Traditionally, many cultures, particularly Latin American ones, had strong double standards regarding male and female adultery, with the latter being seen as a much more serious violation.
Adultery involving a married woman and a man other than her husband was considered a very serious crime.
In the traditional English common law, adultery was a felony.
Although the legal definition of adultery differs in nearly every legal system, the common theme is sexual relations outside of marriage, in one form or another.
Some adultery laws differentiate based on the sex of the participants, and as a result such laws are often seen as discriminatory, and in some jurisdictions they have been struck down by courts, usually on the basis that they discriminated against women.
Adultery refers to sexual relations which are not officially legitimized; for example it does not refer to having sexual intercourse with multiple partners in the case of polygamy (when a man is married to more than one wife at a time, called polygyny; or when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, called polyandry).
Though what sexual activities constitute adultery varies, as well as the social, religious, and legal consequences, the concept exists in many cultures and is similar in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
A single act of sexual intercourse is generally sufficient to constitute adultery, and a more long-term sexual relationship is sometimes referred to as an affair.
Swinging and open marriages are both a form of non-monogamy, and the spouses would not view the sexual relations as objectionable.
However, irrespective of the stated views of the partners, extra-marital relations could still be considered a crime in some legal jurisdictions which criminalize adultery.
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