Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful is heartbreaking. After all, few enter into long-term relationships expecting their trust to be broken. So when an affair comes to light, whether purely physical or emotional, your relationship is hanging on a thread. You’re suddenly hit with a whirlwind of feelings and the harrowing decision of whether or not to move forward.

But even the most careful cheaters leave trails and eventually get caught in their web of lies. The problem is that only in hindsight do you realize the signals were there all along, they just completely went over your head. So recently, one Redditor decided to learn more about people’s experiences and the ways deceit makes love crumble to pieces. They reached out to the Ask Reddit community with a question: "Where does cheating in a relationship start for you?"

People immediately jumped to the comment section to share what infidelity means to them, as well as some of the subtle signs our partners may be going astray. We’ve gone through the thread and gathered some of the most illuminating responses to share with you, so continue scrolling and upvote the ones you agree with most. Below, you'll also find in-depth interviews with the author of this post and relationship expert Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. And if you know any other indications of infidelity in a relationship, be sure to share them with us in the comments.

Psst! After you’re done reading this post, check out our earlier piece filled with wild and infuriating stories from people who accidentally caught their partners cheating.

#1

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Withdrawing emotionally from your partner and offering that energy to someone else. Cheating doesn't have to be kissing or f*****g.

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D3mian
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4 months ago

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#2

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) If you would be unwilling to tell your partner about an interaction, then it's probably time to start thinking about what you're doing.

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General Anaesthesia
Community Member
4 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Depending on the 'interaction', it might be time to think about what your present relationship is doing to you.

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We managed to get in touch with the Redditor who sparked this discussion, and they were kind enough to chat with us about their post and cheating in relationships in general. The user told us they posted this question as a way to cope with a breakup they’re currently trying to get over. "My girlfriend of 3 years overstepped some boundaries a couple of times which meant I had to leave her since the trust was broken," they told Bored Panda. "Also, I wanted to know what other people's boundaries in relationships are because I was uncertain if mine are actually reasonable."

The Redditor explained they did not expect their post to blow up as much as it did. In just over a week, the thread has amassed over 3k comments, proving the question deeply resonated with many members of the community. "The topic of infidelity is tied to strong emotion and a lot of people have had their own experiences that certainly came with a lot of pain," the user guessed the reason for such engagement.

#3

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) I'd say, having romantic feelings for someone else and following through on those feelings with the other person.

Crushes, fantasies, and whatnot happen all the time for pretty much everyone. The difference between cheating and being human is what you do with those feelings.

It's all about intent and actions. Just having feelings is only natural.

zazzlekdazzle , Ekaterina Nt Report

Ladytron
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yes. It's human to feel attracted to other people and have crushes. It's a part of life. It's unrealistic to never look at another human being and have desires (in long term relationships.). But you never act on it if you want to respect your partner (in monogamy relationships). You choose your partner and it's an active choice.

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#4

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) If you would be upset if your partner did it to you, it's cheating.

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Falcon
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is a little strange wording. A lot of things can make you "upset" that has nothing to do with cheating. Cheating is if you break your trust to the other person by doing something with somebody else.

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#5

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) I think the two basic litmus tests are

Would you tell them/do it in front of them?

Would you be okay with it if they did the same thing?

If the answer is yes to both, it’s probably fine. If it’s no to either, then at minimum you’re on dangerous ground

audigex , cottonbro Report

Lady Goldberry
Community Member
4 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"I make a zillion dollars an hour from my laptop, working from home! I found out about this activity just last week and am already a zillionaire! This is what I do: www.bpstopthebots.com"

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"I am really grateful for all the responses because I learned that there are a lot of people who think like me and share my values. It also taught me to be more open to different ideas. In the past, I was pretty suspicious of open relationships, for example. But at the end of the day, if it works for others and makes their life more bearable, who am I to judge?"

The author of this thread believes that people cheat because they are missing something in the relationship. "They might communicate poorly with their partner. Or it might even be something within themselves that their partner was never able to give them in the first place," they told us. "They lack self-awareness or lie to themselves and make one bad decision after the other leading them down the wrong path."

#6

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Honestly it's about intentions more than anything. If my SO started pursuing someone romantically that's cheating - doesn't matter if it's lovey dovey texting or f*****g. If my SO was at a party and a drunk person kissed him suddenly against his wishes, that's not cheating.

At the end of the day it comes down to them wanting to be with another person and they aren't being honest about it. The polite thing to do, even though it's painful and hard and sad, is to break up. Breaking up is never s**ttier than cheating.

