What counts as cheating to you?
I guess we have Bill Clinton to thank for promoting the idea that oral sex isn’t really sex. There are plenty of people who believe that. If any guy says that to me I always have one simple question for them. What if your significant other was doing it? All of a sudden it becomes sex. So what is cheating to you?
The University of Michigan recently conducted a study that was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology on which behaviors people consider to be cheating. The subjects were asked to rate behaviors on a scale of 0 to 100 with 0 being absolutely not cheating to 100 being full-fledged infidelity.
Some of the responses were obviously seen as cheating by the respondents. Penile-vaginal intercourse, oral sex and showering together all rated over a 95 on the cheating scale. (Curiously none rated 100. What the hell does someone have to do to score 100 on this thing? I guess if one has an open relationship it’s not cheating.)
Kissing on the lips scored an 88 while kissing on the cheek is 36. For me, there has to be some context. A peck on the cheek or lips doesn’t reach infidelity in my book depending on the context. If that’s an open-mouthed kiss then, of course, all bets are off.
Emailing nude pictures or sharing erotic texts both scored over 80 on the cheating scale and it would probably hit over 90 on mine. I’m sure former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s wife thought it was cheating when he tweeted pics of his schmekel to various honeys across the nation.
Holding hands scored a 63. Really? Two friends can’t hold hands without it being considered infidelity? I recall a famous picture of President George W. Bush holding hands with a Saudi prince. Did Laura make him sleep him in the doghouse?
“Forming a deep emotional bond,” “spending a lot of time together” and “sitting on lap” all scored 52 on the cheating scale. I don’t see a harmless explanation for having someone sitting on your lap. Remember Gary Hart and Donna Rice on the Monkey Business? Textbook cheating.
But the others I’m not so sure of. Many people spend lots of time with coworkers, band mates, or people on sports teams. Wouldn’t long time friends have a deep emotional bond? My three closest friends I’ve known for 37 years, 26 years and 21 years and I’d say I have a deep emotional bond with all three of them. Is that infidelity?
“Talking on the phone several times a week” scores a 40, “going out to dinner” scores a 41 and “sharing secrets” scores a 36. Any one of these activities could be harmless. Obviously going out to dinner with someone else without your partner’s knowledge is different than if it’s a business dinner that your partner knows about. Secrets are a tough one. If a friend confides in you about something personal, are you obligated to tell your significant other? Is it a betrayal if you don’t?
“Calling when upset about their relationship partner” scored a 33 and I’m surprised that isn’t higher. Once again context matters. If a man calls one of his boys to complain about his relationship or a woman confides in her girlfriends, this is something that happens all the time. I wouldn’t consider it cheating. However, if that other person they’re confiding in is someone they’re romantically interested in, then it’s definitely headed down Adultery Avenue.
Then there’s hugging. I’m a hugger. I love to hug whether it’s that handclasp-into-the-half-hug bromance hug or a full-fledged bear hug; I think physical contact is good for people. In the study, a hug lasting longer than 10 seconds rated a 34.5 on the cheating scale while a hug under 10 seconds rated a 12.
Once again context is everything. The duration of the hug can be influenced by many factors. If someone just lost a loved one, they’re going to get a long hug. If it’s someone I haven’t seen in a long while or they’re leaving at an airport, that rates a longer hug than normal. Who times hugs anyway?
When I look at the full list, I see that I’ve done many of the things on the list from hugging to kissing to giving a friend $500, yet my significant other considers none of the things I’ve done to be cheating. When I first met iPinion Editor Debra LoGuercio DeAngelo we hugged for the longest time and my S.O. was standing right there.
It all comes down to trust, context and just what kind of relationship one has.
If you’d like to see the full study with all of the behaviors, click this LINK.
What’s cheating to you?