If a relationship is about more than sex, surely cheating cannot simply be about what you do with your dangley bits. In the days of yore, when everyone pretended that a ‘normal’ family was a mom, a dad, kids and a pet, sex on Wednesdays and scones on Sundays perhaps cheating was more easily defined. People were not friends with members of the opposite (or should that be adjacent?) sex except as couples, relationships were more strictly defined and sex was primarily a conjugal right. Now, post sexual revolution, relationships come in so many shapes and forms there can be no absolutes regarding any aspect of them.

If sexual contact is cheating, then swingers must feel betrayed all the time. Only they don’t. As long as the sex takes place with the knowledge of the partner and usually in full view of the partner, swingers don’t feel betrayed by their partners having sex with other people.

So maybe it’s only cheating if your partner doesn’t know. “Anything behind my back. Anything that would require lying to get it done without my knowing”But people in open relationships don’t seem to think that. They are perfectly aware that their partner may, at some stage, have sex with someone else. They will probably never know when, or even if this happens. But if and when it does, it certainly would not be considered cheating by either partner.


So maybe cheating is about sharing yourself with someone else. Dividing your energies.

“For me cheating is when you give away the love that should be given to your partner.”Men and women are friends with people outside of their relationships, many guys and chicks have very real, very intimate sharing friendships with each other with the full knowledge of their partners. So sharing intimate details and thoughts, dreams and all that other deep and relevant stuff can’t always be cheating either.


What one couple may consider cheating may be perfectly normal behaviour to another couple. In other words, every behaviour you consider strange is someone else’s fetish or way of life. Somewhere there is a man who likes the fact that his wife sneaks off and shags strangers on the ‘sly’ in dingy hotels. Only she knows he knows and he knows she knows etc. And it’s what they do. Most of us would immediately classify that behaviour as cheating only for that couple it’s not.

In some societies sexual infidelity is both accepted and expected. In the Masai tribe, young women marry older men, men in their forties who have proved themselves to be men. The women are generally in their twenties and have lovers the same age as them. All children born to the woman are accepted as her husbands, by everyone including the husband. This is the case even if the child is obviously not the husbands. The wife’s young lovers live in the compound with the married couple. All that is required is that the wife be sexually available to her husband at his demand. When he was a twenty something youth, not yet socially a man and able to marry, the husband had a lover who was married to some old guy too. And probably has kids running about he is not responsible for.

But let a Masai husband catch his wife in bed with one of her lovers!!! He is fully permitted to beat her to death for disrespecting him.

In some parts of southern Europe , the mistress is as much a part of married reality as family lunch on Sundays. Italian men are renown for having both a wife and permanent mistress and in France , when it was revealed that Mitterrand had a long standing mistress and an illegitimate daughter, the headline of Le Figaro, Paris ‘ oldest daily newspaper, was “SO????”

If you grow up in a society where having sex with more than one person at one stage in your life is ordinary and acceptable, the line for what cheating is has to be somewhere else in the sand.

For me, cheating is more than shagging someone else. It’s much more about where he spends his emotional energy. If it’s on someone other than me at the expense of our relationship, that’s cheating.

While I would hate to have to choose, I’d rather my partner shag some stranger in another town and never see her again, than go out for long lunches and cosy dinners with a “friend”, sending smses on the sneak, thinking about her when with me, discussing our relationship, his hopes, dreams and all that pink fluffy stuff with some woman for six months without ever touching her. That for me would be more of a betrayal.

People consist of four areas; emotional, intellectual, spiritual and sexual. If my partner is going to share one of those aspects of himself with someone other than me, I reckon sexual in the one I’d least mind losing. Not to say I wouldn’t cut his dick off and feed it to the squirrels, but in theory I’d rather I were his sole confidante, the only person he trusted with who and what he really is, deep inside where the important stuff resides, than that he shared that with other people and let me have sole command of his penis.

Ideally, we all want it all but sometimes that’s not how it works.