Hey there, it's Kurt Smith. You know a few days ago on my Google Plus profile I made a post about flirting, and I said that flirting is cheating.
Here's a little bit of what I wrote. Flirting is fine if you're not in any kind of relationship, the same goes for the person you're flirting with, but if you're married, or in a serious relationship, flirting with someone else is wrong.
Well that got a lot of response. Some people agreed with me and quite a few people disagreed with me, some strongly both ways. So is flirting cheating? What do you think?
Before we talk about it any further, let's get on a level playing field and establish a couple of definitions. First, flirting. Webster's Dictionary defines flirting as to behave amorously, which means with a sexual love, without serious intent. So flirting according to Webster's is to behave amorously without serious intent. I would add that having a relationship with another person that has sexual chemistry is flirting.
Let's look at a couple of comments to get an idea of what other people would define flirting as. Walther M.M. says, "Flirting is generally seen as behaving in "suggestively sexy" ways with other people, and is generally the first step towards developing romance, as this is what singles usually do to signal interest in others." I would agree.
MaLou Santos wrote, "Flirting is done to arouse sexual interest in another person. If it is a simple admiration without sexual connotation, then it is not flirting." I would agree with that as well.
We all know what flirting is. I don't think we need to debate that. We could argue about whether it's intentional or not, but that's not the point. The point is that we know when there is sexual chemistry -- we know when we are flirting.
Let's add another definition before we explore this a little bit more. So cheating. How would we define cheating? I would say that cheating is going out of the relationship to meet any needs that are supposed to be met in the relationship by your partner.
Nearly all of us would agree that having sex with somebody else when you're in a relationship is cheating. But cheating doesn't just happen around sex. It can take many other forms.
Here's another comment. This comes from Greta Piperkoska. "I'm gonna imagine myself as married. Me and my husband go into a restaurant. Some man closer to the door than my husband opens it for me. I throw him a sexy smile, because I'm a woman. Cheating? Haha."
Well, Greta, I would say yes, that may have not been your intent, but you did cross a line with the 'sexy' smile. A smile, perfectly fine, a 'sexy' smile and you've crossed into the cheating waters. It wasn't your intent, but that's what's happened.
So, here's what I meant, and here's how I would explain why I believe flirting is cheating. Flirting is cheating because it's breaking a boundary within a committed relationship. In a committed relationship we agree to give certain parts of ourselves to our partner. When we're flirting, we're giving sexual interest and attention that only our partner should get -- we're giving it to somebody else.
Flirting with someone when we're in a relationship is unloving and it's disrespectful to our partner. That may not be our intention, but it's a result of flirting.
So how are we supposed to act? Here's a question from Samantha H. "So because I'm married, I can't smile and say thank you to a man who holds the door open for me?" No, you exactly can and you should. This does not mean you can't be friendly, that we can't be nice, or engage with the opposite sex. It's just that there's no flirting with anyone but our significant other.
So that sexy smile that Greta threw that man, not okay. Samantha, just smiling, you're fine.
So flirting is cheating. What evidence is there to support this statement? All you got to do is look at our culture, and how many failed and broken relationships. I work with people everyday as a counselor, men and women, and I hear from hundreds and thousands everyday online. Who are struggling in broken and failed relationships because they didn't respect boundaries in the relationship.
So, that's my belief, flirting is cheating. Is flirting cheating? Agree or disagree??
Although there’s not one answer to the question, why do women cheat, there are some frequently repeated reasons. Surprising or not, the reasons why women cheat aren’t that much different from the reasons men do.
Do you think it's odd that I'm exploring the question why do women cheat on a blog for counseling men? After all, aren't men the ones who cheat? Actually, some studies have shown that women cheat more frequently than men. I regularly counsel men who've been cheated on. As we explore this question, I’ll share excerpts from the article, Confession: Why I Cheated On My Husband, by Marina Pearson.
"How could you have done this to me, to us? Who are you and who did I marry?”
So who does this sound like, a wife or husband? I’ve heard these words and others similar from both women and men dealing with a cheating spouse. These were actually said by Marina's husband.
