11 People Define What They Consider Cheating, & They're OK With A Lot More Than You Think

I have several friends in very happy, exclusive relationships. They love their partners and make beautiful pairs, but each couple has varying relationship dynamics, so they tolerate different things when it comes to their partner’s interactions with other people. Some of my friends don't like their partners ~talking to~ any other people, period. Others are OK with them texting other potential matches in a friendly way, and some draw the line at one-on-one meetings with others. That’s because they all define "cheating" differently, and worry that flirty interactions may present opportunities to cheat. Because really, what do people consider cheating? Does something like texting count as cheating, or does it become infidelity when you cross into physical territory?

Taking social media into account makes things even more complicated. For example, I know people who hate it when their partners follow their exes on Instagram, and get into serious arguments if they ever like or comment on any photos of people who aren’t them. But I also know people who don’t think of that as too big of a deal, and instead, only get angry if their partners slide into their DMs or start texting others. It really seems like the definition of “cheating” varies from person to person, and couple to couple.

Like this one time, in college, when I was at a party and I saw a classmate openly making out with a rando in a corner. NBD, it’s college, whatever. But that girl was one of my Facebook friends, and she absolutely had a boyfriend at the time who, alas, was not the rando in the corner. I mean, far be it from me to pry into somebody’s personal life (especially someone who I’m not actually friends with), but pry I did, and after some sleuthing, I discovered that this girl and her boyfriend had an open relationship, so she was technically in the clear. Not cheating! But for any other couple who was totally exclusive, would an interaction like that call for immediate relationship termination?

To garner more insight into what people really consider cheating, I turned to Reddit. Here are some of the juiciest tidbits I picked up.

A lot of people think any physical, sexual contact with someone else is cheating.
I personally think that's something for partners to discuss and set boundaries with uniquely to their relationship. Personally, I consider actual physical contact or discussion of physical contact in a sexual way cheating.


Having sex, oral sex or kissing another person. I also consider it cheating if you are forming a romantic relationship with someone even if you're not having sex.


If theres kissing, grouping or things going into holes then its cheating.
Id aslo say flirting is cheating. But thats iffy since to me i think very light flirting can be harmless


For me, the line is drawn when the offending decides to act upon some sort of conscious sexual or romantic feeling towards someone else. I understand that sexuality and emotional response are just basic biology, so it's the intent to act that constitutes cheating for me.


Some think anything that's considered "hiding" or sketchy behavior constitutes cheating. (Yes, even thoughts.)
If you have to hide a conversation on a phone, or lie about meeting up with someone then you've crossed the line. There are exceptions to this but that's my general rule.


If it's something you wouldn't do if your SO had been in the room then you shouldn't do it.


If what you do (no matter what) with another person draws you back from your SO, it is cheating. Even thinking about another person. Everything can be fully platonic and still be considered cheating if it lowers your feelings towards your SO.


And for others, catching emotions for someone else hurts even more than actual physical contact.
Emotional cheating. Doesn't matter if no sex, kissing, heck even touching happened. If my SO starts getting attracted with someone on an emotional and intellectual level... yeah drawing the line there


If my girlfriend had romantic feelings for another guy, that would hurt a lot. I don't think it would hurt at all if she just had sex with someone, though. I'd be shocked, but not hurt.


Falling in love or having a crush on some other girl would hurt me a lot more than finding out my boyfriend f***** another girl. It would hurt really really bad


Anything on an emotional level beyond friendship. I have told my Girlfriend (who is bi) that she can have sex with a girl because i cannot give her that experience. However, if it develops into a relationship, we're done. Up to her if she thinks she can control her emotions after being with a person like that. I know i couldn't.


Clearly, everyone defines cheating differently, but it's really interesting to see what sort of things people tolerate. Even sex with someone else! In my opinion, trust is key here, and if you have any reason to believe that your partner may be stepping out on you, it should be OK to ask them straight-up. And if they do things with other people that bother you or make you uncomfortable, consider talking to them about it calmly so that there are no ifs, ands, or buts.

Being aware of your own boundaries is super important, and communicating them with your partner can help make sure everyone is on the same page.

I'm not an expert, but I do think one thing's for sure: It's important that you do what works best for you and your relationship. No one can tell you what to do, because no one knows what your relationship is truly like on the inside except you and your partner. But I do think boundaries are important, and setting them early on can help avoid uncertainty in the future, so that you never have to ask yourself what is or isn't OK. Communication, y'all! It works!

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