NowHeres_HumanMusic , Dương Hữu Report

Liv
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Say it louder for the ones in the back: Breaking up is never shittier than cheating. First communicate, agree on the relationship values and "rules". If an agreement is not achieved, or there are 'misunderstandings', communicate some more - and if you can't both be happy with what the other requires in a relationship with you, please break up (never cheat). Let the other be free, and feel respected.

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#7

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Lies. It always starts with lies. Be it texts or snaps, if one of us have to lie or hide, it's wrong and should not happen.

notyourusuallady , Jonas Leupe Report

DennyS (denzoren)
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Don't lie, then you have to remember that lie the next time you're asked about it and so on and so forth. Make it easier for yourself, don't lie. (I'm only talking about relationships in other situations you can lie your butt off lol)

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#8

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) If you wouldn't want your partner to know, it's cheating.

I wouldn't flirt with someone else in front of my partner, so I don't flirt with people when he's not around either.

kellogg888 , cottonbro Report

Lady Goldberry
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yes, exactly. My partner and I will flirt with others sometimes, but we are both cool with it. If either of you aren't, then stop.

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To get to the bottom of this question, we reached out to Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., Ph.D., a psychology professor at Monmouth University, relationship expert, and author of Stronger Than You Think: The 10 Blind Spots That Undermine Your Relationship…and How to See Past Them. "According to research, the most common signs of cheating include growing apathy toward the relationship, spending time with a rival, and changes in routine. Importantly, though these are signs of potential cheating, seeing these doesn’t mean cheating is automatically happening," he explained.

#9

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) The sneaking around.

The second you start plotting to do something behind my back. You're violating the trust of the relationship.

Warkitz , MART PRODUCTION Report

#10

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) My ex kept telling me I'd ruin our relationship if I met his friends (both girls, both exes). He also said I wasn't entitled to meet his friends (we've been dating for 5 months and he said he wanted to live with me someday). Basically I started getting uncomfortable about his relationship to these women and he would tell me I was accusing him anytime I asked anything about them. Literally anything. I don't know if he was doing something physical or actively in a romantic relationship with them, or just felt his friendships were a bit flirty or inappropriate and didn't want me to know but... not worth putting up with it.

SunflowerShakes , quokkabottles Report

#11

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) When any sort of romantic investment in another person starts occurring. If my partner was texting someone and saying they loved them in a romantic way that would be enough to end things. Because at that point, they have made up their mind and have stated their intentions.

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Noticing new suspicious behaviors in our partners can immediately sound the alarm that things just don’t add up anymore. Sure, they may have alternate explanations, but you can’t help but listen to what your gut is telling you. Then, you need to be sure your concerns are valid before jumping to conclusions and deciding what to do next. Usually, that can be done by getting confirmation from your partner, the person they’re cheating with, or simply finding cold, hard proof.

The Redditor told us that being cheated on is one of the biggest fears most people have in a relationship. "If your partner cheats, that immediately plunges everything into uncertainty. You cannot comprehend why the person you trusted the most could do such a thing," they told us. "The future you imagined vanishes and whatever you do, you will not get satisfying answers as to why that happened. You might even question your own self-worth or become distrustful of others."

#12

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Watching an episode of a series we’re watching together on Netflix without me.

Strongbad23 , Mollie Sivaram Report

#13

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) If the text messages need to be deleted, it’s cheating.

Roxas--13 , Chris Yang Report

DennyS (denzoren)
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I delete text messages but that's more of a organizational thing.

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#14

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) In the lying. If you want to f**k someone else, tell me. Maybe we can come to an understanding or maybe we can't, but the strongest relationships I've ever had were the ones where one of us would see a hottie (of either gender) walk by, and the other would nudge so we both could appreciate that s**t.

I once was in a relationship where we had an agreement that if my girlfriend (who was very bi) needed sex that didn't involve a penis, she had the green light to go and get it. I acknowledged that there are factors in that kind of sex I can't replicate so that was totally fair. I never suffered from it, and she seemed happier for it.

NomenNescio13 , Jonas Weckschmied Report

DennyS (denzoren)
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Just make sure to keep it safe, get tested etc etc. Other than that, kudos to your communication between each other.

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But when most of us think of our loved ones having an affair with someone else, we often envision forms of physical intimacy. However, that’s not always the case. "It’s also possible to engage in emotional infidelity where a person forms a deep emotional connection with someone other than their partner," relationship expert Lewandowski said.

