Cheating Or Not: What Does “Being Faithful” Actually Mean?

Filed Under Dating Coaching, Pillar Articles, Relationship Management

How Do You Define Cheating?How come this topic hasn’t been discussed more frequently? I mean, there’s zero doubt that infidelity is a factor in countless broken relationships.

Perhaps we encounter so little elaboration on the subject because each of us believes we have a firm grasp of what it means to be “faithful” to a significant other.

But do we really? And what’s more, does our PARTNER believe the same way WE do? You just can’t make that assumption by default, or else serious trouble will be looming sooner than later.

Clearly, the key is open, honest communication early on.

So why do so many couples leave this topic “open ended”? The problem arises when neither partner wants to come off as overly jealous or insecure, or when one partner fears that opening such a “can of worms” will actually trigger jealousy in the other.

Nevertheless, if you care about a relationship, both of you have got to set expectations for yourself and for each other, and agree to them together.

Here are four particular areas that can help focus the somewhat nebulous topic of “fidelity”, making it easier to talk about and simpler to define.

1. Decide What The Structure Of The Relationship Is

I was asked a fascinating question recently during a radio interview. “So Scot, if you want your wife to agree to a threesome and you think she’s going to object, how do you convince her to agree to it?”

My answer caught the host completely off guard. “You don’t”, I said. “If you are open to threesomes and you know she isn’t, you shouldn’t have married her to begin with. These are things you bring up with your new girlfriend, not someone you’re already in a committed relationship with.”

The very foundation to trust and fidelity is defining whether you are in an exclusive and monogamous relationship with someone as opposed to some other kind of relationship.

“Other” in this case can mean you’ve agreed to bring other partners into your sex life together, agree that both partners can have sex with other people, or some mixture of both. No matter what, however, you’ve got to carefully define what’s fair game and what isn’t well ahead of time—before any assumptions are made, and most definitely before you walk down the aisle.

2. Set Flirtation Boundaries

Another area discussion involves how “flirtation” with other MOTOS (members of the opposite sex) is defined. It’s mission-critical that the two of you agree 100% on what those boundaries are and that they are the same for both partners.

For example, if it’s decided that sexually charged conversation and body language along with playful touch are to be kept within the relationship, then so be it.

There can be no “double-standard”, however. For example, a woman cannot be of the opinion that all women are generally well-intentioned, but all men are dogs if given the chance.

That train of thought is not only arrogant, it creates an environment where she defends her little wink at the waiter as she touches him on the thigh as “harmless” even as she objects to her boyfriend or husband even smiling at a waitress.

Where the “double standard” is in effect, deep resentment surely follows.

3. Define Out-Of-Bounds Activity

I find it particularly amazing how many unspoken assumptions are made between men and women in this specific area.

But the truth remains that when it comes to the subject at hand, this is one of the broadest expanses of “gray area”.

The range of factors at play here is almost mind numbing.

I’ve known at least one couple where one partner felt that kissing other people was NOT cheating, but had somehow let that aspect of their belief system escape coming up in conversation together.

Suffice it to say that the other partner had felt it was implicitly obvious that the two of them shouldn’t be making out with other people if they’re in an “exclusive” relationship.

But don’t kid yourself. In other cases, the fine line may be much more difficult to draw.

For example, you and your partner may readily agree not to tongue down other people, but what about full-body embraces?

And how about having social contact with exes (or other MOTOS, for that matter)? Is it okay to talk to them on the phone or even have lunch with them sometimes because they’re now “just friends”?

If that’s off the table, is it alright to at least friend them on Facebook? Do you keep their numbers stored in your phone, if for no other reason than so if they call you can know not to answer the phone?

And what about, say, porn? Does looking at other MOTOS naked constitute cheating? How about frequenting strip clubs? No doubt there are a LOT of women out there who don’t view this stuff the same way that a LOT of men do.

You’ve got to talk about all of this, and you’ve got to cover all bases (including first).

4. Just Say “No” To Logical Justification

I’ve always found the whole concept of “bachelor parties” deeply fascinating. Stereotypically speaking, the infamous sexual trysts that might possibly happen once strippers, etc. get involved are accepted as kind of a “last hurrah” before the “constraints” of marital life kick in.

Obviously, most people don’t tell their new wife (or husband, in the case of certain “bachelorette parties”) what actually happened the night before. The best-case scenario one can hope for is a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy”.

But the way I see it, if you feel like you’ve got to get one last “piece” in because you feel as if you’re about to get locked down with a ball and chain, you most definitely shouldn’t be getting married to begin with.

