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    The issue of why people cheat and what is considered cheating is one that has plagued many, especially since it does not have one universal definition. What counts as cheating to most is often circumstantial, as some couples might pass it off as part and parcel of normal relationships. What constitutes infidelity in a relationship, much like intimacy, depends in large part on the individuals in the relationship. Understanding what cheating means to your partner is a crucial step to having a healthy relationship that holds the principles of trust, transparency, communication, and respect. 

    What Is Cheating?

    By and large, we can summarize what is considered cheating in a relationship as a breach of trust. This could manifest as having a secret relationship with someone who is not your partner. An act orchestrated by either party in a committed relationship behind the back of their partner can be construed as infidelity. Simply put, if you feel the need to hide your actions from your partner, then you’re probably cheating. 

    Interestingly, men and women answer differently to what is cheating in a relationship. It could also differ across various relationships due to the terms agreed upon by the involved parties. For instance, in polygamous or open relationships, sleeping with other people is typically not considered infidelity because it is an accepted part of those arrangements. 

    Different Types of Cheating

    Different types of cheating

    In today’s modern world, most people view harboring emotional connections with others outside your relationship as cheating. In contrast, earlier generations typically defined cheating in a relationship strictly in terms of having sex with someone else or, at the very least, physical intimacy. We can attribute this to the fact that technology has significantly increased our reach, as people who were traditionally unavailable due to geographical barriers are now reachable at the touch of a button. 

    Cheating may take various forms, such as emotional cheating, micro-cheating, and physical cheating. Technology has also brought about new types of cheating, such as sexting, sending nudes, and watching porn. We will explore these types of cheating to help you understand them better and know what signs of cheating to look out for when you find someone you want to settle down with. Keep in mind that while the examples we discuss may not cover every scenario, if you and your partner have agreed on boundaries in your relationship and one of you violates them, it is considered cheating.

    Physical Cheating

    This is the most common and well-recognized form of infidelity. It involves being sexually intimate with someone other than your partner. In polygamous relationships, being intimate with other people other than your partner may not be considered cheating. However, there usually are specific guidelines, based on the couple, about what is infidelity and what is not. These can include who you can and cannot be sexually intimate with, the extent of sexual encounters one is allowed to have, and the number of people one could be involved with. If one goes against the conditions of this arrangement, then it would constitute cheating.

    For people in a monogamous relationship, grey areas are far fewer, but not non-existent. What is considered cheating in a marriage of such a nature is far more straightforward. Individuals in such a relationship commit to only being intimate with their partner, and having a sexual relationship with someone else is considered cheating. However, here are some other acts that may also fit the infidelity definition:

    • making out with somebody else;
    • dancing in a sexually suggestive manner with another person;
    • giving or receiving erotic massages;
    • soliciting the services of commercial sex workers;
    • inappropriate touching.

    Emotional Cheating

    Despite our best intentions, the frailty of us humans means that we’ll often get attracted to other people besides our romantic partners. In and of itself, this is not entirely sufficient to label one a cheater. However, if they choose to act on it through their communication and behavior, then a guilty verdict would be apt.

    In a relationship, we expect our partners to confide in us about their intimate thoughts, feelings, and experiences. When a spouse develops a close emotional connection with someone other than their partner, it crosses the line into cheating territory. This is because such an act diverts the intimacy that would otherwise be reserved for their significant other to someone else. 

    Things that may be considered emotional infidelity include:

    • leaning on someone else for emotional support while shutting out your partner;
    • putting another person’s emotional needs ahead of your significant other’s;
    • discussing your relationship issues with someone other than your partner;
    • harboring strong feelings for someone else and acting on it;
    • regularly confiding personal details in someone outside the relationship.

    Digital Cheating

    In this age of technology, social media in particular has become an integral part of our lives. Buildfire statistics estimates that the average smartphone user spends around 3 hours and 10 min on their device per day. Most of this time is spent on social media and messaging apps. 

    ‘Thirst traps’ are a common phenomenon on these apps, where users post revealing photos of themselves in a bid to attract large virtual audiences. Such traps ensnare many, including those in committed relationships. This gives rise to a new type of cheating – virtual infidelity. Some even send direct messages to the people behind these traps, flirt, exchange pictures, and even meet up with them in person. 

    What is considered cheating on social media isn’t just tied to texting and sexting other people. Following raunchy accounts, liking explicit photos on Instagram, and subscribing to an OnlyFans account may also be considered cheating. Having a secret online dating site account or online relationship is considered cheating as well. In fact, spending more time flirting with someone else or speaking to them online than you do with your partner is the first sign of trouble. 


