What Counts As Cheating? Men & Women Don’t See Eye To Eye On Infidelity, According To A New Study

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Having an active dating app profile to browse when you’re bored? Sending flirty texts to someone that isn’t your partner? Drunkenly kissing someone on a night out? What counts as cheating? With the introduction of social media and dating apps to the already, often confusing world of dating navigating relationships can be really hard. A study conducted by BBC Radio 5 live as part of their Sex Takeover attempted to gage the attitudes people had towards cheating and the results may shock you. It revealed that men and women may not perceive cheating in the same way and one thing is for certain; not all acts of cheating are seen as equal.

The online survey which questioned 2,066 UK adults about their opinions, attitudes, and beliefs about sex and relationships looked into what outside factors may hinder your sex life, the different desires of men and women, and what the participants would consider to be cheating. There was close agreement that having sex with someone that isn’t your partner would be cheating with 94 percent of women and 89 percent of me believing that to be the case. However, there were a lot of grey areas too. Whilst 75 percent of women said they believed paying for cybersex or a web cam boy/ girl is cheating, only half of the men surveyed agreed. Similarly, whilst 73 percent of women said it would be cheating if you kissed someone other than your partner, 49 percent of men said they didn’t think that was the case.

With the likes of Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Her, Grindr, and so many other dating apps playing a very active part in many people’s lives now, the survey questioned whether participants believed browsing a dating app would be considered as cheating. 49 percent of women said that it would be cheating compared to 32 percent of men. It is also no secret that many people like to slide into the DM’s as a way to get a date. Speaking to Glamour, Relate counsellor, Barbara Bloomfield explained why social media may be muddying the waters of cheating. She said, “social media has added a host of new ways to break the trust of the person you’re in a relationship with. Sexting, cybersex and porn all may or may not be cheating, depending on who you ask… Part of the problem is that people don’t work out what their boundaries are. Come up with a list of boundaries that work for you both, and revisit them regularly.”

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The survey by BBC 5 live also made it clear that cheating can be classed as more than physical acts and some people consider emotional cheating and the breaking of trust to be just as bad as going out and kissing someone else. Whilst only 21 percent of women and 15 percent of men said they believed going to a strip club could be classed as cheating those numbers rose dramatically when participants were asked about sexting. When it came to sending dirty messages 80 percent of women and 62 percent of men believed that that would be classed as infidelity.

Whilst it seems there is some consensus that some acts would be considered cheating it would seem there is more debate when it comes to emotional cheating. Relationship therapist, Matt Lundquist described these grey areas in Women's Health and said, “there’s nothing wrong with having emotionally intimate relationships with people other than your partner. The question of cheating comes into play when those relationships aren’t respectful of your partner.” What is abundantly clear is cheating means different things to different people so communication is key.