Is Texting An Ex Cheating? | Decoding What’s Ethical

We’re all afraid to lose a partner in one way or another. Sometimes, that can also make you paranoid about doing little things that can be considered wrong – mainly when it includes the gender you are attracted to, and it gets worse when it involves your ex.

Cheating usually occurs behind your partner’s back. If your SO is unaware that you are texting your ex, or you are afraid to show or mention the details of your conversation to them, it can easily fall within the realm of cheating. However, casual chats once in a while are not a big deal.

Here are some general situations that constitute cheating, followed by what’s okay as well, in most exclusive relationships.

Situations When Texting An Ex Counts As Cheating

1. Sharing Erotic Conversations

What’s a clear no in any exclusive or monogamous relationship is sensual engagement with other people.

If you share erotic details, discuss your body, or talk about the possibility of engaging in such acts through texts, it is a clear sign of cheating and will not be taken well by your partner.

In fact, you even risk developing feelings for your ex once again. You can read more about it in my article on the possibility of developing feelings through texting.

If you’re sharing erotic conversations with your ex over text, there is no going back from it. A single conversation is more than enough to be considered cheating under this category.

This can include creating hypothetical sensual scenarios, expressing desirability, asking for or sending nude pictures, or any other attempt to seduce your ex.

2. Revisiting Emotional Attachments

If you are texting your ex regularly, and you feel like you’re getting hooked or getting your feelings back – it would be considered cheating.

Within an exclusive relationship, you do not allow yourself to be in situations where you feel for another, especially knowing it would happen.

If you do find yourself in such a situation accidentally, you must take a step back immediately.

Persisting in revisiting your previous attachments and finding them in your heart again by consistent texting is cheating.

3. Hiding It from Your Partner

The best way to know whether you’re on the right track is to see if you’re scared to share something with your partner about another person.

If you are texting your ex behind your partner’s back, it is considered cheating.

You should not be willing to sabotage your current relationship for a few conversations with someone you’ve left behind.

Whether you are hiding the fact that the two of you are texting or hiding a specific conversation or text, both scenarios are equally bad.

You shouldn’t be deleting chats just to avoid your partner seeing them. Apart from hiding, openly lying about it when asked for makes matters even worse and will also fall within the realm of cheating.

Hiding It from Your Partner

4. Wishing for Them to Come Back

When in a stable relationship, happiness and fulfillment are often crucial metrics. Texting your ex a few times should not change that for you – and if it does, and you continue, it is unfair to your current partner.

It is common for some people to realize that they loved their ex all this while or their current partner is not treating them right. And that is OK.

The right step in such a situation is to break it off and be with the person you want to be with the most and consider the right for yourself.

However, sitting in your partner’s arms, texting your ex, and wishing it was them every time you text is a part of cheating.

5. Giving Them More Attention

Choosing anyone over your partner (in most cases, not extreme ones) is considered unfair and wrong. You are the closest to your partner and share your life with them.

Hence, if your entire focus is being driven towards texting your ex, especially when your partner needs you, it is cheating on them.

It would be best if you weren’t texting your ex on dates or watching that late-night movie together. You shouldn’t ignore your partner or cut their calls just because you are texting your ex at the moment.

Your partner and their well-being have to be more important to you than talking with your ex any day.

6. Feeling More Connected to Them

The connections we share with our partners are precious and unique. Romance builds one of the strongest long-term bonds – your partner is supposed to be the one you end up sharing everything with.

Hence, when you’re already in a serious or exclusive relationship, feeling more connected to your ex and continuing to maintain contact even through text is cheating.

When you text your ex, knowing that they are becoming more important to you than your partner is a part of you supplementing and boosting that feeling willingly and consciously.

Allowing your ex to have what is rightfully meant to be your partner’s is to cheat on them – and handing over your emotional connection is one of those things.

Feeling More Connected to Them

7. Lying About Your Relationship

Besides lying to your partner, lying to your ex can also be cheating.

Other than some particular case scenarios that threaten your partner’s well-being, you shouldn’t be lying about your relationship status (unless your partner has exclusively asked you not to let them know).

Lying about your relationship status and claiming you’re single is not taken well. It is a sign that you are keeping the possibility or desire of your ex coming back.

You shouldn’t lie about what your partner is like or put them in a bad image to make it seem like you are in a bad relationship or opting for a way out.

Any such advances strongly constitute as unfaithful or disloyal acts towards your partner.

8. Sharing “Too Much” with Your Ex

Texting your ex once in a while is fine, but they shouldn’t necessarily become your confidant. This is particularly relevant to your relationship.

Sharing your relationship secrets, intimate details of your partner, or minor inconveniences or issues with your ex is inappropriate. For most matters, you should be directly communicating with your partner.

For issues you can’t discuss, turning towards your friends and family is always better than with your ex. You are, in a way, betraying your partner and hence, cheating them.

However, if you are seeking help out of your abusive relationship and hope an ex might have the way out – that would be an exception.

9. Reminiscing About the Past

It is common for exes to crack jokes about their shared past or randomly bring up an event from what happened earlier if they are on good terms.

However, when texting your ex, you start reminiscing about all the romantic or sensual moments you used to share or missing those moments. In that case, it constitutes being unfaithful to your partner.

Whether you are discussing these past moments consistently in text or just thinking about them in your head every day – it’s all equally bad.

Your partner expects you to have no other person than them on your mind for romantic engagements, and so do you when committed.

Reminiscing About the Past

10. Making Plans Behind Your Partner’s Back

Going behind your partner’s back and hurting their trust in you is always considered infidelity.

During conversations with your ex, you should avoid making plans to meet them or going out without your partner’s knowledge.

