There Are Five Different Levels Of Cheating – How Far Have You Gone?
Judging from the infamous Ashley Madison hack and the countless viral stories about unfaithful partners being busted online, there are a whole lot of cheaters out there. Chances are, you may have cheated on someone yourself. But on the list of behaviors that people find unacceptable, infidelity unquestionably takes the top spot. No matter how common it is, cheating is one of the last remaining taboos in our otherwise sexually liberated society — a recent Gallup poll shows that people are more accepting of practices like suicide, polygamy, and human cloning than extramarital affairs.
Even if it seems like society has passed its unforgiving judgment on you for being unfaithful, there’s something important you need to know:
You shouldn’t feel bad about cheating — at least not for the way it makes you look to the rest of the world. If you’re not feeling the overwhelming guilt that society is telling you to feel for not fulfilling their expectations, don’t worry. Those expectations are hypocritical if no one else is following the rules. Your lack of shame just means that you understand the people outside of your relationship shouldn’t dictate the way that you relate to yourself and your actions.
That said, you should feel remorse for your unfaithful behavior. Whether you tell her what you did or not — which is an entirely different discussion — you’ve betrayed your partner’s trust and broken the most personal promise you can make. That is what should drive you to reflect on the real state of your relationship and why you cheated in the first place.
Like any other indiscretion, there are multiple levels of infidelity. Wherever you find yourself on the scale can show you the work you need to do to salvage your relationship — or if it’s something that’s even worth saving. Remember, the fact that you were unfaithful should not in itself be the impetus to create change in your relationship. Instead, it should be a catalyst to examine why you might need some type of change, in both your relationship and your life as a whole.
Level One: A Little Wandering
You’re in a committed relationship, but you have a wandering eye. You’ve given other women your attention — all without ever mentioning that you’re spoken for. You’ve fantasized about straying from your partner, and while you never technically did anything wrong, you’ve certainly laid the groundwork.
Honest Reflection: This is normal. All guys, at one point or another, are going to be tempted. When you find yourself wandering, think about the reasons you chose to limit yourself to that one specific person. Unless you’re constantly obsessing about what you’re missing out on because of the old ball and chain, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Level Two: Purely Physical Indiscretion
You were physical with someone who wasn’t your significant other. But this wasn’t something you had planned on doing. You had a lapse of judgment or a weak moment — you couldn’t help yourself. Importantly, this was a one-time thing. You’re not planning on turning this particular dalliance into anything substantial in the future, or even putting yourself in a similar situation again.
Honest Reflection: This happened because you lost control. Given the circumstances, you were probably out and about enjoying life, just like any other fun-loving guy. Problem is, you’re in a relationship, so you’re not just any other guy. You need to realize that you can’t put yourself in a position where you’ll let your girl — and yourself — down. That might mean cutting back on the drinking, or the nights out with the boys, if those are putting you in dangerous positions. If you can’t make that sacrifice, you probably shouldn’t continue your commitment.
Level Three: Emotional Attachment
You had a platonic relationship develop into something more — but you already have someone who’s something more to you. If you’ve reached the point that you acknowledge those feelings to the other woman, you’ve gone too far.
Honest Reflection: While this might not seem as serious an indiscretion as Level Two, consider this: You’ve probably been physical with more women than ones you’ve called girlfriend. You’re in a relationship because of the special emotional connection between you and your partner. So when you share that same intimacy with another, the level of betrayal is higher. What you need to do now is weigh the circumstances, be honest with both women, and follow your heart — to one of them.
Level Four: Multiple Indiscretions
You know the type: He’s high-powered and successful (or at least acts like he is) with a faithful woman at home. But whenever he can, he finds some tail (his term) and has some fun, off the books.
Honest Reflection:This is what happens when a Level Two can’t take the tough choices to make a change. If this is you, you probably have more personal issues than your relationship. You need to take a step back and find out why you can’t stay committed. If you can’t stop your impulsive behavior, end your relationship — and maybe go see a therapist.
RELATED READING: One Woman’s Account Of Beginning An Affair
Level Five: A Full-Blown Affair
You have two invested relationships, effectively splitting yourself in half. You’re cheating on not just one but both women by maintaining the charade.
Honest Reflection: Again, this is what happens when you don’t take the proper steps after self-reflection at a previous level. Instead of deciding which woman is worth pledging yourself to, you have decided that no one is worth your full attentions — not even yourself. You need to own up and make a change, because you’re not only hurting them and wasting their time — you’re damaging yourself by splitting your attentions and living a double life.