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Friday, September 13, 2019

Relationships ~ 4 Situations That May Be Considered Cheating

  • Cheating is defined differently by different people.
  • Boundaries and expectations should be set early in a relationship.
  • Just because you haven't had sex with someone else doesn't mean you are being faithful.
  • Emotional affairs, work spouses, deleting texts, and keeping in touch with exes can all be forms of infidelity.

For many people, the act of cheating is cut and dried... it is engaging in sexual contact of any kind with a person who is not your partner. But for others, being unfaithful can mean participating in any number of activities which your partner feels should be reserved exclusively for them.

In an interview with HuffPost, clinical psychologist Willard F. Harley Jr. explained that infidelity does terrible damage to your partner. Through surveys conducted by his company Marriage Builders, Harley said he has found that affairs are listed as being more painful than losing a young child, losing an arm, having your house burned down, and being physically abused.

Because the definition of cheating varies from person to person, clear boundaries need to be set at the beginning of a relationship, and both partners must agree to adhere to those relationship rules. Without setting boundaries and expectations, you or your partner might be unfaithful without realizing it. Here are some ways you might be cheating even if it doesn't feel like it.

  • You're having an emotional affair.

One of the most common ways people cheat is by having an emotional affair. To put it simply, an emotional affair is an affair of the heart. According to a HuffPost interview with author and marriage therapist Sheri Meyers, PsyD, if there is sexual chemistry, flirtation, and you fantasize about taking it to the next level, it is emotional infidelity — even if you haven't actually had sex with someone else.

Emotional affairs can hurt as much, if not more than sexual infidelity. As Wendy Lustbader, MSW, explained in Psychology Today, "someone has stepped into emotional territory previously reserved for them, to which they used to have free and exclusive access. Now there are sections of this sphere that belong to someone else, that are off-limits to them and have become private." In other words, the intimate communication you should be reserving for your spouse or partner is being given to someone outside of your relationship.

Emotional infidelity has become more rampant in the age of social media. It isn't uncommon to hear of someone sending flirty texts or direct messages back and forth with an old flame or a co-worker, and having that lead to something more.

  • You have a "work spouse."

A work spouse relationship refers to two platonic colleagues who share a bond similar to that of a marriage. They turn to each other for advice, take breaks together, eat lunch together, and discuss their personal lives. Although office friendships are important, with work spouses, you quickly settle into a comfort level reminiscent to that of your real spouse. The lines between a professional and personal relationship can become blurred, and may lead to more intimate (and inappropriate) interactions.

Jacqueline Olds, MD, a psychoanalyst and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, warned that a greater danger lies when you form this kind of bond with a person of the gender to which you are sexually attracted. She told the HuffPost, "two good friends who don't think they would be attracted can accidentally fall into infatuation. It happens quite often at work."

In fact, an Office Pulse study found 7% of office professionals have definitely crossed the line with their work spouse and up to 20% of them may have done something that could be considered inappropriate. If you're doing something that you wouldn't like your own spouse or partner doing in a similar situation, you are probably crossing the line.

Nikki Martinez, an Illinois-based psychologist told the Chicago Tribune that even if nothing suspicious is going on, it's normal for the real spouse to feel jealous of a work spouse. This can create big problems in your marriage, especially if you hang out with or text your work spouse after hours when you should be focusing on your partner. 

  • You delete your texts, emails, and direct messages.

If you feel the need to delete your texts, emails, or social media DMs before your significant other comes across them, it's a sign that your correspondence is not exactly platonic. You may justify deleting texts by telling yourself that your partner will misinterpret or overreact, but this only serves to prove that you are intentionally engaging in an activity that goes against your partner's wishes.

Zack Carter PhD, a professor of communication at Taylor University, said he feels that digital communication can be a gateway to infidelity, which may be why you are inclined to erase the messages.

Carter explains in Psychology Today, "text messaging provides an opportunity for wandering hearts, hearts not fully committed to their spouses or partners, to seek pleasure from someone other than their spouses or partners when their relationship grass may be losing its color. More alarmingly though, text messaging provides an opportunity for even hearts most devoted to their relationships, to inadvertently seek pleasure from someone other than their spouse or partner."

  • You secretly keep in touch with an ex.

When you start dating someone new, it is important to learn their feelings on maintaining contact with exes. If you share a child with an ex, communication is not only inevitable, but essential in successful co-parenting. However, if you have no ties to your ex other than a failed relationship, you should get your new partner's blessing before keeping in touch. Doing so in secret could be a sign that there is more going on than just catching up.

In Psychology Today, Gwendolyn Seidman PhD, an associate professor of psychology and chair of the psychology department at Albright College noted a 2016 study that found that people are more likely to communicate with exes they still have feelings for. Additionally, researchers found a link between keeping in touch with exes and how happy you are in your current relationship. The more often you communicate with an ex, the less satisfied you may be with your current relationship.


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