham that Pete chatted with a woman, drew her in for a slow dance, and kissed her. That night, he cheated on his wife, who was pregnant with their first child, for the first time.
“There was a decided difference in the level of guilty,” Pete remembers. “Before there wasn’t much at stake, but now there was.”
Asked if he enjoyed it, he goes on: “Oh absolutely. It was fun.” He never saw the woman again.
Over the next two decades, Pete slept with at least 23 women – although he suspects there were more – seizing any chance he had. While some were one-night stands, he saw one woman in particular for two-and-a-half years.
To feed his addiction, he would concoct excuses to leave town for the weekend for “quick, risky sex” but would feel uncomfortable, guilty and ashamed if a woman became attached.
At home, his family life continued.
“I really don’t think it was especially different to any other marriages,” he says.
“Sometimes we’d sleep together and go away and have social functions with the kids. Other times were at each other’s throats and sleeping in separate bedrooms. And then we’d move on.”
It was when Pete’s wife found his workbook from a personal development business course that she discovered he had been cheating. Asked to write down a past regret, he had scrawled the words: “being unfaithful.”
“She was devastated," he said.
Unable to reveal the extent of his infidelities, Pete told her it was a one-night stand with a woman he used to work with ten years ago. That night, he moved out of the house. Months later, Peter presented his wife with a list of all of the women he remembered.
“She saw someone who needed help,” he says. His wife suggested they attend counselling to mend their marriage.
“We could have carried on quite normally and appear to function, but there was a dearth of unconditional love between us,” says Pete. He says now realises that he was in emotional pain, and his affairs were a short-term fix.
That was six years ago. Pete and his wife now plan to spend their 30th anniversary together in New York.
“Those feelings that I had have completely gone,” says Pete, adding that the feeling of being loved and loving in return doesn’t compare with what he experienced before. “I know within my heart of hearts that I’ll never do it again.”
Me and My Affair, will premiere on Channel 5, Thursday 20 October, at 10pm
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