In a world where physical intimacy and companionship is a mere click or swipe away and accessible in the confinements of your own home, the lines of infidelity can become blurred. Cheating is difficult to define as relationships are based more on emotion and less on logic. However, a conventional idea of infidelity is held by most. The range of behaviours most associated with infidelity can vary from hidden friendships with a person of the gender you find sexually attractive, to physical intimacy. It is essentially a violation of the expected behaviour of your significant other, meaning it is often based on a subjective viewpoint.
There are numerous affiliations of cheating, such as emotional infidelity, which is fundamentally your partner being in love and demonstrating this to someone who is not you. This is also where secret friendships can come into play, as often they are the slippery slope to emotional infidelity. That is not to say friendships with specific people or specific genders/sexual orientation are not allowed, it is about ensuring that the emotional aspect of your romantic relationship is not being met by someone who is not your exclusive partner and vice versa. It is often suggested that emotional infidelity brings more pain to an individual than physical infidelity as it signifies a fault in the relationship on several levels, as opposed to physical intimacy, where an individual’s primitive desires are not being met. It is also harder for marriages to recover as healing needs to take place on multiple divisions, not to say that this cannot be done but may take more time.
In your own relationship, you need to set your specific boundaries. Communication is key to understanding what infidelity means to both you and your partner. There is no use having cheating defined in your mind and not discuss this with your significant other as they may very well have a different set of boundaries formed. You need to establish what behaviours you deem acceptable, both in your own actions and your partners and you must both be on the same page about fidelity and exclusivity. For some, a flirtatious display of affection would not be deemed as cheating, for others it would be. The same can be said for a drunken kiss, a ‘hall pass’ and so on. Hence the importance of establishing the parameters of acceptable behaviour with your partner.
It is also important to ensure you do not slip into a harmful mindset. Jealousy can jeopardise a perfectly happy and successful relationship unnecessarily, leading to a breakdown in trust and communication which once existed. It is important to trust in your partner and to only act on certainties when it comes to a belief that they are being unfaithful. Jealousy and a certainty that your partner has been unfaithful when they have not been, can be just as damaging as your partner cheating. Clarification on what you as a couple consider cheating, should limit any unnecessary jealousy you feel in a relationship. A fine line exists between being passionate about your relationship and becoming possessive and jealous.
Overall, infidelity can be seen as a breach in trust, your partner or yourself behaved in a way that you both consider disrespectful and unacceptable to the relationship and it is up to you to determine how you want to proceed in your union. Open, honest communication about how you feel about the situation and what went awry can strengthen a relationship or simply reveal a new path in life, whichever you choose ensure you carry a truthful mind and a trusting heart.