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How Do You Know If It’s Cheating?

The world of social media has drastically changed how we interact in relationships. There are more opportunities to build connections with folks far and wide, which is generally a great thing. But, what happens when that behavior crossed the line. How do you even know if it’s crossed a line? How do you know if the behavior is cheating?

Surprise! There’s no universal line to cross (or not cross)

When it comes to relationships, much of the dissatisifcation that we encounter is often due to unexplored expectations. It’s dangerous territory for maintaining intimacy.

We all come to relationships with a set of values and experiences that shape us. Beliefs about relationship boundaries and needs are passed down from the models in our lives. This could be from parents or other family members, friends, and even references in TV and movies. We learn how to relate to other people by relating to those closest to us, and watching how they relate to others. We learn about intimate relationships largely during our youth by watching the adults in our lives and how they interact with one another. The tricky part is, we all have very different experiences in those early family environments.

Even if we come from the same group (such as a cultural group) these messages can differ by family or local community. Given that, everyone has different lines on what’s acceptable in a relationship or not.

And when it comes to what constitutes cheating, the lines may be more blurred than you might think.

Internet culture has changed how we view cheating

Now not only do we enter relationships with different belief systems (as we always have) but we also enter relationships in an era where connectivity online is almost ubiquitous. This means we all have differing views on what our boundaries online might look like.

In years past, the lines of cheating may have been a bit simpler. Now we must consider how our behavior online might fall within, or outside of, the boundaries of our relationship. Sure, having sex with another person (while in a monogamous relationship) is a definable line in the sand. What about those random thirst follows on Instagram? Does it matter if the person is a public figure versus a “normal” person? Do friendly DMs cross the line?

What about grabbing coffee with a coworker alone?

Boundaries start with a conversation… or many…

Defining boundaries in a relationship is an intentional conversation between partners. Sure, you won’t be able to imagine any and all situations in which your boundaries might be crossed, but it’s important to get ahead of the lines around cheating before any problems arise.

It’s important to have these conversations with your partner with compassion and understanding. This can be especially hard when you’ve been hurt in the past or experienced cheating before. However, it’s important to remember (as I mentioned earlier) that everyone has different beliefs and values about their relationship boundaries. Given that, it’s important to approach this conversation with an open mind and an intent to collaborate on defining the boundaries for your new relationship. Relationship boundaries are a negotiation and no partner should be left feeling controlled or manipulated.

And one conversation may not do it. It’s OK if the conversation about boundaries takes place over the course of many conversations. Boundaries these days can be a moving target, especially as technology evolves and many more people explore different relationship structures.

It’s about finding what works for you & your partner(s)

Defining a relationship inherently defines what constitutes cheating. It’s always health to talk about your desires and concerns transparently. Ultimately, doing so will give you the ability to create the kind of relationship (with its boundaries) that feels right for you and your partner(s).

Author: Jor-El

Jor-El is Co-founder of Viva Wellness and a foodie and film buff. He most often writes about mental health, relationships, food and mindfulness. When he’s not busy working, he typically can be found lounging or walking around NYC with his pup Nomi.

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