Flirting or Cheating?

Love, Heartbreak

Twenty telltale benchmarks for when flirting turns into something else...and what to do next.

Some say flirting is harmless: some of those same people would argue that engulfing a male body part in one's mouth isn’t sex (we won’t mention names, given the trend to repent), while others insist that the mere thought of indiscretion is cheating. Given our culture’s penchant for bending the English language (and morals) to suit our purposes, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a few less erroneous benchmarks for foul play? Here are a few to consider:

Fondling, sniffing, rubbing, licking, French kissing, dry humping, being on or around a naked body other than the person with whom you are in a committed relationship, without their express knowledge and consent, is CHEATING!

Pursuing, calling, texting, sex-ting, skype-ing, emailing and stalking someone other than the person you are in a committed relationship with, and not telling them, is LYING by omission—not to mention out of integrity.

Having lunch, sending flowers, meeting for drinks, working late with, having long intimate discussions with, or saying you’re just friends with someone you fantasize about, etc., without telling your partner the truth about how you feel is DISRESPECTFUL.

Here’s the deal: if you don’t have trust, feel safe and have respect in a relationship, you don’t have a great relationship—you have a hostage. Telling the truth can be scary and uncomfortable, yes. Sometimes it’s even painful and could end your relationship; however, the alternative is far worse. Pay now or pay later, but pay up we eventually will.

So let’s turn over a new cultural leaf, those of us who have found ourselves trolling around the boundaries of integrity, and cross to the other side. Let’s use ours, theirs and everyone’s Hindsight to illuminate the path that truly leads to real and lasting love.

Some questions from readers:

Q~ Dear Maryanne: I love your new book! I've been dating a man who clearly has an unhealthy obsession with pursuing women. We love each other and share a deep connection on many levels. Yet I don't feel right about staying with someone who relentlessly pursues others. I am finding it difficult to leave the relationship behind as we are also business partners. Any advice?

M~ You may want to expand your definition of love to include his unhealthy obsession with other women OR follow your intuition and strong urge to change the nature of your relationship. Just because we “love” someone or have a “strong connection” with them doesn’t mean we have to be in a relationship, move in or marry the person. Some people, for one reason or another, just aren’t a good fit for you that way. Why not enjoy the realm of acquaintance, close friend, or companion, rather than trying to force that person to be someone they clearly are not? Instead, go out into the big, beautiful world filled with millions of other single and available folks and find someone who does fit. According to statistics, for every healthy single person roaming the planet there are 1.45 million potential partners. Just because you let go doesn’t mean you can’t Love!

Q~ My husband and I have been off and on for eight yrs. I left him five yrs. ago for being a jerk, really, but nothing like violence. I remarried him mainly for my kids: he's a good dad to them. I also feel that there is unfinished soul business between us. I feel we learn from each other and that I'm here with him for a reason. However, he's still this big jerk half the time: am I a masochist?

M~ Most unconscious relationship patterns are a breeding ground for personal development. However, whatever unfinished soul work you and your husband may have would probably be best hashed out with some less ambiguous boundaries than being married with children (if not for the kids’ sakes). Given that you seem to be the only one in the relationship who believes in your fate, I would say you sound like a woman trying to rationalize why your husband (not the father of your children) is treating you like crap, and agonizing over why you signed up for another go. People don’t change unless they want to; even then it takes a kind of vigilance that few of us have the chops for. Whatever you decide to do, know this: it’s amazing what we can get used to! Where do you want to be at 70, 80, 90, years old and with whom? With a jerkoff, or someone who you can look back and share warm and happy memories with? That, my dear, is the gift the great Divine gave us all—free will to choose!

Read more questions from Maryanne's readers at

This article was originally published at Maryanne Live . Reprinted with permission from the author.