Cheating hurts people, and not just those involved. It can affect the one unaware they are contributing to cheating, circles of friends and future relationships. Cheating, however, isn't the end of the world. Why are we so afraid of the thought of our long term partners enjoying themselves with someone else? Betrayal hurts more than the idea of an affair. Infidelity can be forgiven, can expose what we expect and want in a relationship, it can even be a gate to marriage with the same person. Cheating itself is an abstract thing and its definition changes per person. For some couples, cheating includes flirting glances, while other couples can have physical intimacy outside of the relationship but no emotional intimacy, other couples allow “side chicks”- relationships that can exist outside the main relationship.
Whatever dynamic there is within a relationship, we all have our expectations. We want to know that our partner recognises and agrees to those lines. That if those expectations are crossed there will be consequences. However, a lot of the time we have general ideas about cheating but when it comes to the actual behaviours we haven't defined our limits. What constitutes cheating? Emotional, physical, sexual and ownership all come into play with cheating and exclusivity.
Emotional affairs: An emotional affair can be categorised as an affair of feeling, desire, lust and love. It can involve light intimacy like hand-holding or kissing but it hasn’t crossed the bridge into physical intimacy, yet. Alternatively, a physical affair can additionally become an emotional affair.
Physical cheating: For some porn usage is a deal-breaker and the thought of having their loved one orgasm to the thought of another. This is a sad reality as couples will end their relationship over porn, rather than talk about the desires driving the behaviour. However, physical cheating is not limited to orgasming over the thought of another. It can and usually does include orgasming with a person that is not your significant other.
Cyber cheating: let's face it we have a plethora of options online, and you can lead multiple lives and relationships. Cyber cheating can be as obvious as being on Tinder, or online dating sites - it also extends into camgirls and watching porn. While porn and cam girls are much more aligned with physical cheating, maintaining a relationship with someone online involves emotional labour and therefore falls into an emotional affair.
How common is cheating?
Studies from 1999 show that 75% of men and 68% of women admitted to cheating in some way during a relationship. That's ¾ men and over half of all the women that have created. Results from 2017 studies show that women are closing that cap to cheat in equal measures. So that’s 1 out of 5 people on average that cheated. Shockingly, while only 5% of people believe their partner has or would cheat on them, the results show that much more than half of all people have cheated in the past. So while 95% of people are confident their partner is exclusive with them, the reality is quite the opposite.
We find older couples so admirable having survived over 30+ years together. Surely these couples have made eyes at another, flirted at work or even been to the club and had a lapdance. Well the data doesn’t lie, most people have cheated - so clearly it’s not the end.
Stay tuned for next week when we dissect the 5 types of infidelity and go into detail about the 3 tiers of cheating.