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Where Do We Draw the Cheating Line?

What constitutes as cheating?

Ok, so as a disclaimer, I think I should say that I in no way am going to attempt to answer this question. Instead I’ll try to shed some light on it, play around it a bit, and hopefully not confuse myself or anyone else more than they (or I) already are.

All I know is that too many of my girlfriends have recently felt deceived by guys they felt they could completely trust comfortably. The issue wasn’t that their partners made some sort of physical advance towards another girl, or asked another girl on a date. It was that they caught their man sex-ting another girl. Now I can almost physically hear a chorus of my closest and most entrusted male confidantes.  “Flirting isn’t cheating!” they insist.

Ok, now to a certain extent, I would agree.  We’re young, we’re busy, and we meet so many new people that flirting, in many instances, seems simply an instinctual behavior in every day social settings.  The barista at Starbucks is cute, the waiter at the local pub too.  We might have boyfriends, but we still have eyes.  So why does it bother us when we find our partners engaging in flirtations via text?

Well for starters it’s the same reason it bothers us when we find out they were chatting someone up at party when we’re not there.  It’s transparent.  They can do it without us knowing. Texting is an easy way to relay private, sensitive information without anyone knowing.  Conversations are hidden deep in our phone, and let’s be honest, some of them we’d like to keep that way.

I mean, when was the last time you met someone whose phone wasn’t password protected on some level, mine certainly is. Still, finding out that your partner has been swapping scandalous words with another girl or guy seems so deceitful, and is such a rampant deterrent to seemingly functioning, happy relationships.  I think the reason for this is simple.

There is clearly a disparity between how both parties view cheating and monogamy, both of which should be views expressed fairly early on, if possible.  I know that sounds ideal, but understanding someone’s communication style, accepting it, and being honest with yourself in terms of what your willing to tolerate is cardinal to the direction the relationship takes.  This is not to say that you cannot have a healthy successful relationship with someone who views chatting up the waitress as harmless.

Some people are just more flirtatious than others.  Intentions play a huge part in distinguishing appropriate flirting and inappropriate flirting.  I know, personally, I often get angered when a guy I have been seeing has been flirting with another girl.  But then I take a hard look at my own behavior.  In most instances, I hadn’t been locking myself in a tower every night either.  This is not to say I had been actively seeking a relationship with someone other than the person who I was seeing predominantly at the time, it usually just meant I found myself in the company of someone who I was attracted to, and flirtatious conversation was simply natural.

In these cases I had to allow the same lenience towards my guy, avoid a double-standard, cut him a little slack, not do as I say, not as I do, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander… Ok, enough clichés and euphemisms.

AnchorHonesty is the best policy in this situation, when it gets down to it.  The same goes for relationship guidelines.  Before you jump on your ‘boyfriend’ (or ‘girlfriend’ for fairness sake) for making an advance towards another girl (or guy), ask yourself “Is this person committed to me?  Is monogamy something we acknowledged or assumed?” If the answers to these questions are at all grey, then take a step back and assess the situation.

Ask yourself if the behavior exhibited by your partner is behavior you think would permeate a more serious relationship.

THINK about it, and be honest with yourself.  That heaving feeling you get when you find out someone you’ve been casually seeing has been chatting up another prospective might indicate your feelings for them are stronger than you had initially thought.  However, if the answer is yes, you were in fact in a committed monogamous relationship, it might be time to jump ship.

People don’t change.

Marriage won’t change a player, so a college romance certainly won’t either. Texting a previous flame or a new crush on the regular can, for sure, be a red flag, especially when you thought you were the only one.  Again it comes down to intentions, and to needs.  Think why does this person need to be in touch with this other person, and what, if anything do they want to get out of it?

And remember the double-standard rule works both ways.  If you’re doing it too, you can’t get mad, but remember, neither can they.

Beware of the serial flirter who hems and haws at your remote interest in someone else.  With so many variations on how people handle themselves when interacting with someone of interest there really is no clear cut answer as what constitutes as cheating on the broad spectrum.  However, what should be concrete is what you, as an individual, feel is crossing the line and under what circumstances.  And to beware of comprising these values for someone, as it will surely lead to getting hurt.

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