Is It Cheating If We Only Kissed?

So you’re with someone of the opposite sex―or same sex, depending on your orientation―and the kiss happens. Maybe you’re just old friends having a good time or maybe you’re co-workers celebrating closing a big deal; in any case, the kiss happens. There’s only one problem: You’re in a committed relationship with someone else.

As the song goes, a kiss is just a kiss, but is it really? If you’re married or exclusively dating someone, is there really room for a kiss outside the relationship without serious repercussions? Isn’t it cheating? It turns out that the answer to that question is complicated and depends on a number of other factors.

What kind of kiss was it?

There are as many different types of kisses in the world as there are different shapes of snowflakes, but they do fall into a few more general categories. When evaluating a kiss for cheating activity, a peck on the cheek, or even the double French peck on the cheek, is probably harmless. A quick brush across the lips is pushing it, but you might be able to pass it off if you’re really affectionate with people and your spouse is either easy-going, inebriated, or busy playing tonsil hockey with their old high school flame while you’re having your kiss.

If the tip of your tongue leaves your mouth at any point during the kiss, you just bought yourself a one-way ticket to Cheaterville, my friend. And if there’s groping involved, well you may as well round those last few bases and get your money’s worth, because you’re in big trouble when your partner finds out.

How would you feel if your significant other kissed someone else?

They say turnabout is fair play, so let’s turn the question back on you: “If your significant other kisses somebody, is it cheating?” More to the point, if you’re walking down the street and catch your partner in near-terminal lip-lock with their yoga instructor, are you going to be upset?

Most people are very hypocritical when it comes to romantic behavior and, while they think it’s just fine for them to kiss someone else, they would be very upset to see their partner kissing somebody else. There are exceptions, of course, with many truly open relationships existing these days. As long as you have a mutual understanding with your significant other that kissing is allowed and you’re both okay with that, you’re on safe ground with a kiss. If not, you’ve got a bit of a “cheatin’ heart,” as Hank Williams would say.

What motivated the kiss?

Some people are just “kissy” people. The French, for instance, seem to kiss at the drop of a hat, whether it’s the polite two-cheeker or the deep, passionate kiss that bears the French name. When you get cornered by a person who kisses over just about anything, sometimes there’s not much you can do without causing an international incident.

It probably goes without saying that it’s alright to kiss your mother, father, children, or siblings, unless there’s something very weird going on in your family. If you just saved someone from a burning building, or were saved from a burning building, a kiss of gratitude is probably okay. When your team wins the World Series after a 103-year drought, you can probably be excused for kissing the person next to you wearing the team colors.

If you see someone absolutely gorgeous and decide to kiss them on the spur of the moment, you get bonus points for spontaneity, but you’re probably cheating. As a matter of fact, any kiss that might be motivated by the desire, conscious or subconscious, to get somebody into bed with you, is cheating.

Where does your relationship go from here?

One thing that all innocent kisses have in common is that they don’t, and almost can’t, lead to anything else. If a kiss leads to more kisses, nibbles, caresses, and eventually acts that trained acrobats wouldn’t attempt with their clothes on, it’s cheating.

Even if you’re not pushing to go horizontal, sometimes a kiss is intended to elevate the intimacy level of a relationship. If you’ve been working with an attractive co-worker for years and developed a friendship, then suddenly kiss them, it’s clear that you are pushing to the next level. Whatever that next level is, whether it’s a “work spouse” relationship, a make-out buddy, or a full-fledged affair, you can bet that it’s a form of cheating.

You wouldn’t think a kiss would be such a big deal in this day and age, but when your kiss is a serious, passionate kiss―the type of kiss that you wouldn’t want to see your partner give to someone else―it can be cheating. Also, if it has deeper meaning behind it, or bigger plans ahead of it, your kiss is probably a cheating kiss. Basically, if you think a kiss is cheating, it probably is.