Ask Abby, Lifestyle

Ask Abby (or Analise): Betrayal, lies, deception — your guide to all things cheating

Dear Abby: It feels like my girlfriend considers every little thing I do to be cheating. I mean, I liked one girl’s Instagram post and she said I betrayed her! Is she overreacting? Or am I really a bad boyfriend? What do you consider to be cheating anyway? Please help.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

When you think of cheating, I suppose what comes to mind are some of the most blatant forms of infidelity: kissing, making out, having sex, flirting — but let’s not just focus on the obvious here. 

A good relationship leaves no questions unanswered and no stone unturned. It should be impermeable against all — even the less obvious forms of betrayal and disloyalty.

I find that what ends up crumbling the relationship cookie most often are little acts of disrespect that build up over time. Liking another girl’s Instagram post may not be enough to call things quits, but it’s definitely the beginning of the end. 

In today’s climate, where social media and dating apps rule, I couldn’t help but wonder: how can we ever know what the difference is between cheating and just being a bad partner? 

If you’re asking Abby, here’s what I think.

What you like and who you follow does matter

TikTok is full of videos captioned “don’t check his following” as a way of protecting one’s peace. These instances are partially joking, but they do raise a larger debate that ties back to your question: Should we be following members of the opposite sex? 

I think that idea is far too rigid. Simply because you’re following them doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re also interested.  

Where I take issue is when the content of the person you’re following is borderline inappropriate. What do I mean by this? To be super blunt, you definitely shouldn’t be following or liking photos from swimsuit models, bodybuilders or people who produce explicit content. 

I consider that a very subtle form of cheating, because why would you want to follow someone whose platform is centered around their physical appearance when you have your own wonderful partner to look at? 

Beware of the Instagram story

Social media can give everything away. Your following, what posts you like and where you comment is visible to others. However, what no one but the owner can see is who likes their Instagram story. If you’re liking normal or promotional content, that’s all well and fine.

I would draw the cheating line with selfies and more revealing pictures. And hey, if you’re on the receiving end of that, speak up if you know they have a partner! 

Keeping dating apps

Hinge markets itself as being a dating app “designed to be deleted,” so if you find your person, take that app off your phone. Simple as that.

Why would you still need your Hinge or Tinder account if you have a partner? If things don’t work out, then it’s safe to download the app again. You definitely shouldn’t be keeping it on standby during the actual relationship. That’s just a recipe for disaster. 

Actively swiping and matching on a dating app while committed to someone is one of the clearest forms of cheating there is. Even if the app hasn’t been touched recently, I think it’s respectful to your partner to delete the profile and app completely.

Texting your ex

Unless it’s a life or death situation, I don’t see why anyone should still be texting their ex while in a new relationship. If you’re even thinking about it, you probably shouldn’t be back perusing the dating market. 

Whether it’s a casual conversation or a plea to take them back, I would say that is bordering on cheating if your partner doesn’t know.

Always be cordial in person, but remember that you’re not dating anymore. You don’t need to be friends and you don’t owe them anything — especially a response.

Failing to mention the relationship

This may not be an outright form of cheating, but it’s definitely suspicious. If you notice that someone is flirting with you, and then fail to mention that you have a partner, I think that’s cheating.

Not that you need to wear a pin or anything that says, “I’m in a relationship, don’t talk to me,” but there’s a time and place to bring it up. If asked, you better tell. Otherwise, you create the illusion of being single and leave your partner in the dust, intentional or not. 

Why wouldn’t you tell someone who is pursuing you outright that you are in a committed relationship? Do you not love your significant other enough? Are you embarrassed of them?

Once you enter a relationship, you can no longer order off the menu. In fact, you shouldn’t even be browsing it. If you want to act single, you deserve to be single. 

Complaining about your partner 

Disloyalty doesn’t always come in the form of physical acts. Whether your lips are kissing someone’s else’s or are spewing mean things –– you can just as easily betray your partner with your words.

Now, there’s a difference between gossiping and then just talking about something that happened to you. Talking to others about things that we have gone through with our partners can provide us with a valuable outsider’s perspective on the relationship. This can help us notice any concerning signs or instances of abuse.

However, I think a line is crossed when we start personally attacking our partners. Here’s a tip: if you have an issue with them or something they do, just tell them. No one else can solve the issue like the person creating them. 

Rule of thumb

Now, don’t get paranoid. Not every little thing you do is considered cheating. Most of these examples aren’t even instances of outward cheating, but rather blatant disloyalty.

If you don’t know whether something you’re doing is considered cheating, ask yourself this: Would I tell my partner about this? If not, then you probably shouldn’t be partaking in whatever the action is. We’re all adults at this point, and we should know right from wrong. 

In reflecting as a whole, I just feel that when you’re truly smitten with someone, all of the other fish in the sea become obsolete. Your person is your person. No doubts, no uncertainties, no caveats.

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