Nevertheless, many people justify bachelor and bachelorette parties as a “rite of passage”.

This is one clear way that we tend to seek logical justification for behavior that to most observers would constitute cheating. And in fact, we’re talking about actions that even WE would consider unfaithful—if under different circumstances.

I’ve noticed that a surprising number of people—men and women alike—somewhat nihilistically think that all MOTOS will happily cheat, if presented with a tempting opportunity.

Meanwhile, many people of both genders have honorable intentions from the very beginning of always being faithful.

What’s weird is that when one partner is unreasonably jealous to the point of fearing that the other will cheat—or that he or she is already doing so—that fear can eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The faithful partner who is consistently suspected or even flatly accused of cheating finally says to him or herself, “If I’m going to get treated like I’m a cheater, I might as well make something happen to justify it.”

A similar thought pattern would be, “If I’m going to be considered a cheater, I might as well get the ‘benefits’ as well as the penalties.”

The potential danger of extreme jealousy to fidelity in relationships goes even deeper.

When one partner is super jealous, it becomes LESS likely that boundaries will even be discussed. The less jealous partner assumes that ANY discussion on the subject wouldn’t end well.

So each partner is left to decide what constitutes “cheating” him or herself.

That means that when one’s significant other is the über-jealous type, that less jealous partner’s decisions are indeed made without the other’s input because it’s assumed that EVERYTHING would incite his or her anger anyway.

From there, the proverbial envelope tends to get pushed to the limit because there ARE no established guidelines.

Perhaps subconsciously, some people will go a bit overboard to “stick it” to a partner whose jealousy they’ve come to resent. Usually, this is taken to the extent that they feel they can reasonably defend if ever caught red-handed.

For example, this can down to semantics. A famous example would be invoking Bill Clinton’s definition of “sex” versus what Hillary may have thought it meant

As per a memorable example from my coaching experience, one partner may suggest it’s time to “date other people” but the decision is ultimately made not to. Then, the partner who suggested the idea ends up having sex with someone else, but attempts to logically justify it because he or she never actually “went on a date” with that other person.

Since the discussion was about “dating other people” rather than “being exclusive”, the justification for sex outside the relationship is made.

Ultimately, if you’re in a truly monogamous, exclusive relationship with someone the guidelines have got to be discussed, and no emotional mindset can ever be allowed to blur the lines. It’s really as simple as that…otherwise, there’s cheatin’ going on.


Obviously, there’s way more that could be covered here. What all-important factors and/or examples have I left out?

And what is your opinion on all of this? What do couples need to discuss, and what should a “faithful” relationship look like?

Be Good,

Scot McKay

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28 Responses to “Cheating Or Not: What Does “Being Faithful” Actually Mean?”

  1. I set the boundaries or rules up on the very first date…

    If you ever cheat on me your gone.. meaning sex with some one else…

    I don’t do it to them.. and I do not want it done to me…


    god forgives so I don’t have too…

  2. Jeff

    You are so right on about the emotional reasons people avoid discussing this with their mate. Such fear, lack of confidence or carelessness shows a deficiency in Scot’s Big Four.
    Jealousy = when you feel someone else is getting something that is rightfully only yours or something you should be getting.
    [thought] Is cheating giving something to someone else, that should only be given to your mate?

    • I believe you’re correct. Interesting how jealousy is about getting rather than deserving what one wants, isn’t it?

  3. Mavuto

    I would like to see Scot talk about handling the aftermath of cheating in a relationship…I’m interested to know if a relationship can ever be healthy after one has been found cheating…should partners really stay after trust has been shuttered by a cheating scandal?

    • Mavuto, once trust is betrayed it’s EXTREMELY hard to get it back.

      Perhaps ironically, the best way to do that is to be completely honest about not only what happened but WHY it happened. The more double-talk and the greater the number of defensive excuses, the worse it gets.