"With emotional infidelity, a partner starts to spend quality time with someone, share more substantial feelings (their insecurities, dreams and aspirations), they may share secrets, or simply just seek out this other person to share things with before they even share with their partner. Though not everyone considers these behaviors by themselves cheating, they are certainly 'gateway behaviors' that make physical cheating more likely," he continued.

#15

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) If there’s a grey area, it’s cheating. If you know they will be upset, it’s cheating. If you have to hide it/lie/omit details. It’s cheating.

SufficientBug5598 , Anthony Tran Report

Maureen Stemmle
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

please be aware that these standards may not be applicable in an abusive or controlling environment as well.

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#16

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) The intent.


For me, an ex of mine that would later cheat on me started a tinder profile in which she claimed she "just wanted to find friends" and she certainly found quite a few of them. Obviously, she didn't just want friends.


It could be as small as reaching out to an ex to say happy birthday, but most people have the intent to do something well before it is executed.

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Bart
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I get what you mean with intent, but wishing a ex happy birthday has nothing to do with cheating imo, more like serious trust issues...

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#17

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Well I count emotional affairs as cheating, but this can be difficult to define. Because I want my partner to be able to have good, supportive, close friendships with other people. I just don't want them to replace me, or for him to be closer to them as he is to me. And I don't want it to cross obvious boundaries (physical intimacy).

I generally walk the line of if something bothers me I talk to him about it. Afterwards if it still doesn't feel right and I'm not happy then I would need to make a decision.

pixelunicorns , cottonbro Report

"When it comes to your own behaviors (physical or emotional), you don’t get to decide whether you’re cheating or not…your partner does. So while you may think your behavior is completely innocent (e.g., flirting), if your partner isn’t comfortable with it, they could consider it cheating," he told us.

According to Lewandowski, signs of emotional infidelity include reluctance to discuss someone, emotional disengagement, being inconsiderate, and avoidance. "You may also notice more signs of dissatisfaction, guilt, anxiety, anger, and criticism from your partner."

#18

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Cheating occurs when boundaries have been broken. What those boundaries are, is going to differ between relationships.

However, cheating (or not respecting boundaries) is a symptom of a much larger, fundamental problem with the relationship. That problem is usually a breakdown of communication, but could be (but not exclusively) intimacy issues, abuse (mental, physical and/or sexual), mental health of one or more in the relationship. To put it more plainly, people in fulfilling, well functioning, stable relationships don't cheat.

deja_geek , Timur Weber Report

Brandon Marlowe
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Although I understand the logic behind this one and it may be the case some of the time, there are exceptions. Some people can't be satisfied with a "fulfilling, well functioning, stable relationship". They are going to cheat anyway because that's what they do. It's not always a symptom of an inadequate relationship.

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#19

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) When you’re hiding the nature of a “friendship” from your partner and the rest of the social circle because it’s becoming slightly more than a friendship and you aren’t shutting it down, you’re hiding an affair.

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Isaac Harvey
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

***THIS COMMENT IS A JOKE*** I’m paid millions each year by simply reading the news, writing on sheets of paper and sitting around talking all day. Check out my website for more information: www.americanpoliticsarestupid.com

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#20

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) First tier would be texting another dude in a non-platonic way.

Second tier would be actually hanging out with this person behind my back and lying about where you were.

Third tier is any kind of non-platonic physical contact, holding hands to f*****g, it's all the same to me.

Edit: lots of replies about holding hands: yes is very PG rated, but you don't hold hands with someone you don't have feelings for. You don't hold hands with someone you're not emotionally invested in. You can f**k someone and not be emotionally invested in them. To me holding hands is almost worse but in a different way.

groovy604 , Janosch Diggelmann Report

New Nemo
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Holding hands is wanting to be close to someone. You don't have to be emotionally invested to sleep with someone

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The suspicion that you’ve been cheated on is a terrible feeling that can make it feel like your whole world is quickly turning upside down. If you’re unsure how to ease your worries, Lewandowski explained that it all comes down to communication, like with all relationship problems. "In a non-accusatory way, explain to your partner how you feel. Remember, most people don’t cheat in their relationship, so odds are that your partner isn’t being unfaithful. With that in mind, you can also focus on strengthening aspects of your relationship (e.g., spend more time together doing new and exciting activities) to help you feel more confident about the state of your relationship," he concluded.