With tears in his eyes, my ex-husband shouted and screamed these questions at me on the day he found out that I'd had an affair. All the while, I stood there shaking, in shock, not knowing what to say that would make what I had done right. I was a cheater.
According to the UK Adultery Survey 2012 by undercoverlovers.com, cheating women are more likely to stray as they are seeking emotional fulfillment, an improvement to their self-esteem and romance. When women cheat will depend on how fulfilled they feel in their marriages. But according to the survey, wives who cheat will do so five years into their marriages whereas men will do so seven years in.
The top reason for why do women cheat is happiness. Women who cheat are unhappy, for one reason or another, and are seeking happiness outside their relationship.
1. My Mindset. I was still living in the illusive notion that happiness was something that I could acquire from an external source, so I bought into a fantasy. It's a fantasy that I see a lot of my clients buy into, which is that there is a fairy tale, one-sided man that exists to bring happiness to them. This is just not true.
Back then, I bought into the notion that because I wasn't happy that someone else could dish happiness up on a silver platter. As my ex husband was not able to, someone else could surely, right? This of course wasn't true and to this day, still isn't. In fact, the whole ordeal stressed me out and exposed me to more confusion and unhappiness.
Another reason why women cheat that Marina's cites is guilt. She didn't find her husband sexually attractive anymore. I hear this a lot in counseling. A common mistake is to believe that this feeling means the relationship is dead.
2. The Guilt Factor. I honestly believed I was a bad person for thinking that I no longer fancied my ex husband, so as not to hurt him I kept quiet. I couldn't find the words to tell him that I no longer found him sexually attractive. I was scared that he would finally find out that I was that "bad person" I judged myself to be. Instead of being able to confront him with my feelings and thoughts that "only bad people" would have, I proved my own beliefs of being that "bad person" anyway hoping he wouldn't find out.
Not having the tools to fix the problems in the relationship is another reason why women cheat, and men too. Rather than learn how to fix the problems people just look for an easier solution like finding someone else where the problems don't exist (yet).
3. Lack of Maturity and Knowledge. Looking back, I realize now that I didn't have the maturity or the tools of how to live with the problems that my ex-husband and I were encountering at the time. We would argue, get upset and as a result, our communication broke down and so did our intimacy. I didn't know how to manage the dynamic nor manage my thoughts around them either. Any time we argued, I honestly believed that he didn't love me. So, I acted out to get my own back.
Why do women cheat? A passionless relationship is last reason Marina says contributed to her cheating. Add this to the unhappiness that results, and was already described, and you have the stage set for an affair.
4. The Passion Died. At the time, I remember feeling that the passion had died in our relationship. I wanted to feel that my ex husband longed for me, that he wanted me and that he would woo me. Our relationship fell into a day to day routine, taking all the excitement out of it and the passion died. I wanted to break free from this and thought that the best way was to do it through a selfish act. (from Confession: Why I Cheated On My Husband)
So why do women cheat? Unhappiness, wrong mindset, lack of sexual attraction, guilt, lack of honesty in relationship, immaturity, lack of knowledge and relationship tools, and being in a passionless relationship. How many of these do you have? And even more importantly, how many could your partner have?
As you can see, the reasons why do women cheat could describe men as well as women. The solutions, as well as the prevention of an affair, are the same too. Start by dealing with problems, and if you don't know how, ask a professional for help.
Wondering why do married men cheat? Let’s examine the latest high profile cheater, General David Petraeus, to find some answers. Below are excerpts from a USA Today article on Why Do the Powerful Cheat. It gives us a few starting points in understanding why do married men cheat.
David Petraeus is not your run-of-the-mill husband with a wandering eye. He's not just another philandering politician or celebrity cheater, like so many others whose indiscretions have come to light in recent years.
He's a retired Army general who designed and led the military surge in Iraq and was top commander in Afghanistan. He had been deployed much of his career until he was named CIA director last year. His abrupt resignation amid news of his extramarital affair with a married Army Reserve officer brings a new wrinkle into an old story of why yet another powerful man risks so much for a woman.
