5 Ways You Cheat Without Even Realizing It


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I once received this email from a reader:

I love your insight and columns and use them as a guide for what I want in a man and to keep me focused on what is right and acceptable for me in a relationship.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me spread the word that sending “suggestive” emails and such when you are in a committed relationship is cheating and being unfaithful.  So many ex’s (and friends ex’s) I know see nothing wrong with it since no physical contact took place. Help out some of us girls please?

So, I began thinking about her request. There are likely men (and women) out there who all have different personal definitions of what “cheating” means. This can obviously cause some issues if someone thinks they’re being relatively innocent, but their partner is totally not okay with what’s unfolding.

Here are a few things that you might not feel fall under the cheating umbrella, but your partner very well may think otherwise.


Deleting text messages from other men or women.

This one is kind of shaky ground, because those texts might be totally innocent and that man or woman could be a completely platonic friend…but then, why are you deleting them?

Perhaps you’re with someone who is overly possessive and you’re not “allowed” to have friends of the opposite sex. With someone like this, obviously the definition of “cheating” will be much tighter, but it will be cheating in their eyes nonetheless. Now, whether or not you should be staying with someone who takes their distrust to that extreme is a whole other conversation.

The bottom line is that if you’re doing your best to bury your bones in the proverbial backyard, they’re probably not bones you should be playing with in the first place.


Sending those ‘suggestive emails’ we mentioned above.

Come on, really. Whether it’s emails or Facebook messages, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people complain in a tweet or a status about someone whose page says “In A Relationship” and they’ve got clear intentions with the messages they’re sending.

In the age of social media people will know if you’re available or not, and if you’re trying to meet up with someone else when you’re committed, you’ll probably get called out.

You’re not even blurring the line here, you’re just stepping right over it.


Being emotionally closer to someone else than you are to your partner.

No, cheating does not have to be physical. In fact, emotional cheating can be even worse (if that’s possible), because if something is strictly physical, it may not remove you emotionally from the relationship completely (Note: I don’t think any type of cheating is acceptable, physical or emotional). It’s perfectly normal to have friends of both genders in whom you can confide and talk about things with, both good and bad.

The issue begins to present itself when you are substituting this other person for your significant other. Do you feel closer to them? More connected? Would you rather talk to, or spend time with them? Are you texting them when you’re with the one you “love”? These are all questions to ask yourself.


Trading photos with someone.

This one should be obvious, because it basically classifies as sexting. A real stretch of an excuse could be that it’s the same as just looking at pornography because you’re not actually physically touching someone – but if it’s someone you’re literally talking to, building a connection with, and asking to get pictures from, in return for sending your own, you’re crossing the line. Especially if these pictures are R-Rated, or as a guideline, wouldn’t be something they would post on Facebook that you could have just downloaded.

That would be weird too, by the way. You’re better than that.


“Forgetting” to mention that you’re in a relationship.

If you’re out with friends and you meet someone new through casual conversation, I’m not saying to blurt out that “OH I’M IN A RELATIONSHIP” immediately, but the longer you go without finding a way to fit it into the conversation, the more out of your hands the trajectory of discussion could get.

There is no avoiding the impending awkwardness of this situation – either you’re going to end up exchanging numbers with someone you’ve got no intention of contacting (hopefully), or you’re going to bring up your boyfriend/girlfriend way after it made sense to in the first place, and someone will end up disappointed.


A relationship goes far beyond physicality. The only thing that separates a committed relationship from a “friends with benefits” scenario is the emotional bond you share with your partner.

This bond is present whether or not they are in the same room with you – and your actions when they’re not around should reflect the emotional commitment you’ve made.

To be safe, just ask yourself if you would be okay with your significant other hearing, seeing, or feeling what you are doing with someone else. If you wouldn’t do it in front of them, don’t do it behind their backs. If you’re going to – save everyone some heartache and just stay single.


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  1. ShariMarie on May 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Reblogged this on My Last Name Is Bines.

  2. Martin on May 21, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Hey Mike, you being a secular humanist, I want to offer you a challenge. In the absence of God all is permissible. True or false? Why or why not? So, why is cheating even wrong, let alone these subtle forms?

    To be fair, I am a believer.

    • James Michael Sama on May 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

      Hi Martin,

      That is absolutely false, in my opinion. As a secular humanist, my moral compass is guided by what is best for either humanity as a whole or for the parties involved in a more focused situation, such as a committed relationship.

      If I make a commitment to be faithful to a woman, that is my word, bond, and promise to her. I do not need a god or gods to tell me what is right or wrong.

      Cheating is wrong because doing so breaks one’s promise to another human being. No supernatural reasoning required.

      All the best,

      – James

      • haley on May 21, 2015 at 11:13 am

        Thank you James. This is a question that I hear a lot, and it drives me nuts. If your fear of going to hell (or getting punished by god in some other way) is the *only* reason that you don’t cheat on your partner/kill someone/rob a bank… yikes.
        -Haley (from AHS!)

      • James Michael Sama on May 21, 2015 at 11:15 am

        100% with you on that Haley!

      • Ali D on May 29, 2015 at 8:14 am

        I agree, James! It would be so wonderful if more people thought this way. It’s really unfortunate that too many people of today’s world allow things, opinions of others, or religion to determine their level of commitment to someone or something. More specifically, some people withhold their commitment to a relationship, based on what they feel are getting in return. I, personally, have always chosen to never love, based solely on what I will get in return. I love & hold high standards of honor, integrity & values because it’s who I am. Seems almost as if nobody truly understands “integrity” anymore. Nevertheless, the way I’ve chosen to love, forgive, & hold values has often worked against me. This begins as my strength & ends up being my weakness,without my ever changing a thing. I don’t understand men that can’t be content with one woman & why many men don’t hold onto values anymore.
        So sorry about the rant, it just seems like these days, people are so self-absorbed.

  3. Math11235 on May 21, 2015 at 11:10 am

    ‘ “Forgetting” to mention that you’re in a relationship’ — What is it about guys today that they think this is permissible?? The bulk of men that I encounter (read that pay me any attention) are in relationships. I’ve had married, engaged, dating, etc, guys flirt, emotionally cheat, ask me out, string me along, etc. for as long as I can remember. Which is funny, because I’m not at all ok with it. When I finally find out, I’m pretty horrified and refuse to have further contact with them. I don’t know what vibe I’m supposedly “putting out” but holy crap would it be too much to meet a truly single guy once in a while??

    I enjoy reading you blog and I’m happy that gentlemen of your caliber exist but I have to say I’m pretty cynical when it comes to meeting any of them. Experience has dictated otherwise.

  4. pandy z on May 21, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Nice post, Michael, thought I believe you give far too much credit for people “not realizing” that they’re cheating. I think they know exactly what they’re doing the majority of the time. As Math11235 suggests, experience has dictated other ideas than they’re “not realizing it.”

    • pandy z on May 24, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Whoops, I meant James…..and *though…. I guess this the steam got in my eyes over this issue while I was talking. 🙂

      • pandy z on May 24, 2015 at 4:05 pm

        And I can’t type. :facepalm 😀 😀

  5. 5 Ways You Cheat Without Even Realizing It - on June 15, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    […] Originally appeared at James M. Sama’s blog […]

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