#21

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) I am aware my opinion is going to be in the minority.

Pretty much physical stuff is the only thing I consider cheating. She can flirt with guys, hell even have an only fans and I wouldnt care, but if she lets someone fondle her boobs or kiss her thats crossing a line for me.

GreenWammingo , Candice Picard Report

Sonja
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I don't see a problem here. Everyone has the line somewhere else. What suits one, doesn't have to suit to the others.

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#22

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) This is solely dictated by the boundaries that you and your partner set in your specific relationship. Best way to avoid this kind of trouble is to have healthy communication between each other and setting these boundaries early. If you come to a disagreement, either manage a compromise or find someone else who’s boundaries match your own.

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#23

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Personally, I don't mind flirting in public with a stranger if it's fully understood that it's not going anywhere and contact information isn't exchanged. Emotional cheating is a precursor to physical cheating a represents a need for couple's therapy. My wife of 10 years physically cheated on me with someone she had known for 2 weeks. I wanted to go to therapy and fix things given we had 2 kids. She didn't. She regretted it later when things approached divorce, but it was too late. I had begun to move on and why would I want to be with someone who didn't choose me?

TeaMasterSen , Kelly Sikkema Report

#24

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) As cheesy as it sounds, it starts with your motive, intention, and conscience. I think there's a clear cut difference between physical cheating and mental/emotional cheating, but it all relates to your honest motive, intention, and conscience.

For exampple, there isn't anything inherently wrong with texting with another person if you are married or dating, but if you know in your heart that you are texting or engaging in conversation that makes you feel guilty or it would make your partner upset, you may be doing something wrong, even if you technically did not cheat. If at any point you are justifying your actions or defending your actions/feelings/thoughts from a technical perspective, you may be at the start of doing something wrong.

orange_cuse , Anh Nguyen Report

#25

As long as you keep it in your mind, just fantazising about someone else, you're in the clear as far as I'm concerned. Sexting and surroundings, such as flirting, are considered a less serious degree of cheating and I may be willing to forgive it, depending on circumstances. From the actual kiss onwards you're in the breaking up zone in case I find out, as far as I'm concerned. For this there's no forgiveness by any means, never.

ZethrasGorgoth Report

Elliot Fowler
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I like your entry the most. It shows levels of cheating and the willingness to work things out. But when a certain line is crossed the relationship is over with not compromise or forgiveness.

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#26

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) First step of cheating to me is dishonesty, lying and hiding stuff from your S/O is a red flag.

qwerrty20120 , Baptista Ime James Report

#27

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) For me it was: i’m going few days vacation with my male friend. We will stay in the same hotel room but sleep in a different beds.

I told her I am not comfortable with this, but she went any way.

LeftChoux , Engin Akyurt Report

Lady Goldberry
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I did this in 2019, had a pre-christmas long weekend with my dear friend Matteo in London. We went for dinner in romantic places, took long walks, shopped...and when we went back to hotel, we shared a bed. Nothing happened. Maybe because Matteo is as gay as the day is long.

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#28

the second your partner gives in to the temptation of wondering if the grass is greener. as soon it’s acted on the flood gates are open. if you can’t take being approached in public by a stranger asking for your number with the intent to go out then that sums up your current relationship.

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#29

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) I think there's emotional and physical cheating

Emotional Openly flirting, nudes etc

Physical kissing onwards

__Piggy__Smalls__ , mikoto.raw Photographer Report

Lady Goldberry
Community Member
4 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Poll: Do nudes count as physical cheating? Not in the sense that you have been physically initiate with someone, but in the sense that the nudes could count as an invitation and you are sharing images of yourself which should be for your partners eyes, unless you've agreed otherwise? I would say yes, nudes are physically cheating...

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#30

People Claim These Things Can Be Considered Cheating (30 Posts) Cheating starts at lying, even by omission. I am okay with private conversations, meeting people she wants to meet, going away on business trips or going out and coming back late at night. But lying to me about it or about what happened? Or simply not telling me something I don't want to hear ? That's cheating.

So:

* "I will go out tonight, to see people you don't know and talk about things you don't care about": we are in the clear, it is fine.
* "I saw X and Y last night at their place": if I know for sure that it is not true, then there is some cheating involved.

It only works if you are not a creep, or even jealous. There needs to be mutual trust and respect. When trust and respect are gone, the relationship is gone too.

pleasedontPM , Emma Bauso Report

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