Yes, Petraeus joins the list of wayward sons: Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, Mark Sanford and Eliot Spitzer — just to name a few.
All of these men were married, so are nearly all the men I counsel after having an affair. But if you already have a relationship, why would you be looking for another one? If it's not the need for a relationship, then why do married men cheat? Here are some of the article's suggested reasons why powerful married men cheat:
Risk takers "tend to believe they control their destiny or fate," Farley says. "The risk-taking personality has a bold quality. It's at the heart of great leadership, and sometimes it overrides what many Americans would call common sense."
Risk taking? Married men cheat because they're risk takers? Well, maybe. Certainly no one will argue that cheating isn't risky. But is this really why married men cheat? I don't believe so. Although I would agree that for risk takers it's easier to cross the line and cheat.
Add in a dose of entitlement, suggests Mira Kirshenbaum, clinical director of the Chestnut Hill Institute in Boston who has written books about infidelity.
"Power and success give people a sense of invulnerability," she says. "A lot of guys like Petraeus have worked awfully hard, and yes, they have a lot to show for it, but day-to-day mostly what they face is more hard work. Where's the big reward? An affair can seem like a long-deserved perk."
Entitlement? Now we're getting closer to one of the real reasons for an affair. Nearly all cheating married men I've counseled have been unhappy in their marriage. This unhappiness, whether about the sex life, not feeling respected respect, conflict with their wife, or a number of other factors, does contribute to them feeling entitled to finding pleasure elsewhere and thus to cheat.
Petraeus' resignation letter, which cites "very poor judgment," is particularly troubling to Dan Crum, a former CIA polygraph examiner and now consultant in Fairfax, Va.
"When he said he showed poor judgment, it minimizes the affair and characterizes it more as a one time poor decision than an extended period of decisions to maintain and continue the affair," he says. "It's almost like a 'How dare you?' response. It's part of that almost arrogance — 'Who are you to question me? I'm the one giving the orders here.' "
Crum says the fact that there was an e-mail trail "demonstrates a level of arrogance and a feeling that you're above the law."
Arrogance? Yes and no. Certainly arrogance and entitlement go hand in hand. I think arrogance explains more why men continue the affair even after the first indiscretion. Whereas entitlement can be more of the reason why do married men cheat in the first place.
New research by sociologist Andrew London, a senior fellow at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University in New York, has found increased risk for extramarital sex among veterans. One study online now in the Journal of Family Issues used 1992 data from 2,308 ever-married people to find that more than 32% of veterans reported extramarital sex -- about twice the rate among ever-married non-veterans.
A follow-up that includes data from 2010 finds "elevated odds for extramarital sex were higher among both male and female veterans," he says. London, the lead author, also finds that those who served in the military four years or longer had a particularly high risk.
Cregg Chandler of Sumter, S.C., has seen it firsthand. He retired in 2007 after 29 years in the Air Force, including the last nine as a chaplain at bases in the USA as well as overseas in Korea and Spain. He says infidelity appears to have escalated in recent years. That's why he wrote A Separation Survival Guide for Military Couples, out earlier this year. He says military life often brings stress, isolation and frustration, which can lead to infidelity.
Military separations, which are recurring and often long-term, create loneliness without the family support system.
"They have a saying in the military: 'What happens TDY (temporary duty assignment) stays TDY.' I'm not saying it's an overall mentality, but they have that saying." (from Why Do The Powerful Cheat)
Opportunity? Yes, now were getting to the real answers to the question why do married men cheat. How married men cheating happens is very much like how fire starts. To start a fire you need to combine 3 ingredients: Oxygen, heat and fuel. In another words, when you put a combustible material (unhappy husband) together with oxygen (marriage not addressing the problems) and provide spark (opportunity for relationship with an appealing woman) you get fire (cheating). Unlike fire, this combination does not always result in cheating, but it does frequently.
Why do married men cheat? First, because they're unhappy, lonely, stressed...(fill in any combination of unpleasant feelings). Second, because they're in a marriage that is not meeting nor addressing those needs not being met (which is both partners' fault). Third, opportunity presents itself in the form of another woman not to feel those unpleasant feelings. Spark. Fire. Cheating. And that's why married men cheat.
