Financial/Object/Digital Infidelity, And 7 Other Ways People Cheat In Relationships

December 9, 2019  |  
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Enjoying Each Other's Company

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What is considered cheating in a romantic relationship? Over the holiday weekend, a clip from Baby Boy began to circulate on Twitter and Instagram that sparked a debate over exactly qualifies as cheating. The infamous clip depicts the film’s protagonist Jody as he gets ready to have sex with Pandora, a colleague of his girlfriend, Yvette, but he decides against it in the eleventh hour.

The entire set up is completely scandalous in nature, but the mixed opinions over whether or not Jody had actually cheated on Yvette in this scene revealed the immense gray area that some tread in when it comes to fidelity and relationships.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines fidelity as faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support. By contrast, infidelity is described as “unfaithfulness to a moral obligation” or “disloyalty.” The definition of infidelity is quite broad and studies have shown that what men and women perceive as unfaithfulness tends to vary drastically.

A sexual affair is not the only way that a person can be unfaithful to their partner. Continue reading for nine other forms of infidelity that can manifest in relationships.

Emotional infidelity

An emotional affair is developing and cultivating an emotional bond with someone other than your spouse or partner that is romantic in nature. They typically evolve out of innocent friendships when one or both parties invest an inordinate amount of physical and emotional energy into someone other than their spouse and romantic partner. Emotional affairs are often referred to as “gateway affairs” because they frequently serve as the pathway to other forms of cheating. Emotional affairs are the most damaging forms of cheating because they can go undetected for longer periods of time.

Spending Limits

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Financial infidelity

Financial infidelity occurs when one partner lies to the other about money, spending, credit cards or other forms of incurred debt. Financial infidelity can be just as detrimental to a relationship as physical cheating because it leads to a deterioration of trust.

It helps to stay within reach

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Digital infidelity

Cyber affairs take place exclusively online. Interactions include but are not limited to texting, sexting, and video chatting with someone other than your spouse or partner. Exchanges and almost always characterized by sexual or romantic undertones.

Cool and athletic black man training push-ups at night

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Object infidelity

According to Psych Central, object infidelity occurs when one partner becomes fixated on an outside interest and it reaches “a point of near-obsession, where the interest leads to neglecting one’s relationship.” Of course, partners should definitely pursue interests outside of their relationship; however, it begins to cross over into object infidelity territory when the interest becomes a priority over all else and causes one party to severely neglect their partner and family.

Business Colleagues Sitting and Talking on a Sofa

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Commemorative infidelity

Commemorative infidelity occurs when one or both partners are not having their physical or emotional needs met. One partner begins to seek outside sources in order to have their needs fulfilled and use their strained relationship at home to justify their cheating.

Smiling friends in discussion while sharing drinks at outdoor restaurant

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Opportunistic infidelity

Opportunistic infidelity occurs when one partner within an otherwise happy and committed relationship gives in to their sexual desires for someone other than their partner. As MyDomaine lays it out, “this type of cheating is driven by situational circumstances or opportunity, risk-taking behavior, and alcohol or drug use.”

It might be time to see a marriage therapist

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Emotional absence

Emotional absence within a relationship is a form of emotional infidelity that is rarely acknowledged. As Psychology Today explains, “Regardless of the rationalization behind it, emotional infidelity is an expression of either the need or the desire to absent oneself from one’s primary relationship, without actually leaving that relationship.” When one party emotionally withdraws from a relationship, they are extracting their commitment and support from their partner and therefore, fidelity.

Young women leaving their apartment

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Threats of abandonment

Fidelity in its simplest form is defined as continued support or loyalty; however, the very foundation of faithfulness is eroded when one or both partners weaponize the threat of leaving the relationship. More often than not, these threats are made out of anger, but over time can inflict irreparable damage on a partnership.

Young women leaving their apartment

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Boundary crossing

One of the most common forms of infidelity is boundary-crossing. One partner will often push limits with people whom they have a romantic or sexual interest to see what they can get away with. The guilty party will often rationalize their actions by telling themselves (and their partners if they get caught) that they were just “having fun” and that their transgressions should not be categorized as cheating because they didn’t go all the way.

Affectionate Couple

Source: Martin Meyer / Getty

Physical infidelity

The most obvious form of infidelity is physical cheating, which is strictly sexual. Intercourse occurs sans the development of an emotional bond or any form of attachment.

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