When Jay-z cheated on Beyoncé, gobsmacked expressions exploded. She’s beautiful, sexy, successful – how can “Becky with the good hair” compete? Some thought Beyoncé choosing to stay married was powerless. Cheating in a relationship is a big no-no, so why do we struggle to define it?
Unsurprisingly, Psychology Today says cheating is one of the biggest reasons couples break up. Each time a celebrity couple splits, infidelity rumours swirl. Most recent Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott. We’re arguably obsessed with figuring if a partner has a lover – Google in inundated with searches on how to spot cheating signs.
How does gender affect your views?
Business Insider reported on research suggesting half of young men have a “liberal approach” to adultery – it doesn’t count unless it’s blatant like physical sex. The young men from the study don’t view kissing as cheating, unlike the “73% of women”. In Sex and the City, Samantha is meant to portray a typical man. She therefore regards kissing as harmless.
A Glamour article quotes scientist and relationship coach Clarissa Silva, who says research concludes men are most-likely affected by sexual cheating whereas women feel more concerned by emotional. Very Well Mind describes an emotional affair as a “strong emotional bond” with someone outside a relationship. The publication says nearly half of these affairs transition to physical. Perhaps because women are better in-touch with their feelings, they feel stronger against inside affections brewing.
A friend once disclosed to me, “I wouldn’t leave a guy if he slept with someone else, but I’d make him think I would.” Many women in the media have stuck by their partners after an adultery scandal. Hilary Clinton recently said it was “gutsy” for her to stay with Bill after his “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky. Victoria Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gabrielle Union have all moved past affair rumours and give the impression of healthier marriages since. Can we alter how weak we judge females who don’t replace their disloyal men?
Do couples need to communicate prior commitment?
How many people sit with their loved ones and write a list of what’s not acceptable? A BBC Future piece spoke about the diverse reaction to US Vice President Mike Pence refusing to dine with any woman who’s not his wife. Is this how you stop cheating in a relationship or is it an untrusting precaution? Do you turn down lunch meetings with the gender you’re attracted to when you have a partner?
Technology enables different levels of flirtation which are difficult to box. If your partner sends lots of kissing emojis to a person they fancy, do you feel betrayed? What if they asked another individual for an explicit photo – is that the same as viewing scantily clad women on Instagram or watching porn? Are you offended by a partner admitting he really wants to sleep with someone else? If so, what about if they offered a threesome? And what if a partner showed excitement speaking and spending time messaging another person?
Some of these questions were asked on a Cosmopolitan survey. The results reveal people have mixed reactions to a partner having virtual sex with a normal person, in addition to swapping numbers, but most are against sexting and phone sex. Porn doesn’t seem unfaithful however. Is that because we’re told it’s healthy and doesn’t mean much? Could that message potentially ascribe to acts like sexting?
Toronto Sun has disclosed an Ashley Madison statistic: “90% of members use their primary mobile devices to cheat”. I think affection occasionally dims in long-term relationships. Work can get stressful, home life mundane; but maybe there’s an attractive individual desperate to interactive via mobile. Some might think – “I know this is harmless, it’s okay to indulge and have a little fun.”
Does insecurity define cheating in a relationship?
Personal insecurities can affect how we respond. If a boyfriend was asking another woman for nude photos, I wouldn’t feel deceived. I’d be upset over him possibly preferring a different body – analysing whether I’m sexy and if the girl is sexier. And I know, there’s ALWAYS sexier women, whatever defines it, there’s a high chance a guy will see a body he admires more, whether or not he admits.
But it’s the personal factor. We can laugh at hot celebrities we’d love to sleep with and happily look the other way at porn fantasies. There’s no physical connection to induce jealousy. Yet on social media, it could develop because the apps are with us 24/7. The people posting seem more real. And someone at the office, if they’re flirting with who we’re dating, we’re left wondering how deeply the flirtation stems.
It’s also about how we use technology. If you think naked photos are extremely personal and a big deal, it’s probably going to hurt you deeper than someone who carelessly sends them. And if you’re partner has always done something for you, it’s painful to watch them do the same elsewhere. For example, if the beginning of your relationship equalled lots of hand-holding and arms around each other – them putting their arms around another can cause upset.
Understanding cheating in a relationship
The lines are blurred as everyone has different views depending on their beliefs. That’s why it’s good to chat about this. I’m confident a lot of us know what will and won’t hurt a partner. A person with opposing views to who they’re with, possibly has less guilt to handle.
Do we truly realise when emotional cheating is happening? Some people have zero intentions to cheat, yet they meet a woman/man at a coffee shop, a colleague, train passenger… sparks fly naturally. They may continue to see the person and dream of wild passion, while also arriving home to make love to you. It’s complex, complicated and confusing – that’s how I define cheating in a relationship.