Cheating is such a dreadful word. Often we think about cheating as a tryst between the sheets with someone other than our partners.

But there is more to the act of cheating than that. Sometimes the tiniest breach of trust is a form of cheating. We would love to hear your thoughts after you’ve read this…

Not a Cheater? Let’s Count the Ways

Joel Block, Ph.D.

Sexual infidelity is the headline grabber when most people think about betrayals in love relationships. But, there are everyday breaches of trust that slide under the radar and can erode even the strongest of relationships.

A small lie about a purchase, a slight exaggeration about a job promotion, a cover-up about a forgotten birthday—each takes a bite out of trust and is a form of cheating. Most of us are disappointed by a love partner as a result of an everyday event far more often than we are made angry or jealous by a serious and dramatic betrayal.

Deceptive Deceptions
For example, Jeff maintains his friendship with Glen, an old army buddy, in utter secrecy. His wife, Dorothy, has always disliked Glen and has asked Jeff not to see him. Jeff has agreed but is undeterred. “I find a way,” he says. “All Dorothy knows is that I’m working late, running an errand or something. We go for a drink, hang out together, that sort of thing. If I told Dorothy, she would raise the roof, so why aggravate her?”

What else does Jeff hide to avoid confrontation with Dorothy? And what if Dorothy were to discover Jeff’s deception?

Kevin and Janice, who have lived together for the past few years, are on the verge of splitting because Janice contends that Kevin “never lives up to his word.” Here’s what Janice had to say about some troubling events:

“I can’t believe anything he tells me anymore. I ask him if he’s taken care of the rent for this month and he assures me that he has. The next thing I know, the landlord is calling me and asking me about the rent. Or I ask him to do me a favor. He agrees and then doesn’t come through.”

Kevin’s choice of conveniently “yessing” Janice serves to help him avoid confrontation at the expense of his credibility. Janice justifiably feels cheated as a result of Kevin’s lies.

Count the Ways
And what about the love partner who smokes? It’s not only about second-hand smoke being a health hazard. One day the smoker is going to get sick. The non-smoking partner will be severely impacted both emotionally and practically. Is the smoker cheating?

When we make a love commitment we become a team, and implicitly, it is also a vow to continue to grow and evolve as individuals.

What about the love partner who is not becoming all he or she can? Is the love partner who is letting his or her appearance deteriorate cheating? What about the partner who is critical, rather than supportive, in hard and not so hard times? And the partner who is slacking in his or her career? Or the partner who doesn’t comply with medical prescriptions and health-care suggestions?

All of these breaches will impact the relationship. It’s not just about an individual letting him or herself down; in a love relationship it’s also cheating the partner.

Kill the Termites
Trust is the bedrock of any love relationship. It is the bloodline of romantic passion. “Subtle cheating” is like psychological termites. Each small bite may go unnoticed, but eventually the foundation will weaken.

Addressing these forms of cheating is win-win. It betters each individual and contributes to relationships being more open, uninhibited and passionate.

So tell us, do you agree with this definition of cheating and have YOU cheated on your partner lately?

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Avatar @PatDayrit says:

    hmm, interesting question. I guess in a way……. it is cheating. Ideally, at least the way I see it, a love relationship should be a partnership where both parties try to be their best for their individual selves and for each other. Its a symbiosis. Especially if you are serious about the relationship, there a responsibility towards the other.

    I broke off my last relationship because my ex wouldn't kick the smoking habit, this attitude where he would refuse to improve himself and was happy living his bad habits. One hand, it isn't fair that i demand he change. On the other hand, it isn't fair that he talk about the long term but didn't want to own up to being the man worth the long term (i.e. staying healthy physically, mentally and spiritually in order to be a good example to possible future children)

    No one is perfect and we all have our faults.. and I'm sure we all have "the termites", after all, we are human. (And I'm sure we all have different definitions of what the termites are… some won't care if their partner smokes, some like me, do). I believe, the real cheating in this sense is the lack of commitment to be the best for each other. The termites will come, but what I think is important is that a couple recognizes what these termites are and work on them. Basically, not allowing them to eat into the relationship.

    hehe, feel free to agree or disagree

    • Avatar Silverfox says:

      My question to you is , if you knew that your 'EX' was smoking at the start of the relationship, why did you go into it excepting hi 'habit' than later put him down than brake it off? If you are the type of person that does not care about smoking why was you not upfront with your EX? And are you the one that really CHEATED on your relationship to start?

