We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of changing.
In his book Out of the Doghouse, Dr. Robert Weiss defines cheating as “the breaking of trust that occurs when you keep intimate, meaningful secrets from your primary romantic partner.” He uses this definition because it encompasses both online and real-world sexual activity, as well as sexual and romantic activities that stop short of vaginal/anal penetration – everything from looking at porn to kissing to something as simple as flirting. More importantly, the definition is flexible depending on the couple. In other words, it lets each couple define a personalized version of sexual fidelity based on honest discussions and mutual decision making. This means that it might be fine for one or both partners to look at porn or to engage in some other form of extramarital sexual activity, so long as the other partner knows about this behavior and is OK with it. If, however, one partner is looking at porn (or whatever) and keeping this a secret, or the other partner knows about it and doesn’t find this behavior acceptable within the mutually agreed-upon boundaries of the relationship, then the behavior qualifies as cheating. At the end of the day, infidelity is less about the behaviors we engage in, and more about the lies we tell and the secrets we keep.
Task for Today
Think about how you define your relationship boundaries. Do you think your version of relationship boundaries matches your partner’s?