What Is Considered Cheating In A Relationship? 6 Main Types

what is considered cheating in a relationship

What is considered cheating? It’s a broad term meaning different things to each one. Understanding this concept can help prevent trust issues and avoid unnecessary arguments. Also, it saves a person from undue stress that can affect their mental peace and physical health.

Read on to know what is considered cheating in a relationship or marriage. You can also learn the signs that your spouse or partner is cheating, why they are doing so, and what one can do to resolve the conflict.

What Is Considered Cheating?

There are many forms of cheating, and it does not always constitute physical relations with someone who is not your partner—an act that’s probably the pinnacle of cheating. We’ve listed various types of cheating and why they occur.

1. Emotional affair

An emotional affair is drawing a passionate or romantic satisfaction from someone else who isn’t your partner. It does not need to be sexual and might not even require physical interaction. There are several instances where the offending partner does not even realize or acknowledge that they are unfaithful. An emotional affair makes one of the complicated forms of cheating to identify because it doesn’t often violate what is traditionally established as cheating.

Signs your partner is emotionally cheating

  • They act disconnected or even abrasive towards you after they’ve spoken to the other person.
  • Every fight is spiraled out of proportion, causing even minor issues to become big arguments.
  • They reach out to the other person after a fight with you.
  • They confide personal feelings to the other person and not you.
  • They compare you to the other person when listing your shortcomings or during a fight.
  • They act differently when the other person’s name is brought up.
  • They often talk about the other person when talking to others and rarely mention you. They try to deflect your concerns or insecurity about the other person through abuse, mockery, or outright lying at times.

2. Object affair

An object affair is a different kind of infidelity that is not easy to identify and address. It happens when your partner’s attention is focused primarily on something outside the relationship.

Object affair could be in various forms, such as a hobby (games, gambling, sports), an actual object (a house, personal belonging, device), or sometimes social media or validation from others.

Signs your partner is having an object affair

  • Their priority when they start the day is to connect with the object of their desire.
  • They show a lack of interest in you and what you say.
  • They’re unusually interested in their social media or how they are perceived online.
  • They are consumed by an idea and can’t stop thinking about it.
  • They pour all their free time and emotional investment into their business or entrepreneurial venture.
  • They’re addicted to a video game or TV show to the point that they experience withdrawal symptoms when detached from it.
  • They lose interest in physical intimacy or underperform during sex, indicative of addiction to pornography.
  • They show obvious signs of substance addiction (to nicotine, alcohol, or a narcotic substance) and constantly crave it.
  • They seem hazy and far away when you speak to them.

3. Physical affair

It is the “traditional” most concrete form of cheating. Simply put, it means having a physical or sexual relationship with someone who is not your primary partner. It could be minor gestures such as initiating or responding to physical contact with others outside the relationship. In some cases, it could extend to a drunken kiss on the cheek or excessive touching while talking, or being overly familiar with someone physically.

Signs your partner is having a physical affair

  • They do not seem interested in sex or don’t get intimate with you.
  • They avoid discussing anything serious relating to your relationship. They seem happy or satisfied with another person.
  • They are unavailable or busy when you need them.
  • They seem to be stressed or on edge when you walk in on them.
  • They’re more protective about their phone and gadgets.
  • They start paying more attention to their appearance and dressing all of a sudden.
  • They rarely make eye contact and don’t maintain it when they do.
  • They avoid certain places to hang out with you(likely in the worry they might be seen by someone else with you).

4. Micro cheating

Microcheating is a relatively new term for something that’s an age-old phenomenon. While it’s not as direct or damaging as a physical affair, it is a lot harder to detect. Over time, it can do serious damage to any relationship. Micro cheating is a behavior that falls shy of cheating on your partner. It could be joining a dating site to look at “options,” flirting with other people or exes, or getting too close to a friend or colleague. While this does not entirely fall under the category of cheating, it is best to identify and address this behavior early.

