What is Cheating in a Relationship?

Just like with STDs, nobody wants to talk or think about cheating, but sometimes it’s necessary.

What is considered cheating in a relationship

Cheating in a relationship is a loose term because someone considers sex outside of a relationship the ultimate cheating, whereas people who follow the ethical non-monogamy principles are okay with that.
In general, you can say that cheating is an act or behavior that hurts the person with whom you’re in a relationship and damages the relationship as such by ruining the trust.

Types of cheating in a relationship with examples

It sucks to acknowledge, but there are many different forms of cheating out there. Here are the main types of this nasty behavior.

Sexual cheating

That should be pretty self-explanatory. Having any type of sex outside of the relationship that is not sanctioned by your partner is the definition of cheating. And yes, oral sex also counts, just like anal sex does, although some people might twist it and say that lack of penetration or zero chance of a baby resulting from intercourse means it’s not really sex.

Emotional cheating

Having feelings for someone else is called emotional cheating. For example, if your girlfriend has a crush on your friend, she is cheating on you, even if she’s not acting on her feelings.
This type of cheating is kind of tricky though. We can control ourselves to an extent, primarily by avoiding situations that can result in us falling for someone, such as spending lots of time together, having deep conversations, or engaging in flirting. However, once we’re in love, we’re in love. The only thing that can help here is isolation from the love interest.

Financial cheating

Broadly, financial infidelity refers to spending money on lovers and mistresses without your partner knowing, but it can refer to secret spending in general. If you’re in a relationship with someone who’s lying about his expenses from you, making purchases without consulting or telling you, and has debt that you have no idea about – that can all be classified as financial cheating.

Kissing and making out

You don’t have to have sex with someone to cheat. Kissing, making out, any form of physical contact can be seen as cheating. Imagine seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend holding hands with someone else. Or a random girl sitting on your man’s lap. Unless you’ve agreed on an open relationship and aren’t exclusive, this is cheating. Don’t let anyone gaslight you into thinking it’s not.

Online romances

The digital age has brought us plenty of opportunities to stay connected. Sometimes it’s good, like if you are in a long distance relationship. Unfortunately, it also opened the door for cheaters to do their thing even if there’s nobody they could cheat with within immediate proximity. Digital cheating is versatile – it can be the classic sexting, signing up on dating portals and chatting with random people, sending someone nudes and money, or online stalking people the cheater fancies.


Flirting is a common but debatable form of cheating because we define flirting differently. Someone is more charismatic and flirty by nature, and they do it all the time without even realizing it or considering it flirting. Others see every friendly conversation as flirting. Also, sometimes flirting is the person’s way of seeking attention rather than wanting to chat someone up.


Micro-cheating is doing all the things you know will upset your partner. It’s often done with a goal to drive the partner away by slowly undermining their trust in you and/or the relationship. A perfect example of micro-cheating would be crossing the partner’s boundaries, such as texting their ex or flirting with colleagues.

Signs of cheating in a relationship

Hopefully, all our readers experience healthy relationships only, but just in case, here are the signs that can indicate that your partner is not as faithful as you have thought:
  • Decline in intimacy. For example, you only have sex every other week now, but used to be intimate at least 2-3 times per week before.
  • Changes in behavior, habits, and appearance. The classic example is when a partner starts dressing up and taking extra care of their hair and hygiene when they were more relaxed before.
  • Secrecy that is atypical. Some people are naturally more reserved than others, but if you see your lover abruptly changing their way, there might be something there.
  • Absences they have no explanation for. Disappearing into the void for a few hours every week is definitely suspicious, especially in a committed relationship or marriage.
  • Unexplained expenses are a similar issue to absences. If your husband is withdrawing lots of cash but you never see him spend it, it is still going somewhere. There might be any reason for him to do that though, so best to not overreact immediately if that happens.
  • Defensiveness when asked questions or with certain topics. If you ask your girlfriend about that hot colleague of hers and she freaks out all of a sudden, – we don’t know about you, but the Flure team would definitely grow suspicious.

Gut feeling

Lastly, let’s talk about gut feeling.
Sometimes there’s nothing specific pointing out to the person cheating, except our inner instinct. Sadly, a lot of the time if we feel that something is off it really is off. There are cases when partners hide something from us that is not cheating, for example, their gambling addiction, substance abuse, health problems, or troubles at work. In those situations, they can really act and look differently, be on edge, and get defensive for seemingly no good reason.
If your gut feeling tells you that something is wrong, the best way to approach it is to talk openly with your partner. You might not like what they tell you, but it’s always better to clear the air.

Why do people cheat in a relationship?

That’s a million-dollar question! People cheat for a multitude of reasons. Some are bored, and some are not in love with their partner and seek those feelings elsewhere. Especially reckless souls will cheat as revenge on their partner, and it’s not necessarily revenge for cheating, but could be anything, like a fight about having kids or moving to a different state.
Some people cheat when they are underappreciated by their partner, and instead of talking about it, they resort to cheating. And then there’s a classic story when someone gets super drunk and loses control.

How to overcome cheating in a relationship

Here are some of the tips and strategies you can use to get past cheating.


Talking about cheating seems like a nightmare, but it’s very necessary. If you honestly want to move forward with the relationship (or even end it, but with decency), you have to talk this through.

Talk to a therapist

Cheating is a tragedy, and it can be unbelievably hard to build trust once it’s ruined. Talking to a therapist can be an optimal way of navigating this difficult period in your romance. A professional will be your mediator, and they will encourage healthy communication while simultaneously stopping you from toxic and self-destructive behaviors. It can be hard to open up your relationship issues to a stranger, but if you’re both willing to work on your problems, you’ll get an unmatched benefit from it.

Set boundaries

One way to address cheating and move on is to set or reaffirm boundaries. Talk about everything that’s off-limits in your relationship. Also, go through some of the expectations. That way you’ll be on the same page, and also cover not just the limitations but the things you want to get from each other, making it a more positive exercise.

Prioritize yourself

This strategy is probably more fitting for the person who’s been cheated on. The cheater is already prioritizing themselves and not caring too much about hurting others. So if you’re in a position where your partner was unfaithful, take a step back and focus more on yourself and your life. Dedicate more time to hobbies, friends, careers, sports, side hustles, or anything else that you’re interested in. Treat yourself a bit more, try and to accomplish a goal or a dream that you’ve been postponing. This will make your life feel more full and adventurous, helping your mental state go back to normal as well.

Reflect on the faith of the relationship

If you love someone or have been with someone for an extensive period of time, your first natural desire would be to save what you have and overcome cheating together. It’s a good idea in some cases, but definitely not the only way to go.
Take time off and really think about what you want from this relationship. Is it really something you should jump hoops for to get over the devastation and sadness of cheating? Sometimes, cheating itself is a symptom of a bigger issue that we either don’t see because we’re too close to it or we want to ignore it because admitting there is a problem will require some action.