Opinion: Unless You’ve Agreed To Be Exclusive, It Isn’t Cheating

Opinion: Unless You’ve Agreed To Be Exclusive, It Isn’t Cheating ©iStock/Marco_Piunti

The beginning of any relationship can be a confusing time, but just because things are going well doesn’t mean you should take the details for granted. Make no mistake, until you have the “we’re exclusive” conversation, his weekend sexcapades and your ex-sex isn’t cheating.

  1. You can’t break a promise you never made. Only after you both agree to be exclusive, in no uncertain terms, can extracurricular-shenanigans with other lovers be considered cheating. If he never said he was going to hookup with only you, then he has no duty to keep his pickle off of other plates. Of course, this goes both ways. If you have not agreed to exclusivity, then that final tryst with your ex isn’t cheating.
  2. Sex doesn’t necessarily mean commitment. We live in a hookup culture. Do not mistake sex for commitment or a promise of fidelity. If this truth is a problem for you, then don’t jump into bed with a new guy until you’ve both agreed to exclusivity.
  3. It’s not his fault that you caught feelings. You adore his dog. His tattoos make you swoon. You like him. You unwittingly jumped on the feels trip bus, sans a permission slip and sans an agreement to not bang other people. It is time to talk.
  4. It’s possible to have a talk before “The Talk.” The agreement to be exclusive can be in the form of “The Talk” that culminates into the girlfriend/boyfriend labels and squeals of delight as you watch Dirty Dancing with your new beau. But sometimes things don’t go that smoothly or that quickly. You can agree to “not see or sleep with other people” as you continue to date.
  5. If you want to be exclusive, you need to say so. We have been taught to play it cool. Better keep your emotions under wraps, because nobody wants to be pegged as the “nuts girl.” Here’s the deal: you have a right to your feelings, you have a right to communicate your feelings (caveat: you do not have the right to go mad on someone who hurts your feelings, we’re adults – keep your decorum). Don’t blurt out an “I love you and want to have your babies!” on a second date, but don’t silence yourself because you’re afraid of scaring him off.
  6. You might be ready to commit, but that doesn’t mean he is. Few things are more empowering than setting proper expectations and holding yourself and others accountable. If you’re ready to forego ex-sex and the right to swipe right, talk to him. But brace for impact, because he may not be on board for exclusivity. On the flip, you have to manage your own expectations. The exclusivity talk should not be rushed into.
  7. You don’t owe it to a new guy to tell him about your sex life. You may be wondering if you should tell the men you go out with that you enjoy a bi-weekly booty call. My answer is no. Unless you’ve agreed to be exclusive, your bedroom romps are none of their business. If you’re feeling guilty or that you’re hiding something, then give up your booty call. Don’t risk messing up what could bud into a new relationship on the altar of unnecessary-honesty.
  8. If you don’t DTR, you’re pretty much asking to have your heart broken. You’re a few dates in and your heart is already skipping a beat every time you open a text from him. You pull up his Facebook profile for some light stalking and horror of horrors! He is checked into a resort in Cabo and photographed canoodling another woman! Your breath catches in your throat. Your heart pounds. Tears well in your eyes as feelings of betrayal wash over you… but then you remember that it isn’t cheating.
  9. It may not be cheating, but he’s still a douchebag. Well, Mr. Cabo-Douchbag may not be a cheating bastard (yet), but it still sucks. The mad ass pre-exclusivity-dating world is chock-full of opportunities to get your heart hurt. But hey, at least you’re not being cheated on, because that crap sucks even more.
Jenni is a writer, coach, and dream chaser. She loves cats, sunshine, harsh truths, and figure skating. Her goal is to inspire people to RISE: to rise above self-limiting beliefs, rise to the occasion, rise from the ashes and live life on fire! Stalk Jenni on Twitter @BeYouRISE.