There is no one simple answer to this question. It is a question fraught with legal, religious and moral implications. Sleeping with (having sex with) someone outside of an established relationship can have serious consequences. That is, of course, if you are caught!
To formulate a response to this question, we must first determine what is considered to be cheating. To cheat, according to the dictionary, means to practice fraud or deceit. Dictionary.com continues with an informal definition of the expression to cheat on, which means being sexually unfaithful.
This definition doesn’t include a specific hierarchy. In other words, it doesn’t matter who you might have been unfaithful with, by definition you are still considered to be a cheat. So, whether you’ve had a sexual dalliance with a co-worker, a neighbor, friend, a person of a different gender or the same gender, or a former partner of either gender, you have been unfaithful.
Of course, most men have another definition.
Is cheating just about sleeping with another person?
When polled, many American women said that they consider their husbands cheating on them if they spend time in front of their video screens watching pornography. Others consider visiting a strip club to be a sign of faithlessness. If this is true, then visiting a prostitute would certainly be considered beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior in most committed relationships.
In fact, visiting a prostitute can used as grounds for divorce in many jurisdictions. Being caught with a hooker, or even a high-priced call girl or escort (there really is a difference), could provide sufficient motivation to unseat a governor! Newer forms of suggestive sexual conduct and innuendo can be equally dangerous and damaging to unwary users of computers and smart phones.
Sexting, one of the newer and more creative forms of sexual communication, can have disastrous effects on participants’ careers―as several U.S. Congressmen seeking reelection can attest to. Online sexual chats may occur with anonymous participants thousands of miles away, but it is still considered cheating by many lonely husbands and wives waiting for their partners to turn off their computers and come to bed.
Is sleeping with an ex more readily acceptable?
According to the website ivillage, this is Myth #5 on the list of the Top 12 Myths about Cheating. People believe that sleeping with an ex isn’t cheating because it’s something they’ve already done in the past, so why not try it once more for old times’ sake. Cheaters justify their behavior in this fashion and usually expect to get away with this mistake if caught.
Cheaters rationalize their behavior by claiming that their misstep was not with a new person, so there would be no expectations of further encounters or a relationship. They think that sleeping with an ex partner is better somehow than having an brief one-time encounter with a stranger. For the record, we kinda agree with this.
Unfortunately this strategy often backfires. Sex with a passing stranger rarely comes back to haunt the cheater. There would be little chance of follow-up phone calls or emails. The chances of getting caught with an ex are actually much higher, as an ex partner is far more likely to follow up a sexual encounter with an e-mail, text, or phone call.
Does television condone cheating?
Reality talk shows often glorify sexual misconduct each and every day. Entire programs are built around the participants’ revelations that they have been sleeping with another member of the family or the neighbor down the block or, in many cases, a former lover or spouse.
In some jurisdictions even group marriages are accepted practice, as depicted in the popular cable TV show “Big Love,” the story of a man and his three – yes, count them – three wives! Yet even within this context, the story lines depict the hidden and open jealousies of the three female partners. So, with all of this sleeping around and all of this openness about our sexuality, is there anybody left out there who is always faithful?