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What is cheating? (What are your definitions for the word?)
No, I'm not talking about cheating on your diet.
In this day and age, people have different definitons of cheating, the same as we have different ways of defining our relationships with people. Some people believe that swinging or open relationships are the things that keep the spark in the love lives of the ones they're committed to. So what would they define as cheating? Would they take their committed lovers going behind their backs with another person they don't know about as cheating? Would they consider an intimate conversation with another person as crossing a major line? Or are they fine with their lovers having sex with other people just so long as they come back home to them?
We all have different thresholds of pain, just as we have our limits of the things we'll allow to go on in our relationships before we call a time out or even more, call the whole thing off. However, a lot of the old values stick, as well as adding on a few new ones.
The oldest most common form that the majority will rule as cheating is physical cheating: kissing, sex, and oral sex. Although this used to be the norm, there are those couples that consider oral sex to not be a big deal, but would say that finding out their significant other kissed another person would be a deal breaker. Kissing on the lips, whether you use tongue or no tongue, is one of those things that, when defined by some people is either a big deal or nothing big at all. I know a lot of people that will want to have sex with someone, but will refuse to kiss them in the mouth. Not even a peck on the lips. Kissing is a bigger deal to them than sex, but that doesn't say they wouldn't consider it cheating.
Here is another oldie, but goodie: Flirting. The other "f" word, if you will. Flirting is one of those things that someone can do right in front of their partner and either cause a fight to erupt between the two, or even more, a break up. Some people use flirting as a tool to make the other person jealous, while some will see flirting is one of the ways to ultimately disrespect a relationship. What if your partner has a naturally flirtatious way about them? Either they will have enough respect for you to either tone it down or not do it altogether, you're going to ignore it, or you're not going to be together. Some people consider flirting as a means of foreplay, and whether you know it or not, our brains are one of our biggest erogenous zones. Flirting is giving a sexual hint to the other person that there could be more to come, that they possibly have a chance of intimacy. That's one of the reasons why it's so dangerous.
Some of the newer forms of cheating is all about the fantasy, the chase, the reality that exists only in our heads: phone sex, cybersex, porn, and sexting. This is when it goes beyond flirting, but it's connecting with someone else on a whole other level. This is when secrets get spilled and parts of us are revealed that sometimes no one has uncovered and even we may not have discovered these parts of ourselves until we express it in some of these forms. Some people can't even bring themselves to have phone sex, cybersex or sexually text the person they're with because it goes beyond their realm of imagination, but for others it could create a life for us that's even better than the ones we live day in and day out. While some people consider porn as harmless, there are others who consider that sort of extracurricular oogling as a betrayal on another level. Simply imaging that their partner is thinking of someone else, no matter how they look, is enough to make them snap or pull the plug on what they have between them. Many wives going through divorces cite pornography as the mistress that caused the wedge in their marriage; it's the reason some people can't stand the sight of their spouses or the person they were with. Engaging in these things with other people can also lead to your heart going astray, followed by your genitals, especially if it's something that you crave in your relationship that you're getting from these mediums and your love isn't willing or you can't bring yourself to ask them.
Last, but definitely not least (especially not to me), is emotional cheating. The ones above are the psychological and physical cheating, but emotional cheating is when the other person has made their way into your significant other's heart. The reason this hurts the most is because the person has shared with this outsider something precious and private, something that's meant to be secret between the both of you. When someone has wormed their way into the person you love's heart, you feel violated because when you connected when the person you were with there are some things you believed were sacred. If the person you're with is treating another with most or all of the same benefits that you receive, that only you should be entitled to, a promise has been broken and it no longer feels like a commitment. Loyalty is no longer there and neither is that feeling of safety and true love.
Intimacy is such a delicate attachment, and it is as beautiful as you allow it to be. Cheating will destroy it, and if it doesn't get destroyed it will definitely change the dynamic between the two people involved forever. If you truly value what you have with your partner, you will take their emotions, their physical selves, and everything else about them into account before you hurt them, or at the very least, alter what you share forever.