What is Considered Cheating?

By Josh Harrison

The word cheating can mean a very broad array of things to different people. Most people believe cheating to be anything sexual such as oral sex and intercourse. Others may believe it to be slightly different forms of physical contact such as kissing another person or sharing a shower with someone when they were drunk. Flirting and secretive behavior such as chatting online to other people or sending dick pics may also not sit right in the eyes of a loving partner. So what is considered cheating?

Cheating Survey

In 2013, University of Michigan surveyed 456 students on the topic of ‘Was that cheating?’. They came up with a list of 27 interpersonal behaviors and asked the students to grade them on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 indicating not cheating and 100 being undeniable infidelity. By taking the mean of the students answers, we are able to see what each behavior’s average score was. Here are the results:

What does this tell us?

For a start, kids are really sensitive these days! They don’t kiss on the cheek ‘hello’ in Michigan? Anyway, an honest survey like this goes to show how different people’s perceptions are as to what is considered cheating. The vast majority of people would consider intimate physical contact such as sex or kissing cheating. When it comes to the more obscure behaviors such as going out to dinner or lending someone $5 (what the?) then you may be surprised when your partner calls you out as a cheater.


It’s really important to discuss topics like this with your partner early on in a relationship. It allows you to understand what makes the other person feel uncomfortable and to lay down some ground rules. An open and honest discussion with your partner can really make the difference between a healthy relationship and infidelity. Bottom line: You know your partner. If what you’re doing feels wrong, it probably is.

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