  4. One thing that surprised me when I took a role in a sales position were I had to sell to women in their home who were about to get married how many took teh sale svisit as an opportunity to bonk, Thye mett me at the bridal show. I am a 184 cm.110k athletic male. First I would get 100 plus leads while the other less masculine male sgot 20. I would call to make the appointment and follow the script confirming the apartment would be there. The women would typical gigggle and say yes he woudl be,I would turn up- they would have snacks for me, dressed in lingere or short skirts excetra. When I entered they would aggressivly attempt to seduce me, I even had one women threaten to accus me of rape if I did not have sex with her- I have had several women use this threat over the years. After threew eeks I quit as the percentage of women that had me their just to jump my bones was so high could not make income-plus the stress of the aggression on their part and the risk from females u reject I quit. I t was a big lesson to me.These women were suposed to be the most in love they were ever going to be pre marriage, and yet they still wanted to screw around.
    What most men do not realis ethere arre 2 types of men.. males women just want for sex and relationship male, If tehy have relationshiip male they fake the pleasure -with the goal of tricking him into a relationship- women after women lies to him throughout his life never realising they are faking ( 80 % of women admit to faking 2 out three times) .The purpose of the sex is to fool him into a realationship. She then cuts supply of once in the relationship. Part of the reason for this is if the male is celibate his testoterone drops so he is easier to control- and keep him as her host as in parasite host relationship. our legal system is set up to empower that parasite host relationship.

    • Rosie

      Doug, while I would not argue with your personal experience, remember your world reflects what you believe.Where are you getting the stat, 80% of women admit to faking 2 out of 3 times? if it’s true, you’d have to admit their lovers are inept to say the least. When sex drops off after marriage, perhaps the problem is the same one?
      Choosing some men for sex and others for relationship is not gender specific, as Scot would say.

    • reyrey

      I agree with this.

      Also, on the boundary issue, women will quite often justify that she has not broken any boundaries because none were set. It is an easy out.. chick logic.

      With your experience, I know this is a common occurrence, one last fling because she is not married yet, also at female bachelor parties, the stripper is quite often expected to sleep with the bride.

      Most men would have no problem with any of the questionable activities above like friends with exes and full body hugs, however they are generally an indication that more is happening.

      If more is not happening, they could be testing the waters to see what they can get away with.

      On top of the other things, this can also be a manipulative behavior to push a mans buttons.

      Setting boundaries will help, but in the end, a bad relationship is a bad relationship. Even if you are happy with it.

      • Quote: “in the end, a bad relationship is a bad relationship. Even if you are happy with it.”

        Reyrey, you’ve just summed up what just about every person who tries and tries to get an ex back unsuccessfully fails to recognize.

  5. BarzOnTheWindow

    Cheating can easily be described as anything you do with “someone else,” that you would not have done, if your “partner,” were in the room. At it’s essence THAT’S cheating, no?

    • Rosie

      That’s a great clear definition for starters, for people who haven’t thought it through yet.

  6. Hello.This post was extremely remarkable, particularly since I was investigating for thoughts on this matter last Wednesday.

  7. Thank You Mr.Scot!
    The thing is,since I have been getting your newsletters,really working with myself becoming that *Big Four* kind of a man,I’m 24,but the thing is,damn…women who are like 30,some are 40 or something,are really coming on to me,they have husbands or are serious relationship with someone,so far as cheating goes,I read a book,what talked about that women want to get pregnant by Strong/Leader/Alpha type of a guy and rise kid with Beta kind of a guy,a guy who has decent job,is a good father type of a guy,who offers good environment for the offspring.
    Women really get turned on by a guy who really have his stuff/life together with strong character.Zan Perrion talked this too,that women love 2 types of a guys a guy who is good father type of a guy,with decent income,is good provider and the other type is a seducer a charmer,the guy full of mysteries,really knows how to make women feel feminine,in her true essence.


  8. Simply wanna admit that this is handy, Thanks for taking your time to write this.

  9. DSDF

    Good post, makes sense throughout.

    Another simple default rule in a strictly monogamous relationship is whether or not it is something you would do with a family member, child, or member of a gender to which you do not get sexually involved.

  10. alijactay

    Not having clearly defined boundaries can be fatal. I was married for 17 years and in a totally monogamous relationship. I was very much in love with my wife and was what I considered to be faithful. No boundaries were ever discussed but it seemed obvious. My test was what I would be happy to tolerate if the same act were done by my partner, to me. Bad test.

    I visited a strip club on a bucks night and had a lap dance from a stripper (something I would have had no problem with if the roles were reversed – but clearly sex was over the boundary). My divorce is now coming through in 2 weeks. I actually told my wife about the lap dance because I really didn’t see it as a problem. She saw it as a massive breach of trust as grave as if I had had sex with the stripper. I wish we had discussed these boundaries earlier – getting the lap dance was not such a big deal and I would have been happy to forego that had I know the consequences. Funny thing is most of my friends during my married life were screwing everythng that moved and I was always the “prude” that didn’t participate in those activities. I think that I was tarred by association and because I was always completely honest with my wife about what happened in her absence, I think she thought there must be more to the story than what I was telling.

