The other day, redditor u/crabpinchingmyanus asked the internet, "Where does cheating in a relationship start for you?" They shared what they believe are the "first signs" of cheating, and it's equally eye-opening and heartbreaking.
Here are some of the top-voted responses:
1. "The sneaking around. The second you start plotting to do something behind my back, you're violating the trust of the relationship."
2. "If you would be unwilling to tell your partner about an interaction, then it's probably time to start thinking about what you're doing."
"I think the two basic litmus tests are: 1) Would you tell them/do it in front of them? 2) Would you be okay with it if they did the same thing? If the answer is yes to both, it’s probably fine. If it’s no to either, then at minimum you’re on dangerous ground."
3. "When you’re hiding the nature of a 'friendship' from your partner and the rest of the social circle because it’s becoming slightly more than a friendship and you aren’t shutting it down, you’re hiding an affair."
"My ex kept telling me I'd ruin our relationship if I met his friends (both women, both exes). He also said I wasn't entitled to meet his friends — yet we'd been dating for five months, and he said he wanted to live with me someday. Basically, I started getting uncomfortable about his relationship to these women, and he would tell me I was accusing him any time I asked anything about them. Literally anything. I don't know if he was doing something physical or actively in a romantic relationship with them, or he just felt his friendships were a bit flirty or inappropriate, and he didn't want me to know but...not worth putting up with it."
4. "To me, cheating just means breaking the rules. I've been in all kinds of relationships, ranging from 100% strictly monogamous to completely polyamorous. Regardless of the type of relationship, we negotiate our specified boundaries, and breaking them is cheating."
"And there's always a thin line with some behavior. Even in a strictly monogamous relationship, I feel like innocent flirting is okay. However, hiding that from the other person would, in my view, constitute cheating. If I hide something from my partner, then it was not okay. If it was okay, I wouldn't hide it."
"The boundaries that you and your partner set in your specific relationship is key. Best way to avoid this kind of trouble is to have healthy communication between each other and to set these boundaries early. If you come to a disagreement, either manage a compromise or find someone else whose boundaries match your own."
5. "For me it was: 'I’m going a few days on vacation with my male friend. We will stay in the same hotel room but sleep in different beds.' I told her I am not comfortable with this, but she went anyway."
6. "I count emotional affairs as cheating, but this can be difficult to define because I want my partner to be able to have good, supportive, close friendships with other people — I just don't want them to replace me, or for him to be closer to them than he is to me. And I don't want it to cross obvious boundaries (physical intimacy)."
"I generally walk the line of if something bothers me, I talk to him about it. Afterward, if it still doesn't feel right, and I'm not happy, then I would need to make a decision."
"My ex emotionally cheated on me, so I know that feeling. At first, I wanted to support him, having a best friend of the opposite sex. I, too, have a lot of close guy friends — that’s fine. But it was when he started to go to these fun activities with her without me, and it really hurt a lot. They went skating and all — even when we were together, he never took me skating. Hurts like a f**king b*tch."
7. "Cheating starts at lying, even by omission. I am okay with private conversations, meeting people my partner wants to meet, going away on business trips, or going out and coming back late at night. But lying to me about it or about what happened? Or simply not telling me something I don't want to hear? That's cheating."
"So, for example: 'I will go out tonight, to see people you don't know and talk about things you don't care about' — we are in the clear; it's fine. But if it's more like: 'I saw X and Y last night at their place' — if I know for sure that it's not true, then there might be some cheating involved. It only works if you are not a creep, or even jealous. There needs to be mutual trust and respect. When trust and respect are gone, the relationship is gone too."
"Lies. It always starts with lies. Be it texts or snaps — if one of us has to lie or hide, it's wrong and should not happen."
8. "Honestly, it's about intentions more than anything. If my S.O. started pursuing someone romantically, that's cheating — doesn't matter if it's lovey dovey texting or sleeping with them. If my S.O. was at a party and a drunk person kissed him suddenly against his wishes, that's not cheating."
"At the end of the day, it comes down to them wanting to be with another person, and they aren't being honest about it. The polite thing to do, even though it's painful, hard, and sad, is to break up. Breaking up is never sh*ttier than cheating."
