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33: Cheating

cheatingToday, we’re talking about cheating.

Specifically, the reader submitted question – If your partner was to fulfill a fantasy with someone other than you — but did not have intercourse while doing so — would you consider it cheating?

Show notes and links:
Expectations in Relationships: The Flip Side of Obligations (Psychology Today)

Infidelity and Emotional Sex: How to Tell if You’re Chatting or Cheating (Huffington Post)

Apparently, You Can Cheat on Your Boyfriend Without Having Sex With Someone Else. Say Hello to “Emotional Cheating.” It’s a Thing. (Glamour)


Full episode text

Now here’s a sticky subject – and probably not even for the reasons you’re thinking.

Everyone from Glamour magazine to WebMD has an opinion about “emotional infidelity,” with headlines ranging from “Emotional Infidelity: Are You Guilty?” to “Apparently, You Can Cheat on Your Boyfriend Without Having Sex With Someone Else. Say Hello to ‘Emotional Cheating.’ It’s a Thing.”

Yet in reality, this question touches on something much, much deeper – expectations. There are the socially constructed and assumed agreements of a relationship – that your partner is sexually exclusive, intercourse is cheating, fantasy fulfillment may as well be cheating, and even your expectation of a partnership.

The fact is that we all have expectations, and in some way, shape, or form, we are likely to hold others we meet to some kind of obligation based on our expectations. What exactly you consider an obligation or an expectation – for everything up to and including sex – is the kind of thing that partners are generally better off having discussed.

But expectations aren’t always discussed, and aren’t always even known before that line is crossed. So in this situation, where there is a question about exactly what is cheating, it’s intriguing to see some of the responses. For example,

“To be honest even if he had protected intercourse, but we discussed it before hand I would be fine. I know we may not always be 100% sexually compatible and may have various kinks the other does not have. At the end of the day he is marrying me and casual pre negotiated sex isn’t an issue.”

To a second comment,

“Is it a fantasy both partners have?  If yes, then it is cheating…”

Yet this third comment takes a different tack…

“If they had a fantasy that I couldn’t fulfill and/or didn’t include me, I’d find a new partner.”