Got a married man other woman problem? Or maybe you just want to prevent one. Let's see what we can learn from the latest celebrity cheating married man that could help you.
You're probably aware of the recent married man other woman situation actress Kristen Stewart, from the “Twilight” movies, and "Snow White and the Huntsman" director, Rupert Sanders, have gotten themselves into. Here's an interesting take on how married man other woman affairs are viewed from Jeffrey Scott Shapiro:
There’s a very specific reason Stewart is taking all of the heat, however, and it’s because tabloid journalism has a formula of almost always blaming 'the other woman' whenever a major male celebrity has an affair or commits an act of cheating.
The tabloids have done their own studies based on week-to-week sales, which reveal that since most tabloid gossip readers are middle aged, married women, who prefer to read stories that blame the other woman instead of the cheating married man. That’s because these same readers are addicted to stories that target their own fears—and the idea of a younger woman coming along and stealing their own husband one day is a big one. And after reading about how awful someone else’s life is, they can breathe a sigh of relief and say to themselves, “Well, at least MY marriage isn’t THAT bad!”
Could the last two lines above describe you? Could you be fearful, consciously or subconsciously, that another woman could steal your husband? Do you feel better about your marriage when you read how bad someone else's marriage is?
One of the lessons I have to teach couples in marriage counseling after an affair is how they let their relationship become vulnerable to cheating in the first place. This is a very difficult concept for people to grasp, after all almost no one intends for an affair to happen (usually even the cheating married man says this).
However, the marketing by the media of married men other woman problems shows some of our susceptibility. We are much more comfortable and able to see the faults in others' marriages than in our own. Until we're willing and able to take an honest look at our own marriage and address the ways we're vulnerable to an affair, we're setting ourselves up to have it happen to us too.
If you've got a married man other woman problem right now, you're probably feeling overwhelmed by the anger, hurt, and betrayal. And that's totally normal and okay. As those feelings begin to subside, take a real hard look at your marriage, getting the expert opinion of a marriage counselor really helps, and find the ways your marriage was not protected well enough so you can prevent it from happening again. If you haven't had a married man other woman situation arise yet, do this above to prevent it.
Above quote from: In Defense Of 'Twilight' Star Kristin Stewart
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Learn how your husband rates compared to other husbands and how to protect your marriage from an affair. Take our Free Husband Rater Quiz (quizzes for both wives and husbands).
Q: Do I have a cheating spouse? I found out my husband said he wanted to have sex with a webcam girl in a hotel room. Then he tells me that is just the way people talk on the webcam. Is he telling me the truth? Since they didn’t have sex he says he isn’t a cheating spouse. -- Crystal B.
A: Yes, you have a cheating spouse. Cheating can happen in many ways and doesn’t require sex. Cheating on spouse occurs when a partner goes outside the relationship to meet needs that are supposed to be met by the other partner. Another part of cheating on spouse is lying to and deceiving the other partner.
Your husband is telling you the truth that this is the way people talk on sex webcams, but they don’t say that on regular webcams. You’ve got a cheating husband who may be doing more than just looking at naked women online, so be very careful not to be deceived by his explanations.
Your husband is showing a willingness to do more than look at porn. If you don’t believe that what he’s done so far makes him a cheating spouse, his next move could make him a cheating husband by anyone’s standards.
-- Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor
Q: I’m a wife surviving infidelity -- again! I have been married for 3 years now to my second husband. There was infidelity with my first marriage and I have now found out that my current husband has been surfing internet porn and chatting online and has even chatted about secretly meeting people. He states he has not followed through with it but not much more communication with each other beyond that. When I ask about going to a marriage counselor he never answers me and always ignores the question. I am going to schedule an appt for myself but what else can I do to survive infidelity? -- Katie B.
A: Surviving infidelity can seem impossible, but it’s not. You don’t say what you did when it happened in your first marriage, but I’m glad to hear that you’re ready to take action this time around.
Don’t let his ignoring your requests to talk about it and go to counseling stop you from addressing the infidelity. And, yes this is infidelity. We all want to ignore or minimize things we’re embarrassed about or don’t want to be honest about, so his non-response is not surprising. However, his lack of respect for you is a much bigger concern.
