Part 1: Three Guys on Cheating


Also read,  Part 2: I was Tiger  AND   Part 3: Inner Child

The topic of cheating seems to come up a lot when relationships are being discussed. It’s one of those topics that cuts to the core and often elicits a visceral reaction with the people discussing it.

These are the kind of topics that THE GUYS like to discuss. Meaningful topics that we can shed some light on and give our point of view.

But keep in mind, just because we’re all guys doesn’t mean we all agree, or that we’re cut from the same cloth. Guys are individuals too, we take umbrage with our portrayal as sports loving, skirt chasing, knuckleheads, who aren’t in touch with ourselves and our thoughts, feelings and emotions. In fact, we are all of those things, yes, complete knuckleheads too, combined in a dirty little package that we’ve been told, “cleans up well.”

So this week, THREE of THE GUYS will be giving their opinions on the topic of cheating.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and reactions. Feel free to disagree (some of  you will), agree (we hope you might) or share your personal experiences.


“Cheating” by One of the Guys 

Up until I read the “158 Pound Marriage” by John Irving, I thought cheating was pretty cut and dry. Cheating meant breaking your commitment with your girlfriend, partner or wife and having some sort of physical/sexual contact with another person. End of story. Cut. That’s a wrap!

But is it really that simple? This cheating thing?

That book got me thinking more about the subject and I began to ask myself questions that I no longer had the answers for.

For Example:

Is flirting cheating? Or wishing you could go home with another person even if you don’t take action?

Is it cheating when a person has an emotional connection with a friend that somehow competes with the current relationship that person is in?

Is it cheating to fantasize about having sex with another person?

What type of physical contact is cheating? A kiss? A full body hug? What?

Once I started digging deeper and talking to my male and female friends, I realized every single person has a different definition of what cheating is for them. I mean EVERYONE has their own set of rules.

Here is one example:

Mr. Do the Right Thing

A friend of mine had basically broken up with his girlfriend, or I should say, she pretty much broke up with him. But they never actually had “the talk.”

He said to me, “But how do I know it’s really over?”

I said, “She left the country and moved back home. (To Europe) I think it’s OK to start dating again.”

He said, “No, I need to wait and officially break up with her.”

I said, “But who knows when that will happen. She doesn’t even answer your phone calls.” (Before email became the way to communicate.)

And sure enough, almost nine months went by before he actually talked to her and had the official “talk.” And by that time, she was already engaged to someone else!!! (Major eye roll by me. Duh!!!)

Another Example:

Mr. Cool

This buddy’s opinion was, if he and his girlfriend weren’t engaged to be married, he was free to do whatever.

I said, “But isn’t that cheating? Sleeping with other women? I mean aren’t you committed to her? Don’t you love her?”

He said, “Well, I guess so, but there are too many beautiful women out there for me to just be with one.”

I said, “Well, then why don’t you just break up with her and sleep around?”

He said, “Nah, I like having a girlfriend.”

I said, “So it must be OK if she plays the field too? You guys have an open relationship then?” (Of course, I have no idea what that really means.)

He said, “Hell no!! If she ever cheated on me, I’d dump her so fast.”

I said, “Hmmm……………”

After having many more conversations like these two, I realized that WHY people cheat has everything to do with them, and who they are, and how they were raised, or weren’t raised, or what experiences have shaped them, and little to do with the person they are cheating on.

If they’re the kind of person that’s going to cheat, it doesn’t matter whom their with, they’re going to cheat. Simple as that.

But the last piece I’d like to touch upon is VOWS and how they play a part in cheating.

When two people get married they usually say their vows out loud in front of a few witnesses or possibly hundreds. And both people make promises to be true to each other on many levels.

So when discussing cheating, the question becomes, when are the vows actually broken?

Is it only when someone has sexual contact with another person that the vows are broken?

Or are they broken when someone pulls away emotionally?

I know guys who have cheated because their spouses won’t have sex with them. I’m not excusing this or condoning it, I’m stating a fact. In my mind, I think they’re cheating, but in their minds, their wives have already broken their vows, and now they feel free to explore other ways to get their needs met. I mention this because Guys discuss this a lot. And yes, over beers and a game. (That’s where the stereotypes come in.)

