When you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship, you want to trust that your partner will be faithful. They’re dedicated to you and only you and would never betray you. However, sometimes things happen that don’t sit right and veer too close to infidelity for comfort. So, what is really considered cheating? Read on to find out.
What’s the real meaning of “cheating”?
Cheating is when someone in a relationship is unfaithful to their partner by being intimate with someone else. Whether that’s having sex with someone who’s not your partner or even getting inappropriately close with them emotionally, it’s still infidelity. To what degree a person finds this acceptable is up to them, but if you’re giving parts of yourself to someone else outside of your relationship, that’s usually considered cheating.
Cheating is a violation of trust and can seriously screw you up mentally and emotionally. To work through the issue, it is important for the couple to discuss their expectations for the relationship and be honest with each other about their feelings and concerns. Additionally, couples should focus on improving their communication with each other, establishing trust, and working on their emotional connection.
What are some behaviors that could be considered cheating?
- Physical infidelity This one is pretty clear. It’s all about having a physical (read: sexual) relationship with another person outside of the relationship. It doesn’t matter if this only happens once or is an ongoing affair. It’s definitely considered cheating to pretty much everyone.
- Emotional infidelity This can be just as hurtful and harmful. Forming an emotional connection with someone else other than your partner isn’t appropriate. If you feel yourself being that drawn to someone else, you may be in the wrong relationship.
- Keeping secrets Keeping secrets from your partner and not being transparent in the relationship cheats them of their right to the truth. If you’re hiding something, it’s time to fess up.
- Flirting Engaging in flirty conversations with people outside of the relationship is a no-go. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “natural flirt” or you “didn’t think you were doing anything wrong.” While flirting isn’t considered cheating by everyone, it generally doesn’t go down well with people in relationships.
- Financial infidelity Not being honest about finances with your partner is wrong. Whether you’re in a lot of debt or you happened upon a windfall you never mentioned, financial infidelity can ruin relationships.
- Online infidelity Is it still considered cheating if you never meet in person? Of course. The intention is there, which is what really matters. If you’re engaging in an inappropriate relationship with someone on the internet, you’re cheating. End of story.
- Sexting Sending explicit messages or photos to someone else is a really crappy thing to do. It doesn’t matter if you never follow through on it. Your body and your sexual fantasies should be shared with your partner only. Sexting another person when you’re in a relationship should never happen.
- Spying Is snooping through your partner’s phone, emails, texts, or social media accounts a form of cheating? In a way. You’re cheating your partner of their right to privacy. This is a violation and is not something a trusting person does.
- Lying Not being honest with your partner about your thoughts, feelings, or activities cheats them of being close to you. If you’re not being upfront in order to avoid confrontation or because you don’t want to hurt them, it’s still not okay. They deserve the truth even if it hurts.
- Neglecting your partner Sure, you’re not technically being unfaithful with another person. However, by neglecting your partner, you’re cheating them out of having a present, dedicated partner. They could be (and should be) with someone who’s engaged and who truly cares. If that’s not you, you’re better off leaving.
Can you stop someone from cheating on you?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to control someone else’s behavior. However, it is possible to create a healthy and trusting relationship that can help reduce the likelihood of cheating. Here are some things you can do to strengthen your relationship.
- Be open and honest with your partner. Communication is key to any relationship, and it’s important to be able to discuss any issues or concerns that arise. Don’t pretend that you’re never attracted to anyone else and only have eyes for your partner. Also, don’t sweep issues under the carpet. Discuss things like mature adults and work through them rather than letting them fester.
- Spend quality time together. Make it a priority to plan date nights, go on vacations, and do enjoyable activities together. Also, be up for anything. Maintaining a sense of spontaneity can go a long way in keeping your relationship fresh and interesting. The less bored you are, the less likely you are to look elsewhere.
- Show appreciation for your partner. Expressing gratitude and compliments will make them feel valued and appreciated. Many people who cheat say they do so because they feel taken for granted or ignored at home. While that’s not an excuse, it is a reminder that we should be working to make sure our partners know we love them.
- Set healthy boundaries. Respect each other’s individual needs and goals. Don’t feel like you need to sacrifice your own values or beliefs to please your partner. You don’t and you shouldn’t. If they can’t respect your boundaries, don’t be with them.
- Be honest about your feelings. If something bothers you, be sure to bring it up in a respectful and understanding manner.
- Avoid temptation. If you’re worried about being unfaithful, create an environment that minimizes your chances of giving in to temptation. This could include avoiding certain people, places, or activities. That being said, if you really need to police yourself to that degree, you have to question whether you want to be in this relationship to begin with.