But there are many cheating myths out there that simply aren’t true. Do men cheat more than women do? Does an emotional affair count as cheating? These questions are often met with untruths.
Believing these myths might even make you believe it’s impossible to meet faithful partners on some of the best online dating apps. Here are 10 of the most common misconceptions about cheating and infidelity within relationships - and the truth about them.
1. A partner cheats because they’re unhappy with you or your relationship
Your relationship could be perfect in every single way, but your partner could still cheat on you. Although it might feel personal, it’s not always because they’re unhappy with you as a partner or because something went wrong somewhere during your time together. Maybe they met someone else who they were also incredibly attracted to and got along with well, even though they still love you. Who knows?
People can cheat for millions of different reasons. So if your partner has an affair, try your best not to think that it was your fault or because your relationship is falling apart. That very well might not be the case.
2. Cheating only counts if sex is involved
Sex isn’t the only way that a person can cheat. Cheating can involve a ton of different acts or behaviors. Some of those include a quick kiss, making out, oral sex, sexting, sending nudes, or even having a deep emotional connection built over the phone and not in person.
If your partner tries to tell you that they didn’t cheat on you because they didn’t actually have sex with the person, then they’re not being honest with themselves or you. Or maybe they just don’t understand what cheating even means. Either way, reflect on whether you really want to be with someone who doesn’t respect you, your boundaries, or your relationship.
3. Affairs are purely physical
Cheating is not always physical. Of course, it can be, and it often is. But infidelity can happen without a partner ever even touching another person or seeing them naked.
Some affairs can be purely emotional. This means that a partner is emotionally intimate with someone else behind your back instead of physically intimate with them. This doesn’t necessarily make the act of cheating any better or less hurtful. There’s no hierarchy of what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable when it comes to cheating. The pain, shock, and heartbreak can still be the same, or even worse when you find out that your partner has been having or had an emotional affair with someone else.
4. Once a cheater, always a cheater
It’s easy to think that just because somebody cheated once, that means that they’re definitely going to cheat again. If you find out that your partner cheated in the past, try not to think that they’re automatically going to cheat on you. If they’re vulnerable enough to admit that they made mistakes or had habits like this in the past, that might be proof alone that they’ve grown since doing those behaviors.
If your partner cheats on you, it’s possible that they can change and never do it again. This is especially true if they feel guilty and realize that they (actually) regret doing it and will never do something like that again because they don’t want to lose you. Still, you’re not obligated to continue being with them whether they tell you they were a cheater or if they cheated on you. The choice to stay or go is yours.
5. You can never trust someone who cheats
On a similar note to the cheating myth above, it may be hard to accomplish, but some cheaters can be trustworthy even after breaking your trust. It might take a lot of time and effort spent to repair your relationship and be confident in their trustworthiness, but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility.
If you’re having a hard time trusting your partner after they cheat, but you still want to make it work for yourself, the kids, or whatever reason, consider reaching out to a professional for help. Seeing a couples counselor or a relationship therapist can help you and your partner discuss the cause of infidelity and offer tips on how to repair your bond so you can stay together.
6. Cheaters can’t help or control their behaviors
“I’m sorry. It was a total accident. It will never happen again.” “She was the one who kissed me!” Excuses like these are just that … excuses.
Pants don’t just fall down, and bodies don’t just come together and get intimate like that. It takes two to tango. Taking responsibility for your actions is one thing. Totally avoiding blame is another story, one that is less respectable and worthy of attempts of reconciliation. If your partner uses an excuse like they aren’t responsible for their actions or it was an accident or something else along those lines, consider running in the other direction.
7. You need to break up with someone who cheated on you
Just because someone cheats, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ever be happy with them again. A lot of people can get over their partner cheating on them and move forward to have happy lives and relationships after.
Of course, this isn’t always the case. Many folks think that cheating isn’t okay under any circumstance and will automatically break up with their partner based on principle alone. And that’s fair, too. But if you’re dedicated to making your relationship work after finding out about an affair, know that it is possible. Things may never get back to how they were beforehand, but with communication, time, and commitment to fixing things, you and your partner can get to a better place.
8. Men are more likely to cheat compared to women
There’s a very common misconception that men are far more prone to cheating than women. But the truth is that people of all genders are capable of having affairs.
Some studies suggest that men are more likely to have a physical affair while women are more prone to having an emotional affair. In an online survey conducted by The Truth About Deception, roughly 91% of female participants admitted to having an emotional affair compared to 77% of male participants. And when it comes to confessing, a study by the Institute for Family Studies suggests that about 20% of men will admit to cheating vs. 13% of women.
The moral of the story is that everybody and anybody can cheat, including queer couples, straight partners, and people of all races, so don’t think that infidelity is specific to one group of people (because it’s not).
9. The person who cheated didn’t know what they were doing
This explanation could actually work if you were in the beginning phase of your relationship and you didn’t put a label on it yet or talk about whether or not you weren’t seeing anyone else. But if that’s not the situation here and you’ve been exclusive for a while, then chances are high that the partner who cheated had a very clear idea about what they were doing when they did it.
Don’t be fooled by someone who says that they didn’t know what was happening or that what they were doing wasn’t right, especially if you two had a clear understanding that your relationship was monogamous.
10. Cheaters actively seek out opportunities to cheat
Some people believe that looking for love on dating apps might mean coming across cheaters lurking there behind their partner's back. The truth is, dating apps can be a great place to meet your potential match, so you shouldn't be deterred from finding love on apps like Zoosk or eharmony. Cheaters don't always seek out ways to be unfaithful - it often just happens.
A partner can meet somebody at the gym, a classmate at school, a coworker at the office, or through a mutual friend. Their relationship can start off platonic and grow organically over time, and intimacy can develop without actively pursuing it.
Being with someone other than your partner isn’t excusable if it’s non-consensual. But it doesn’t always happen out of bad intentions or because they’re out there looking for it. Sometimes, it happens without trying.
Don’t lose faith in love
There are obviously many different myths about cheating out there. We’ve covered 10 here, but the list goes on and on. You can’t always prevent a partner from cheating, but if you are open about your boundaries from the beginning, discuss whether your relationship is open or monogamous, and communicate the consequences to your bond that can happen if they have an affair, you’ve done your part in trying to prevent it.
If you do get cheated on, try not to lose faith in love. Not everyone will cheat. There are plenty of loyal, trustworthy partners out there on dating apps who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Keep looking and holding onto hope that you’ll find them and they’ll find you. You’re worthy of a healthy, happy relationship.