What is Cheating?

I once got an email from a woman who stated that cheating only involved a man putting his sexual organ into a woman other than his girlfriend or his wife. That in essence a guy could do anything else he wanted - including hanging out naked in a hottub with another woman and kissing and hugging her - but that as long as he didn't have actual intercourse with her, he wasn't cheating.

That is, of course, quite wrong, and I've yet to find another woman or man who would agree with that definition. Because cheating is not about Person X putting Item A in Slot B of Person Y. Cheating is about betraying trust, and about not honoring the commitment that two people have made to each other. The commitment made between boyfriend and girlfriend, between husband and wife, between two partners, is a commitment to honor each other - to be fully trustworthy - to be honest and true. This is a commitment about how you treat each other, and how you respect each other.

A boyfriend and girlfriend should always have each other as the most important person in their world. That is, when they make normal decisions about life, upholding that relationship should always be the first concern. There are always temptations in the world. That is normal. There is always someone smarter or sexier or richer or whatever out there. But when you have made a commitment to a person, your duty is to avoid those temptations. A guy can look at another girl and think, "Wow, she's pretty". That's normal. But to think "Wow, I have to get to know that pretty girl, my girlfriend will never find out" and act on that thought is a betrayal. The guy is now spending his time, his energies and efforts on another girl - not his girlfriend.

One questioner wrote me and said that her boyfriend was constantly taking out a female "friend" of his to lunch, to dinner, staying up late with her, telling all his feelings to her. The boyfriend claimed he wasn't cheating because he hadn't actually done sexual things with her. But many boyfriend-girlfriend couples don't do sexual things either! Sex is NOT a determination of cheating. PRIORITY is. And this boyfriend had made his female friend his priority in his life - constantly abandoning his girlfriend so he could be with his female friend. He had in essence turned his girlfriend into a roommate - and turned his female friend into his "real girlfriend".

Sometimes the cheating person justifies their behavior to themselves. A cheating guy might say, "I want to protect my girlfriend from this knowledge. It would just hurt her. If I broke up with her, it'd hurt her too much too." But the guy is being egotistical. He is thinking she would rather live a lie, with a guy who obviously doesn't care for her fully, and only get a *part* of his love, rather than find a new boyfriend that really did honor, respect, love and trust her 100%. So her two choices are:

* Have a lying, cheating guy that only gives her some love
* Start new with an honorable, trustworthy, caring guy who gives her 100% of his time, love and affection

What do you think she would choose? What would MOST women or men choose? But not only is she stuck with the bad option, she isn't even given the OPPORTUNITY to choose because her boyfriend is lying to her about the state of her options. She doesn't even know she's being taken advantage of.

The result is of course that she usually finds out on her own, and she is DEVASTATED that she could have trusted and relied on someone for so long who was unworthy of that trust. The woman is often damaged for months, if not years, because she now can't trust any other guy either. She figures all other guys are equally capable of lying and betraying her.

The end result is that cheating always harms someone. It is a selfish desire on the part of the cheater to have what they want without facing the consequences. But one of the keys to life is that you need to take responsibility for your actions, and "face the music". And that making others suffer because you cannot do this is childish. If your relatonship is not fully based on trust and honesty, it is not a relationship that should be maintained. Find a way to break the relationship off cleanly, and then begin again, with trust, honesty and best friendship at the base. That is the only way to have a relationship - and a life - that you can be happy with and proud of.

Quiz: Is This Really Love?

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