Have you ever been in hot water with your girlfriend because your definition of cheating doesn't exactly align with hers? That's because men and women perceive infidelity differently, according to new research published in Sexual & Relationship Therapy.
In the study, researchers had 272 female and 82 male undergraduate students complete a questionnaire to assess their personality and how this relates to what degree they share intimate thoughts and feelings and want to form/maintain a close bond (what they called, "communion"). The also asked assessed their fear of intimacy and sensitivity to being rejected. The questionnaire categorized infidelity in three ways: sexual infidelity, intimate infidelity, and fantasy infidelity.
- Sexual infidelity can include any sexual act—vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex, even kissing.
- Emotional infidelity is often called an affair of the heart and can include flirting, talking extensively with, and draining energy from your primary relationship with this person—without acting out on any physical chemistry.
- Fantasy infidelity refers to any imagined scenarios you cook up in your head, like fantasizing about having sex with someone other than your partner.
Women, who tend to be high-communion and low fear-of-intimacy individuals, were more apt to see sex-based acts (e.g. intercourse, oral sex) and emotion-based acts (e.g. falling in love without acting on the feelings) as constituting infidelity, compared to men, who tend to be low-communion, high fear-of-intimacy individuals.
So, yeah, you texting that hot girl you met at the gym is crossing the line in most women's eyes.
Cheating can be poisonous in a relationship. It can create a rift and ultimately rip everything apart. The best way to make sure this doesn't happen? For one, don't sleep with another woman. But also, check in with your girlfriend and have a conversation about fidelity and exclusivity. Make sure you're on the same page.