I’m working with several women right now whose husband’s are doing the same thing – denying there’s any problem in their relationships and refusing to go to counseling to discuss their wife’s concerns. One wife is still surviving infidelity from 3 years ago. In my work with these women we’re developing ways for them to be heard and responded to by their husbands. This is where you need to focus your energy.
-- Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor
Q: Hi. I'm 38 yrs old and my husband is 36 yrs old. We live in Chicago and we have been married for almost 3 yrs. How do we rebuild our marriage after an affair, and having a gambling addiction? -- Keira A.
A: Although you don't state it, I assume that it was your husband had an affair and has a gambling addiction.
First, let me say that you're correct with the underlying assumption of your question that you can rebuild your marriage after these violations of trust. Many women assume that the relationship is too destroyed after a husband had an affair. So congratulations for looking for ways to rebuild rather than give up and get out.
Second, rebuilding a marriage after an affair is certainly difficult and painful -- but definitely not impossible. I've seen many men change these behaviors and become completely different partners, so hope for a different future is certainly a possibility.
Third, relationship faithfulness in the areas of emotional and physical intimacy, and money is the foundation for a marriage. These are two of the most core areas of a relationship. Violation of trust in these areas is very significant. Be careful not to underestimate the damage that has been done.
Here's where to start to rebuild your marriage after an affair:
- Talk about the facts of what's happened regarding both the marriage affair and gambling addiction. Be aware that you may not be able to do this very well without the assistance of a licensed counselor who can help facilitate the dialogue through these painful events.
- Each of you needs to share your feelings about each violation. You need to tell your husband how each has affected you; he needs to share the feelings that contributed to his making these choices.
- Start rebuilding trust. This can start simply with little things like doing what each of you says you'll do. If you say you'll pick-up some groceries or that you'll be home at 6:30, then be sure to do it.
Marriage after an affair can actually be better with the new level of honesty, transparency, and intimacy that comes with doing the above hard work. I see it every day. Best wishes.
-- Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor
Sean loves online gaming. That's not unusual. Lot's of people enjoy multiplayer online games. Few people though, like Sean, realize when they have an online gaming addiction.
To Sean online gaming is just a way for him to unwind from the stress of work and family. It's also an activity he does together with his 11-year-old son.
One of sign's of online gaming addiction is when playing negatively affects other parts of your life. Here are a couple of examples from Sean's life of what that can look like.
Sean routinely has conflicts with his wife over parenting their kids at bedtime. He really looks forward to 9:30 pm when the kids are in bed and he can get online for some "me time." When he's still dealing with getting the kids to bed at 9:40 pm he usually has a tough time controlling his anger.
Sean's been meeting with Guy Stuff for help with anger management and his marriage. During a meeting last week he shared some interesting revelations he's had about what he's starting to see as his online gaming addiction.
He says that a lot of other guys are just like me and are online gaming at night. "It's like going to a bar."
"It's become my social life. We meet up online almost every night. Kill some monsters. Chit-chat about the day. Then realize, hey, I got to get up for work and sign off."
Sean's realized that "some emotional gap is getting filled." It's not just men who are getting emotional needs met online either, it's women too. He says that he's surprised how many of the other players are women. Sean says he's careful not to discuss too much about his personal life, but says many other people do.
What started out as just a fun hobby has become an online gaming addiction. Sean admits about his marriage that "I'm not there to some extent" and now he's beginning to see how his online gaming is part of the reason. "We've found ways to be apart."
If you believe you, or someone you love, might have an online gaming addiction. Reach out to a licensed counselor for some help. Don't let an online gaming addiction become the other woman.
Q: I need to know what married women affairs look like. I have been married to the same man for 26 marginally-happy, rocky years. I am 56 (but look 38-40), and he is 64. Neither of us has ever been a cheating spouse. However, I think of other men all the time. I have a severe crush on another man (who probably does not know). My question is: Do most married women have crushes on other men? -- Ellen T.