Of course, the whole time we’re talking about this I hear the voices of my female friends streaming through my head:

“Well why won’t they have sex with you?

What are you doing that’s causing them to pull away physically?

Do you ever just hug them without it leading to sex?

Or talk to them?

Or help around the house?

Or deal with the kids when they’re out of freakin’ control?”

But I don’t always say what I’m thinking. Sometimes it’s easier to just nod and watch the game.

But bottom line. It’s complicated.

So I’m wondering where do you stand on the subject of cheating? Please share. As always, THE GUYS and I want to learn from our readers too.

Next post: Straight talk from someone who’s been there and back! “Mr. Nice Guy”

To ask us a question, use the form on the “Ask the Guys” page. 

Other posts on cheating:

My boyfriend is on dating sites; Is he cheating?

The non-exclusive relationship; what in the world is going on? 

I cheated on him; should I tell him the truth? 

Is my boyfriend a cheater? 



36 Comments on Part 1: Three Guys on Cheating

  1. ugh, cheating. I agree that there are shades of gray in this area. I used to think it was pretty much black and white as well. I have “emotionally cheated” when my needs weren’t being met. I agree that while it’s not ok to cheat ever, there are differences between cheaters who will cheat because that’s their personality, and people who have weak moments when they’re neglected. The goal is to solve your relationship issues before cheating could possibly fit into the equation. Because once you cheat or have been cheated on, in my opinion, you’ve lost that trust with your partner for good.

  2. I grew up in a milieu of free love where the boundaries of sexual fidelity were stretched to their furthest extreme. The evil word was “possessiveness”; the idea of cheating had all but disappeared from our vocabulary. I think much of the talk about cheating these days is a reaction and a backlash to our extreme attitude. Ultimately, each individual will have to decide for themselves what feels right and what doesn’t. People do have limits to what they can stand, and often it’s only through experience that one discovers what those limits are.

  3. Cheating….. i guess people have different opinions regarding it. I live in country where cheating is seriously . Cheating destroys relationships .

  4. @date girl…..I like your point differentiating about personality and weakness when neglected. Like I said, the question is often, when are the vows broken? Neglect may be one of them for some people.

    @nothing profound……….yes, I’ve read about that time. Sorry I missed it. I think I came on the tail end of it when possessiveness was still a buzz word. But in the end, it’s up to each individual and each individual couple to figure out what works for them.

    @Shabnam………………..Yes it does! Absolutely, 100%!

  5. I’ve been a cheater. And I remember for so long I believed that I “could get away with it.” Have my proverbial cake and have a slice too. But I’ve learned a lot since then. Even if your significant other never finds out…(and I promise you, no matter how careful you are, they will eventually) you’re not getting away with anything. You’re destroying your real relationship, whether you realize it or not. And if your real relationship is really over and not worth caring about, why not just end it? Dr. Phil’s definiation of cheating: If you can’t do it in front of your significant other, or if you can’t let your significant other know about it, it’s cheating.

  6. @Cathy……”Getting away with it”…. Like you said, what does it really mean. The bottom line is if you cheat, YOU know you cheated and eventually it will eat away at you. And your partner will eventually figure it out. And I agree, people should just end the relationship if it’s not working for them instead of running their partner through the ringer.

  7. This is a very good subject to debate and I think here’s where communication speaks volumes…you have to take time to have that eye to eye conversation with your partner and define what is acceptable regarding other liaisons and what is not. Once you’ve placed your thoughts out there you’ll find there is little opportunity to misunderstand what is right and what is wrong. I always ask my friends how they’d feel if the shoe was on the other foot and then you see them smile and often not comment because they know..what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and simple is great…it clears the air..

    Regarding the fantasies or feelings you share with others in your life, it’s easy to say don’t do it, however, we’re human so often the best way not to fall in the trap is don’t step in to begin with.

    Great thoughts and I’ll be waiting for NEXT…I love your collective ideas….

