It can mean different things to different people, but it boils down to the betrayal of trust.

I get asked that question many times. Both men and women seem confused and worried about what is okay and what isn’t. If you are in a relationship, then you need to talk about it and decide what that means for you and your relationship. Because with modern technology the boundaries can so easily become blurred. If you are starting a relationship, then you need to agree on the boundaries at the start, and that includes issues I talk about in this article, as well as much more as your relationship continues. Many a relationship has fallen down because things were assumed and not talked and agreed on early on.

Before modern technology, mobile phones and social media, life was much simpler, and more transparent. And boundaries were more easily defined. I’m not saying that no one cheated on one another, it happened, I just think it’s easier to do and hide now. Modern technology has changed the way that we communicate with each other, and there are endless ways of communicating as well as actually having a conversation with each other including:
•Text messaging •Email •WhatsApp •Facebook •Messenger•WeChat •Tumblr •Facetime •Twitter •Snapchat •Instagram•Linkedin

You may be surprised that I added Linkedin, as it’s generally seen as a business platform. But I have been propositioned on there many times. With all these various ways of communicating, you can see how easy it is to connect with a stranger or an old flame, often anonymously or secretly.

One of my clients did just that.

She reconnected with an old boyfriend on Facebook, and they began talking about what had happened in their lives since they had parted more than 10 years before. They had both married and had children, but neither was particularly happy in their relationships.

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By reconnecting, they forgot many of the reasons their past relationship had not worked out. Instead, they each put on those rose-tinted glasses and made excuses as to why they had parted. She said her parents objected at the time, that he lived in a rural part of the country and she was a city girl, and that those were issues they couldn’t resolve. Instead, she married a guy who worked in the city and provided the lifestyle and financial security she craved.

Ten years on she claimed she was bored in her relationship, her desire for that lifestyle came at a cost. Her husband worked long hours to provide her with all the material trappings she wanted, and he wasn’t available to meet her emotional needs.

So, her former lover appeared just at the right time – or so she thought. They each agreed that they could not leave their families until their children no longer needed them – which could be 10–12 years in the future.

In the meantime, they spend hours on social media messaging each other, with the occasional stolen moments when they could make a secret phone call.

I don’t believe either of them had their feet firmly on the ground. As I said there were good reasons why their relationship had not worked out all those years ago, and it’s so easy to romanticise about an idyllic life. Instead of working on their current relationship, they were prepared to risk everything and cause untold hurt to their respected partners and children.

When I challenged her as to whether she thought she was cheating on her husband, she claimed she wasn’t as they hadn’t had any physical contact, it was just innocent chatting and messaging. But I viewed it differently, as they were making plans to leave their current relationships, albeit in the future.

Then I asked her how she would feel if she found out her husband was doing the same thing. She brushed my question aside, adamant that her husband wouldn’t do that.

It’s not my place to tell clients what they should do. But it left me wondering what happened after we finished working together.

Do you think she was cheating?

Dating Apps

Let’s not forget dating apps such as Tinder, in which all you have to do is swipe right to engage in what may seem harmless flirting. But which can soon turn into much more. There are some who continue using dating apps when they have met someone, and started a relationship with them. It’s like they want to keep their options open. Maybe they are concerned they are going to get dumped, or are they wondering whether something better might come along? They may think it’s not ‘effectively cheating’ because it’s not physical, just innocent chatting with someone. But these chats and texts can escalate to exchanging photos and even to sexting.

Chat Rooms and Sites

There are also numerous chat rooms people can join anonymously and chat sites where guys can pay to chat, text and flirt with women – anonymously. It’s so easy for those who feel bored and missing that excitement in their relationship. I had one client who used to call the chat number when he was working alone for long periods of time. He said it was to relieve his boredom, but it didn’t occur to him to call his partner. He got found out when she saw his mobile phone bill on their bank statement and confronted him as to why it was so high. He denied it at first and then tried to excuse it away by saying he was only chatting because he was bored. But he finally had to come clean in the end, when she demanded to see the detailed bill and checked the number to the chat line.

