A huge fear of many people in a relationship is the prospect of a partner's infidelity. We have all seen depictions of cheating, and the emotional upheaval it causes for the other partner, in movies, books, and magazines. Many of us have also weathered a spouse or significant other's infidelity, or perhaps we have been the one to stray.

The term can be defined in many ways. In intimate relationships spanning across various different cultures worldwide, often there is an expectation, spoken or other, to maintain an exclusive relationship. Infidelity is the breach of this trust, especially in terms of sexual behavior.

However, what type of act is considered cheating varies depending on culture and the type of relationship between the involved parties. Many question the existence of unfaithfulness in the case of an open relationship. But it can exist even here when a participant in the relationship acts beyond the boundaries put in place for that particular relationship. Any intimate relationship at all can be subject to cheating if the understood boundaries are breached.

The types of affairs that occur of course also vary from situation to situation. Unfaithfulness can happen regarding actual physical intimacy and with emotional intimacy as well. Both do not have to be present within a given context for actions to be considered cheating. This is because the impact these actions have do not relate only to sex but also to a loss of trust and betrayal.

When it comes to the emotional side of things, this can be a partner's emotional involvement with someone outside of the relationship. A person can be emotionally cheating with someone in person or even online. Even when there is no concrete physical cheating, these types of affairs still can cause deep pain. Most affairs occur on both the emotional and physical level.

Statistics on affairs outside of relationships vary wildly from researcher to researcher. Statistics are also different depending on if the relationship in question is a marriage. Some researchers today believe that half of all marriages see at least one spouse conducting an affair. This includes non-physical cheating. When it comes to other long term relationships, many admit that their relationship began while the other was already committed.

Cheating is not an issue to be taken lightly. Having a serious conversation with your partner to determine needs, wants, and boundaries is a good step in the right direction to prevent it. Discuss what you consider infidelity to be with your partner.

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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.