    Dorothy from grammology

  8. Cheating is such a volatile subject. I’ve been married over 41 years. Was I truly faithful the whole time? Hmmmm. Let’s just say that there are times in people’s lives when it gets very gray. It’s easy to say you shouldn’t cheat, but when you’re ignored either emotionally or physically or both for a significant period of time it’s hard not to find solace somewhere. However, I never truly slept with anyone. None of it was ever really serious either and usually over fast. For me it was more an exploration to see if there was anyone else out there who was the equal or better than my own partner. After this bit of experimenting I realized I had a unique man and stopped looking.

    The truth is that I am not sorry that I did that. There was never any real emotional relationship with anyone. Men do it all the time and claim it means nothing to them. For me, cheating would be to have an emotional relationship and interfere with your life for this person. That happened to a friend of mine whose husband had a relationship with someone he met on the road. He never told her and she found out from the phone bills that showed an unfamiliar long distance number.

    I hope you GUYS will still respect me.:) You can’t really judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.

  9. Interesting topic. I come from a completely different place when it comes to monogamy. I don’t believe in it. Not for myself and not for my partners. I’m always up front about this with any potential bf/gf. There are definitely rules within this situation, but the most important thing to keep something like this going is a deep emotional connection. Breaking that emotional connection or giving that connection to someone else is grounds for a breakup. Sex is sex, but I want to feel love and adoration from my partner.

  10. @Barbara……thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. We feel the comments section is just as important as the actual posts. And anything you can share that might resonate with someone else is vital to the conversation. And
    of course we still respect you! 🙂 I don’t judge. Cheating, like many topics, is full of grays. Without truly walking in someone else’s shoes, like you said, it’s impossible to truly know what you would do. I very much appreciate your friendship!

    @Lovy………Do you define your relationships as open relationships? And is cheating more about emotional connection rather than physical connection? I’m just trying to clarify for me, THE GUYS, and our readers. It’s so interesting hearing your take on this. Thanks for sharing your views. If you read some of the other comments you’ll see that another person has similar views on the topic.

  11. You are right, this is a complicated issue and differ from person to person. To me flirting is not considered cheating if both parties know it’s just for the fun of it and just as friends. However, flirting becomes cheating if both are moving from just talking into an affair. To me, I would consider it cheating already if I am already seeing someone and yet dating another, even if I do not have any sexual relationship with the second person.

  12. This is an awesome post Guys … which I read out to a few blokes I had around over a tea and here is the feed back word to word from one of them ……. “Cheating is never a right path to pursue because it always leaves trails of bitterness and hurt..there are far devastating consequences ranging from breaking up to violent confrontation(s).The traumatic stress coupled with the shattering heartache is suffocating to say the least…Trust,loyalty and dedication should be one’s watch words…yours faithfully!”

  13. For me cheating is the betrayal of a couple’s unique understanding that make them a couple.

    I’m currently single, and live a lifestyle that lends itself to open and adventurous intimacy. This has allowed me to experience and understand other peoples relationships in ways most don’t. I’ve attended events where husbands and wives indulge separately and jointly with other individuals. No one considers the physical intimacy with someone else cheating. Why? There is no deceit; the spouses have given each other permission to explore sensual/sexual aspects of their life.

    To me cheating is when one partner explores or actively seeks an emotional/physical connection with another in a way that’s misleading and secretive to their significant other.

    All of my past relationships (bf/-g/f, one common law marriage) have been monogamous on my part (yes at heart I’m a one man type of woman). And I think most individuals share my desire to belong to someone special who will in turn belong to them.

    None-the-less the most hurt I’ve ever felt was when I found out that someone I loved and sacrificed for was involved with another woman and fathered another child. I couldn’t help feeling disposable. Because he was so willing to give his heart and time to another female, in spite of my faithfulness, willingness to sacrifice, and emotions I’d invested in “US”.

    In short I’d been cheated of the rewards from all the efforts I’d invested in our relationship, and made to feel like a fool because it was done behind my back.

