Blog - Snogging, flirting, porn: what exactly 'counts' as cheating?

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By Girl on the Net 2 months ago 480 Views No comments

What counts as 'cheating' to you and your partner? The definition is going to depend on the kind of relationship you have, and what your agreed boundaries are (if you have any!). But thanks to results of a survey this week released by relationship counselling charity Relate, we can have a dig into what other people consider 'cheating', and how the definition might be changing across the generations...

I love it when new surveys come out. While they're rarely offering a guaranteed scientific insight into the human mind, they can definitely help us identify trends in the way people think and talk about sex.

This week, Relate (the ones who run relationship counselling services across the UK) released the results of a survey they ran with over 5,000 people. If you, like me, are intrigued to see the detail, you can read the full report – Let's Talk About Sex: the state of our sexual relationships in the UK today – over on the Relate website. For now though I just want to focus on one of the stats I found most intriguing: what people count as cheating.

Cheating: snogs, porn, sex and more

Naturally, Relate see plenty of couples who are dealing with cheating. Relate counsellors identified affairs as the number one strain on relationships observed in the counselling room. Unsurprising, given that people are more likely to seek outside help with their relationship when something significant has happened – and most of us would count cheating as something pretty big.

Relate quizzed people on a few common scenarios, and asked them if they'd consider it 'cheating' within their own relationships.

  • More than 20% of people thought going to a strip club counted as cheating.
  • More than 80% thought sending sexually explicit texts was cheating – a similar number to those who thought kissing counted too.
  • Over 30% counted flirting as cheating!

I find these results really interesting – in my own relationship only one of those things would be a definite 'no' on the cheating front: going to a strip club. I go to strip clubs both with my partner and occasionally without him (with friends, not on my own. Not sure I'm yet brave enough to even go to the pub on my own let alone a late-night venue like a strip club). For the others, it would strongly depend on the context and the situation: I've happily watched my other half snog other people, but I'd probably be upset if he did something like that behind my back.

Does porn count as cheating?

But the most interesting stats for me were all about porn. Let's face it, in my line of work it's not just important but vital to watch quite a bit of porn. If my partner was unhappy about it, chances are we'd be so incompatible we'd never have got together. And the other way round? Well, he's long been a fan of porn, and I couldn't bear to take that joy away from him or make him hide it from me. I really enjoy walking in on him having a lubed-up wank to something amazing: I find it incredibly hot, and I'd be miserable if porn was suddenly off limits in our sex life.

That's not the case for everyone, though, as the Relate figures showed.

When asked if watching porn alone counted as cheating, 20% of women and 11% of men said yes. Younger people – perhaps because they have grown up in a time when porn was quickly and freely available online – were far less likely to consider watching it to be cheating. Less than 10% of them said it was, compared to 30% of people aged 65 and over.

Do you consider watching porn to be cheating? This report really challenged my ideas about what I'd consider 'most' people think: I think thanks to fab companies like SexToys.co.uk, and my fellow sex-positive bloggers, I live in a bit of a bubble where porn is concerned. Every day I see the benefits of it – whether watching it alone with my favourite vibrator, or watching my other half watch it while he plays with the latest Tenga kit. Or even finding tips and tricks from porn that we'll try out ourselves later on: I have porn to thank for lots of ideas around technique that I've used in strap-on play, for example.

But whatever your thoughts on porn, one thing that's really clear from the Relate info is that everyone has different conceptions of what counts as 'cheating' – all our relationships are different, and individual needs are different. So one of the best things we can do to build stronger connections is talk about our needs and feelings. And yes, maybe sometimes challenge our own and our partner's perceptions to find out the best way forward.

Do you think watching porn counts as cheating? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.