      • Avatar @PatDayrit says:

        Woah. Thanks for this silverfox. I'm not entirely free of "cheating" in this sense (I never said I was cheat-free). When we got together, I was a smoker too. Then due to some events in my life, I felt I needed to change myself for the better (for myself, for the people that matter, and for the future)…and that included changes in health habits (i.e. kicking the habit).

        At some point, the ex and I weren't on the same page anymore. I was considering the long run with this person as much as he was considering it with me. I was willing to compromise while the ex adamantly stuck to his old ways (health habits, mental habits, etc). I knew at that point it wasn't going to be a partnership and I had to break it. It wasn't a big bad break up. We both realized that we weren't on the same path anymore. We're still in good terms.

        LIke I said, I feel that there is no "Termite-free" relationship. The point of my earlier comment is this – What I feel is important is the willingness of both to compromise, to be honest with each other, to work on it together, and for both to try his/her best to be a better person for the other (esepcially if there are long term plans invovled). The unwillingness to do this is where the cheating comes in.

  • Avatar @PatDayrit says:

    hmm, interesting question. I guess in a way……. it is cheating. Ideally, at least the way I see it, a love relationship should be a partnership where both parties try to be their best for their individual selves and for each other. Its a symbiosis. Especially if you are serious about the relationship, there a responsibility towards the other.

    I broke off my last relationship because my ex wouldn't kick the smoking habit, this attitude where he would refuse to improve himself and was happy living his bad habits. One hand, it isn't fair that i demand he change. On the other hand, it isn't fair that he talk about the long term but didn't want to own up to being the man worth the long term (i.e. staying healthy physically, mentally and spiritually in order to be a good example to possible future children)

    No one is perfect and we all have our faults.. and I'm sure we all have “the termites”, after all, we are human. (And I'm sure we all have different definitions of what the termites are… some won't care if their partner smokes, some like me, do). I believe, the real cheating in this sense is the lack of commitment to be the best for each other. The termites will come, but what I think is important is that a couple recognizes what these termites are and work on them. Basically, not allowing them to eat into the relationship.

    hehe, feel free to agree or disagree

  • Avatar Carla says:

    I agree with your definition of what love really is. Compromising, not acting in a way that is best for both people really does cheat people from enjoying deeper relationship. I think it could be applied to lots of other situations as well. For example, my Mom and I used to have a really "enmeshed" relationship. She believed that it was in her best interest to live her life and gain her fulfillment through me (pretty common story!) But her belief system actually robbed both of us of enjoying our own individual lives and building a healthy relationship at the same time. Before our relationship could heal, my Mom needed to take her life back for herself, build her own identity and focus on acting in her own best interest. I did the same and this created a lot of freedom and growing trust in our relationship. I found your article encouraging and fresh. Thanks!

  • Avatar Carla says:

    I agree with your definition of what love really is. Compromising, not acting in a way that is best for both people really does cheat people from enjoying deeper relationship. I think it could be applied to lots of other situations as well. For example, my Mom and I used to have a really “enmeshed” relationship. She believed that it was in her best interest to live her life and gain her fulfillment through me (pretty common story!) But her belief system actually robbed both of us of enjoying our own individual lives and building a healthy relationship at the same time. Before our relationship could heal, my Mom needed to take her life back for herself, build her own identity and focus on acting in her own best interest. I did the same and this created a lot of freedom and growing trust in our relationship. I found your article encouraging and fresh. Thanks!

  • Avatar Ali says:

    Is it cheating on your partner when you have people in your life that add a great deal of balance? Do we place so much in a single individual? Are we cheating ourselves to get so caught up in just one person, because sex instantly changes things. Intimacy can be on many levels as long as all parties are aware.
    Is that easy? Not really, ego/fear it seems to sustain such a strong foundation in our society. If we truly learn to "let go and let God" being at peace with ourselves and all those that graced our lives, maybe there would be less fighting and ugliness in the world. EGO(Edging God Out) whoever your God or greater power may be. Society would say I stepped out on one of my relationships but, I found joy and happiness in the presence of another without sex involved. Really, is that cheating?

  • Avatar Ali says:

    Is it cheating on your partner when you have people in your life that add a great deal of balance? Do we place so much in a single individual? Are we cheating ourselves to get so caught up in just one person, because sex instantly changes things. Intimacy can be on many levels as long as all parties are aware.
    Is that easy? Not really, ego/fear it seems to sustain such a strong foundation in our society. If we truly learn to “let go and let God” being at peace with ourselves and all those that graced our lives, maybe there would be less fighting and ugliness in the world. EGO(Edging God Out) whoever your God or greater power may be. Society would say I stepped out on one of my relationships but, I found joy and happiness in the presence of another without sex involved. Really, is that cheating?