Is This Cheating? 10 Things Besides Affairs That Could Spell Trouble

Cheating. What is it exactly? Once was a time when there was a strict definition of cheating -- your spouse had sex with someone who wasn't yourself. But now there's a whole slew of gray areas. There's emotional infidelity; digital infidelity; imagined infidelity! You name it. Sooooo many ways to get in trouble now. But what's really cheating and what isn't? The truth is, most of that depends on your marriage. Pretty much anything that is sexual in nature and conducted in secret and that one party knows would erode the trust of the other party could be considered a form of cheating. But whether it's worth breaking up over is another story. Is it cheating or no? Here are 10 examples of "gray area cheating."


Is it cheating?

1. A lapdance. This really depends on where you are in the marriage -- are you having major trust issues? Does your husband have a "thing" about getting lapdances and he's already gotten into trouble for it? Is he with anyone else when he goes to the strip club? What else happened during the lapdance? I would say this is NOT cheating if you are there or you know it's going to happen (i.e., at a bachelor party, etc.). But it could dip into cheating territory if he's regularly slipping in lapdances after work but telling you he's out feeding the homeless. I'd focus more on your husband's sociopathic lying rather than WHAT he did.

2. Kissing without tongue. Is a quick kiss on the lips or right by the lips cheating? If you weren't there to see it and don't know or barely know the woman, this slips into cheater-ish territory unless the woman is European. Those Europeans just love to kiss.

3. Watching pornography. I personally would never consider this cheating. Unless, again, lying is involved. But that's lying, not cheating.

4. "Live" pornography. Paying to watch women masturbate or strip or talk dirty to you is problematic for the marriage -- and a red flag that something is wrong with your husband if he's doing this regularly in secret. But I wouldn't personally consider this cheating unless there is talking about other non-sexual stuff going on -- like your husband telling her how he wants to dump you and run away with her!

5. Contacting exes. Again, if this is done secretly and for some other purpose than to just catch up, it gets very dicey. It hasn't tipped over into full-fledged cheating, but if your wife finds out, you are definitely gonna have some 'splainin to do, and this could really erode trust.

6. Flirting online. I don't consider this cheating, but for me, personally, it's a red flag. For me, I'd break up with a boyfriend who did this regularly. It would say to me that this is a sneaky person and makes it difficult for me to trust him. If it were my husband, I'd demand we get into counseling.

7. Flirting offline. No, not cheating. Everyone does it occasionally. What's the difference between offline and online flirting? Offline flirting -- at your office, with a waitress, with that cute checkout girl, etc. -- happens organically. Spontaneously. It's just a human being human. Doing it online takes preparation and planning and the kind of cunning that spells trouble.

8. Masturbation. It's hard (ha!) to believe, but some women actually worry about this being cheating. Maybe in some religions it is, but for us regular folk, no. No, it's not cheating!

9. Emotional affairs. It goes without saying that this is devastating, probably the worst form of cheating. In fact, in many surveys, women say they would forgive physical cheating over emotional cheating. Emotional cheating means that your husband is routinely engaging in the kind of intimate emotional talk with another woman that should be reserved for you, i.e., telling another woman how wonderful you find her, how much you care about her, etc., and even sharing details of your marriage.

10. Sexting. This is pretty damn close to cheating. I would consider it grounds for a breakup with a boyfriend; counseling with a husband. Especially if the sexting delves into emotional "I love you/can't stop thinking about you" territory. Huma Abedin would probably disagree, however.

Again, any of the above depends on you and your spouse. How much trust do the two of you have? What kind of marriage? How do you FEEL about what happened -- for some, sexting would be devastating. Others would shrug it off.

There is no one-size-fits-all rule book for cheating. It's all about your own personal definition. If you are devastated, but your husband thinks there's nothing wrong with whatever he did, then you need to come to a mutual agreement on future boundaries.

Which of these do you agree/disagree is cheating?

Image via Don Mason/Corbis

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