This blog post is meant to help deflate and hopefully answer some of the tricky questions surrounding cheating. Now for those who might be a little lost, I am not talking about cheating as in the “hiding an ace in your sleeve”, or “having insider information.” I am talking about relationships and my views around the ideas of physical, mental, and emotional cheating.
I have had this conversation with a number of people in my life (some of these people have been people I have dated) and each person seems to have different views on this subject. At first the answers to some of the basic questions (ie. is cheating bad, what is cheating, can you forgive someone who cheated, can cheating be good etc.) seem simple and people tend to have a straight forward answer, but after more questions as to how some of these things are negotiated, many people seem thrown off and confused.
Take for instance the first question. It might seem like the question “is cheating bad” would have such a simple answer, YES. But by saying yes, have we really considered all sides of the argument? Imagine a couple that bonds perfectly together in a mental/emotional way, but have little or no physical attraction to each other. Should those people split up? Should they allow other people into their relationship to fill that physical need? I am not one to condone cheating, and actually expect everyone in a relationship to be totally honest about needs and expectations, but I do also understand that in some relationships, cheating can actually be good. (I know this might seem crazy, but bear with me)
Now this kind of brings me to my second point. What is cheating? Some would say it is having sex with/being sexual with someone outside of your relationship. Others would say it has less to do with action and more to do with connection. This could be physical, mental, or even just a social attraction. I believe that it is more about intent: If someone in a relationship is having dinner with a friend it can be seen as innocent. If that same person is having dinner with a friend that they find attractive and are trying to find a way to test the “relationship waters,” then it is cheating. Also, if someone is making friends (usually through social networking sites) and is doing so with the intent to maybe later “hooking up” then again, to me this is cheating. Whether the relationship is physical, or not has little to nothing to do with cheating.
Even the idea of “pre-cheating” or building relationships with people that you find attractive and could later see yourself dating, is still cheating. Again it would not matter if all you are doing is hanging out at a party or alone in your home. The idea that you are setting up a “possible” next relationship is cheating.
So how do you/can you forgive someone for cheating? This last point I think is more of a personal choice. I can’t say I have the perfect answer, heck I can’t even say I have an answer at all. I tend to judge each incident and relationship differently. Almost like each “type” of cheating has its own point value system. How do you feel about this one? What are your views on cheating? Is it good or bad? Can someone who cheated be forgiven and trusted to not repeat that mistake? What is your definition of cheating? How does flirting fit in with this? is it okay to flirt with someone you find attractive because it makes you feel good – is it cheating if you don’t intend on formalizing the relationship?