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.
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?