I’ve always kind of believed that there are people who have/would/might cheat on someone and those who haven’t/wouldn’t. I’ve never cheated on someone and don’t think I could. I’ve also never been cheated on as far as I know…But I have been in relationships where there was a lot of flirtation going on behind my back. Most people tell me that flirting doesn’t count as cheating and if I was in a relationship with someone who flirted with another girl, I wouldn’t tell my friends, “He cheated on me.” Though, isn’t that kind of the meaning of the word? A dictionary would say it is to “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage.” If one hasn’t been faithful to their agreed upon exclusive and monogamous relationship, have they not cheated? If one has been dishonest about their commitment to the other, have they not cheated? Now I don’t at all consider sleeping with another person to be equal to flirting with another, but I still have always seen flirting outside of a relationship to be a very mild form of cheating –yet still cheating. To trick one into believing they’re the only one you have eyes for and then showing interest in another simply isn’t right. If both parties have agreed to the whole thing, alright, sure why not –But if it’s being done behind one’s back, it’s simply dishonest and therefore wrong…in my opinion, anyway.
I don’t think there is such a thing as “innocent” flirting. Of course one is worse, but even if you haven’t been with someone else physically, it’s sometimes a bigger deal to have been with someone else in an emotional way. If the few giggling moments you share with someone else over a comment made is something you would hide from your partner, you have some sort of guilt about it. You’re hiding a brief moment in which you weren’t acting like they were your one and only and weren’t being faithful to them and whatever your said commitment was. If you hide something to preserve your partner’s happiness, you should instead be looking for better ways ensure and enhance their happiness.
This comes up today because of a guy who has been flirting with me –as recently as a week ago- who just changed his FaceBook relationship status to “engaged.” The first thought that ran through my head was, “I really hope this is just one of those ‘only on FaceBook, not in real life’ things.” It was followed by, not the usual –“Someone else got engaged/married/pregnant yet again, am I really that late in all of this?!” thought- But instead I suddenly felt extremely bad for a girl I’d never met before. Believe me, it’s crossed my mind to speak up and fill her in –But I have no way of contacting her, ‘nor am sure if it’s really my place to further interfere. The guy always justified that there was nothing wrong with what he said unless he acted on it. We don’t hang out (though we met a couple of times through friends, years ago) so that he’ll never be tempted. But should someone who has to avoid seeing others to avoid cheating on someone really be getting married to that person? If you really believe flirting isn’t cheating, read through some of these messages from not all that long ago with a guy who’s now engaged and tell me that if you were in his fiancés shoes, you’d still feel that way…
[He first messaged me (after we met about 10 years ago) when I wasn’t happy about my last relationship ending and I had no clue he was in one about 6 months ago…]
Not A Single Guy: if it will make you feel better i will tell you about how i think you’re very hot
youre an attractive dude
Not A Single Guy: yeah totally, you’re very attractive
why thank you
[We talk about my last relationship and the break-up…]
Not A Single Guy: i am biased on this question by the way, i think a good therapist can be very helpful
because i am in training to be a therapist right now
[We continue the conversation…]
Not A Single Guy: i wish i was finished with my training already and in [LOCATION CENSORED] so i could be your therapist
Myself: ..no that’d be no good ’cause i find you attractive that’d be weird, can’t mix profession with that kinda thing
Not A Single Guy: yeah that’s true
i find you too attractive, we might end up hoooking up
[Says the guy with the girlfriend, I’d have never guessed…]
Myself: yeah, it could be interesting/fun
but probably complicated and worse in the long run
Not A Single Guy: even right now i am looking at all these really cute fb pitctures of you
Myself: aw haha
[The conversation continues…]
Not A Single Guy: don’t tell cuz i am not single
but thinking about hooking up with you turns me on a lot
Not A Single Guy: what do you like in sex?
[If this was a conversation with someone I didn’t know, I’d have stopped replying by now…]
Myself: well if youre not single you should’nt say those things
Not A Single Guy: i just struggle sometimes i can’t help but fantasize
and you are very hot after all
i will be here fantasizing either way, it’s just a matter whether i tell you about it or not i guess
Myself: do you tell your girlfriend that though?
Not A Single Guy: not exactly
i mean she knows i look at porn and stuff and doesn’t care
Myself: well porn doesnt count
Not A Single Guy: but i am not gonna tell her that i look at picture of you in a bathing suit and get turned on
Myself: i dont know, i mean i think flirting is a form of cheating,
not as bad as others, but it still counts
[I go on explaining my opinion on this…]
Not A Single Guy: how about for you? is flirting with me fun?
