What Is Considered Cheating? (9 Main Examples)

by April Maccario

In the simplest terms, cheating is an act of dishonesty that gains you an unfair advantage. There are different types of cheating, but we’ll be focusing on cheating as it affects relationships. According to studies, it has been found that people who cheat in one relationship are three times more likely to cheat in the next one. 

The truth is different people define cheating in different ways. For instance, some studies have shown that men are a lot more bothered by physical infidelity, while women are more unnerved by emotional infidelity. 

Whatever way you look at it, cheating is always hurtful, and sometimes we indulge in it without even knowing. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to discuss what you and your partner consider cheating before getting far in your relationship. 

That said, this article will seek to answer some of your questions on the types of cheating and why they are seen in that light. You might be surprised to find some entries that you’ve never thought of before. If you’re interested in finding out, then read on. 

What Is Considered Cheating?

1. Physical cheating

This is the most common form of cheating and one that is universally accepted as a form of betrayal, dishonesty, and infidelity. This is the act of engaging in intimate physical interaction with someone outside your relationship. It is usually with someone of the opposite sex; however, you can also physically cheat with someone of the same sex. 

Therefore, acts like sex, kissing, cuddling, and so on with someone that’s not your boyfriend fall into this category. You may feel like it’s harmless fun, but engaging in sexual activities outside your relationship is seen as infidelity.

The idea is that when you and your boyfriend/spouse got together, there was an unspoken understanding that you will both share physical intimacy with one another. So, sharing that physical intimacy with another person is a breach of the trust shared between the both of you. 

However, there are certain situations where physical intimacy with other people may not be considered cheating, but this depends on a prior agreement between you and your partner. This is usually referred to as an open relationship. While it’s rare, such agreements exist, and as long as both individuals are okay with it, there should be no problems. 

2. Emotional affairs

Emotional affairs

While this isn’t physical cheating, it is just as hurtful and damaging. It is the act of investing emotionally in a relationship that is not with your partner. This is different from friendship, which also involves emotional investment. 

An emotional affair will see you tell a friend (usually of the opposite sex) about your problems, badmouth your boyfriend with the person, and spend considerable time with them. This is a tricky situation as sometimes, you can indulge in this sort of cheating without being aware

If you’re worried that you’re emotionally cheating on your partner, ask yourself; if he found out about the amount of time I've spent with this person and the things we’ve talked about, will he be hurt? If the answer is yes, then you might be involved in emotional cheating. 

As mentioned earlier, women are usually more bothered about this type of cheating, but this does not mean that men don’t feel hurt when you focus your emotional energies on another person. If you’re in a relationship where your boyfriend shares more with another person, or you’re the culprit, you should probably have a chat about it. 

3. Interest cheating

This might seem weird to you, but your hobby might be hurting your partner. Weird right? Well, think about it, would you be pleased if your partner developed a hobby that excluded you and used it as a way to spend less time with you? Probably not. It’s the same with him. 

Interest cheating is the concept of replacing a partner with an interest, hobby, obsession, or addiction. This is why porn is such a prickly topic in a lot of relationships because it indicates that your partner is not enough sexually, and you’d rather fantasize about another person.

It’s the same with interests and hobbies, especially if they cannot be shared with a partner and takes away time. For instance, if your partner is obsessed with video games and plays so much that he barely has enough time to spend with you, it can be seen as cheating. 

Therefore, it is advised that you find hobbies that you can share with your partner, as this is an excellent way to deepen your bond and strengthen your relationship. 

4. Micro cheating

Micro cheating is the practice of indulging in acts that exist in the moral gray area of cheating and safety. As psychologist Ty Tashiro describes, they are acts of emotional cheating with another person who is not your partner. This could include online interactions, dating apps, and so on. 

So, you might never have met the person you’re cheating with, but it still counts as being unfaithful. The reason it is such a problem is the deception involved in the process. For instance, you aren’t likely to tell your boyfriend that you signed up for a dating app just to see what’s out there or what sorts of people exist. 

So, while one partner is blissfully unaware, the other might be carrying on with an emotional relationship that distracts from the bond both parties share. 

5. Financial cheating

Believe it or not, you can cheat on your partner through your finances. A typical example of this was evident in the 2018 romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians, where Astrid, who was considerably richer than her husband would buy stuff and hide it in a bid to ensure he didn’t feel bad about his money situation. 

While it could be considered as an act of mercy on her part, it was really an act of financial cheating. This is because if her husband found out (and he eventually did), it would be pretty hurtful. Understandably, this particular example isn’t perfect as the husband was also problematic; it highlights the problems that such dishonesty can cause. 

This isn’t to say that you have to disclose every single purchase to your partner, but consider what you’re purchasing and how it affects the other party. If like Astrid, you are hiding your purchases to ‘protect’ your partner, then it might be necessary for both parties to have a conversation as dishonesty is never the way to go. 

