In the TV drama series The Affair, a struggling novelist and a young waitress strike up an extramarital relationship that promises to forever change the course of their lives.

If you’re religious and you have an affair, does it make you bad? Marchelle Abrahams finds out.

Infidelity is not a sin, according to a recent survey by dating website Victoria Milan.

The survey asked more than 5 000 of its active members what everyone wants to know but is too scared to ask: if you’re religious and you have an affair, does it make you bad?

The results of the survey were somewhat unexpected, with more than 70 percent of the participants agreeing life is too short, and don’t consider infidelity an unforgivable sin – and more often than not, even if it is – it’s worth the risk.

The majority of the group were Protestant and Catholic with just 28.5 percent identifying as atheist or agnostic. Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Hindus made up the remainder of the surveyed group.

We put the same question to some readers, and here's what they had to say:

The other woman

"In my previous life before I found God I was the other woman, but I always knew it was a sin. It was never something I went looking for. Even when I found myself in it, I knew it was not right. On at least two occasions I didn't know they were married, but when I did find out, I didn't end it. I regret it now." – * Martinique Johnson, 29.

Thinking with the heart

"I don't always think it's wrong because sometimes you can't help who you fall in love with. You might be attracted to a person and they don't tell you that they are married. But you're already in too deep and you choose to continue with the relationship. At the end of the day we shouldn't just view it as sex – sometimes there could be a deeper connection there." – * Temba Maile, 34.

Consenting adults

"I used to think it was a sin until I met a couple who are happily married – both are allowed to see other people and openly invite others into their relationship. I've learnt to be very liberal and not to judge. As someone who had a partner who cheated, I see it as a way to make things work." – * Katya van Tonder, 36.

According to a UK study, about 95% of marriages end in divorce if infidelity is involved. Picture: Max Pixel

Sexologist Dr Eugene Viljoen explains that there is a difference when it comes to extra-marital affairs and open relationships, noting that people shouldn't confuse the two.

"Extra marital affairs happen when one of the parties strays without the other's knowledge, meaning someone is being dishonest in the relationship. It comes out and constitutes alot of trauma in the relationship," says Viljoen.

He then refers to a UK study that was done into the survivability of relationships after an affair and it found that 95% of marriages ended up in divorce or couples split up.

Then there is the case of negotiated open relationships. "These allow each partner to have sexual experiences outside the relationship." And herein lies the tricky part – if one of the parties see it as a threat to the relationship, they see it as being in danger.

On the results of the study, founder and CEO of Victoria Milan, Sigurd Vedal, said: "Having an affair doesn’t mean you are compromising on your values or ignoring your moral compass. In fact, a fling more often builds up confidence in a person and allows them to be a better husband or wife, and injects a new lease of life into a relationship."

* Not their real names