Myself: well im single
Not A Single Guy: cuz it’s fun for me
so if it’s fun for you let’s keep flirting, i like it
and it’s not as bad as real cheating
and maybe it’s better for you too than going to a bar or whatever
[He says it’s “not as bad” which means he knows it’s still bad, though right?…I changed the subject after that. It stayed that way for a while, then turned into a long sexual conversation. Guess who turned it in that direction?…]
[The next day when we talk he brings up sex again. It’s now a way he tries to turn the conversation every time we talk. One day as he decides to describe what he would like to do with me I reply…]
Myself: can you send these conversations to your girlfriend? i’d feel more comfortable with you saying these things then.
Not A Single Guy: hehe ok ok
just being silly ;P
[Since when did “silly” become explicit sexual descriptions?…We go on discussing a new guy I’ve just met and if I should express my thoughts on not wanting to be in a relationship with him…]
Not A Single Guy: well i know for myself i prefer when someone says something to me rather than just disappear
Myself: youre the one that doesnt think flirting is cheating!
[The conversation continues…]
Not A Single Guy: did you tell anyone about it?
Myself: that I talked to you?
Not A Single Guy: yeah
and we flirted
[Someone feeling guilty?…I explain that hadn’t really mentioned it to anyone but planned on telling my best friend.]
Not A Single Guy: yeah? i would prefer if you didn’t.
Myself: oh, why?
Not A Single Guy: just in general i would prefer if you don’t tell people i was flirting with you
since, you know, i am seeing someone
Myself: then why do something you feel you need to hide
Not A Single Guy: i am working on it… i have been talking to my therapist about it
[We continue discussing me possibly telling my best friend about all of this…]
Not A Single Guy: you know, what if you just tell 1 person
and that person just tells one person
and then that person just tells one person…
and then everyone in [CITY CENSORED] thinks i am a jerk
[So, he knows others would see him as a jerk for this? …I continue to explain that I’m not close with any of the friends we have in common…]
Not A Single Guy: remind me not to tell you anything anymore
Myself: if its that big of a deal i could not say anything,
i just am arguing how i dont see that it is
in this situation
[I hope sharing all of this on an anonymous but public blog doesn’t count as telling anyone about it…]
Not A Single Guy: it wouldn’t feel good to me
there were other things i was thinking but i never said them to you because i figured you didn’t want me to
Myself: what do you mean
Not A Single Guy: i don’t say anymore when i am having thoughts abt you because i got the idea you don’t like it
Myself: i don’t know it just kind of makes me feel bad
Not A Single Guy: yeah it’s ok so i just keep my fantasies to myself now
anyway how’s other stuff?
[We talk some more on another topic and end the conversation…]
[Some days later we’re talking again when he tells me about the fantasies he has had about me…]
Myself: and you feel no guilt ever?
Not A Single Guy: Hmm… That’s a complicated question
But I don’t judge myself for having those fantasies
Myself: no for sharing them
with someone who’s not your girlfriend
about someone else
Not A Single Guy: Sometimes that’s what my mind wants to think about… And it feels good to think about, right?
I don’t think it’s that bad if we keep it to just talking
Myself: so it feels good and not wrong or bad?
Not A Single Guy: Yeah it feels good
Does it feel good for you?
Myself: no, it makes me feel bad for your girlfriend and it makes me feel like im doing something wrong in an uncomfortable and unappealing way. it makes me feel guilty for being one of the reasons she’s being lied to in a way. and it makes me sad because i think more guys must be like this that im going to end up dating, and because you’re probably nice and stuff to your girlfriend and she has no idea.
im surprised i feel that and you feel none of it though
it’d definitely be worse if you ever acted upon the things you think about, but that doesnt make this not bad either.
Not A Single Guy: I do feel some of that but i don’t like to share that so much
well i mean thats fine, you dont need to tell me about it,
Not A Single Guy: I discuss it with my therapist
Myself: but i mean i think that you should listen to all of that stuff a little more
Not A Single Guy: Fair enough
Ok I won’t talk abt it anymore but can I just tell you one more thing
Not A Single Guy: Anyway
Myself: have you cheated on her with anyone like physically?
Not A Single Guy: No
Myself: not what you consider cheating maybe, but what anyone else might?
Not A Single Guy: No
I know what cheating means
Myself: do you really? lol
Not A Single Guy: I am not laughing out loud
[Really? Because after all you said, I should be under the impression you take cheating so seriously?]
Not A Single Guy: Anyway I’m sorry I shared that with you
I never had those fantasies, I just made that up, and I don’t think about anyone else besides my girl.
[Is it better to believe this is a lie or that he makes up thinking about me in conversations with me?…]
Myself: no, it’s your girlfriend i wish you’d apologize to, not me.
Not A Single Guy: I am not sorry to you, I mean I regret it
[He changed the subject to school work…]
[Days later I sent him a message…]
Myself: you’re weird.
Not A Single Guy: Why?