    • reyrey

      You say your spouse blames you and ended it over a lapdance.. I think she is lying, this is a common female move. She has not been happy with the relationship for some time and has been looking for an excuse to end it. This maneuver serves several purposes. 1, it relieves her of any guilt, 2, Justifies her actions, 3, sets you back so you can’t rescue the relationship, 4, looks good for divorce court and big settlement.

      Men are often given the shaft this way. Even years after, men blame themselves for minor indiscretions. My bet is you have been cuckolded.
      Men don’t see it because they tend to take things at face value, also, would never suspect such underhanded behavior as we would never do it to them. Women do operate by different rules.

  11. 4xford

    Scott, I think you should address the issue about involving too quickly with a female. From my experience, most women are always in some kind of “relationship” either sexual, or committed, whatever… the point is that they always have “someone”. – at least attractive women do. Then, if you start dating her and become exclusively too quickly, you might be getting into trouble since whilst you are thinking “how amazing is this girl, she might be relationship material”, she might be thinking: “this guy kindof look like relationship material, but I won’t let go my (secretely)”friend”/ex/boyfriend until I make sure he is or he has fallen for me”. Then, you decide to tell her to be exclusive, and she might agree because she doesn’t want to loose you either; but beaware!! she might be at the same time still trying to end off what she have been having with this friend, and well yes, she might eventually do it, but in that interim while she was starting a exclusive relationship with you she might as well being ending the previuos and that very likely involves still texting, calling, kissing, having sex, etc. I know “too quickly” is not well defined, but is something you guys will experience once you transform yourself into a Big 4 guy… you will soon that women in a relationship, even married, will fall for you; and although might sound “cool” you will find out it comes with a price. I would like to hear from Scott about the monkey sindrome in women… that one “they don’t let go one, until they get a very good grip of the next one” , and the best way for us guys to handle it.

    • In my experience it’s VERY far from the truth that all the high quality women are already dating someone. The only place I’ve ever even seen that talked about is in the writings of certain pickup artists. Attractive women may have a bunch of guys after them at all times, but that doesn’t at all mean that they’re seeing any of them–and the women with genuine character don’t “string anyone along” for the heck of it.

      Not sure I buy into what you’re calling “The Monkey Syndrome” either.

      These sorts of belief patterns seem to be manufactured by guys who are on the short end of the stick as some sort of means to blame women for their lack of success with them.

      Believe me, I’ve had guys get pretty upset with me, calling me “naive” and such for refusing to engage in gender bashing with them. But the fact remains that from the VERY DAY I decided to shelve the “all women are crazy” crap, almost all the women I met were sweet, happy, level-headed and treated me like a king.

      • 4xford

        Well, then It might have been my bad luck, but honestly, there is no hot + quality women I’ve meet who has nobody in her life; either an ex around, a boyfriend, a friend with benefit, or so… put it on the other side, quality man knows and has if he wants as many women as he can, why this shouldn’t be true with quality women. Now, add that due that women have their biological clock tickling, so they are constantly evaluating their options for prince sharming to have kids and get married with. We as man have all the time in the world, women don’t, and that would make them more propense to constantly been in relationships to find “the one”. Believe me, I don’t blame women for that; I imagine many of us would do the same if we were on the other side.

  12. James

    I have an idea for you. How about trusting your partner without putting her in a cage? How about letting her go if she wants to go?
    Why does everything in our lives have to be analyzed down to the nth degree?

    • reyrey

      I believe there is a difference between trust and naivety.

      I always take the position that she has to earn my trust.

      Of course you can trust her more if she is happy in your relationship, but temptation is always there.

      It is a balance issue, if you are a fool, you will be treated as such, however if you are an untrusting control freak, you will drive your partner away.

  13. I’m all for trust and freedom. That said, a couple really does have to agree on what “cheating” means. If it’s all left unsaid, that opens the floodgates for double-standards and reverse-engineered rationalizations.

  14. Heather

    You missed the whole point……at the time you could only thing of satisfying your own sexually thrills and justified your behavior by saying I wouldn’t care if my wife did the same……since when do you get to decide what’s ok and what’s not… the same ole excuse….”I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong….you’re over reacting…..what’s your freakin problem it not like she was rubbing her bare stuff on my bare stuff…” well gee…..I feel so much better knowing you dont classify that as cheating! Nothing like making your wife feel like she doesn’t exist when something more exciting comes around!

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