Most people know you should avoid cheating, but it's not always clear what that means. Different people define cheating differently, which means that some things that may not seem like cheating actually are in some relationships. It depends what you and your partner are comfortable with, which is why you need to talk about what counts as cheating to each of you. But certain things shouldn't be assumed to be fair game right off the bat.
"Cheating is a deceptive act of hiding or not telling the full truth to a partner," life coach Nina Rubin tells Bustle. "A good way to know if you are cheating is by asking yourself if you’d be uncomfortable getting caught. If the answer is yes, it’s likely cheating. And if you suspect your partner is cheating, ask. Even though it’s a difficult conversation, it’s better to know."
When you and your partner decide to be exclusive, have a conversation about what that means. Discuss whether you'd be OK with each other flirting with others, expressing attraction to someone else, going to strip clubs, or being on dating sites (even for friendship). You may even discuss whether or not each of you would want to know if the other person cheated.
Here are some things that may not come to mind when you picture cheating but could be cheating to some people.
Cuddling Or Sharing A Bed With Someone Who’s Attracted To You
This may be totally fine with someone people, but it may bother others, so ask your partner how they’d feel about you cuddling or sharing a bed with someone else. Physical affection gets especially tricky when either or both of you are attracted to each other, says Bennett.
Going To A Strip Club
This one also depends on the partner. But it's something you should discuss in advance, especially if there's a possibility that one of you will be more than a spectator and actually interact with the strippers. "What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but when you cross these lines — even at a bachelor/bachelorette party where these lines are expected to be crossed — this behavior is cheating," April Masini, creator of the Relationship Advice Forum, tells Bustle.
An emotional affair happens when two people are involved romantically but not physically. If you get things out of the relationship that you don't get out of ordinary friendships — like feeling attracted to them, getting validation of your own attractiveness, or making them the first person to hear about everything that happens to you — you may be emotionally cheating. "You may not be having sex, but you’re having a secret emotional relationship with someone and that’s crossing the line," says Masini.
Any Secret Relationship
Whether it's with an ex, an attractive coworker, or someone else you have a feeling your partner wouldn't want you to see, any relationship you don't want to tell your partner about is probably wrong. "When you’re sneaking away from your partner — even into a quiet recess of the home you share together — to have intimate conversations with someone, it’s cheating," says Masini.
If you've engaged in any of these behaviors, whether or not to tell your partner depends on whether you're ready to put it in the past or if it's something you want to continue doing. If the only potential benefit of telling your partner is assuaging your own guilt, experts recommend keeping it to yourself.