  14. I don’t define them as open because all sexual activities are done TOGETHER and never without consulting the other person first. However, it’s not polyamorous either, because there’s never been a desire to bring someone permanently into the relationship. Sex is just more like a hobby that you do with someone you love. Like sailing! So some people might ask, why even be in a relationship? To me, relationships are entirely about emotional connection. Loving someone else besides me or, even worse, instead of me is something that would break my heart. The sex part, it’s only a problem if my partner didn’t give me the option to watch if not participate. I have tried being single and sexually active, but it’s not nearly as satisfying for me. It’s hard to explain.

  15. Probably the most important thing is that any two partners agree about what constitutes cheating. I have known couples who had a successful open relationship (sex with other people) and ones who broke apart over something many would consider insignificant.

    If the expectations about fidelity are different, watch out!

    Also, I think the Mr. Cool types are the worst. The cheating here is a smaller issue – it’s the lying and false pretences that suck. Delayed maturation, I think.

  16. @BK……….thanks for sharing your viewpoint. I love hearing your opinion.

    @Naughtie………..I agree that deceit is what often leads to hurt feelings or worse. Although, I don’t think I would be comfortable in an open type of arrangement, (I am a one woman type of guy), I think it’s fine if both parties TRULY agree on the terms. My problem with that type of arrangement is that both parties have to be completely honest with themselves. Is this something I really am fine with? I would say, most often, it doesn’t really work for both parties.
    I’m sorry that you were so betrayed in your relationship. You certainly deserve to have someone who is 100% committed to you and the relationship. We think you’re awesome!!

    @Lovy………I think you’ve explained it very well. I get it. But what I said above to Naughtie Scribe holds true in your case. It’s my contention that one party is often not being honest with themselves when confronted with non-traditional types of partnerships. I’ve been in relationships where I said, “Sure, I don’t mind this or that, but I actually did.” Why did I say it? For fear of losing them. Of course that was a long time ago. At some point I decided I was going to be completely real with myself and my partner. But if you are able to be with people who have the same attitude towards sex and relationships as you, I say great!! What works for one couple doesn’t have to work for another. We define our own relationships. So all the power to ya!!

    @Chris J……………Mr. Cool types are the worst! I agree. Lying and deceit don’t have any place in a relationship. I agree 100%, especially about the delayed maturation. Thanks for your thoughts.

  17. Okay, so I’m old fashioned. My belief is that once you have taken marital vows, that’s it. Your spouse should be your best friend and your only lover. Cheating on an emotional level is even more threatening to a woman. If a spouse has feelings for someone other than their partner, they should give their wife/husband a chance at reality and let them leave. Why stay? For the kids? Wrong. They sense everything. For money? Hey, a cheating husband in most states has to pay alimony. That’s an expensive price for having had something on the side. Truth is so much better in the long run and gives each partner a chance to find real love, not pretentious love. All right; sermon over.

    Terrific post and great subject, Guys.

  18. @askcherlock……..nothing wrong with being old fashioned. 🙂 People need to get everything out in the open BEFORE they take their vows. Communication is the key!!!! Thanks for sharing your views.

  19. What I always find destructive is how a person can say they are in love with their partner but can bare the thought of being with someone else.

    To me, if you feel love then you cant even think of being with another person and if you do, then is what you feel for your partner love and care, or just emotional dependence?

    The worst thing about cheating is the cheater deprives the cheatee of the chance to find a real connection.

    Whether the couple is married or not has no bearing, when two people committ to building a relationship, they commit to caring and creating a solid union but too many people dont actually understand what commitment is.

    Real relationship commitment is an agreement to work on the partnership, to build it, to set standards in the relationship and to abide by those standards and set actions to take if those standards are compromised or broken (so many people dont follow through on actions to take, they stay hoping things will get better). But many couples dont think about what commitment is, and if they are qualified to take it on.

    We make excuses for cheating when really, we’re just not ready to be in a relationship.

    Interesting topic, thanks for posting!

  20. I couldn’t agree MORE with this sentence:

    “People who cheat has everything to do with them, and who they are, and how they were raised, or weren’t raised, or what experiences have shaped them, and little to do with the person they are cheating on.”

