Nothing is ever black and white with us humans, especially in relationships. Determining what constitutes cheating and what doesn’t is challenging for every couple because boundaries are not set in stone. While definitions may differ, the core feeling about infidelity often remains common.
In a traditional marriage, any romantic and physically-intimate involvement with a third person, including kissing, is considered cheating. Generally, infidelity involves any activity that breaks the sanctity of your marriage and the trust of your spouse, as agreed upon by the couple beforehand.
To understand whether a specific kiss turns into cheating or not, find the many factors that influence the act as enlisted below.
Is Kissing Another Person While Married Cheating?
Traditional, exclusive relationships remain extremely common to this day, and most couples would consider kissing as out of bounds in a marriage.
However, those aren’t the only kinds of marriages that exist today.
Due to the fluidity of human relations, you should assess yourself, your partner, and the life you share to define your own terms.
Whether a simple act like kissing could be considered infidelity or not depends upon several factors.
1. The Status of Your Marriage
If you are in a committed, monogamous marriage, any act of kissing will hurt your partner and be considered cheating in most cases.
In polyamorous couples or open marriages, kissing another person will not be considered cheating if you are honest about it.
On the other hand, if your marriage is not based on a commitment of love but solely exists due to other reasons and feels like a formality, kissing another person may not be seen as a big deal.
2. The Agreed Upon Boundaries
Marriages within different cultures do not conform to universal norms.
Kissing another person will not be considered cheating if it is accepted as being okay by you and your spouse beforehand.
The definition of acceptable boundaries will differ from couple to couple or even from person to person within a marriage.
If you have never had a related conversation with your partner, kissing someone else might be seen an act of infidelity.
If the marriage discussions were only about money, children, and other topics, kissing could fall within acceptable boundaries.
Do not assume that your notions about infidelity must be the same as your spouse’s as they might have a different take due cultural, social, and educational conditioning.
Also, try to assess your partner’s expectations to determine whether kissing is ethically wrong.
3. The Type and Duration Of The Kiss
Kissing on the cheek, the hand, or in a way that is not deemed intimate is generally not considered to be an act of cheating.
The acceptable forms of kissing can vary from culture to culture, making it extremely important to view the incident from both your and your spouse’s perspectives.
Friendly kisses are sometimes a social obligation as compared to romantic ones, which are usually optional.
If you kiss someone in a way you generally wouldn’t kiss anyone else, then it becomes an issue.
Similarly, lingering kisses for longer durations, even friendly ones, can easily get flirty and fall outside the accepted norms.
4. The Intention Behind The Kiss
Mistakes happen, and sometimes they cannot be justified. For many, kissing someone else under any circumstance is considered cheating.
But for others, your intention can play a major role and decide the trajectory of your marriage.
If you did not intend to kiss someone but were kissed by them briefly, it does not fall under infidelity as long as you choose to pull away and tell your partner.
For some people, kissing without emotional attachments or romantic interest can easily be swept under the rug.
But, in most cases, if you kiss someone after careful thought or desire it strongly, it is an unforgivable act of cheating.
5. Does Reversing The Roles Change Your Opinion?
If you are still unsure whether the kiss falls under the category of cheating or not, try reversing the roles.
If you were in your partner’s place, how would you feel? Or, if your partner did a similar thing to you, how would you react?
If you react negatively to the thought of it alone, the act is most likely to be ethically wrong.
You cannot push the scale down on one side and justify the act for one person (you in this case) but have a holier than thou attitude when the other person (your partner) does it.
Does One Kiss Count As Cheating?
Even one kiss counts as cheating when you and your spouse have defined the terms of your marriage around exclusivity and romantic devotion to one another where kissing someone else is off-limits. However, one might choose to sweep a single kiss under the rug if it did not mean anything romantically.
One kiss could sometimes turn into much more, and other times, it may have just been a one-time mistake.
It’s not just in the kiss – it is what happens after that might determine the consequences of an action.
If you’re wondering whether that one kiss is an act of cheating or not, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Did It Spark Your Interest?
