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What Is Considered Cheating In A Relationship? (7 Types)

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One of the most important questions in this day and age is the following: What is considered cheating in a relationship?

Infidelity is determined by the boundaries shared between two people. 

Generally speaking, anything that occurs with another person behind your partner’s back that you are aware will upset them is a form of cheating. 

There is always an element of secrecy attached to acts of cheating. 

It typically indicates some sort of dishonesty or betrayal when someone has to hide or divert attention away from any type of behavior with a person outside of their relationship.

The assumption made about all romantic relationships is that certain times, behaviors and feelings are exclusively reserved for the relationship.

Whether it be spoken or unspoken, this expectation exists and is permeated throughout the world in the examples set by other couples, religions, culture, media and history. 

What separates a romantic relationship from any other kind of relationship is the commitment to exclusivity.

More importantly, honoring your commitment to the relationship and your partner! 

When that commitment or word is breached, it can only be viewed as an act of betrayal. 

The justification or explanation for such conduct does not change the fact that some form of cheating has taken place.

We must educate ourselves on the definition of cheating in relationships so that we can avoid acting inappropriately without realizing it. 

Furthermore, it holds us accountable and responsible for our behavior by removing ignorance as an excuse for betrayal.

Last but not least, knowing what is considered cheating in a relationship enables us to establish boundaries that guard against infidelity while also enabling us to spot dishonest behavior at an early stage.

You need to read this article: How being cheated on changes you

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The 7 Types Of Cheating

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1. Emotional cheating.

There’s an unspoken expectation of exclusivity that exists between couples. We expect that our partners will only love us in a romantic way and that certain forms of emotional bonding will be reserved for us.

Unfortunately, when someone cheats, they can do so physically and emotionally. But, even on its own, emotional cheating is very much a real form of infidelity without the physical component present.

Someone who emotionally cheats expresses romantic interest, desire, love, affection and care towards someone other than their partner.

It’s not just about the development of emotions for someone else but also the expression of those feelings. 

Even then, the development of romantic feelings for someone other than your partner is a form of betrayal because one should not place themselves in a position where they are at risk of developing such feelings.

This is not about finding another person attractive.

It’s about developing an emotional bond and connection with someone other than your partner.

You need to read this article: Why does my girlfriend think I’m cheating on her?

2. Physical cheating.

While emotional cheating is described as the development of romantic feelings for another person, physical cheating can often be described as the expression of such feelings.

But, it’s not limited to that definition because there are ample cases in which a person can physically cheat without having any emotional connection with the other person.

Any touching or behavior that transgresses your relationship’s boundaries is considered physical cheating. 

In other words, hanging out with someone behind your partner’s back in an unacceptable context is a form of physical cheating.

Holding hands, kissing or engaging in any sexual activity is considered physical cheating.

3. Cyber cheating.

Some people argue that cyber cheating is the same as emotional cheating but the difference between the two is that cyber cheating does involve some form of physical behavior, even in the form of texting.

Cyber cheating is a form of infidelity that takes place online or on the internet.

This can include sexting, flirting or having an entire relationship online with someone you haven’t even met.

With the prevalence of social media sites and dating apps, the rise of cyber cheating has been monumental and poses a serious problem for couples.

You need to read this article: Why does my boyfriend think I’m cheating on him?

4. Financial cheating.

When I was younger, the only form of cheating that registered in my mind was physical. I had no idea about emotional cheating, let alone financial cheating.

But what constitutes cheating is behaviors that induce a feeling of betrayal within your partner.

In a lot of marriages, financial cheating is a huge problem.

When a spouse uses money that belongs to the household in a manner or on something that goes against the agreement made within the relationship and behind the other person’s back, it becomes a form of cheating.


Because you are prioritizing your desire for something else over the agreement you made with your partner and at the expense of your partner.

Often, it is done through deceit, either by lying through admission or through omission.

Check out this article by cnbc: Financial infidelity – most common lies in a relationship

5. Object cheating.

Every relationship has needs and an exchange of energy. 

A couple has to decide what these needs are and the amount of energy to be exchanged to serve the relationship and each other.

If someone in the relationship begins to sacrifice the needs of the relationship for something outside of the relationship, this can be viewed as a form of cheating.

For instance, an obsession with your job that comes at the expense of your relationship needs is a form of cheating.

It’s not about working hard but violating an agreement made between you and your partner about time and energy that should be reserved for the relationship.

Eating into that time for your own object of desire or obsession is a form of cheating in the relationship.

6. Micro cheating.

The term “micro cheating” refers to a number of behaviors that aren’t typically considered to be acts of infidelity but that nonetheless seem trivial or inappropriate and have the appearance of being unfaithful.

