As dating trends and habits evolve within our society, one thing will always remain taboo: Cheating. In a relationship, what exactly constitutes as cheating? What would you do if your partner cheated, and do men and women define it differently?
The State of Dating in America report, recently released by ChristianMingle.com and JDate (who are, full disclosure, the source for this post), surveyed more than 2,700 U.S. singles between the ages of 18 and 60 on the dynamics of trust and infidelity in a relationship.
What exactly do men and women constitute as cheating? Let's take a look at the statistics.
The study revealed that 100 percent of women believe kissing counts as being unfaithful, while only 86 percent of men believe the same.
Similarly, 77 percent of women believe having an "emotional" relationship counts as being unfaithful, while 55 percent of men believe the same. Lastly, 82 percent of women believe texting or online flirting counts as being unfaithful, while 56 percent of men believe the same.
"This is an age old dilemma with women being more comfortable with monogamy, while men are less comfortable with it," says Rachel Sussman, a New York-based marriage and family therapist and licensed clinical social worker. Sussman helped analyze the State of Dating in America's findings and provide her expert insights.
"Some men, not all men, try to draw the line in the sand wider and wider to give themselves some latitude," she says.
Once a cheater, always a cheater?
In spite of the difference in defining infidelity, two-thirds of survey respondents would consider marrying someone who had been unfaithful in a prior relationship, depending on the circumstances. However, that number drops to only about 20 percent if a love interest was unfaithful to the individual surveyed, and only 4 percent say they would definitely get married to someone who had been unfaithful to them.
"Some people are more prone to forgive than others. It's a hard thing to work through. It can often represent a problem in a relationship, but if it's worked through, a couple could come back stronger," says Sussman. "I have found through my experience that it is possible for someone to learn from their mistakes."
While there may not be right or wrong answers when it comes to infidelity, it's essential for you and your partner to express your individual feelings, lay down the rules and come to an agreement on the matter before jumping on the commitment train. This will help you avoid any "misunderstandings" down the line.
"What is important to remember here when looking at these statistics is that the difference of opinion about this topic can create problems for relationships. Communication and talking it through before it becomes an issue is important to build trust and make sure both people in a relationship are on the same page," says Sussman. "The more issues you can sort out early on, the less likely a problem will arise, particularly a relationship-ending issue."
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