Cheating is not always as black and white as many people may think. Other than the obvious act of having sex with someone other than the person you are committed to, cheating can sometimes go beyond physical infidelity to different, arguably worse, territories. For instance, emotional affairs may seem like a gray area, but they still present a form of unfaithfulness that is seriously problematic within a relationship. Yes, you may never have touched another person, but keeping an ongoing emotional connection with someone outside of your partner means you've still strayed, in a big way.
There is also the potential for mentally cheating, which is not the same as emotional cheating but is still pretty close. Even if you are not involved with another person in any way (physically, emotionally etc), if you've thought of another person in that way on many occasions, and you know that if the opportunity struck you, you'd probably cheat, then this is most definitely another form of cheating.
But how do you know for certain what you're doing is actually cheating? Well, chances are, if you're unhappy and you're looking for happiness elsewhere it falls into this category. In order to make things a little more clear, I've compiled a list of questions that may help you figure it out. If you answer yes to a majority of them, chances are you've been cheating, even if you don't fully realize it.
1. Are Your Eyes Straying In Other Directions A Little Too Much?
It's human nature to check out hotties; if there is someone walking by with that strut of extra confidence and just so happens to have incredibly good hair, there is no harm in looking and acknowledging they're attractive. However, this becomes a problem when suddenly, you're checking out people all of the time, especially when you're with your partner. If you're having a hard time keeping your eyes to yourself, and you catch yourself actively seeking other to find other attractive, chances are you're not very content within your relationship.
2. Are You Fantasizing About People That Are Not Your Significant Other, All The Time?
No, thinking about someone else isn't cheating, but constant fantasies about someone else can be a sign it's time to make a change. It's one thing to have a sex dream about someone you know that is not your girlfriend/boyfriend; your unconscious mind is a seriously weird place, and we really don't control the messed up dreams we have. But, if the only thing on your mind every single night is your coworker taking you out to the Cheesecake Factory, and what that body looks like on the beach...welp, it may be time to reassess how your relationship.
3. Are You Talking To Someone And Feel The Need To Hide It?
Maybe its your best friend that you've known for years, or maybe its that waiter from your favorite brunch spot, fact is you're texting them a lot lately. If you know you're attracted to them, and the conversations have gotten a little too flirty (so many winky faced emojis!), you're in bad territory. The tell-tale sign that you're possibly cheating is that you feel the need to hide it from your boyfriend/girlfriend. Not only does this mean you feel guilty, it shows that you're potentially looking for something elsewhere and you know it'll hurt their feelings.
4. Are You Telling People You're Single, When You're Actually Not?
Let's say you're out with your friends, and someone starts chatting you up, having no idea you're in a relationship. Are you inclined to tell that person you're single, especially if you're attracted to them? What's more, are you leading that person on, giving them your number and reciprocating their flirtatiousness? Yeah, that's pretty damn close to cheating.
5. Do You Actively Have Feelings For Someone Else
This may seem obvious, but some people don't realize whether a rough patch in their relationship has spurned a silly little crush, or they're actually emotionally involved with someone else. This goes outside the realm of physical cheating because you don't necessarily have to touch the person, but chances are, you're thinking about them in all the those warm, gushy ways. If you even remotely think you have feelings for someone else, even if that person doesn't reciprocate, that is a huge red flag that you are looking to get out of this relationship. And you're doing yourself, and your partner a huge disservice if you don't do anything about it.
6. Are You Still Involved With Your Ex At All?
Now it's completely okay to be friends with your ex. Maybe things ended amicably between the two of you, and every once and a while you get coffee to catch up. But if you're going to Bed Bath and Beyond to pick out new bedding with your ex, and barring your current flame from the Taco Tuesday nights you're still having every week together despite breaking up, then something is really wrong. Chances are you still have residual feelings for this person, even if you can't fully admit it to yourself the fact that you want to spend this much time with your ex says you're not fully over them.
7. Are You Filling Up Your Time With Other Things So That You Don't Have To Be With Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend?
This one may not seem like cheating, but there is such a thing as cheating on your partner with work, or with a hobby. It feels the same to your significant other, because it shows that you don't value your time with them, and that you enjoy doing other things more. So if you find yourself more emotionally invested in what is going on at work, and it has taken over your life to the point where there is no room for your partner, this can be cheating. Your emotions lie elsewhere, and your relationship is still on the back-burner.
Like I said, cheating comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn't always have to be something physical; any form of infidelity that compromises your relationship can be considered cheating. My word to you: if you're looking to find something elsewhere, you're not happy in your relationship, and you have some serious thinking to do.
Images: Leo Hidalgo/Flickr