If you have desired the kiss beforehand or if, upon kissing, you find yourself suddenly intrigued by the person, you are in big trouble.
There is no going back when physical intimacy is clubbed with emotional involvement. Did you feel flustered or infatuated after the kiss?
Does it seem to run through your mind constantly? Did the kiss give you butterflies or remind you of when you first fell in love?
Being attracted to another person, irrespective of the number of kisses it takes you to feel so, is inexcusable within a marriage based on love and exclusivity.
2. Did You Wish To Take It Further?
If, after the kiss, you wished for it to go further down the line in terms of physical intimacy, your desires will be deemed as being unfaithful to your spouse.
Even when you choose not to act out on it, longing for more, imagining it, and seeking erotic advances are equivalent to emotional cheating.
Constantly wanting someone other than your spouse will hurt your significant other (SO) and tarnish your marriage.
3. Would You Rather Hide It From Your Partner?
Under any circumstance, being scared to share the incident with your partner is a red flag.
Your fear is a clear indicator of your conscience telling you that you’ve done something wrong. It is the fear of repercussions and consequences.
When you truly feel the kiss meant nothing and wasn’t that big of a deal, you would not hesitate to tell your partner about it.
Being lied to is often the most hurtful and unethical aspect when something like this happens.
The truth will come out at some point, and knowing that it was intentionally hidden will point toward being disloyal.
What Is Considered Cheating When Married?
Some of the most generic forms of cheating are emotional affairs, engaging in erotic activities, and lying to your partner about your involvement with another. Cheating within a marriage is decided based on whether an action breaks your partner’s trust in you and your marriage or not.
Often, cheating can also encompass more subtle actions and thoughts. An action does not always have to take place in reality.
Understanding and defining these can become harder, but you can expand upon generic and common forms of cheating to clarify your marriage’s boundaries.
1. Breaking your Romantic Commitment
Since every relationship is unique, defining one specific act as cheating is not the most practical approach.
An individual cannot assume what their partner may or may not consider infidelity.
Every couple will have their own set of commitments – it is when you break these, you break someone’s faith in you.
If you indulge in activities with someone else that your partner had never approved of as a part of your relationship, it will count as cheating.
However, try not to assume what your partner thinks. Clear communication is essential to understanding where your romantic commitments lie.
2. Attaching Yourself Emotionally To Someone Else
A marriage or a relationship is based on emotional needs just as much as your physical needs.
Making the feelings for your spouse exclusive provides a certain sense of security between the couple.
Indulging in an emotional affair is also seen as breaching the integrity of a marriage.
This can include the desire to share your feelings and moments with someone else rather than with your own partner.
It also means giving more time and attention to them, and holding a sense of responsibility towards a third person’s happiness over your partner’s.
In a healthy marriage, your spouse should be your priority.
3. Exchanging Dirty Texts
Sharing flirtatious and erotic texts with someone, irrespective of your advances in reality, is also considered cheating among most couples.
Texting and the virtual world tend to mimic our own reality.
Exchanging dirty or inappropriate texts with an individual will arouse you and fuel your desires for another person.
While certain texts can just be passed down as jokes, taking an entire conversation forward, building onto your imaginations, and consistently indulging in the activity is a betrayal of your partner’s trust.
4. Sharing Seductive Photos of Yourself
Like exchanging dirty texts, sharing revealing or sensual photos of yourself, or asking for someone else’s can lead to fantasizing about someone other than your spouse.
While sending bare naked photos of yourself is completely off the grid, the rest may or may not fall under cheating based on context, cultural background, and what the dynamics of your relationship dictate.
The rule of thumb is: if you generally wouldn’t send it to your next-door neighbor, or your childhood friend, or can crack a joke about it, it’s not the kind of photos you should be sending around.
5. Engaging in Erotic Activities
Right off the bat, sleeping with someone other than your spouse is the most direct form of cheating.
Unlike other acts, acting out on your carnal desires with someone outside of your marriage leaves no room for doubt.
If your marriage is an exclusive one, there are simply no case-by-case scenarios or exceptions for this one.
