Guys and girls are sending flirty texts, friending their exes on Facebook, and getting super close to that girl at work. When does his behavior (and yours) cross the line into not-cool territory? I polled some readers here and man, did you have opinions!
Sad but true: People have always cheated (just take a look at Mad Men or the Bible). But throw in e-mail, text messaging and Facebook, and these days you have a lot more opportunities to cheat, plus even more confusion about what cheating actually is. I wanted to take the mystery out of the equation, asking women to contribute their most intimate cheating stories so readers could vote on what crosses the line. Read on, but don’t be surprised if you end up feeling some old-fashioned moral outrage!
Editors note: Some names have been changed to protect the innocent (and not-so-innocent).
Is it cheating if the relationship isn’t official?
When I was in college, I dated a guy for two years who said he wasn’t comfortable with the boyfriend label. Among friends, I called him my significant other, but when I was with him, I just went with the flow and assumed we were exclusive. He was the first guy I slept with, the first I brought home to my parents, the one I spent every holiday and birthday with. Then he started fooling around with my best friend’s roommate, and a month later they were a couple. I confronted him, and he said he didn’t think we were officially together, so it wasn’t cheating. He also felt justified because she and I weren’t close friends! Everybody knew but me that’s what hurt the most. -Nicole, 22, New York City
This has He’s Just Not That Into You written all over it. I’d never continue dating someone who couldn’t verbally commit to me in the first place. He may have cheated, but she should have confronted him much earlier. -Kimberly, 25, Milwaukee
Is it cheating to go on a pseudo-date?
Once, I was seated next to a handsome stranger on a plane. He’d been bumped from first class, where he usually sat, which is why he was flying coach. Turned out he was a famous agent, owned a fabulous art collection, was smart and funny, and, to top it all off, he was single. (I’d been dating someone for five years.) When we landed, he asked for my number and called me at my hotel that very night, inviting me to a private party for one of my favorite actors. As we worked the room, I pictured the fabulous life I could have with him. I’d be rich and connected. I’d be taken care of, for once (my boyfriend is a musician). But in the end, I felt too guilty to continue the relationship, and stopped returning his calls. -Diana, 32, Los Angeles
It’s not cheating. Believe me, men do this all the time. Sometimes a little flirtation with a stranger helps keep the relationship alive, or makes you realize you should end it. -Krista, 43, Pelham, N.Y.
Is it cheating if you just sleep in the same bed?
“When I was a senior in college, I had a boyfriend of three years, but sometimes my friend Nate would come over and spend the night in my bed. We never hooked up or even really touched; we just talked and fell asleep next to each other. One parents’ weekend, my dad caught us in bed together and asked me if I was going to tell my boyfriend about it. I said no, because I didn’t think it was cheating.”-Jessica, 26, Boston
“I’d say this is cheating only if she was being secretive about it. My wife used to chat on Facebook with her ex-boyfriend and when I walked into the room she would quickly close it or hide the chat. Not cool. My general rule is that if it’s something you would absolutely not be comfortable with your significant other knowing, you’ve crossed some sort of line.”
Is a girl kissing another straight girl cheating?
“I’d been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half when I flew to L.A. to go to a girlfriends bachelorette party. We got dressed up, rented a limo and went out to a bunch of bars. Along the way, we picked up a few guys, who later bought us tons of drinks. As we got more and more drunk, the girls got flirtier with each other, and the guys were egging us on. Before I knew it, I was lip-locked with a girl in the back of the limo, for a while! At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal, but when I saw my boyfriend back in Chicago, I felt really bad. Even though he’d often joked that he found it hot when women made out with each other, I decided not to tell him about the wild night Id had.”-Jennifer, 32, Chicago
“I think the media puts so much focus on how hot it is for girls to kiss, and how much it turns guys on to watch two girls together, that women are now much more curious than they used to be. Add alcohol, peer pressure and the freedom of being in a different town, and mistakes happen. That said, I think she was probably right to keep it to herself. Coming clean would have been more for her benefit than his.”-Jennifer 36, Oregon City, Ore.
Is it cheating to exchange steamy Facebook messages?
“Out with friends one night, I met a cute guy who was wearing a wedding ring. We hit it off, and eventually everyone left the bar except us, and that’s when we admitted our attraction to each other. He said he’d been married less than a year. When we left the bar, I gave him a sad goodbye kiss on the mouth. Four days later he sent me a message on Facebook, and for a week, he sent me beautiful love messages. He said his feelings were too intense to ignore. I broke it off. I knew I couldn’t survive it, emotionally. Then he sent me a CD full of the most stunning songs, which I listened to twice, crying. After that, I put it away and never made contact with him again! -Regina, 32, New York City
“The kiss, sexy talk, messages and music are crossing the line. People like to play the technical game too much when it comes to cheating. It’s all about intention. Being attracted to someone else is natural, but if your intentions with that person mirror the ones for your significant other, you have a problem.”-Tivi Jones, 24, Durham, N.C.
Is it cheating to have a work spouse?
“Whether or not this is technically cheating, she’s playing with fire, especially since they’ve talked about having sex. It’s clear she’s getting some kind of sexual charge out of it. She needs to call her boyfriend and break it off, and then dump the married buddy, too.” -Penny, 26, Mobile, Ala.
Is getting a private dance at a strip club cheating?
“My boyfriend and I have a great, honest and, in my humble opinion, sexually satisfying relationship. Recently when he went to a bachelor party, I joked about him getting lap dances, and he said he wouldn’t. It wasn’t like I forbade him; he said he just wasn’t into that stuff. When he got home, I made a crack about the lap dance and could tell by the look on his face that he’d had one. I was pretty devastated. He didn’t understand why I was so angry, since it was normal bachelor-party behavior. It wasn’t that he got the lap dance (though its not an image I’ve enjoyed having in my head); it’s that he said he wouldn’t, and did it anyway.”-Jenny, 34, Portland, Ore.
“Normally, having another woman on your lap is cheating. But a stripper at a bachelor party is a gray area. He told the truth; if she wants his continued honesty, she’d better get past it.”-Pamela Weiss, 23, Los Angeles
Is it cheating if your boyfriend fools around with his gay best friend?
“Several years ago I was in a long-term relationship. My boyfriend had a close gay friend who was obviously in love with him. One night my boyfriend came home wasted and mentioned, as if it were no big deal, that he’d let his friend go down on him. He said the guy begged him all the time, and that since he was drunk and didn’t really care, he’d let him. He couldn’t believe I was upset! He said he was doing it just to be nice, to throw the dog a bone, and that his former girlfriend had been fine when he’d done it before. We had a huge fight about it. He thought I was being uptight, but promised that he’d never do it again. I forbade him to see his friend, and as far as I know, he only saw him a couple more times while we were together.” -Joy, 28, Las Vegas
“Frankly, I would question if my boyfriend were gay or curious. And getting a blow job from someone who’s not your girlfriend is cheating; gay friend, mother, dog; it’s still cheating.” -Katie, 26, San Francisco
Straight up! If you can’t tell your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife what you did or what you are doing then it’s cheating. In my opinion, of course.