What Counts As Cheating?

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Do you and your partner have different ideas as to what exactly counts as cheating?  Cheating can be difficult to define because everyone has a different perspective on exactly what type of behavior counts as infidelity in their relationship or marriage.  In a broad sense, cheating can be considered as betraying a partner’s expectations about the type of contact one has with other people.

Betrayal is different for everyone.  When a husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend violates one’s expectations of what is appropriate contact, the partner will feel betrayed.  Keep in mind that relationships are influenced by our emotions and not always based on logic.

Because of this, cheating can be hard to define because everyone has different expectations for their romantic partners- no two couples are exactly alike!  What one person considers appropriate contact with other people is unique to that person and relationship.

Below is a list of examples of what some may consider as unacceptable behavior in a relationship and/or marriage:

  • Flirting with others
  • Engaging in sexual talk with someone outside of the relationship
  • Exchanging personal emails or text messages
  • Denying being married or in a relationship
  • Spending time with specific individuals
  • Engaging in specific types of contact- e.g. sleeping in the same bed with another person
  • Purchasing intimate gifts and presents for others
  • Chatting online with someone else
  • Engaging in an online affair with someone else
  • Having sexual contact with someone else (physical infidelity)
  • Becoming emotionally involved with someone else (emotional affair)
  • Developing a crush or feelings for another person
  • Sharing their most private thoughts and feelings with someone else
  • Becoming best friends with someone of the opposite sex
  • Talking or hanging out with an ex
  • Talking about sex with someone else
  • Attending bachelor/bachelorette parties
  • Going to a strip club
  • Texting pictures to someone else
  • Discussing relationship issues with someone outside of the marriage or relationship

Defining what counts as cheating can be a very gray area because again, everyone has a different opinion as to what counts as infidelity.  The important thing is to discuss what counts as cheating with your partner or spouse and that the two of you come to an agreement as to what is acceptable contact with people outside of the marriage or relationship.  For example, some people don’t consider flirting to be cheating but for others, flirting is the pathway that leads to infidelity and therefore is a no-no in a relationship or marriage.    

Many problems arise in relationships because people do not see eye-to-eye on what counts as cheating.  This is why it is important to discuss the acceptable boundaries of contact with your partner.  Many people do not like to define what cheating is in a relationship because if they keep the rules and boundaries vague and ambiguous, it makes it easier for them to cheat.  It’s much easier to deceive both oneself and a partner about cheating when the rules aren’t clear.

XO, Allie

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