Indeed, you do not need permission for every little thing you do, and you may have good intentions. But in specific case scenarios (such as this), letting your partner know is expected.

This might rub them off the wrong way, make them overthink if they find out, or hurt their feelings.

Situations When Texting An Ex DOESN’T Count As Cheating

1. No Strings Attached

Texting your ex isn’t cheating if they mean absolutely nothing to you. You’ve left behind all of your attachments with this person, and nothing they say or do is affecting you anymore.

Once you’ve moved on, reaching out or texting your ex or responding to them once in a while is not that big of a deal because you are not putting them above your partner or your relationship.

As long as you don’t get attached to your ex while texting, you are not cheating on your partner emotionally in any way.

2. Being Straightforward and Direct

Taking a stand for your partner, with or without them being around, is a big sign of loyalty. If you are texting your ex, you should be straightforward about your relationship with your partner.

If your ex intends to hit on you, you simply tell them that you’re not interested and do not beat around the bush.

If you make your intentions with the conversations super clear in terms of words and actions and leave behind no mixed signals – then you are loyal to your partner.

You don’t only “not betray” your partner but also clearly communicate to your ex that you will never betray them.

Being Straightforward and Direct

3. Just Catching Up

If you’re only texting to catch up, check in on each other, or casually small talk once in a while, and neither of you could care any less about each other’s romantic engagements – then you’re not cheating.

As adults, most of us move on and forgive in life. Holding a grudge isn’t the best route, and it’s normal for people to stumble upon each other from the past.

You still shared history, and being curious about how they’re doing is okay. A typical conversation catching up is always okay as long as it means nothing more or has no hidden intentions behind it.

4. Letting Your Partner Know

Honesty is the first thing to consider when discussing loyalty.

If you are honest with your partner about who you are talking to (even if it’s your ex) or what you’re talking about – you are on the good side of your relationship.

Let your partner know that your ex reached out to you by text or that you shared a simple conversation. In stable and healthy relationships, it is normal for you to be able to tell your partner something like this.

If you are concerned, your partner might worry, show them a little love in subtle ways and assure them that it means nothing through your actions and words.

But under any circumstance, if you are devoted to your partner, you’d tell them something as important as this.

5. Treating Them as Any Other Acquaintance

Just because you once shared a romantic bond does not mean they are special. If you treat your ex like any other acquaintance texting you, then it’s not cheating.

You simply do not give them any special treatment just because you shared a connection in the past.

You respond to them in your free time and don’t let your ex take up your time with your partner or prioritize them in any way – texting them is fine.

It is when you start giving them this special treatment that the line begins to get blurry. Because why are they still special to you?

Treating Them as Any Other Acquaintance

6. Giving No Significance

Texting your ex simply isn’t that big of a deal to someone who’s loyal. They don’t see it as a big deal because they aren’t questioning their relationship or partner.

The awareness that you know just because you received a text from your ex or responded to them does not influence your life is enough to say that you aren’t cheating in the relationship.

Receiving a text from an ex holds absolutely no significance to you – it’s just a simple text message you received.

You respond and return to your everyday life – it doesn’t run through your mind. Because your partner, your well-being, your family, and the things that matter to you live there – in all faith.

7. No Change of Feelings

Texting your ex, however frequently it may be, should not affect your feelings for them or for your partner.

If, after texting your ex, you still feel completely in love with your partner, and feel absolutely no sparks for your ex, then you’re on the right path.

Emotional cheating always begins with a feeling for another and can quickly grow into erotic or romantic engagements.

But if conversations with your ex do not trigger any such feelings or hinder your current relationship, it doesn’t fall into the cheating category.

8. Putting A Stop to Their Flirtation

If your ex tries to flirt with you through text, and you clearly tell them not to – it’s not cheating. It’s not your fault they were trying to advance or flirt with you, despite you telling them you’re taken.

Their actions are on them. However, not acting out at all and letting it happen will be considered cheating.

It is only when you put a stop to their advances towards any form of romantic engagement that it is not cheating. If they still continue, it is your responsibility to stop texting them.

I have written a helpful guide on how you can completely stop texting someone.

Putting A Stop to Their Flirtation

9. No Room for Disrespecting Your Partner

If you truly respect your partner, you most likely wouldn’t be cheating on them in any way – even when texting your ex. But it’s not always about what you do.

When you are texting your ex, and your ex is not constantly belittling or putting your partner down, then it’s fine.

But if they are, you are also supposed to take a stand and not tolerate any form of disrespect towards your partner.

Protecting your partner and their reputation is an essential element of devotion in a relationship, and not doing so can also be considered a mild form of cheating.

10. You Can Tell Your Partner Anything

Generally, having open communication between you and your partner is a good sign.

Whether it’s about your ex or not, if you can tell your partner “anything” – how you feel, what you’re doing, who you meet, what you talk about – it means that your trust has solid foundations and you are not cheating.

You are only cheating when you keep them in the shadows or engage in activities with others that were mutually consented that you would not engage in.

Even if you haven’t yet told your partner that you’re texting your ex, you wouldn’t mind if the topic came up and you could hand them the entire conversation without having anything to worry about.


What does and does not constitute cheating is often a conversation that needs to happen in any relationship.

If you think the lines are blurry or are confused about a certain act, such as texting your ex – you should try and have that conversation with your partner.

Make sure both of you find a middle ground to what is and is not acceptable, and respect that mutual decision in everything that you do.

Shashank Verma

A trained theatre actor and a STEM graduate who brings perspectives and methods from these worlds into dating and relationships. Also a big time Krav Maga enthusiast and practitioner.

Recent Posts