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Why do People Cheat?

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When you hear the word cheating, what do you think of?  In life, we all have a different understanding of what this is.  Is it simply looking at another man/woman?  Or is it something deeper?  Something more intimate?  Technology impacts the way that we form relationships, communicate and even meet people.  But what constitutes betrayal can be considered extremely complicated.  In the “old” days, it seemed pretty clear what was cheating – you were having some kind of relationship with another person.  Maybe it was flirting.  Maybe it went further and you went on a date or had a physical relationship with someone.  That’s a relatively “easy” one to understand.  That said, given what technology has done for our lives, the idea of cheating isn’t quite as straightforward. 

What do I mean?  Well, maybe you still haven’t taken your online dating profile down.  Or maybe you’re still talking to your ex.  And I don’t mean talking to your ex because you want the best for them.  I mean “talking” to your ex.  In a recent survey of married people who were using a dating site (for married people), 55% believe that forming a deep emotional bond with someone (other than your primary partner) was considered the biggest betrayal.  This was followed by sending naked pictures or erotic messages with someone else. 

In addition to that, 30% believe that maintaining an online dating profile is also adulterous.  As is spending time with your ex.  For other people more subtle actions are classed as cheating, like casual flirting, going out to dinner with someone of the opposite sex, talking to their ex or fantasizing about someone else – but these were in the minority.  I find that last one hard to believe.  While I’m not saying that you should fantasize about someone who isn’t your partner while being intimate, I don’t think there’s harm in thinking about someone else that you’re attracted to from time to time.  In fact, I would argue that it’s healthy.

When it comes to cheating, however, how far is too far?  If I’m being honest, I think I’m with the majority on this one and think that having some kind of emotional bond with another person is a form of cheating.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have friends – even if they’re of the opposite sex.  But there’s a fine line between having a friend, and having a “friend”.

As someone who has been on the other side of this (where my former partner had at least one “friend”), it can be devastating.  It also does something to the relationship, which can’t be undone. 

All of that said, I’m here to give you advice, not to tell you what cheating is or isn’t.  Which is when I would say that in order to avoid falling into a place where your partner is cheating on you is to determine what each partner needs from the other in the relationship.  You might start the conversation by saying things like – I need to feel safe, secure and loved.  Maybe those aren’t the things you need, but they are just examples.  If you don’t feel that your partner can provide those to you, then you need to have a bigger conversation about whether you should stay in the relationship.

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