Written by The Relate Institute
As a society, most of us agree on one thing – cheating on your partner is not okay. However, we sometimes differ on what we define as cheating. Does just thinking about someone else intimately count, or do you actually have to have sex with another person? Every individual is a little different, but read on to discover some important things to consider before behaving in a way that might be considered infidelity.
Karen Wilson and a team of scholars around the United States wanted to understand the different behaviors that people consider cheating. What they found is that the actual behavior involved doesn’t always matter. What matters most is how each partner perceives that behavior. This team of researchers identified three distinct aspects of behaviors that might be considered “cheating."
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Sometimes our actions are completely innocent, when under different circumstances these same actions would be considered unfaithful to our partners. Whether or not these actions count as cheating depends on our intentions of intimacy. Intimacy is a desire to be close, friendly, or emotionally connected to another person.
Our intentions of intimacy are especially important in behaviors that are more ambiguously intimate. Some examples of ambiguous behaviors are dancing with, hugging, or buying a gift for someone other than your partner.
Let your feelings and those of your partner guide you in these behaviors. If you feel guilty, it is probably a good indication that your intention was not to be faithful to your partner because you may be seeking intimacy with another. Also try thinking about how your partner would feel if they knew what you were doing.
Deceitful behaviors, such as lying or withholding information, are done to avoid our partner’s awareness and are often intended to hide our own behaviors. Lying to our partner can be viewed as “unfaithful.” These behaviors create mistrust in relationships.
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One of the best ways to avoid cheating on our partner is to be open and honest with them. Secrecy is the great destroyer of relationships, so if you find yourself in a situation that comes close to the line of cheating, tell your partner.
Examples of explicit behaviors are sexual intercourse, kissing, or fondling someone other than your partner. Such behaviors are commonly considered cheating and are clear indicators of sexual intent.
The important thing to remember about explicit behaviors is that they are often the result of previous behaviors that are not stopped when they should be, rather than a sudden moment of passion.
Finally, if your partner thinks a certain behavior is cheating, then it is best to avoid that behavior, even if you think it is innocent.
The next time you find yourself in a possible cheating situation, ask yourself the following questions:
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To learn more about the strength of your relationship, take the RELATE assessment today!
Photo Credit: Jason Corey Photography
"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
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