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-   -   When is cheating considered cheating? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23135)

tll2k6 04-18-2012 05:07 AM

When is cheating considered cheating?
This is my first post, and I am completely new to this poly thing. I fond out that my wife is in love with a person she met on the internet. They have never met irl, and he wants nothing to do with her anymore. That caused her to realize that she loved him and had for a while now, which is making her think that she might be poly. I am filled with questions, but I need to work through them one at a time. I personally don't feel like she was cheating, and I've told her this, but she is really depressed about it. I'm not asking to be convinced that she was cheating, because I can see how that could be, I just wonder: If the "cheatee" doesn't feel like it was cheating, but the "cheater" does, is it really cheating? I would think that my lack of hurt would mean that it wasn't.

NovemberRain 04-18-2012 05:19 AM

It's much better form to talk about it up front. I have a pretty hard bottom-line rule, that if you engage romantically with someone else without discussing it with me, that's cheating and I'm done. That's been my rule all my life; though before poly, I'd likely have been done had you discussed it with me.

That's another cool thing about poly. You and your wife get to decide with each other, what cheating is for you.

tll2k6 04-18-2012 05:26 AM

Well, she didn't realize that she was falling for him, and that's what made her think she was poly. This all happened about a week ago, and we've been trying to figure it all out since then. I'm sure if we decide to continue a poly relationship, we'll be much more upfront. Thanks for your response!

Phy 04-18-2012 05:34 AM

Cheating is about doing something 'wrong' intentionally (wrong according to the personal standards and morals of a person). At least in my book. Generally I would say that as long as she wasn't doing something intentionally, like cultivating this relationship despite knowing that this would go against something you two agreed to (meaning: some agreements you two made in regard to your relationship), she shouldn't think about calling it cheating. The biggest indication for this would be that she found out about her feelings AFTER he broke up the contact with her.

What seems to make it hard for her is the general incompatibility of loving someone else if there is a love in her life already. Therefore, from her 'mono-mindset' it counts as cheating that she has had feelings for another man. Judging things doesn't have anything to do with how another person sees them. She judges her actions according to her inner moral standards and it may help her that you aren't putting some more pressure on her, but you won't dissolve this dilemma for her by saying "This is different for me." I have felt the same when I discovered my love for another man besides my husband and I needed years to overcome the thought of "This can't be right, what the heck is wrong with you?!"

Give her some time to sort her feelings out. If she never thought about the possibility of loving more than one this can be quite a shock for her.

tll2k6 04-18-2012 06:46 AM

Thanks Phy. It really helps to hear it from the other side, so to speak. She decided to go spend this week with her sister 300 miles away, and it's been a little difficult, but we are talking things through. I want her to have all the time she needs, but it's hard after being with her almost nonstop for 8 years.

urmila 04-18-2012 07:53 AM

I think she is much more frank than so many people. As soon she realised that she had started loving her, she has discussed with u.
The most important thing for u to work on her to remove that guilty feeling and convince her that she was not cheating on you

tll2k6 04-18-2012 08:05 AM

Honestly, she didn't come out and say it. But that is a discussion for another thread. I might type it out sometime tomorrow, explaining our current situation.

PaperGrace 04-18-2012 02:12 PM

I do think of it as cheating. If you google "emotional affair," there's a Wikipedia page for it.

I've been the cheatee in an emotional affair during a long term, monogamous relationship. My ex was depressed. He became deeply, emotionally involved with a colleague - 3 am emails and chats, 2 hour long phone calls, involvement with her friends, family, and kids. He withdrew physically and emotionally from me. He didn't even want to tell me about his day. This went on for months. He claims they never had sex. Frankly, I'll never know, but it didn't really matter. It ended our relationship.

One take on my situation is that we had different definitions of cheating. However, his inability to love us both at the same time, monogamy or not, was a real problem.

I've read that women are more hurt by their partner being in love with someone else and men are more hurt when their partner has sex with someone else. That is perhaps why you and she see the situation differently.

That said, plenty of couples deal with sexual cheating and manage to repair their relationships. Some may even make their connections stronger with the honest work they do to get there. There's no reason why you and your wife can't work this out, too.

CielDuMatin 04-18-2012 03:54 PM

The term "cheating' is relative, as far as I'm concerned - everyone can give their own opinion about what they consider cheating, but only two opinions matter - yours and your partner's.

If you think of cheating in a game, it means "not following the rules". To me, cheating in a relationship is exactly that.

The only difference between monogamous and polyamorous relationships is that the rules are different. To a monogamous person, having sex or a relationship with another, with or without permission is automatically cheating, to a poly person, if it's done with everyone's consent, normally it isn't. For some engaging in a BDSM activity with a third is cheating, for others it isn't.

One of the problems that we have in society, in my opinion, is that there are these generally-acknowledged "rules" for relationships - only problem is, different people interpret them differently. Some people regard their husbands going to a strip club as cheating, or talking to a woman on the internet (extreme examples, maybe, but I've seen them).

The important thing is that you are your partner feel free to work out what your "rules" are, and be prepared to review them, according to each of your needs. Once you have those in place, then you both know exactly what is and isn't cheating in your relationship. This is one of the key parts of defining a relationship, as far as i am concerned.

I caution you to treat anyone else who provides specifics as to what THEY regard as cheating as input to your own process, not as a "rule-of-thumb" to stick to.

So if your partner thought she was breaking the rules of what she understood to be the relationship, then she is entitled to that. Maybe that should be a prompt for the two of you to sit down and agree on what those rules should be....

feelyunicorn 04-18-2012 04:56 PM


Originally Posted by tll2k6 (Post 133034)
If the "cheatee" doesn't feel like it was cheating, but the "cheater" does, is it really cheating? I would think that my lack of hurt would mean that it wasn't.

Interesting question. Except for two relationships I`ve had, I shunned monogamy from the start.

In one of the exceptions, prior to having "the monogamy talk", I was casually having sex with another woman. At the time, I felt like a cheater. I had my roommate tell her bullshit stories, like I was at the supermarket, when I was with my fuck-buddy, etc.

Later I went on to get dumped by this fuck-buddy, and agreed to an entirely monogamous relationship. Throughout it, I felt like I had cheated (although that was the only time).

It was only after breaking up with her, that I finally told her about the woman I was seeing at the beginning of our relationship. I was expecting a barrage of invective and guilt-tripping, but to my surprise she said: "You weren`t cheating. We weren`t committed back then."

Which is true. So, even though I would have handled that situation differently today, I`ve since come to accept her notion that I didn`t cheat. Which means, that I`ve had many relationships in my life without ever cheating. Something I`m really proud of. Especially since I feel men are socially pressured to cheat by both women and men, in spite of the lip-service to the opposite.

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