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What Is Considered Cheating These Days? How to Define Your Grey Area

What is considered cheating to you? Is it kissing? Hugging? Sex? Everyone has a different definition and comfort level, creating a hugely gray area.

what is considered cheating

Without a doubt, one of the biggest relationship killers is cheating. While you might decide to take your partner back after a time of reflecting and working on your relationship, many choose to part ways. It’s a personal choice, but it also comes down to what is considered cheating to you.

Everyone is different. Nobody can tell you what you should or shouldn’t do after you find out that your partner has cheated on you. The only thing you can do is give yourself time and work out how you feel over time.

If they’re sorry and willing to work on themselves enough to make the relationship stronger in the future, perhaps there is hope. However, if you feel deep down that you can’t trust them and they’re likely to do it again, it’s a far better option to part ways and work towards your own happiness.

[Read: How to take control of your love life and find the love you want… and deserve!]

The definition of cheating – what do you consider as cheating?

Really, it comes down to the definition of cheating to you. Problematically, everyone has a different definition and it can vary within relationships. Perhaps you consider flirting to be cheating, but to your partner it’s only cheating if there’s actual physical contact. You can understand how issues can arise if you’re not in alignment on what is considered cheating to you personally.

In many ways, it comes down to asking yourself one key question. If your partner was doing the same thing behind your back, would you feel upset or betrayed? If the answer is ‘yes,’ that’s a pretty hard line that denotes cheating behavior.

[Read: The four most common – yet painful – types of cheating in a relationship]

What is considered cheating? Emotional versus physical cheating

There are so many different types of behavior that may or may not fall into the cheating category. It’s so confusing to work out how you feel about it when it happens to you. The thing is, you can never be sure how you’re going to feel. It’s all very well and good having an idea that if your partner did this or that, you’d leave them. If it actually happens, you might find you feel differently.

Each situation’s circumstances vary wildly. Are they sorry or show zero remorse? Do you trust them to never do it again? Are they willing to give you the time you need to overcome it all? It’s such a complicated subject that you can never have a true idea of how you would react.

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

For many people, it comes down to two categories: emotional cheating and physical cheating. Outside of that, you also have sexting. This isn’t in either category. You’re not actually touching physically, and you may not have an emotional connection with the person.

But you cross a line by speaking in a particular way to someone who isn’t your partner. You betray the private and special bond you have. If your partner found out, they would probably be devastated.

[Read: Is sexting cheating? The answer you really won’t want to accept]

What is considered cheating to you? Think about it for a second. Would it be worse for you if your partner developed a close emotional connection to someone but never slept with them, or that they actually had sex with someone else, even just once? Both are heartbreaking situations. Many people feel that when emotions enter the situation, it’s even harder to forgive and move on.

Perhaps that’s because it comes down to trust being not only broken but compromised over the long-term. Let’s be honest, it’s entirely possible for someone to have too much to drink and end up making a huge mistake. They sleep with someone and wake up instantly regretting it. There may be no feelings involved, it could literally just be sex.

It could also be that a partner is feeling neglected, pushed out, and going through a hard time. It’s no excuse to cheat physically. Nevertheless, it’s happened countless times to different couples.

[Read: Micro-cheating – What it is and signs you’re unintentionally doing it]

In all of these situations, there are no deep feelings involved, just a spur of the moment decision that could cost them their relationship. However, when feelings are involved, that means time has been taken to build up a bond. Do you believe it is possible to fall in love with someone else when you’re already in love with your partner? That’s what it comes down to. Do they really love you if they can love someone else too?

Both situations are a severe breach of trust and a huge betrayal. What is considered cheating depends upon the person. Even if it doesn’t fall into a specific category, the fact that ‘on the fence’ behavior has happened means upset and heartbreak isn’t far behind.

[Read: 18 signs of an emotional affair you probably didn’t notice]

Have you ever been cheated on?

I hope the answer to that is ‘no.’ However, if you have, did you consider what happened to you to be cheating before it happened, or did you change your definition of what is considered cheating during or after? For instance, if your partner was sexting another person and you found out, did you consider that to be cheating before you found out? And when you did find out, did you feel a huge sense of betrayal? 

What is considered cheating to you can change according to situations. That’s why you should never try and work out in your own mind what your reaction would be if that happened. You can only feel it in the moment and allow the situation to sink in, working out how you feel over time. Rushed decisions will only lead to regret in the future.

Don’t listen too much to what other people say you should do. Your friend might be telling you that “once a cheater, always a cheater” and label your partner as a rat who can’t be trusted.

However, you might have a gut feeling that this isn’t the case. After a while, you might come to the realization that they made a mistake, they’re sorry for it, and they’re willing to work on themselves to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In that case, if you want to take them back, it’s your choice and yours alone. Do not let anyone make you feel like cheating has to be the hard “we’re over.”

[Read: How to rebuild trust in a relationship after even the worst type of betrayal]

However, some people don’t deserve second chances. If they’re always hurting you, betrayed you to the point where you just can’t trust them again, or done it more than once, let them go. You deserve so much better. There is someone out there for you who won’t treat you in the same way.

While you should definitely have an idea in your mind of what is considered cheating to you, remember it can also be fluid. Your feelings can and do change according to what happens in your life. That’s okay.

Give yourself time and don’t feel rushed. If your partner is truly sorry for their actions, they’ll be willing to wait for you to reach a point where you can move on too, regardless of what your final decision is.

[Read: Is it possible to learn how to regain trust after cheating?]

There is a huge gray area over what is considered cheating. Only you can decide what your definition is, but allow yourself the freedom to choose your reaction based upon your experiences.

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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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