9. "Withdrawing emotionally from your partner and offering that energy to someone else. It's always fine to seek support from others, but if your partner is the one withdrawing, your relationship is probably dead in the water. Cheating doesn't have to be kissing or sleeping with someone else."
"Deliberately turning away from your partner. So, for example, you have a bad day and you know your partner could comfort you and would happily do so — but instead, you turn to your cute coworker who has been flirting with you lately. Or confiding in another person about your issues with your partner in an inappropriate way that’s meant to create emotional intimacy between you and this other person — when you haven’t discussed the issue with your partner directly and given them a chance to repair it."
10. "Personally, I don't mind flirting in public with a stranger if it's fully understood that it's not going anywhere and contact information isn't exchanged. Emotional cheating is a precursor to physical cheating, and it represents a need for couple's therapy. My wife of 10 years physically cheated on me with someone she had known for two weeks."
"I wanted to go to therapy and fix things, given we had two kids. She didn't. She regretted it later when things approached divorce, but it was too late. I had begun to move on, and why would I want to be with someone who didn't choose me?"
11. "If you've got butterflies for someone who isn't your partner, either shut that person out or leave your partner. I think it's extremely black and white. Everyone knows when they've got a little connection with someone. Playing with the connection is playing with fire; the cheating starts when you let the fire burn rather than snuffing it."
"Not all physical cheating happens due to emotional cheating, but emotional cheating inevitably leads to physical cheating. It's the slow burn that over time makes the eventual physical contact almost irresistible, which is why you never go down that road to begin with."
12. "I think there's a clear-cut difference between physical cheating and mental/emotional cheating, but it all relates to your honest motive, intention, and conscience. For example, there isn't anything inherently wrong with texting with another person if you are married or dating, but if you know in your heart that you are texting or engaging in conversation that makes you feel guilty or it would make your partner upset, you may be doing something wrong, even if you technically did not cheat."
"If at any point you are justifying your actions or defending your actions/feelings/thoughts from a technical perspective, you may be at the start of doing something wrong."
"Years ago, I brought out a new girlfriend to meet my friend group for the first time. There was a lot of us at this bar. My girlfriend got into a conversation with a guy at the bar. No big deal — it was right in front of me. Then, they moved to one of the tables nearby. After about 15 minutes, my friends were kind of nudging me, like, 'What's going on over there?' I said, 'I don't know. Maybe she knows him.' The implication being that this was starting to appear rather rude; I couldn't help but question her judgement at this point. I finally went over and said hello and introduced myself to the guy. My girlfriend was shocked and embarrassed. She thought the dude was one of my friends and was just being really forward in an effort to get to know her. She spent 15 minutes wondering how she could politely find her way back to me, but they were engrossed in a deep conversation about a mutual interest."
13. "A person unwilling to define boundaries with other people to protect their relationship is someone who wants to cheat. When they say boundaries aren't needed, they're full of sh*t."
"Boundaries, and the willingness (or not) to discuss them. Huge green (or red) flag depending on how they respond to the suggestion."
14. "When any sort of romantic investment in another person starts occurring. If my partner was texting someone and saying they loved them in a romantic way, that would be enough to end things. Because at that point, they have made up their mind and have stated their intentions."
"When they’re going out of their way to talk to them. When they really go out of their way to do something. It’s okay to have a crush, but as soon as you start putting action toward it, and you’re acting on something — that’s it."
15. "The second your partner gives into the temptation of wondering if the grass is greener. As soon as it’s acted on, the floodgates are opened. If you can’t take being approached in public by a stranger asking for your number with the intent to go out, then that sums up your current relationship."
16. "For me, the seed of cheating was sown when she was having conversations with her friends about me that I was unaware of. I discovered that my ex-girlfriend was having entire conversations against me with her friends — and their gang cooked up a plan to hook her up with somebody else."
"Later, I found screenshots taken on Snapchat. It all happened over Snapchat, because, of course, there is no trace left behind. I told her that only shady people use Snapchat, and she took severe offense to that. Snapchat has a 'Snapchat score' system — my Snap score was around 400, hers was 44,000. The way I interpreted it was that she had sent innumerable messages to other people that she didn't want a record of."
Do you agree with these opinions? What are some other "first signs" of cheating in a relationship? Let us know in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.