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The 4 Most Common Yet Painful Types of Cheating in a Relationship

Cheating is a heartbreaking thing to discover. It’s not as simple as just sex however, as there are several types of cheating in a relationship.

Types of Cheating in a Relationship

Cheating isn’t usually black or white, and the grey areas are never easy to read. But however you look at it, there are a few main types of cheating in a relationship that brings the relationship to a grinding halt.

If you’ve ever been cheated on in the past, you’ll know how heartbreaking it is. Everything is suddenly turned on its head and the security and comfort you thought you had in your relationship is gone. You can’t look at your partner in the same way and you have a huge decision to make about whether to continue the relationship, or end it there and then.

What should you do if you’ve been cheated?

There is no right or wrong answer to what you should do about the situation when you discover your partner has cheated on you. It’s a very personal choice and a decision you have to make for yourself.

[Read: Affairs in a relationship and the role of egos in fixing it]

Everyone will interject and try and tell you to leave, and that’s something you should expect, but you should also take the time to work out how you feel, give yourself time, and come to your own final decision in the end.

I’ll be honest, I was cheated on. It broke my heart into a million pieces, shattered my trust, ruined my self-confidence, and took me a long time to get over, but I didn’t leave him. I know, you’re all looking confused right now and shaking your heads.

But my point is, the decision over whether to stay or go is a personal one, and nobody else can make it for you. My decision worked out in the end; our relationship went from strength to strength after a rocky patch, and I actually came out stronger in the end too. I don’t regret my decision to stay, but I can also completely appreciate that some people wouldn’t be able to. [Read: How to survive infidelity without tearing the relationship apart]

I wouldn’t judge either way. If this happens to you, I say do what you feel is right. And those around you, if they love you, they will stand by you and support you regardless. Sure, they’ll let their feelings known, but they’re only doing it because they care.

Cheating is more than just physical

It’s important to realize that there are several types of cheating in a relationship and not just the physical. We tend to think that a partner has had sex with someone else when we hear the word ‘cheating’ but what cheating is to one person, is actually totally fine with someone else.

For instance, do you think that kissing someone else is cheating?

Some people say no, some say yes. For me, yes, it is.

[Read: When does flirting become cheating? The guide to know for sure]

As you can see, you have to figure out what you deem cheating to be and where your boundaries are. You should also realize that if cheating does happen to you, your boundaries and the way you think about it all may shift. That’s fine too, go with what feels right at the time.

To help you figure out where you stand on cheating and the different definitions, let’s check out the four main types of cheating in a relationship in a bit more detail.

The main types of cheating in a relationship

I should point out before I go on that you might decide there are several other types of cheating in a relationship besides the four I’m going to describe. This is because, as I’ve already said, everyone has different boundaries and decides what is cheating versus what isn’t.

However, for the purposes of generalization, let’s check out the four main types most people agree with, and most cheaters would fall into. [Read: Why do men cheat? 3 main reasons and 27 excuses men use]

#1 Physical/sexual cheating. This is by far the most common type and can cause a huge amount of hurt. It’s one of the biggest betrayals possible, but how you deal with it depends on how you see the event. Was it one time? Was it more than once? Was it with one person or more than one person over a series of events? [Confession: I cheated on my boyfriend and feel a lot better now]

This type of cheating can take a long time to repair if the two parties decide to stay together. Building up the trust again and probably even being physical again together will take time. Only you can decide whether the time is worth it.

#2 Emotional forms of cheating. For me, I think this is worse. What do you think? Emotional cheating is when someone forms an emotional attachment with another person behind your back. It may include sex, but not always.

If a partner cheats in this emotional way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t love you anymore, but you do have to question why they formed an intense emotional connection to another person if that is the case. [Read: 18 emotional affair signs that seem harmless at first]

#3 Online cheating. This is one of the hardest types of cheating to catch, because anyone can be a totally different person online. This type of cheating means talking and flirting, perhaps even having video or phone sex with another person on a dating site or social media site.

The person may have no intention of actually having actual sex with this person, i.e. in a physical way, but the trust is still broken.

From all the types of cheating in a relationship to catch, this is the hardest. But if you do find that your partner has been indulging in this type of activity, perhaps monitoring their internet usage for a long time to come afterwards is the only way to rebuild the trust. [Read: 18 really smart ways to catch a cheater in the act]

#4 Sexting. The final form of cheating is very similar to online cheating, but it usually means that the person knows the other person they’re talking to. Sexting is basically sending sexually charged text messages or social media messages to another person.

There may or may not be actual physical contact and there may or may not be an emotional connection, but the crux of the matter is whether the sexts are a precursor to the person intending to meet up and cheat physically or not. [Read: Is sexting cheating? How to know when you’ve crossed the line]

Cheating is hurtful regardless of the type

Perhaps ‘hurtful’ isn’t a strong enough word, and maybe ‘damaging’ is better. Regardless of the right adjective to use, cheating has the power to completely tear a relationship apart. It also has the potential to tear the person who was cheated on apart too.

Trust is one of the most important facets of any relationship and once cheating comes to the fore, that trust is gone for a long time. It’s not impossible to rebuild it, but it will take time, effort, and it will also take forgiveness. [Read: Micro-cheating and the subtle signs you’re cheating without realizing it]

It can be extremely hard to just let it go. I know this, because it took me far too long. Whenever a small trigger brought it back to my mind, not that it was ever too far away from my mind, I vocalized my frustrations. You would think this is a perfectly fine thing to do, but in many ways it’s not.

If you decide to stay with someone after they’ve cheated, no matter which of the types of cheating in a relationship occurred, you have to leave it in the past. You can’t keep bringing it up. You can deal with it, sure, but don’t keep throwing it back in their face. [Read: The most practical steps you need to take to rebuild trust after being cheated on]

If you’ve recently been cheated on, or if you’ve ever been cheated on, you have my sympathy. I understand your pain. How you deal with it is your choice, and whilst everyone will tell you what they think you should do, you should always go with how you feel and what your gut is telling you. One way or the other.

[Read: How to forgive a betrayer – 8 questions you need to ask them]

There are several types of cheating in a relationship but they are all damaging in their own way. Whilst most people experience sexual or physical cheating, perhaps emotional cheating is more damaging to a relationship and its future potential. Cheating in every form damages trust and self-esteem and you should give yourself time to recover before making any firm decisions.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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