These encounters can include make-out sessions, reaching second bases, oral activities, or sleeping with another – all being out of bounds within a marriage.
6. Lying about Your Relationship
Whether you lie to someone else about your marriage or lie to your partner about your relationship with someone – both are huge red flags.
Taking your engagement ring off, talking falsely about your partner, or lying about your current status are reflections of your desire for someone else.
Similarly, hiding information from your spouse about where you are, who you’re with, and the proximity you share with this third-person are signs of infidelity.
In an honest and meaningful marriage, there is nothing significant to hide.
7. Splitting your Attention
Emotional needs become a significant part of most marriages and committed relationships.
You betray your marriage when you fail to fulfill your partner’s emotional needs because your attention is split and focused on someone else.
Is there someone you or your partner are more invested in than each other?
This can become starkly visible during special occasions, important news – good or bad, and in times of need.
If your spouse isn’t the first person you go to, you need to reconsider your focus and intent.
8. Being on Dating Apps
For the most part, the purpose of dating is to find a partner. If you already have one that you have committed to, why date?
You may try to justify the act, labeling it as ‘fun’ or saying to yourself, “What harm could it possibly bring?”
Looking at it more reasonably, dating apps aren’t for fun.
It is often a sign of dissatisfaction within your own marriage, the desire to seek comfort or fulfill your needs elsewhere while pretending to be true to your spouse.
Irrespective of whether you take it forward hereafter or not, most people would freak out and have a heartbreak if they found out that their SO is on a dating app.
9. Constantly Desiring Someone Else
Cheating doesn’t have to always happen out in the real world – you don’t always have to do it. What’s on your mind also has a significant impact.
Regretting your marriage, meeting someone new and wishing they were your partner, and wanting to touch someone or kiss them are also signs of infidelity.
If the desire lasts for far too long, it does not take long to manifest into your actions – whether under the garb of alcohol or calling it ‘heat of the moment.’
Belittling your partner or reflecting them in a bad light to catch someone else’s attention are added ways to expressing that desire.
10. Sharing Acts of Intimacy
There is a long list of what is and is not exclusive to your partner, whether physical or emotional.
Sharing simple acts of intimacy that were meant exclusively for your partner with another persona is a blaring siren in your marriage.
Holding hands when walking, cuddling, always sitting too close, constantly complimenting someone, always sharing personal items – are certain things that you would only do with your partner or someone you are trying to date.
When you share these tiny moments that make your partner feel loved, with someone else, you are taking what’s theirs to another without their knowledge, classifying it as cheating.
11. Investing Heavily into Another Person
We have often heard of marriages being labeled as a union. This ‘union’ is not just of people but also of families and resources.
Hence, cheating your partner in finances counts as well, as you are not hurting only your spouse but also the extended family.
Most parents and siblings would feel hurt when you hurt their loved one.
But it gets worse when you specifically take your shared resources and spend them on someone you desire.
You might be investing a little too much into another person through excessive gift-giving, taking frequent trips, going out regularly, or through other means of giving your time and money that you promised to share with your spouse, particularly behind their back.
12. Making Advances
Whether you kiss someone or not, a simple attempt to get someone to kiss you, touch you, or even flirt back with you are all acts of infidelity.
Advances do not necessarily need to have an outcome – the intention and the decision to try and hit on someone is enough.
While making advances may seem more subtle, it is the idea of leaving your beloved aside and seeking thrill and enjoyment somewhere else that constitutes cheating in an exclusive relationship.
In an ideal scenario, when you are head over heels in love with one person and are even married to them, you don’t need to think about, hope for, try, or seek solace in another.
You could be feeling guilty after indulging in a certain activity or wondering whether your partner is unfaithful.
In either case, you cannot get away without directly discussing it with your spouse. Communication is what you signed up for the day you got married.
Only your partner can tell you what’s acceptable and what’s not. What is cheating and what is not – it is between you and your spouse.
There are no rules or judgment unless you seek to discuss it in legal terms. And if the marriage does reach that point, it shows failure as a couple.
Try and talk to each other before that happens!