The Workplace

Workplace romances have happened for years. I remember when I was working for an insurance company many years ago, I felt I was the only one who wasn’t flirting, engaged in an office romance or cheating on my partner after-work drinks, which may seem just that, but after a few drinks can soon lead to more.

When you are working in the same environment with others for the best part of your day, those innocent offsite team meetings with colleagues can turn into more than that. You catch someone looking at you in ‘that way’, maybe a comment, and you sense that there is chemistry there, and bang before you know it, you start to feel good. You feel that someone has noticed you, where before you felt like part of the furniture with your partner. Mobile numbers are exchanged, you connect on one or other of the social media sites (only in the line of work of course), but then you find that work conversations turn into more personal conversations, with the odd innuendo thrown in. You can dismiss the evening calls or texts as related to work issues. Once read they can be deleted, leaving no trace.

It can feel exciting, but at that point, you need to step back and give yourself a reality check.

How much do you have to lose? Especially if either of you are already in a relationship. You have a lot to lose, often at a huge cost, both financially and emotionally.

Why do people cheat?

Here are some of the reasons, they aren’t excuses, as each of us needs to take responsibility for our actions and even when things aren’t going well, we have choices!
•Do they feel they aren’t getting all their needs met by one person?
•Is it the thrill of having and maintaining such a huge secret?
•Is it that they have an inability to integrate two conflicting opposite sides to their personality?
•Do they feel they don’t deserve success or happiness and self-sabotage?
•Are they unable to be their true selves with their primary partner, and they create an alternative world enabling them to live out their fantasy – compartmentalising their lives?
•Are they selfishly holding onto one relationship while starting and maintaining another one for fear of being alone?

What are the warning signs that your partner may be cheating?

– If your partner has a sudden interest in his clothes, changes his hairstyle, goes on a diet and becomes a fitness freak, whereas he was content to be a couch potato.
– He starts dressing up for a boys night out, whereas before he just dressed in T-shirt and old jeans.
– He panics when you pick up his phone or opens his laptop.
– He walks into another room to take some of his calls.
– He deletes text messages and makes excuses as to why he has done so.
– He isn’t interested in sex with you any more. He claims he is tired, stressed, not in the mood.
– You can’t get hold of him at times you would expect to.
– His behaviour is different around you. For example, he is edgy or angry.
– If he starts paying you more attention than usual – could mean he is feeling guilty.
– He stays up later than you, spending time on his computer.
– He brings up the subject of what is cheating and what isn’t. Maybe telling you something one of his friends has done, when in reality he’s checking on whether you think it is cheating.
– He starts complaining that you aren’t fun, sexy ,attractive or interesting any more.
– He passwords his phone and doesn’t let you have the password. He may excuse it by saying he doesn’t want the kids to get into his phone – and keeps forgetting to let you have the password or says you are nagging when you remind him.
– He changes the password to his laptop, social media accounts, bank account, email, or other online sites that you had access to before.
– He starts taking selfies of himself and posting them on social media, and not so many of you together, or your family.

If you haven’t had a discussion with your partner, whether you are in a new relationship or you have been together for a number of years, now is the time to have that chat about what the boundaries in your relationship are. Just because you don’t have access to some of the passwords I mentioned above, doesn’t mean something sinister is going on.

Many couples agree that they have a level of privacy, which I believe is healthy. After all, we don’t own each other. It’s about what you agree is okay and there aren’t any other warning signs. If you feel uneasy and have some niggling doubts it may be time to take some action, whether you follow up on your suspicions, or have a chat with your partner. Or, you could casually leave this article open where he/she will see it!



Wendy Capewell is a Psychotherapist, Relationship Specialist, author and podcaster. www.wendycapewell.co.uk info@wendycapewell.co.uk
Love~Listen~Talk~Repeat podcast – https://bit.ly/3f7NMAX

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