Signs your partner is micro cheating

  • They engage excessively with every social media post of a particular friend or colleague.
  • They often talk to or about their friend.
  • They keep their phone away from you and often delete text conversations. They are (ironically) judgemental of cheaters and swear they could never do it.
  • They save contact information under a wrong name (usually from a different gender, i.e., saving a woman’s name as a male friend or vice versa)
  • Your sex life is not what it used to be.
  • They act nervous when you pick up or borrow their phone.
  • They put additional effort into their appearance.
  • Their friends don’t often know that they have a girlfriend/boyfriend and only find out after meeting you.

5. Cyber affair

In an increasingly connected world, cyber cheating is turning out to be popular. People debate whether it is cheating as it is difficult to detect, confront, and reconcile.
Cyber cheating occurs when one cheats on their partner with someone else through the Internet. It means communication, exchange of media, and even financial dealings are conducted online. In recent times, it has become an accessible form of cheating to most people.
Signs your partner is cyber cheating

  • Your partner is secretive about their phone or laptop and doesn’t like you checking or looking at them.
  • Your partner suddenly changes passwords to social media and their gadgets.
  • Your partner spends an unusual amount of time online and doesn’t talk to you much.
  • Your partner seems distracted and keeps turning to their phone when you’re with them.
  • Your partner may even pick up a second phone to insulate themselves from scrutiny when deeply involved in a cyber affair.
  • Your partner’s excuses and lies for why they’re always online are feeble or seem rehearsed.
  • Your sexual intimacy with your partner seems lesser than it used to be.
  • Your spouse is concerned about privacy, especially when it comes to online behavior and gadgets.

6. Financial infidelity

Financial infidelity is something couples often run into in the later stages of their relationship or marriage. It occurs when one party takes unjustified control over the shared finances and hides certain aspects from the other. Such an act can lead to serious consequences, emotionally and financially. It will damage the trust of a couple and endanger joint financial security, too.

Signs your partner is committing financial infidelity

  • They insist on handling all the finances for the household.
  • They do not let you get a good picture of the financial situation of the house or give vague answers when you ask.
  • They exhibit unusual or erratic spending and investment behavior. You frequently argue over finances, spendings, and savings.
  • They become withdrawn or defensive when asked about specific financial aspects such as income or expenditure.
  • They don’t want to open a joint bank account.
  • Their quality of life seems to improve rapidly. A new phone, laptop, or even clothes can indicate financial infidelity.
  • They seem inexplicably worried when you make big purchases.
  • They have a lot of money tied up in betting, high-risk trading, or cryptocurrency all of a sudden.

Is Flirting Considered Cheating?

It is still a debated topic whether flirting is a form of cheating. Some find a bit of flirting to be healthy, while others do not consider it right. Some natural encounters with a third person might come off as flirty and harmless, depending on the occasion. However, making it a habit can become a slippery slope. Often, the intent is not to flirt, but the action comes across as flirty anyway.
Situations when flirting is cheating

  • Your partner is flirting with an ex.
  • Your partner is flirting with someone interested in them.
  • Your partner is flirting with someone who you dislike for a reason.
  • Your partner lies about flirting after you’ve witnessed or seen it happen.
  • Your partner exchanges lewd or intimate communication with someone. Your partner enjoys the attention and actively encourages flirting.
  • When flirting leads to inappropriate conversations or physical contact.
  • Your partner lies about meeting someone who you know they are flirting with.

Is Texting Considered Cheating?

Like with anything else in a relationship, texting is cheating or not depends on the context. Is texting a coworker or friend late at night inappropriate by itself? Is texting them something personal and then hiding it or lying about it cheating? Probably.

Texting by itself is not cheating. However, with the wrong intent, it can become a medium for cheating and could cause a lot of pain and suffering in a relationship.

Situations where texting is cheating

  • Texting someone with the intent of flirting.
  • Speaking about inappropriate things or private sexual matters.
  • Exchanging pictures or videos that are inappropriate over text.
  • Sending anything to someone of the opposite sex that is hidden from the partner.
  • Deleting text conversations so no one can see what was exchanged.
  • Texting an ex frequently or flirting with them.
  • Responding to someone interested in you romantically.
  • Repeatedly texting someone who your partner is insecure about.
  • Passing lewd comments and compliments to someone over text.

Is Kissing Considered Cheating?

