I expect to get some peoples' feathers in a ruffle with this one, sadly; can't be helped. It is what it is.
The term "cheating" is erroneous and stupid, and no one should use it.
Some of you may have noticed that I make ^ that comment at seemingly every available opportunity on this site whenever I see a post about "cheating/cheat/cheated." Why? What's it supposed to mean? Girl has sex with guy who isn't her boyfriend/husband/significant other, that's cheating, right? Guy has sex with girl that isn't his girlfriend/wife/significant other, that's cheating, right?
(sorry that's a big bigger and more imposing than I wanted it to be but oh well)
Why no? Well, it's complicated, as are many things in life. The easy answer is that life, relationships, sexual desires, physical attraction, are not normally black & white-- they're generally rather grey. To use the term "cheat" implies that there are, well... rules. If you cheat on a test, it is to get you an advantage (getting a higher/passing grade) that you wouldn't have otherwise gained without looking at someone else's paper when the teacher's back is turned. If you cheat at the board game Monopoly, it is to get an advantage in either money or property that you could not reasonably have gotten had you followed the rules and not moved ahead three spaces when the other players weren't looking. Because if you could have gotten it by following the rules, in either of those instances, why would you do it at all? Why circumvent the rules?
What am I getting at? Well, simply put: Romance does not have any rules (we're not talking about criminal elements here like domestic violence or sexual assault; this topic is only about non-violent and consensual stuff). Romance, sex, physical attraction, etc. are constantly being fretted over and over-analyzed by people both male and female every day, a million times a minute. There is no interpretation of the rules of Chess or Risk or Stratego-- they're written there on the page in the game box and either you follow them or you don't, and if you don't follow them but the other players do, that's cheating. To imply that relationships have rules is to imply that there is some overlord to it all, some mastermind that says what gets to fly and what does not, and that's crap. "Well aren't some rules inherent and unspoken?" you may ask. And I would argue that... well, no, not really. Respect your partner(s), love them, and don't physically hurt each other, and try not to emotionally hurt them either. That's about it. But that last one comes with a caveat...
Notice, hopefully-- I said "try not to hurt each other emotionally." No one wants to feel pain, not really, outside of controlled kinks or whatever like spanking or BDSM. I sure don't, and most other people don't either, right? Physical or otherwise? Well what if some inherent desire of yours, even one that's actually quite normal, would be something that would emotionally hurt your partner, and you know it? Such as the very, very normal desire due to evolutionary biology -- especially for most guys-- to want to have sex with several people at once, like a threesome? Or to have multiple partners? Should you force yourself to shield those desires, tamp them down beneath all the layers of being a "normal" day-to-day everyperson in order to please everyone but yourself? Your partner especially? Well... no. You shouldn't. And you shouldn't because you will simply end up winding down a path of frustration that you are not getting what you want out of life. We all only have one life to live.
How does this relate to "cheating?" Simply that people "cheat" due to being unhappy with something. They are not satisfied in their relationship. They aren't satisfied with just one person. They aren't satisfied with the sex. They aren't satisfied with the attention or affection they're getting, and so seek it elsewhere. It is
for people to want to have sex with other people, and not just one. Especially guys to want to have sex with other girls, because that's what having dicks and lots of testosterone have designed us for. If this was a Take about why girls want to reproduce so badly and get baby fever and want to settle down due to their evolutionary biology, most people wouldn't bat an eye. But as guys, wanting lots of girls is seen as "immature" or trifling nonsense, when it's not.
Here's the part where most of you who are already annoyed by the title and have only gotten more progressively annoyed as you read-- since people these days aren't used to actually reading things that challenge them and that they don't already agree with-- are saying "Cool man, have sex with whoever you want and however many you want, as long as you're HONEST AND UP FRONT ABOUT IT." And, sure, that makes sense... at least, before you scrutinize it. Telling a girl that you like (or guy for that matter) on your first meeting that you think the mindset that strict monogamy is *supposed to be* the default for the human race (despite all the evidence to the contrary) is actually weak bullshit, and that people should be freer with being able to have sex with other people, well... no one is going to give you the time of day. She, your date, will be like "Oh cool this guy's a pig or a 'player'" or whatever else.
But think about it: Do girls who want to get married or who want a serious relationship (which is almost all of them) tell the dude on THE FIRST DATE as they casually grace the blueberry sorbet that, by the way, they want a ring within a year? Or else, there's no point in us going out on a second date? Uh, no. They don't. Because that is a surefire way to get the guy to fucking RUN AWAY AS FAST AS HE CAN. Why do you think that is? And why, in that instance, is *female* silence--holding her cards, so to speak-- on an important romantic/sexual matter something that isn't a big deal, but *male* silence on a different but similar matter is seen as shitty? We really believe that people are supposed to talk about their deepest sexual desires on a first or second date? How incredibly unrealistic and naive is that ideology? I guess it's possible, I mean it probably has happened, maybe, at some point, with some people, but it's incredibly rare and not something most people are going to do. People naturally hide some of their cards; they hide some of their desires out of fear of unnerving the other party.
What is the takeaway from this? Well simply that monogamy doesn't have to be the default, but since people *think it does,* that leads people up front to not be altogether honest with each others' innermost deep desires. "WELL THAT'S DUMB STILL BE HONEST OR YOU SUCK OMGWTFBBQ KLAHDHS &(Q^(T!!!1!" is what some peoples' reactions online seem to be, and that's all very well and dumb, but if they're honest with themselves about all the times they haven't been honest at every single juncture in life, since total honesty at all times 100% by everyone about everything is not possible or sustainable, they'll realize that they're being silly. An inherent desire for monogamy to not be the default is what leads some guys and gals to have sex with people who are not their significant other. Or, "it's complicated."
"But @Anon-ymous1, are you actually arguing for alleged dishonesty?" Nooo, I'm not arguing for dishonesty; people should be able to be honest with each other about what they want. But that's just the issue: People often can't be honest about what they want with their partner because the vast majority Bell Curve of partners wants to sexually own their other partner like property, which is unhealthy unless it's something both people are into, like a kink or something. But despite being unhealthy (cough, jealousy, cough), people do it in spades, because people often are not logical about romantic matters.
Semantics; why does this matter?
Is this all just semantics then? Yes and no. Would a better term for "cheat," since there are no rules, be instead "Having sex with someone who isn't your significant other?" Well... actually yeah that would a lot better. So, say that instead. WHY DOES THIS MATTER, you may ask? Because over time, without the unnecessary stigma associated with the word "cheating," hopefully we will end up closer to a world in which people are more freely able to flirt and be fun and open with and have sex with more than one person, and have more open sexual discussions with their partners-- sexual dissatisfaction is a large component in breakups and even divorce according to some studies I've read, and though there are other factors present as well usually, why not eliminate that one as best as we can?
If you disagree and actually have substantive reasons for doing so, please leave comments below. Thanks for reading.