    My brother has been married for seven years and his wife CONSTANTLY used to accuse HIM of cheating. Of course, she blamed it on her insecurities because my brother would NEVER cheat. As it turns out, my now soon to be EX sister in law was the one who was doing all the cheating.

    I am an OLD SCHOOL die hard romantic, and I think even FLIRTING can be considered cheating. However, I am NOT the jealous or possessive type!

  21. @Lola……I wish more people thought about commitment the way you describe it. It takes a lot of work to be in a committed relationship and it’s not always fun. I guess the key is finding someone who has similar views on the topic. Thanks for sharing.

    @Meleah……….Hey OLD SCHOOL girl! You’re not alone with that type of thinking. We’ve gotten every type of response here. Fascinating! Your story of your brother and his soon to be ex resonates with us. So many times the person who’s the accuser is secretly doing exactly what they are accusing the other person of. The best defense is often an offensive campaign.

  22. I personally see nothing wrong with mentally exploring relationships where your needs are met, having an “fantasy affair” just to experiment with what total satisfaction would feel like. The thing is not to act on those fantasies. I’m not really talking about sex here either, and frankly I don’t think people really cheat for “sex.” I think they cheat for love, attention, affection, etc. Exploring mental affairs is a great way to get to know your needs a little more, and in the end, that is the name of the entire game: knowing yourself and what you want and why. Sounds simple, but I think it’s the hardest undertaking a human can engage in. Love all the discussion here. What a thoughtful bunch of folks that show up here to share!

  23. I agree, Suburban Guy. And if that “mental exploration” or “fantasy” is appealing enough, you should be able to communicate those needs and wants with your significant other BEFORE resorting to “cheating.” As a writer, I firmly believe that mental exploration often leads to “oh, geez, I wouldn’t want THAT in a million years!” but it’s amusing to imagine. (Yes, I’ve written erotica. No, those aren’t MY personal fantasies. Stop leering. 😉 An aside: Why do people assume writers of erotica have either lived it or wanted it, but they make no such assumptions about murder mystery writers?) I’m quite happy with the man I married – 25+ years, and I have no unmet needs; that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good mental romp with Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampires and werewolves. The reality, on the other hand, would…suck. 😉 I don’t mean that in a GOOD way.

    Cheating is taking it off the mental page, sneaking around, and acting on it behind your partner’s back. I think it’s the dishonesty that is most damaging. As others have pointed out, if you have an “open relationship,” and aren’t sneaking around to get those other “needs” met, then it’s not “cheating.” It’s playing by the rules of that particular relationship, and it’s fine – so long as EVERYONE involved understands what those rules are and is happy with the game.

  24. @Holly…….well said and well written….like a writer! 🙂 Interesting comparison to murder mystery writers. I never thought of it that way. And yes, playing by the rules agreed upon by both parties is the only way to go. People just have to be communicate if something changes for them, especially in an open type relationship.

    @Suburban Guy…….thanks dude! (Readers….of course he’s one of the guys, not to be confused with “One of The Guys!”

  25. Good topic. WHere do we start with this one? I think when people cheat, they aren’t necessarily “cheaters” and screwing around no matter who they are with. I think for some people, they can’t confront their own issues in their marriages, relationships, etc. and the cheating becomes a release, something to keep them from having the hard conversation of “maybe we shouldn’t be together”. Because sometimes, two people marry and they aren’t right for each other…but it takes a lot of courage to confront this. Cheating is the easier way out it seems.

  26. @Kelly………you make a great point. Avoidance can fuel many a fire. Sometimes people cheat HOPING to get caught. Drama is often easier to deal with than a mature conversation about difficult topics……like breaking up. Some people just can’t handle the guilt and sadness.

  27. Out of all the types you describe the Mr. Cool is the one I find the most offensive. I think that it is so cowardly to say I like the security of a relationship, but I’d like to sleep around too. If he told her what was going on and invited her to do the same, then at least that would honest.

    I think that any physical contact an constitute cheating, but I also think that many “cyber relationships” are also cheating because they do have people taking time away from their partner and sharing things with someone else that should be shared with the partner. As I read my reply, I guess I am really a zero tolerance for cheating kind of woman.

