When someone comes to me asking about what constitutes cheating, the first thing I go over with them is the importance of defining infidelity within their relationship.
Many people forget that each person is going to have their own definition of cheating! Sure, Physically having sex with someone who is not your significant other is a pretty clear cut definition of cheating, but then it will also depend on whether or not your relationship is exclusive, whether or not you’ve determined that you have an open relationship, etc.
As your relationship with this person develops, I can’t stress the importance of having this discussion enough. In addition to that, you two are going to need to define cheating and make sure that you’re on the same page.
For example, I was working with a client who came to me for help because her boyfriend would flirt with other women when he was out at night with his friends.
Nothing would happen physically and he would openly tell her about it, but the fact that he was being flirtatious with someone other than her made her feel like he was straying. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, did not share the same point of view as her. He felt that it was harmless fun and that he would never actually cheat.
As you can imagine, Sabrina and Lucas got in a lot of arguments over this topic and we had to work together to improve their communication skills. Both partners need to know what their significant other expects of them, what they find appropriate and what they don’t, and as I often say, no one can read minds!
You guys have to talk about this stuff.
Fortunately, Lucas came to understand where Sabrina was coming from and was able to make an effort to avoid doing things that he knew would make her uncomfortable.
When it comes to what is considered cheating in a relationship, here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you talk to your partner:
How do you both feel about flirting with members of the opposite sex, knowing that nothing physical will happen?
Would it make you uncomfortable to know that your significant other was developing a close friendship with a member of the opposite sex at their place of work?
How would you feel about your partner having flirtatious conversations with someone on Instagram?
There is a difference between emotional affairs and physical cheating. Emotional cheating is a little more abstract obviously, and some people feel that it’s not a big deal to flirt with others whereas some people feel that it’s just as bad as being physically intimate with someone else.