From my experience of observation and examination, it appears to me that micro-cheating comprises inappropriate behavior that precedes actual infidelity.

Sexual or emotional cheating does not occur during bouts of micro cheating but certain behaviors that can be deemed inappropriate by your partner do.

The issue with micro cheating is that it doesn’t appear blatantly dishonest or malicious to the unsuspecting eye.

However, the first indicator of whether a behavior falls under the category of micro-cheating is whether it will enrage your partner and whether it is something you would not express to them.

Here’s a list of behaviors that can be viewed as acts of micro-cheating:

  • Having ongoing conversations with an ex behind your partner’s back.
  • Engaging in sexual texting or conversations with someone else.
  • Sending pictures of yourself to someone who is clearly interested in you.
  • Flirtatiously texting someone else.
  • Giving your number to people who are interested or attracted to you.
  • Keeping tabs on an ex or someone you are attracted to online.
  • Sharing provocative pictures of yourself online.
  • Posting suggestive or excessively complimentary comments under pictures of other people,
  • Remaining active on dating apps and cycling through profiles of people who may be interested in you.
  • Communicating with someone under the pretense of friendship when you are aware that he or she is interested in you.

Wouldn’t you agree that most of these micro cheating behaviors lead to some form of blatant infidelity?

7. Non-sexual physical cheating.

I’m unsure if this should even be a category of its own, but there’s a growing argument that certain in-person relationships are inappropriate.

In non-sexual physical cheating, a person may exhibit no sexual behavior, no cyber behavior and no emotional behavior that constitutes cheating.

However, by spending inappropriate amounts of time with someone in person who seemingly appears interested in or attracted to you, the risk of labeling this behavior as disloyal increases significantly.

For example, let’s cite the case of workplace relationships.

Spending an inappropriate amount of time with someone in the workplace can lean into territory that extends beyond professionalism.

You need to read this article: How to get over the fear of being cheated on

Why Cheating Is A Deal Breaker

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If you quiz most people on what they would do if they found out that their partner was cheating on them, you’ll find that the majority of people will want to end their relationship.

They’re not lying. 

Our default position toward betrayal is disgust.

Typically, we enter a state of fight or flight and in most cases, we leave the relationship in an attempt to get away from the shocking danger that we have faced.

Being cheated on changes you in ways that are difficult to articulate.

Your perception of others and yourself changes. The trust you once had for your partner is destroyed and the trust you had in yourself to identify and avoid a situation like this diminishes.

It’s natural to experience insecurity and doubt as well.

But, being cheated on doesn’t automatically end feelings of love toward your partner.

On the contrary, they persist despite being disgusted or horrified by what they have done.

This is what makes infidelity so destructive.

Love and hate should not exist within the same relationship. 

And yet, that is what occurs when someone has been unfaithful in a relationship, especially if deceit and manipulation were involved.

When you are challenged with two interpretations of reality, your entire world feels like it’s being torn apart.

On one hand, you have a vision of your relationship and partner that is linked to the feeling of love. On the other hand, you have a new vision of infidelity and dishonor that is linked to a feeling of disgust or hatred.

The part of you that loves the cheating partner wants to hold on to what used to be, while the part of you that loathes their behavior wants to leave.

Within yourself, a battle ensues over this dichotomy. 

Unfortunately, love cannot persist where trust and respect have been destroyed.

Eventually, most relationships fail after infidelity has taken place.

However, I would be remiss not to mention couples who were able to overcome events of infidelity.

The journey is incredibly difficult but the possibility does exist, not without its fair share of struggles and hard work.

If you would like to read more about a couple’s first-hand experience with infidelity, I strongly recommend that you check out the subreddit on infidelity.

You need to read this article: How to get over being cheated on

Final Thoughts

Cheating is an incredibly selfish act that provides unnecessary pleasure or excitement at the expense of another person.

It is destructive to a relationship and damaging to the people involved.

When we enter a romantic relationship, our goal or intention should always be to give ourselves to it.

Give loyalty, give respect, give honor and give honesty to your partner.

That’s how you cultivate happiness and love in your life.

On the other side of commitment is a level of peace and love that trumps anything that can be offered by infidelity.

Cheating isn’t just a betrayal of your partner or your relationship. 

It’s a betrayal to yourself. 

If you are a person who wants to be good, don’t betray yourself by behaving in this fashion.

It is much better to end a relationship and move on than it is to monkey-branch or cheat.

With that being said, I hope this article provided some much-needed clarity on what is considered cheating in a relationship. If you would like my help, please visit my services page for more information on my email coaching package.

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