I have read and heard all kinds of comments about what constitutes cheating or, as it is called by some, infidelity. As someone with an open relationship, I regard myself as being impartial enough to make an unbiased and rational judgment about such things. I am not affected by the definitions of cheating and other forms of betrayal unique to monogamous relationships. Others might differ with me on these definitions, but I will respectfully disagree with them.

As far as I am concerned, cheating consists of a physical and/or romantic involvement with someone other than one’s partner, in a relationship that both partners have agreed would be exclusive. As such, cybering, roleplaying, and phone sex are not inherently cheating. They only become cheating when a forbidden romantic and/or physical relationship is formed. Nor is masturbation cheating. I find such definitions to be too expansive, though in the past I accepted them, before I rethought the matter.

Here are some examples of what I regard as cheating, when done behind a partner’s back, when contrary to a partner’s word, or when imposed by one partner on another partner against his or her will :

1. Having sex with someone else of the opposite sex. This is the most obvious and basic act that would meet the standard of cheating in an exclusive relationship. Swinging and polyamory only exist when they are mutually and honestly practiced. When not open, honest, and mutual, it’s cheating, not swinging or polyamory.

2. Having sex with someone else of the same sex. Yes, eating is cheating, if done behind a partner’s back or shoved down his throat. Bisexuality does exist, but it is not a license to cheat.

3. Withholding sexual favors to achieve compliance with a sexual double standard, such as cuckolding through teasing and denial. It is a form of sexual extortion to impose a unilateral change of the relationship, contrary to the wishes of one’s partner.

4. Using the threat of divorce and/or financial destitution to achieve compliance with a sexual double standard, in the same cases and for the same reasons as those listed above.

5. Using passive-aggression to discourage masturbation, while still masturbating oneself. Yes, I know that I said that masturbation isn’t cheating, but that’s under normal circumstances. If you pressure your partner not to masturbate, and then turn around and masturbate yourself, then it’s cheating.

6. Having an emotional affair with someone of either sex. That is, even being romantically involved with someone else, when that is contrary to the vows and/or agreement understand in the relationship, is also cheating. This is somewhat harder to define, but if you’re in love with someone else and start behaving like a lover, you’re cheating if you aren’t honest with your partner about it.

7. Denying your partner sex as a means of control. True, you’re not having an affair with someone else, but you’re clearly betraying the relationship and cheating on your partner. You’re making a mockery of his or her sacrifice in agreeing to monogamy, for that is what monogamy is: a sacrifice. I’m not the sort who can make such a sacrifice and not find it stifling and unnatural, but others can. Even so, it is a sacrifice and should be respected. Your partner agreed to monogamy, not celibacy. Unilaterally changing the agreement is still cheating, even if someone else isn’t involved. It fits the definition, because it involves a narcissistic romantic attachment to oneself.

Those are examples and definitions of infidelity or cheating, as I see them. If you have differences with me on them, feel free to express them. In my view, incidentally, once an agreement is broken, it’s no longer valid or in force. It no longer applies to either party, unless both parties agree to renew it. Even being legally wed is not worth the paper used to print the marriage license, once the vows are broken. Neither party is bound by the pact anymore. A sham marriage is no marriage.

Double standards are cheating, unless both parties accept the double standard willingly and happily. If someone doesn’t mind living by a double standard, I’m not going to make decisions for him or her. He or she is a consenting adult, and if he or she is happy with it, so be it. However, using threats of divorce, destitution, sexual deprivation, or any other means of extortion, to compel a double standard is cheating and blackmail. It’s wrong and it is not a relationship among consenting adults.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments, whether you agree or not.

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