Myself: Because you either pretend to be sex obsessed and message people often in that way or you are and yet you have a girlfriend.
Not A Single Guy: :(
please don’t judge me
I am just doing my best. I know I am not perfect
Myself: I didn’t say you had to be perfect..I’m not either..I’m weird for other reasons..But you’re weird
[Some days later we have a conversation about a guy I’ve gone on a couple of dates with…]
Not A Single Guy: i like your profile pic by the way, it’s cute
[It’s a picture of myself with my new kitten.]
she’s sleeping on me right now
its pretty fucking cute
Not A Single Guy: haha i meant you
the kitty is cute too tho
Myself: i know, but shes in it too and shes really cute
Not A Single Guy: true
[…And then the conversation turned sexual again.]
Myself: but still, i think you’re pretty creepy/weird and would like to hang out in person.
[Yeah, I left out the part of the conversation that explains why I want to hang out with him because I find him creepy/weird. It’s mostly a curiosity of how someone changes when you haven’t seen them in 10 years…]
Not A Single Guy: well maybe when i am down there at some ppoint
like i said, it’s not very often
plus i would be really tempted to rip your clothes off, [XXX CENSORED]
which i probably hsould not do
Myself: yeah but you said youd never cheat on your girlfriend so i believe that u wouldnt and therefore we could still hang out
[Somehow we reached a point in our conversations where I can just pretend he didn’t just say that and continue talking…]
Not A Single Guy: thats true
but part of not cheating is not putting myself in too tempting of situations
and you know that i’d be very tempted to [XXX CENSORED]
and [XXX CENSORED]
Myself: so if someone you found attractive was coming onto you, you think you’d cheat?
like if you were in that situation with no one else around or something
Not A Single Guy: no probably not but it still is better to avoid that situation if i can
Not A Single Guy: like, i don’t know
if you and me were alone together
maybe you’re wearing some sexy spandex and a low cut top
i’d start staring at your [XXX CENSORED] and getting [XXX CENSORED]
then you’d come sit on my lap, lol
Myself: well i wouldnt be trying to hook up with you if we hung out. i dont do that if i know the guy is seeing someone.
[The conversation continued and ended…]
[Some days later one of those “hi, what’s up?, nothing, you?, nothing” conversations started…]
Not A Single Guy: what are you doing now?
Myself: watched a clip someone posted on fb,
gonna go to sumble upon.com
eat some cookies i baked
Not A Single Guy: hott
Myself: not really
[He turns the conversation to sexual topics again…]
Myself: i bet i could have said anything and you’d have said “hot” you just messaged me so you could try to turn the conversation to sex and see what i’d say
Not A Single Guy: well i wasn’t planning that but yeah i was thinking sexual thoughts about you already regardless of what you said
Not A Single Guy: yeah i was just thinking [XXX CENSORED]
and it reminded me of this fantasy i had about you
Myself: as you told me, you don’t actually have fantasies about me, and you always think abotu your girlfriend.
so whats going on today?
[Conversation continues and ends…]
[Then about two weeks ago we had a conversation about the last guy I’d been dating and randomly in the middle of it…]
Not A Single Guy: Can I ask you some random sex questions?
Never mind it’s not a good idea
[The conversation changed direction for some time…He asked if I wanted to try talking on a webcam and I declined…At some point in the conversation something I wore to a certain event come up, so I showed him a picture…]
Not A Single Guy: What are some of the more revealing pictures of you that have been posted on Facebook
Myself: non existent
Not A Single Guy: What abt like a low cut top?
[This last message was sent less than two weeks before FaceBook announced he got engaged. I really hope it’s one of those FaceBook-only engagements or his finance frequently reads through his messages because now I just feel bad for her.]
Note On The Conversation Posted: I think it was that we hadn’t known each other well or seen each other in years possibly that made him feel like it was okay to say the things he said. It’s like I wasn’t part of reality to him if he just kept typing away behind his computer screen -and it seemed like any other “innocent” porn he could’ve been looking at. Though, I think there should be a difference between someone you’ve hung out with and see on your FaceBook and someone you only know from pornography. I should also mention that the reason our conversations continued was because of the amount of chatting about regular topics that occurred. I left it out of this post, but I thought I’d mention that I didn’t just write him off as a creep and ignore him after that kind of talk because of the pages of conversation in which I felt like he was just like any other friend.
(Update 7/15/2013: Looks like it is indeed a real engagement & not a FaceBook joke, with a “Thank you, everyone!” to the 89 “Congratulations” comments and likes (none of which were from me.) I’m curious as to how my next conversation with this guy will go. Guess I’ll keep you posted when it happens. Oh and a fun little fact -He met the girl he’s engaged to on one of the dating websites I frequent, 2 or 3 years ago.)