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Can Cheating Ever Be Okay?

How you answer the question “Is cheating ever okay?” may depend upon whether you are the cheater or the one being cheated on. And perhaps by your own moral compass. Some look at cheating as a black and white issue and others as one with many shades of grey. These differing viewpoints can cause big problems in any relationship.

The question as to whether cheating is ever justified is both an ethical and moral one. The general answer for most is, “no”, it is never okay. How does that explain the fact that it continues to happen then? Is it just poor impulse control? Yes, in many cases it probably is. In others, however, people will claim there are justifiable reasons for stepping out of the bounds of their relationship. But are these justifications really, well, real?

Let’s take a look at three of the most common ways people justify cheating in their own mind.

1. Revenge cheating

Turnabout as fair play is a common justification for infidelity. If you have been cheated on by your husband or wife, the desire to hurt your spouse the way you have been hurt can be strong, almost overwhelming. Even if you are patently against cheating it can be hard to resist the urge, and even harder if an opportunity is presented to you. When the cute girl in the office gives you signals or the guy at the bar seems interested, it is easy to think, “It’s my turn.”

Is it okay?

No. We were all taught in preschool that two wrongs don’t make a right and it is still true as adults. You won’t make anything better by cheating on your spouse. Not only does it not fix anything, it just adds to the problems

2. No Sex, Sex

This is a tough one for many. Most men and women enjoy having sex on a regular basis. But in many relationships the scales are weighted toward one side or the other. He wants more than she does, or she wants more than him. Generally couples work this out and find their own marital balance. In some relationships, however, one partner may not want sex at all. These circumstances can put one partner in a quandary. Celibacy or cheat?

Is it okay?

Again, this is another no. Yes, this is a seemingly unfair and untenable situation, but having an affair will not make it better. Problems in the bedroom do actually have solutions — it just takes effort to find them. A lack of sex drive in one partner can be due to other problems in the marriage that need to be addressed, or even be a result of biological issues that can have remedies too. It isn’t worth it to risk your marriage and compromise yourself by having an affair. Instead address the issue with sensitivity and try working together toward changing things.

3. “The Marriage Was Already Over” Affair

When you barely speak to one another, or you can’t remember what it feels like to be “in love”, getting swept up in new romance can be very tempting. It feels good to feel understood and appreciated for the first time in a long time. How can that be wrong? You may even begin consoling yourself with one of the many platitudes for these situations, like “the heart wants what the heart wants.” After all the marriage was basically over, right?

Is it okay?

Once more, no, it’s really not okay. Wanting to feel loved and appreciated is normal. But when you have taken vows with one person you don’t really get the option morally or even legally to begin a relationship with another person while you are still in a relationship. No, having an affair is not illegal, but your marriage is a legally recognized partnership and cheating will only complicate matters. If your relationship is in a spot where having an affair seems justifiable, stop, take stock of things and consider your options. It might be time to try counseling if you haven’t already. Or end the relationship first.

There really is never a justification for cheating on someone you have made a promise to. There are times when the reasoning can seem justified and better than “because I wanted to,” but breaking a promise is still wrong. Especially when the promise is the most personal kind — to respect your partner enough not to be intimate with someone else.

Can Cheating Ever Be Okay?

Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC

Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching and writes a blog about the issues facing men (and the women who love them). As an expert in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today, he regularly appears on The Huffington Post, NerdWallet and PsychCentral. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their lives and relationships better. Check out his weekly tips on Facebook or Twitter.


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APA Reference
Smith, K. (2018). Can Cheating Ever Be Okay?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/can-cheating-ever-be-okay/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 May 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 May 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.