Random question: What is infidelity?

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A couple of weeks ago a was chatting to a friend of mine about infidelity.  I’m not certain how it came up really, but this friend and I often end up in some pretty deep philosophical discussion. I think we were talking about break ups in general and then somehow we came to cheating and what that actually means.

Where does the cheating actually start? Is it when you start thinking about someone other than your chosen partner? When you start flirting together? The first time you kiss? Or is the line sex?

It seems I might have a pretty “relaxed” view on cheating, most probably due to the fact that I have never been cheated on, nor have I cheated. Having not suffered as a result of infidelity I tend to take quite a clinical approach to the definition.

I, like pretty much the rest of the world, draw a hard line at sex and other sexual activity. I don’t care if the other person didn’t mean anything. We all know that lust is more likely to be the trigger of infidelity than love. I don’t care if it was only oral sex, or if you had your clothes on or if it wasn’t in missionary. It’s sex with someone who is not your partner, so unless you have a specific agreement, it’s all cheating and therefore it’s all wrong.

Kissing is also a definite line, although I have to admit that, for now, that line seems to be just slightly lighter. It’s a definite betrayal, and I’m sure that if this kiss came to be I’d be devastated. But for some reason, I can kind of see how an “accidental” kiss can happen. You know the story: guy and girl having a drink at a work conference or something. They’re having fun and enjoying each other’s company, they’re drunk and flirty, they look into each others eyes… By no means am I excusing the kiss – it’s NOT okay. Ever.

Flirting can be quite innocent – it’s often opportunistic and can just be a bit of fun. However beware if you’re emotionally available and attracted to the other person – flirting could be the start of something bigger. It’s when the flirting continues, and morphs into a relationship that the line starts to get fuzzy. The relationship could still be innocent, right? We all need friends and confidantes. But is it okay to confide about your marital issues to someone you’re attracted to? Maybe. Maybe not. What about if you start to lie to your partner about seeing that person, or you start to hide the evidence? I’ll give some points to the offender(s) for having the self control not to take it to the next level. However even if there is no physical contact, it’s a slippery slope to betrayal.

The physical stuff is pretty easy – lines drawn. It’s the non-physical stuff that is harder – flirting, flirty texts and emails, internet relationships. These activities don’t fall into your traditional definitions of cheating, and although at this stage I’m putting them in the not cheating pile, they may not entirely be free of fault. Depending on circumstance and emotional state these actions may mean more trouble than physical adultery. It’s when love can form.

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