Is it Cheating if My Friend is Dating Behind Her Husband’s Back?

Reader’s Question

I have a question please. If a close friend is not getting along with her husband and she is dating another guy behind her husband’s back — but she keeps on insisting he is a friend — is this considered cheating?

Thank you for your reply.

Psychologist’s Reply

Yes! She’s a married individual who is dating another person in secret — that’s “cheating”. If we think about the components of a cheating relationship, they typically involve:

  • romance and “dating”,
  • a sexual relationship at some level,
  • are secretive,
  • would damage the marriage if revealed,
  • are purposeful and scheduled in an attempt to avoid discovery,
  • are often conducted with a justification that their partner is to blame, and
  • are sustained each day by a pattern of lying, deception, and manipulation.

In the normal course of life, we often develop strong friendships with co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc. Some of those friendships become “emotional affairs” in which a deeper emotional bond develops, often with a hint of romance. However, emotional affairs meet few of the criteria for “cheating”.

If she is “dating” someone behind her husband’s back, it’s cheating. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…

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