  28. @Tina……it’s cool to admit you’re “old fashioned” when it comes to this topic. Many people agreed with you and it makes sense to me. I think I’m old fashioned too, but know it’s very complicated.

  29. Oh boy…’no pun intended there’ Guys 🙂

    Cheating as in any action really is a one mans/womens opinion. Meaning everyone deems the level of cheating differently.
    What one person will see as flirting , another will take as a very serious issue.
    There are partners that will ask first and foremost…do you love her/him or was it just sex?
    We have partners that engage in extra marital affairs as long as each partner is in agreement. Even partners that agree as long as they never hear about it…what they do not know does not hurt.

    Yikes…I can go on and on with the different levels of …is this considered cheating?

    Bottom line …it is what breaches a commitment and trust that is what will in the end be found guilty of cheating.

    Again another loaded topic 🙂

    We are a very diverse species…and with that …there really is no one set book of values~

  30. Thanks GUYS!!! I am in a very committed relationship, over 41 years married to the same guy. We were madly in love and the kind of couple that couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Though having children diluted things once they were older we rekindled that spark. However, at certain moments in our relationship there was a lack of intimacy due to the amount of work my husband did and how much work it is to take care of kids.

    I don’t condone cheating with emotional reasons, because that is wrong. You might as well leave the person you are with if you have lost feeling for them. I think with me at the times it happened it was more experimenting for fun than anything else. And since it never went very far it stayed superficial.

    It’s wonderful to say that you are against cheating of any kind, even mentally, but to be honest, I have only wanted one man to be with me for the rest of my life and I realized that when for health reasons I almost lost him. But I had stopped my experimenting at least ten years earlier when I realized I would never find anyone like him and why keep looking.

    I think it’s hard for women, because men are always coming on to us whether we are married or not. So I also would never judge anyone either. However, women who have children with someone else did not think that through at all!!

  31. @Dorothy…………like you said, trust and commitment. Couples need to have HONEST discussions about these difficult topics before the “shit” hits the fan. Because like you said, everyone has a different view and opinion on what constitutes breach of trust and/or cheating.

    @Barbara………Like we said, until we’re walking in your shoes, or anyone’s shoes, we can’t say what’s right or wrong for you or anyone! We’re glad you and your husband are still going strong! Thanks for sharing your very personal thoughts.

  32. Sorry I’m behind. Great post!! And your right everyone has a different idea on what cheating is. Normally I think of it as being physical but I also think you can “emotionally” cheat on someone to.

  33. I have been cheated on by my man of 26 years. of course although I have evidence he will not admit it.I love him and decided to stay with him. I told him he needs to stop and I have evidence that he has stopped. I have talked to the other women ( who kept calling for some time) she finally stopped. I hate the person this has made me become. A snooping, untrusting hateful person, he made me this person and I need to be the woman I was before. I have reflected upon our relationship and found that there were mistakes on my part that contributed to this horrible thing although I do not give him a pass because of this. we are now working together to make this work and I will do everything in my power to make him happy. I feel we are now stronger and closer than we have been in a long while and I hope it continues

  34. @Lynn…..Good luck. It’s a long haul to put the pieces back together but it is possible. You’re a strong woman to take him back. Take care. And thanks for sharing.

  35. Hello everyone.

    I am the kind of person that believes that any form of cheating is wrong. If that thought should ever cross one’s mind, then would it not be the best thing all round to simply communicate what needs should be met and compromise or amicably part? I think if more people had the respect for there partner then there would not be so much hurt and all that goes with it. I don’t believe that those have been cheated on should look at fault within themselves as I think the cheater should of communicated long before an affair or one night stand even entered there mind. Why should it take one to cheat in order to ‘fix a relationship’ seems like the worst option possible! And with this mentality I think it plays a part in cheaters thinking this is the best option to possibly gain a better relationship or a break away for them to sleep around and get away with it? If someone can cheat on you then I think that respect they once had for there partner has gone. Why cause such a situation to make there relationship anew? This is what I don’t understand..

    Excuse my being so abrupt it’s just that I feel very passionate about this topic.

  36. @Taya….Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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