Cheating or unfaithfulness is difficult to define because people differ in what they deem appropriate contact or interaction with for a partner to have with someone else. And to make matters more problematic, many people do not like to define what counts as cheating because by keeping the rules vague and ambiguous, it makes it easier to cheat. If you don’t know what the rules are, you really can’t break them – or so some people like to think.
There may not be an approved checklist for what qualifies as cheating, but here at Relationship Counselling Kent are some questions you can ask you that might help clarify the issue for you:
1. Even if you’re not sure if you are cheating, would your partner perhaps say that you are?
Do you know what your partner’s expectations are? Do they know yours? Are those expectations acceptable to you both? If not, then it would be wise to have a conversation to discuss what you consider appropriate and inappropriate behaviour – This way, you are both clear and there are no grey areas.
2. Are you secretive about seemingly harmless things?
Sometimes we hide things, such as website, e-mail or social media passwords or innocent interactions with attractive colleagues or friends. There is always a reason for this. We might convince ourselves that we are not doing anything questionable, but if we’re really honest, are we doing this just in case we want to do something questionable in the future? If this sounds familiar, you might not be being unfaithful at the moment, but don’t fool yourself, by doing this you’re open to the opportunity – which is not a good sign.
3. Are you anticipating the next step?
Even if anyone observing your actions would agree you’re not breaking rules, are you secretly eager to see how the third party responds and what might develop? Every time you interact, are there subtle shifts in how that relationship feels? Is it progressing toward something that is not entirely platonic in nature, and do you find yourself looking forward to each progressive step before it occurs?
4. Would you be uncomfortable if your partner acted in the same way you do?
A helpful reality check is to turn the situation around and determine if you would get upset if your partner behaved in the same way. If you have a friendship with an opposite-sex that’s gotten a little too cosy, ask yourself if you’d want your partner to have that kind of relationship? If you’re checking up on an old boyfriend or girlfriend on Facebook, ask yourself if you’d want your current partner doing the same?
5. What’s the intent behind the interaction?
More often than not – the question of cheating can be boiled down to one single word: motive. Why do you banter with the man/woman at the gym? Why are you sending text messages to your ex? Why are you meeting that person for coffee? Be warned – even the most self-aware individuals sometimes deceive themselves about their true motivations. Be honest with yourself in order to be honest with your partner.
If in doubt – take a big step back and think to yourself – Are you crossing the line between trustworthy and untrustworthy behaviour? If so, ask yourself why? If you answer that honestly and discover it’s actually problem within your relationship, then it’s this which needs dealing with – before you go looking elsewhere.