If you've been cheated on before, you know how earth shattering this experience can be. Besides for a death, infidelity is probably the most emotionally painful experience.
An affair is a real threat that can destroy any relationship. The problem is, it's not always so clear when you or your partner crosses that blurry line into inappropriate behavior. Often times we have unspoken agreements that we assume our partner is abiding by, without ever really defining what's ok and what's not ok.
Sex or physical acts typically fall into a black and white category for cheating. Occasionally, you might find yourself in a gray area. For example, having a "happy ending" massage, sexual dancing at the club, sexting someone else, or some people view porn and masturbation as cheating.
However, for many people the slippery slope begins with emotional infidelity, which can occur in certain friendships or flirtation with a stranger. The straying partner might start off with innocent intentions, but it crosses platonic boundaries that are damaging to your relationship.
Research has found that emotional infidelity and online relationships are considered a real act of betrayal and have just as damaging of an impact, such as breaking up, broken trust, and feeling hurt, on your primary romantic relationship as physical acts of cheating.
So, let's get rid of the confusion--here are 3 clear signs and symptoms that you are cheating:
1) Sharing information that's meant for your partner
Is the first person you think to share some big news with your partner or a "friend"? Do you vent about your significant other to your cute coworker?
You and your partner need to protect your relationship with a couple bubble. Basically, you have to create safety, security and trust. By going to someone else with big news, personal information, or private relationship issues, you're asking to burst that bubble!
2) Getting more excited to see a "friend" than you are to see your partner
Are you dressing differently, wearing more makeup, or applying perfume in hopes of bumping into your coworker in the break room?
If you find yourself looking forward to or fantasizing about seeing a coworker or someone in your social circle, that's a good indication you're crossing the line. It's natural to find other people physically attractive, but you typically know when it's more than that--be honest with yourself.
Instead of straying, reflect on what's going on in your relationship. Are you feeling disconnected? The answer isn't to cheat, but rather to communicate with your partner about your emotional or physical needs that aren't being met.
3) Being secretive
When communicating with a "friend" or coworker, do you hide your phone, message only in private, or minimize your email when your partner is around? This is a GIANT red flag that what you're doing is inappropriate, and this relationship is not platonic.
Unless you're talking about a work project on a big deadline, there's no need to be texting with a coworker at 12AM. Take responsibility and assert stronger boundaries.
If you don't feel comfortable with your partner overhearing or reading your private conversations, you probably shouldn't be having them.
Ultimately, every couple has to define their own fidelity boundaries and get on the same page. You shouldn't agree to behaviors that make you feel insecure, uncomfortable, or in your gut feels like betrayal. It's important to talk about these issues proactively in order to protect and prioritize your relationship.
Read more of Samantha's articles on Infidelity