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What Constitutes as Cheating?

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The dictionary defines cheating as rule-breaking or infidelity, and the dictionary defines infidelity as having sex with someone else. However, does it have to be sex, for it to constitute as cheating? I have carried out some research by asking different people’s opinions and researching on the internet, to get the general consensus on what counts as cheating.

After speaking with a wide range of people, it became clear that this is a subject that many people have a different opinion on. A big part of this, is that it is based on each person’s individual emotions and emotions are not logical. Most people agree that sex with someone else is definitely cheating, but some feel even that can be a grey area if you are ‘on a break’ from your relationship. Some people feel that cheating can take place on an emotional level, even if they don’t do anything physical. This was usually in the context of someone having a friend of the opposite sex that they were extremely close to and spoke to about their feelings and problems. Some people feel that flirting or kissing is cheating and some people felt that even watching pornography counts as cheating. You also have the other end of the scale, where people have ‘open’ relationships where it is perfectly acceptable for both parties to have sex with other people, as long as they have an emotional relationship with their spouse only.

After looking online, I found that 71% of people think that flirting counts as cheating if they are in a relationship and 63% of people felt that it was cheating if a partner deleted their text messages from other people. I also found that the majority of people still classed from flirting to having sex with someone else as cheating, even if they were ‘on a break’ or had only just started up in their relationship. What was even more surprising is that in over 1/3 of marriages, a spouse has admitted to cheating.

Another thing I found out from my research, is that there seems to be a correlation between the length of time you have been in a relationship and cheating. Most people felt that infidelity at the beginning of a relationship and still dating other people after first meeting someone new is more acceptable than if it happens when you have been with someone for months or years. I think a big part of this is because the longer you have been with a person, the surer you should be that it is going somewhere and is getting more serious and as a result, there is more commitment and loyalty expected.

In conclusion, I think what constitutes as cheating is still a very grey area, and depends hugely on what each person finds emotionally acceptable. If you are acting in a way that you would not like your partner to act, chances are you shouldn’t be doing it. I believe the best way to have a healthy relationship is to try and find someone with the same opinions on this issue as you, to avoid feeling betrayed or disappointed in your partner. In my opinion, it is best to be open and honest with each other, as communication really is key!

Written by: Liz Harwood