A: Yes, this is what married women affairs can look like. No, I don't believe most married women have crushes on other men. But a lot of women aren't happy in their marriages, just like you. And as a result, they look for ways to get needs that should be met by their husband inside the relationship, met outside the relationship and in ways that hurt the marriage.
Getting needs met outside the marriage can take many forms:
- Interest in other men
- Over focusing on the kids
- Friends and extended family
- Over involvement in activities like exercise
- Shopping and spending
- Jobs and hobbies
Just as many married men seek to get their needs met outside the relationship as married women. Most of these activities are good things, so it can be hard to see the problem. Where the problem arises is when these activities become excessive and/or are motivated by the wrong reasons (to meet needs that should be met within the marriage).
We all have needs. Our relationship with our spouse is meant to help meet many of these needs. Here are a couple of examples of needs we all have:
- Emotional needs -- to be loved, respected, desired
- Identity needs -- be good at things, accomplish things, succeed
You need to re-examine your belief that neither of you is a cheating spouse. When we form emotional desires for and connections with others, such as the other man you have the crush on, we've become a cheating spouse. Read more below about this form of cheating, which is called an emotional affair, because this is how married women affairs start.
Talk with a marriage counselor and get some help to change your marriage. You've settled for too many years with a marginally-happy marriage, and you don't have to. By accepting a marriage that doesn't meet your needs, you're setting yourself up for making bad choices such as having this crush on another man.
--Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor
Got a question you'd like to Ask a Marriage Counselor? Click here to submit it and I'll answer it in an up coming post. Be sure to Sign Up for Our Blog on the right so you'll get my answer as soon as it's published.
Q: Do I have a cheating spouse? I have continuously had a problem with my husband and his online or phone line flirtations or "entertainment" as he calls them. I find phone numbers, emails, messages about hooking up and he says that it's all just entertainment because he's bored. We have a beautiful 16 month old son whom we struggled for years to have and finally, the egg dropped. I don't know if it's underlying jealousy for the attention I give to our son or what. But the bored and entertainment lines are getting to be more than just lame. I recognize the dirt which I have created as well and made great strides to rid myself of those individuals along with that mentality in order to improve myself and my marriage. Granted as my grandmother used to say "if you look for dirt, you'll find dirt", my feeling is I wouldn't have to look, if he was more open with me about his wants and desires. I am willing to compromise to a point as long as it doesn't involve anything absolutely gross and degrading. Any help you can provide to me would be so greatly appreciated and welcomed.
A: "Do I have a cheating spouse?" is a very important question to be asking and answering.
I've counseled other couples struggling to answer the same question about when a spouse is cheating. Questionable behaviors can include flirtatious online "entertainment" like your husband's, as well as other behavior such as gawking at, and flirting with, other women in-person; looking at internet porn; even swinging (sexual activities with other people).
Clearly you both feel different about what acceptable "entertainment" is in your marriage. Ultimately the question of what defines a cheating spouse is one each couple has to reach for themselves. But to properly answer the question you've got to understand what's being triggered for you that's causing you to ask this question in the first place.
I hear 2 things you're not getting enough of in your marriage due to your husband's behavior:
It is my belief that your husband's behavior does not show respect or love to you. It is selfish and focused solely on his needs, not yours or the needs of your relationship. You deserve to be treated better. And, yes, I believe you have a cheating spouse.
Get some help from a marriage counselor to learn how to get your husband to treat you differently. Another resource you can use for help is this blog. Check out the posts under the Marriage & Marriage Counselor Q&A tags. Here are a couple of posts to look at:
At the end of your email you state that you're willing to compromise sexually to meet his wants and desires. Be careful not to take on too much responsibility for his behavior, or believing that it's driven by something you're not doing or could be doing differently. Most often mens' looking for "entertainment" outside the relationship has more to do with what's going on for them internally (self identity, stress relief, etc.) than it does with what's missing in the relationship.
--Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor
Got a question you'd like to Ask a Marriage Counselor? Click here to submit it and I'll answer it in an up coming post. Be sure to Sign Up by Email or RSS Feed in the column to the right so you'll get my answer as soon as it's published.