Many people who are in a relationship fear the potential for a partner's infidelity. All of us have seen cheating and the emotional wreckage caused by it portrayed in films, novels, music, and magazines. Many among us have also been subject to the infidelity of a significant other or spouse, or maybe we were the one who ended up straying.

The word can be defined in countless ways. Worldwide and throughout all kinds of different cultures, intimate relationships often come with the expectation to carry out a relationship of exclusivity, whether this understanding is spoken or otherwise. Infidelity occurs when this trust is breached, especially when it comes to sexual behavior.

Still, what kinds of actions make up cheating can depend on culture as well as the kind of relationship between the partners involved. For example, some may question faithlessness in the context of a relationship that allows dating of others. But even here it can occur when a member of the relationship takes an action beyond the agreed-upon boundaries for their situation. No matter the categorization, any intimate relationship can fall to cheating when someone breaches recognized boundaries.

Any affair that happens naturally varies between different situations. Unfaithfulness can occur with regards to physical intimacy itself and with emotional intimacy additionally. In any particular situation, both do not have to occur for the actions to be classified as cheating. These actions have an impact that reaches beyond sex to a loss of trust and betrayal.

The emotional part of an affair can include a partner's involvement emotionally with someone beyond the bounds of the relationship. Emotional cheating can be accomplished both in person with someone and also online. These kinds of affairs can still create serious pain even in the absence of physical cheating. In fact, most affairs contain aspects of both the physical and emotional.

From researcher to researcher, the statistics on affairs occurring beyond a relationship tend to vary. These stats are also different depending on if the researcher is focusing on marriages or other relationships. Today, many researchers conclude that half of all marriages involve one of the spouses leading an affair, including those of the non-physical kind. Other long term relationships are not unscathed, with many admitting that their relationships started with the other partner already in (another) relationship.

Though you may want to ignore, do not take cheating lightly. A serious talk with your partner to figure out both parties' needs, wants, and boundaries is a great step. Infidelity is something that needs to be discussed with your partner before it happens so that the rules and limits are clear for both of you.

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When you are coping with coping infidelity it can be tough. We suggest the two of you going to a couples therapist to try to get past it.