When Does Flirting Become Cheating?
Two sets of strangers open up about where they draw the line between harmless flirting and full-on cheating.
More about this episode
A Conversation on How to Define Cheating
When it comes to relationships, there are various definitions and forms of cheating that couples should be aware of. Physical cheating involves engaging in sexual or intimate activity with someone other than your partner, while an emotional affair involves flirting, texting, calling, and meeting in person without having sex. Typically, men are more likely to physically cheat on their partner compared to women. 20 percent of American men admit they've cheated, while only 13 percent of women say they've been unfaithful.
Despite the numbers, the definition of cheating varies for everyone. Some people consider flirting, liking someone else's social media post, or even watching porn as a form of infidelity. Others are perfectly fine with their partners having sex with someone else, as long as they're not kissing. So, it's important for couples to openly discuss how they define cheating in order to avoid conflict down the road.
Opinions. We all have them, especially when it comes to love and sex. So what happens when two people who've never met get to share their opinions in an open and honest conversation. Maybe they learn something about the other person and maybe they learn something about themselves.
I'm Dr. Judy and this is Well, In My Opinion. Today, we're asking the question, what qualifies as cheating?
What is the definition of not cheating?
Right? It's not doing anything.
I got to think about this window, though, because, uh,you have micro trading where you, let's say you comment on someone's Instagram. Some people…
Okay. The intent of cheating.
There you go. Yeah. So feel like the difference between, you know, cheating and in a full blown affair is… a full-blown affair, you were… I feel like you're more conscious and more blatantly disrespecting the person that you're with.
So in my relationship that I was in…at the seven year mark, we introduced a third. So we were in a like throuple, a polyamorous three relationship.
I haven't heard that one. I know what it is. I didn't think that was a thing.
We made it work for two years, with the third, and what happened though, after we broke up, we find out that the third had actually been cheating on us throughout the whole relationship that we were in. And it's like, well, like, is it considered cheating? Because like, you know, we already were three. Well, yes, because we had had the talk that we were in a closed relationship. Had we had the talk that we were in an open relationship, then maybe it wouldn't be considered cheating.
You know, people tell me all the time, they'd be like, "Oh, you're, you're naturally flirting." And I feel like where it can be disrespectful in a relationship is if your attitude is leading another person on. I feel like if what you're doing is leading another person on and it's getting that person to think like, "Oh, he might be into me. Let me start texting." I feel like that's almost like stirring up issues.
I've actually dated a girl where, when we was together, there were guys in her messages and sometimes she'd give me her phone and she'd be like, "Hey, this guy keeps texting me." And I would text him back pretending to be her. And we'd both be watching what I'm saying and I be like, "Oh yeah, I'm at my boyfriend's house. Um, I can come after though. Or can you pick me up when I'm when I'm getting ready to leave?" And they'll really be like, "Alright, is your boyfriend gonna come out with you?" And like, "No, he's gonna stay in the house." "Okay. I'll pick you up after." And I'll be like... you know what I mean? That's just stirring up issues when you're naturally flirty.
So you can be naturally flirty. That's fine. That's just your demeanor. If you have a demeanor where people see it as just, you're just naturally attractive, you're naturally just kind of engaging in a conversation, that's fine. But there's a fine line when you get to the point where you're starting to lead another person on and think that, yeah you might let them know you're in a relationship, but they might people don't, they really don't give a shit.
They really don't.
"And? And, what does that mean?"
That can happen. I would talk to somebody and then just like in the way that maybe we met that I was kind of flirty or then just like how I kept talking to them after the fact. Yeah. Um, and then they start to feel like I'm actually like into them. It's like, "Well, no, no, no, no, no, calm down." So I always try to be transparent with people, because I don't want people's feelings to get hurt.
When you're talking to someone and you might see, like, you're just naturally flirty, but you're not intentionally flirting with them, but you can tell that person's kind of, you know, getting attracted, do you like when you, when they have to, when they come out to you and like, "Oh, I kind of like your—I think you're cute." And you have to tell them like, "Oh thank you." Do like that attention?
Cause I'm not gonna lie, I'll be the first tone to lie to my girl and say, "No, I did not want her to do that." But deep down, I'm like, that was kinda cool for her to be like, "I know you have a girlfriend, but I think you're really cute." "Oh, thank you. But you know, I'm with this person." But deep down, I'm like, "I wanted you to say that. I just wanted to see if I could, even though I wasn't going to."
Typically men are more likely to physically cheat than women. Twenty percent of men say that they've had physical relations with someone other than their partner. For women, it's only 13 percent.
To the person who was being cheated on, I can tell you that it hurts regardless, whether it's once or 10 times. But a chronic pattern of cheating says something different than a one time. I was just, you know, mad or, you know, my ex came back into town and I thought it would be this or something. It's the chronic thing that says something about a person's character.
I feel like I could understand a partner being attracted to another person because obviously like, how can you, you can't just shut off that part of your brain just because you're in a relationship. However, there's only one me, like my personality. And you say like, if we're dating, you say you love me, and then you go and have an affair... You can fuck anybody. It doesn't take anything to do that. But if you get feelings for this other person, that's completely different. It's like, wow. How could you do that? How, like, how is that even possible?
Very different. Yeah. Yeah. Because then you develop an attachment to a whole 'nother person.
And then brings in a whole nother kind of insecurity. It's like, you can dye your hair, cut your hair, whatever glow up in that way. But it's like, "Oh, you like somebody else? Like how, how am I supposed to fix that about myself?" Because the, your first thought when you get cheated on is, "Oh, there's something wrong with me. And I need to do something to fix this part of me"
It's totally different when you do develop a real relationship. And full blown affairs are relationships, they are. I have a very, very close male friend that I've had for 20 plus years. And I could see my partner being jealous of that because we do have an emotional connection. There's just times when I just, this is the person I need to talk to, not you, but you can have an emotional affair. And I think that would hurt. That would hurt, knowing that your partner won't say the things to you that you've been trying to get them to say, but they'll say them to this other person. They'll talk about their feelings deeply with this other person, but not with you. Why can't you come to me and tell me.
I feel like cheating is never purely a physical thing ever, because the thing is, before you have sex with the person, you cheat in your mind, you know, like you think you undress this person in your mind, you think, "Oh, maybe I kind of do want to sit with them." It always happens in your mind first, before anything physical happens.
So even when people say, "Oh, it was just a spontaneous thing, I was drunk. I was whatever"—you cheated in your mind before you ever put your dick in them, you know? And they were before we ever sat on the dick, whatever, you know, so yeah.
It's definitely something that requires more than just an act. You know, you have to think that way. And then you have to do some actions that are in line with the act.
And you put yourself in positions to do it. You know what I mean? Like say, you know that you're going to be more likely to kind of like get horny or whatever if you're drinking, and you go to a party without your significant other, you know what you're doing.
Yeah, you know what you're doing, come on. You know what you're doing. It's just, I just think that that's why it hurts so bad for the other person, because there's no scenario where you can say, "Well, I just, it just happened."
It never just happened.
No, there was something that drew you to that person. There was something that made you decide you wanted to do this act and that's emotional, or whether that's emotional or physical. And that's why it hurt so much to the person who's, you know, being left out or being cheated on.
The age old question of what qualifies as cheating; everyone's definition is different. Some people think that emotional cheating is cheating. Liking somebody's picture with a bikini is cheating on social media. The physical acts are cheating, but is it kissing or is it actual sex? And sometimes people think that if your partner is watching porn and not tell you about it, that's cheating. The most important thing is that you communicate to each other, what cheating means to your partner and that you respect those boundaries.
I'm Dr. Judy and this has been Well, In My Opinion.