    Micro-cheating refers to small breaches of trust that don’t yet amount to a physical affair. These are the small actions that your partner does that suggest that they are emotionally focused on someone else rather than you, but you can’t consider it cheating just yet.

    This form of cheating entirely depends on the dynamics of the relationship. This is because it doesn’t involve what most would consider as non-negotiable. In micro-cheating, it is the behavior of your partner that leads you to conclude that they are cheating. For example, if your partner is secretly texting someone or picking up calls in the dead of night, this could be considered micro-cheating. 

    If your partner’s behavior makes you feel insecure, it might be that they are micro-cheating. Some examples of incidents that may fall under this category include:

    • lying about your relationship status both online and offline;
    • maintaining contact with your exes and people you used to have a romantic relationship with;
    • regularly messaging someone behind your partner’s back;
    • deleting messages and chat threads;
    • being touchy or engaging in acts of physical intimacy with someone else;
    • pursuing someone else while still in a relationship;
    • buying gifts for other people without your partner’s consent or knowledge;
    • being a hero in other people’s relationships other than yours;
    • ineffective communication.

    Financial Cheating

    Financial cheating is deceitful behavior related to money and financial matters that breaches the trust in the relationship. This may include:

    • secretly spending money on someone else; 
    • misrepresentation of earnings, whether by overstating or understating;
    • gambling; 
    • misuse of joint funds;
    • financial manipulation;
    • undisclosed loans and debt.

    This is not a common form of cheating and varies differently in relationships. You should, however, talk to your partner about your financial matters and set boundaries on financial issues.

    Signs of Cheating

    While sometimes it may be obvious that your significant other is cheating, other times it may not be as clear, especially if you are in love with them. As the old adage goes, love is blind. However, armed with the knowledge of the different types of cheating, you might be able to decipher if you have a cheating partner or if you are just insecure. 

    Some common tell-tale signs are:

    • changes in routine or behavior;
    • less intimacy with you;
    • increased privacy or secrecy;
    • unexplained absence or trips;
    • increased interest in their appearance.

    How to Address Cheating

    Discovering that your partner is cheating can be quite a daunting experience, but what comes next? Addressing cheating demands a blend of courage, empathy, and wisdom. It also requires open and honest communication, introspection, decision-making, and oftentimes seeking professional help to help deal with the feelings of betrayal. Here is a structured approach to handling infidelity.

    Stay Calm

    Before confronting your partner, take time to process your emotions and understand the weight of the situation. Acting out of anger might escalate the situation.

    Gather all Your Evidence

    If you suspect foul play, ensure that you have clear and credible evidence of their infidelity. Confronting your partner without solid proof can lead to further complications or denial of the situation. Fortunately, with a robust monitoring app like SpyBubble, you can monitor their communications, photos, videos, and application usage. If indeed they are being unfaithful, this should provide more than enough evidence of their infidelity. 

    SpyBubble app for instant monitoring

    Have an Honest Conversation

    Express your feelings and the impact of their actions on you and the relationship very calmly. This creates a conducive environment for a conversation that prioritizes honest communication.

    Listen to Their Side of the Story

    Give your partner a chance to explain so you understand why they felt the need to cheat. Understanding their perspective will give you clarity on the matter and might provide insight into why the infidelity occurred. Perhaps there were underlying issues in the relationship that led to the cheating. 

    Evaluate the Relationship

    You need to sit with your partner and reflect on the relationship’s pros and cons and consider whether the relationship is worth saving. If so, you also need to determine if both parties are willing to put in the effort it takes to repair the broken trust.

    Setting Boundaries

    If both parties have a conversation and decide to continue with the relationship, it is essential to come up with very clear boundaries and expectations that need to be met by each partner. This will not only prevent future cheating incidents from occurring but also ensure that both partners are equally invested in working towards building a healthy and happy relationship.


    Infidelity takes many forms, and there is no one-size-fits-all definition of cheating. This is made even more complex by modern technology, which has introduced even more forms of cheating. In a nutshell, it all boils down to a breach of trust between romantically involved partners.

    Couples who choose to address cheating and commit to rebuilding the relationship should be open to the difficult conversation of discussing the underlying problems of the relationship. This could be done through an open dialogue where the couple either decides to move forward or go their separate ways. 

    To avoid all this, you should have an honest conversation with your partner about what you would consider cheating and encourage them to share their views as well. Understanding your partner’s boundaries and expectations enables clear communication and helps set the rules for fostering a healthy relationship.

    By joseph-nelson
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