4 Things Women Do That Men Count As Cheating — And Why It Breaks Their Hearts

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What Do Men Consider Cheating In A Relationship?
Heartbreak

Yeah. Seriously.

You would think that a concept as basic cheating would be fairly black and white. Cheating is when your partner in a committed, monogamous relationship has sex with someone else... Isn't it?

However, the definition of cheating only seems straightforward until you are confronted with a cheating situation of your own.  

I know I have dated men who never unzipped their pants in the presence of someone else, but the stuff they did do with women who decidedly were NOT me definitely counted as cheating — or, at least, in my mind it did.

Everyone has their own definition of what it means to be unfaithful in a relationship.

For some people, it's all about those reproductive organs and sexual penetration. For others, sexual activity comes is less important than what they consider to be emotional infidelity.

RELATED: 8 Things You Should Know About Cheaters (According To Science)

It's no secret that men and women approached relationships differently, and with that in mind, I decided to ask a group of anonymous men what they think "counts" as cheating.

I found that for most men, infidelity in a relationship falls into one of these four buckets:

1. Keeping secrets.

"[Cheating is] pretty much anything you're not willing to tell your partner. I don't mean that literally. Things like your last bowel movement or the last time you masturbated or even what you plan to buy your partner for Christmas obviously don't count. But if you're keeping something from your partner that involves someone other than him or her because you're afraid your partner may think it's cheating, then yeah. It is"

"Anything you feel the need to hide from your partner or lie to them about counts as cheating."

Many of the men I spoke with mentioned secrets and the damaging effect they can have on relationships. For these men, the idea of keeping something they've done a secret from their partner is their litmus test for behavior that counts as cheating.

Essentially, this means that if they've done something that they feel guilty about, so guilty that they want to keep it a secret, it may as well be considered infidelity.

That could be a sexual tryst, sure, but for some men, it may be something like flirting with a woman at work who later passed on her phone number. And they don't have to act on it for them to consider it cheating, which is something to keep in mind, as he may well expect the same of you.

RELATED: Believe It Or Not, It's TOTALLY Possible To Move On From An Affair

2. Having an emotional relationship with someone other than your partner.

"Any emotions or mental space you give to someone else that should be dedicated to your partner."

Some men, just like some women, view forming an emotional relationship with someone other than their partner, girlfriend or wife as cheating.

In such cases, things may never come close to evolving into a sexual affair.

The act of dedicating your time or emotional space and energy to someone else when you should or could be dedicating it to your partner counts as a violation of their relationship boundaries.

Don't get it twisted. Men have feelings too, and you don't need to go as far as being sexually intimate with another man in order to hurt them.

3. Breaking previously established agreements.

"[I consider cheating to be any time you] break terms you have both agreed on previously without discussing it beforehand. Communication is the key, and small lies only lead to bigger one down the road. If it's something that might concern the other party at all, you should tell them about it sooner than later."

"Anything outside of the boundaries discussed or implied in the relationship. If you know your partner thinks watching porn is cheating, and you agree not to even if you don't agree with the premise (I certainly don't), it's unkind to look."

For most of the men I interviewed, what they consider a betrayal in a relationship depends on the rules the two people establish from the get-go. You could be in an open relationship and therefore "allowed" to have sex with other people, but if you do something that breaks another kind of agreement — for example, not telling your partner you met someone new — that would count as cheating.

For a monogamous couple, it would likely be something more traditional. If you two agree there should be no physical contact with members of the opposite sex, then even something like hand-holding or kissing could count as having an affair 

RELATED: The TRUTH Behind Why Married Men Cheat

4. Having sex with someone else. 

"When another penis goes inside of her body, that, to me, is the definition of cheating. Everything else is just dangerous behavior."

This one is pretty straightforward. For some men, if you have sex with someone else you've cheated, but everything before, after or between should be open for negotiation and/or for interpretation.

This is definitely a loose definition and one that is the most strongly held by serial cheaters and those looking to maintain a little bit of wiggle room in their relationships. 

RELATED: 4 Loving Things Unhappy Husbands Should Do INSTEAD Of Cheating

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:20 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

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