Today in my Gender Studies class we talked about cybersex. Among other interesting aspects of this phenomenon, we discussed cheating in the context of internet sex. Is it cheating if you're having erotic chat-room conversations with a hottie from Spain in the middle of the night while your significant other slumbers in the other room, for instance? You're not, after all, having physical sex of any kind. The floor was opened for discussion and one of the extremely outspoken women contended that it wasn't cheating if there was no emotional connection. The discussion continued with people agreeing with a particular conception of cheating, and it began to alarm me. I had to make the point that there is not an objective definition of cheating. What's cheating to me might be totally innocent to you.
For instance, the outspoken women said prostitution wasn't cheating because there was nothing emotional in it. However, to me, sexual infidelity is just as heinous as emotional infidelity (and believe me, it's pretty heinous in my estimation). Cheating, whether sexual or emotional, is a total dealbreaker for me. But what do I consider cheating? Well, for me it all depends on the situation when you get down to contested areas. However, there are definite lines for me - sex with someone else is crossing that line, whether we're talking about vaginal intercourse, oral sex, or mutual masturbation. I have a pretty broad definition of sex. However, I recognise that some acts can be completely innocent. A kiss or a hug isn't a necessary red flag, if it's given in friendship, or, say, for a theatrical performance. I (and Jeff too) was okay with giving Amy a peck on the lips to help her complete her goal of kissing 21 people for her 21st birthday. But anything more than a peck - yes, regardless of gender - would be pushing it. However, this is just my conception of fidelity. Clearly, not everyone will agree with me. What's important is that you agree with your partner, or at least agree to respect their conception of cheating, so that your relationship can be one of trust.
So what's acceptable and not for you?