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Relationships

What Counts As Cheating?

by Blair Wagner

@winnieharlow

• By Blair Wagner

The topic of cheating usually sparks some big debates. People can be so in love, and yet have *very* different ideas of what infidelity looks like. It’s an eternal question: what counts as cheating? I decided to post this question to Instagram and invited friends and strangers to share their beliefs with me. The result was myriad of responses from people in every type of relationship, from polyamorous arrangements to monogamous marriages. Here’s what they had to say.

So, what counts as cheating?

“Anything that you wouldn’t do if I were present or knew about” – D’Atra

“Cheating to me can best be defined as disobeying a partner’s trust and being dishonest. As someone who is poly and has had mostly open relationships both private and public, I feel that many people assume what cheating is without expressing their feelings to their partner. The parameters of a relationship should be defined by the people in it through honest conversations about emotions and how the actions of partners make them feel.” – Julian 

“If you have to ask, you know you cheatin” – Lauren

“Personally, I consider cheating as going as going outside of your relationship for anything that should be shared between you and your partner. I’m getting divorced (at 28) because my partner began getting on different apps to “talk to people” — some of it was just day to day conversation (that should be shared with your partner) and others was blatantly sexual.” – Callie

“Entertaining someone else. Like if someone feels like they have a “chance” with my partner, I don’t feel the loyalty.” – Micaela

“People can have *very* different ideas of what infidelity looks like.”

“Betrayal of trust, in the sense that the partner cheating understands their action is detrimental to the relationship. I prefer traditional monogamous relationships so anything beyond a light hug and kiss with the intention of a sexual act is cheating. Even if you just cuddle.” – Nathan

“I’m in an open thing at the moment, so I think it’s being lied to more than any specific act.  Anything they wouldn’t want to tell me would be crossing a line into weirdness.” – Maya

“Kissing someone without your partner knowing. If kissing is involved it’s cheating for me.” – Phong

“Cheating can take an entirely different form depending on the structure and boundaries of the relationship. If I was in a relationship and my partner came to me about wanting to enjoy the company of others, then that’s not necessarily cheating because we have communicated our needs and desires, and have set boundaries and limits in honor of the relationship itself.” – Tanner

As you can see, everyone has their own opinion. So what’s the common thread? An intolerance of dishonesty. My best advice is to be transparent with your partner from the beginning of your relationship. Have a conversation about what you would consider cheating, and make sure they share their viewpoint with you as well. Maybe some of these responses can help you figure out the right words to express your expectations. No matter what your definition is, remember to never tolerate any unfair or abusive treatment from a partner.