Kissing is a personal sign of affection between you and your partner, and it can differ from couple to couple. Some couples don’t put a lot of weight on “just a kiss” and don’t consider it a big deal. But other couples consider kissing as an act of intimacy and something that they both like to share only with each other. Kissing is something our body associates with intimacy and romantic courtship, so it is a tricky question for some couples and situations.

When Does Kissing Become Cheating?

  • When it is planned ahead of time: Spontaneous kisses may happen as mistakes made in the heat of the moment, but planning to kiss someone who is not your partner shows ill intent and is cheating.
  • When it happens sober: While we may slip up when we’re under the influence of alcohol or not in our right mind, kissing a non-partner when sober is certainly cheating.
  • If the kiss is passionate: While a peck can be considered platonic and harmless, a full-blown passionate kiss that lasts for a while is indeed cheating.
  • If it keeps happening: People can kiss by mistake once if they acted impulsively, but if they keep doing it, it’s cheating.
  • If it is coupled with other forms of physical contact: Kissing by itself could be forgiven as a misunderstanding, but if it is bundled with caressing or intimate touching, it is cheating.
  • When it is done with the intent to escalate things: If you kiss someone hoping for it to go beyond a kiss, then it is cheating.
  • Kissing an ex: There is no circumstance where it isn’t cheating in a relationship.
  • Kissing a crush: While you could give a peck to an old friend platonically, kissing someone you have a crush on or find attractive is a major red flag.

What Leads To Cheating And What To Do About It?

Cheating isn’t something that typically comes out of the blue. There are triggers and warnings and involve multiple factors, some of which might go unnoticed by both parties in a relationship.

What leads to cheating?

  • Lack of attraction towards partner
  • Feeling ignored by partner
  • Feeling attracted towards another person while in a relationship
  • Taking “revenge” for a disagreement with partner
  • Insecurity and self-image issues
  • Feeling lonely or bored
  • Sex addiction or feeling deprived of sexual satisfaction
  • Narcissism or deriving self-worth from other’s attention
  • Looking for a quick thrill
  • Feeling unsatisfied in some way
  • Missing the “spark” of a relationship
  • Unresolved feelings towards an ex

What to do about it?

  • Set clear boundaries about what is okay and what isn’t.
  • Keep a clear communication line so you can talk through issues before they get out of hand and manifest in cheating.
  • Have a close group of friends that care for both of you.
  • Spend as much of your free time together as possible.
  • Trust your partner and respect and earn their trust.
  • Back away from any situation that makes your partner feel insecure. Do not emulate TV or movie actors or their behavior as justifiable in your own life. Be each other’s best friend.
  • Have a clean break with your ex.
  • Articulate your insecurities to your partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is cheating a choice or a mistake?
Loyalty is a responsibility, and trust is the foundation of any relationship. Cheating in any form cannot be defended as a mistake and is definitely a choice.
2. Can a relationship work after cheating?
Though a relationship may not go back to normal after cheating, it may work if the partner accused of infidelity mends their ways and proves their loyalty. It requires a great amount of work to rebuild trust, but if the couple tides over the negativities, they may have a long-lasting relationship.
There can be many answers to what is considered cheating, and categorizing a specific act as cheating may be difficult. Be it with a person or an object, cheating can ruin relationships. Most people have been on the receiving or giving end of cheating in a relationship at some point in their lives. Either way, it comes down to the efforts and sentiments you portray after the incident. Mutual understanding with proper communication and love for each other can help overcome and avoid such situations. Infographics: The Negative Effects Of Cheating Cheating can have severe consequences on a relationship. It affects the physical and mental health of the partner who has been cheated and also the one who cheats. This infographic provides insights into the effects of cheating on both partners.

Key Pointers

  • Cheating can ruin a relationship.
  • Emotional cheating, micro-cheating, and object affair are a few of the different kinds of cheating.
  • Lack of attraction towards a partner or feeling lonely might increase the chances of cheating.

Spending time with each other, effective communication, and setting boundaries can help get your relationship back on track.

Image Credit: freepik

References:

This articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Infidelity;
https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/infidelity

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