A long while ago, cheating was in the physical realm. One-night stands, affairs, strip clubs, and so on. Now, the world has evolved—as has cheating and all the ways you can do it. Social media, texting, hookup apps, VR sex games…the list is nearly endless. Of course, you will have a different definition of what it means to cheat when compared to others; most people do. That raises the question of which form of cheating is worse than others. Is there one that is more unforgivable than all the rest? Let’s explore.
The Different Forms of Cheating
Cheating is a form of infidelity, of betraying the love and trust of another person. Some types of cheating are more forgivable than others, especially when it happened as a mistake.
Here is a glimpse at various forms of cheating:
- Long-term affairs
- Sexploration or habitual cheating
- Emotional cheating
- One-night stands
Now for the details.
A long-term affair involves two people who are bonded intimately (and sometimes emotionally), despite one or both of them already being in a committed relationship. Affairs that last longer than 15 months or more. Some may go on for years.
Call them serial or chronic cheaters, these are the people who enjoy sexploration and booty calls more than staying in a committed relationship. Habitual cheating is the blatant disregard for the emotional and physical well-being of another person. Most of the time, habitual cheaters know full well that what they are doing is wrong, but they compulsively cheat regardless.
Out of all forms of cheating, emotional infidelity is often the hardest to pin down. In a world that has gone digital for many interactions and transactions, emotional cheating is becoming more prevalent. What this is is the action of becoming emotionally intimate (not sexually) with another person outside of a committed relationship.
Emotional cheating does not have to be done in person. Meeting someone in a VR or online chat room and falling in love with them counts.
Micro-cheating refers to some insignificant behaviors and actions that may not be done for the sake of cheating. Except, those actions could be interpreted as such. Flirting, for example, can be considered micro-cheating.
Also known as a one-time mistake, the one-night stand is forgivable, so long as it does not become a pattern. A one-night stand involves an individual accidentally or purposefully having sex with someone other than their partner.
Which Form of Cheating is Worse Than Others?
So now it is time to figure out which kind of infidelity causes the most pain. Well, that is not easy to decide. For those who have been betrayed by the person they love, any form of cheating can be hurtful and damaging. However, as mentioned earlier, some forms of cheating are also forgivable and, maybe, understandable when put into perspective.
When your partner returns home from an accidental one-night stand fully repentant about their actions, you can be angry. But you can also forgive them for a mistake.
Could you do the same if you find out that they have maintained a three-year-long emotional connection with someone online that neither of you has met? Probably not.
You can walk away from a habitual cheater once you see their true colors. You can forgive your charismatic significant other for flirting with their coworker. But an emotional affair will potentially rock your world sideways and leave it feeling off-kilter. Knowing that your partner or spouse willingly formed an intense emotional connection with another person that was so strong they became a stranger is painful. Indescribably painful.
Emotional affairs drive a wedge between two people that forces the gap wider and wider. Even when the person having the affair says different, you know that something is wrong. You stop opening up to one another. They start scrutinizing every move you make. Whoever this “friend” is, you don’t even compare to them. Their friend is better in every way, and there is nothing you can do to change that.
That is not to say that other forms of infidelity are not hurtful, because they are. However, this shift that goes on as the cheater develops a stronger relationship with their friend, is devastating to the spouse. The person you loved is now a stranger. That is why emotional cheating can ruin even the strongest of relationships.
Long-Term Affairs Are a Close Second
Most acts of cheating involve some deceit, minus the occasions where there is nothing but remorse. Otherwise, cheating is usually premeditated. Maintaining a physical affair for more than 15 months? That requires elaborate planning and lies that often end up manipulating more than one person.
Suddenly, everything is a story to keep the spouse they are too appeased. If the kids find out, they are paid off. Someone who keeps an affair going has to spend time and energy coming up with a complex plan to maintain their relationship. To keep it a secret. Usually, they also have to utilize some kind of gaslighting on their partner to make them believe that nothing is wrong. Of course, most long-term affairs fail because the lies pile up until they can no longer be swept under the rug.
When that happens and the lies are exposed, it will be incredibly difficult to rebound.
Overcome Cheating and Become Stronger Together
No matter how you look at it, cheating is a terrible thing. People end up hurt, and families may fall apart. In the end, it is better to not cheat. Yet, if you find yourself reeling from infidelity, you do not have to work through the pain alone. The marriage counselors and couples therapists of Couples Academy can help. Our programs are designed to support your growth, both as an individual and as a couple. Overcoming infidelity and building a stronger relationship is possible. Get in touch with Couples Academy today to learn more about our programs.