It’s also relevant for guys as there are many examples of boyfriends buying gifts for the opposite sex without disclosure. 

6. Social media cheating

Social media cheating

This is a grey area for a lot of people; is liking a hot girl’s picture on Instagram a sign of cheating? How about leaving a comment? Is it okay to indulge in Twitter DM chats with someone of the opposite sex without your partner’s knowledge? The answer is dependent on the circumstance

For instance, if the hot girl’s picture is of a female friend you know, it might not be a problem. Also, if it’s random social media engagement that doesn’t consist of anything else, then perhaps it wouldn’t worry you, but what if that ‘like’ leads to a follow, then a flirty comment? That’s a bit of a worry, isn’t it?

It also depends on how you both define cheating as some people don’t see this as a problem as long as the person doesn’t show up in their lives. 

7. The work spouse

Have you ever considered that the dude you call your work husband might be a problem for your relationship? The term ‘work spouse’ is relatively new, but the practice of having one has been around for a while. A work spouse is a co-worker with whom you share a special bond, some of which mimic those of marriage. 

So if there is this one person you always eat with, spend time, or shop with, they are called work spouses. For some people, this can’t be considered cheating since it is mostly harmless, and in some cases, your partner might even know about this relationship. 

However,  the problem is that regular interaction with such a person could lead to something else. Therefore, before you know it, you’re thinking of this co-worker even after work or looking for ways to spend more time with them. This is where the cheating comes in, and if left unchecked, a physical relationship could develop.

This, of course, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have coworkers as friends, it is just important to establish some boundaries to ensure that things don’t get out of hand. 

8. Fantasizing about another person

This is usually a by-product of many of the other situations on this list. For instance, an addiction to porn can mean you fantasize about a certain actor/actress. Liking hot pictures on Instagram could lead to steamy thoughts about this person, and a work spouse could pop up in an erotic dream or two. 

If this happens, then there’s a problem, and you are probably cheating on your partner. Typically, people in a relationship think of other people, and it is usually perceived as something harmless. However, when it becomes consistent or to the point when intimate time with your partner has you thinking of the other person, then there’s a problem. 

Again, if you worry that you might be indulging in cheating of this nature, consider your partner’s reaction if they knew you were constantly fantasizing about another person. Some people can deal with an errant thought once in a blue moon, but most would be unhappy if they knew that you always have someone else on your mind. 

9. Streaming cheating

Okay, this might sound absurd, and most people will not take it seriously, but streaming cheating is a thing. Streaming cheating (or Netflix cheating) is the concept of committing to watching a series with your partner and then abandoning them on the sly to finish it by yourself. 

In fact, Netflix conducted a study into the phenomenon and found that 46% of couples that stream together have cheated on one another at some point or the other. Also, just like with regular cheating, 88% of people who had cheated once did it again and again. 

Now it’s understandable if you don’t think this is a problem, but think of the circumstances around it, you sneak off to watch the shows without your partner, you try to hide the fact from your significant other, and more often than not, the other person is hurt when they discover the truth. 

Thus, Netflix cheating has all the hallmarks of regular cheating and could pose a problem for several couples. 

FAQs

What defines cheating?

No one wants to be cheated on, but the truth is most people have suffered this in one way or another. The definition of cheating is difficult to pin down and varies from person to person. However, the most common attribute is the pain of finding out the truth. So, always discuss what can be seen as cheating with your partner early in the relationship to avoid messing things up. 

What counts as a cheating list?

This is not an exhaustive list, but the following things might be count as cheating by your partner;
• Sex with another person
Sexting with another person
• Liking several pictures of one individual on social media
• Fantasizing about someone else
• Carrying all your emotional problems to another person that isn’t your partner

Is flirting cheating?

Yes. By its very definition, flirting is a sexually suggestive act that hints at deeper interests. Therefore, if you are doing it with someone that isn’t your partner, the odds are you are cheating. 

Is texting cheating in a relationship?

This is dependent on who you are texting with and what you are talking about. Texting with a friend about meeting up for lunch is probably harmless. But texting another guy about suggestive themes or topics you should probably broach with your partner can be considered cheating.

What are examples of cheating?

There are several, and they all depend on the disposition of the individuals in the relationship. For instance, some people consider buying food for the opposite sex as cheating. A pretty common example of cheating is emotionally investing yourself in someone that isn’t your partner. 

Overall

I hope you enjoyed the list. Cheating is a hurtful act, and once you consider some of the points on this list, you might be able to prevent future problems in your relationship. If you have any questions or a few more points to add, then kindly leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to share.

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

One comment on “What Is Considered Cheating? (9 Main Examples)”

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