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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Is Flirting Cheating?

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Author Topic: Is Flirting Cheating?
Relic
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So my question is mainly what constitutes cheating? I have a long term boyfriend who I love dearly and I am making sure that this isn't cheating. (obviously I am talking to him about this tomorrow since the very fact that I am asking a question makes it seem a bit suspicious).

Anyway, context to my question. I belong to this tiny website where people write stories back and forth. Its super fun and the group is pretty small and close-knit, a max of 15 people.

Now I'm pretty friendly with everyone on the site (without giving out personal information like name, address, phone, etc) but there is this one guy that I would consider a pretty good internet friend.

Anyway a few days ago he started flirting with me a little bit. Now I assumed it was harmless pretend flirting at first. One of my best friend's does something similar, he'll look at me and be like "Darling you are exquisite, leave your boyfriend and lets run away together." You know silly stuff.

So I thought that that is what this online friend was doing. But after a bit it kind of seemed like maybe he had a crush on me or something. He would tell me that I was so funny and my stories were so well written. He called me classy and a pretty rare person. Again, it could all be pretty harmless but then he kept asking about my boyfriend (I was upfront about having a boyfriend at the very begining) and I can't tell if he's joking or not. He goes on about how incredible I am and how he hopes my boyfriend realizes what a great girl he has.

Finally he asked if he would have had a chance with me if we lived in a differant universe where I wasn't already taken.

Now I am not exactly turning away the compliments but I am being firm about the fact that I am taken and that my boyfriend is awesome. Sometimes he'll say something and I'll say, oh you and my boyfriend would be good friends. I am not flirting back, beyond general friendly stuff like saying that I really value his friendship and he is a very nice, intelligent person.

My fear though is that somehow this is cheating because I enjoy the compliments he give me, even though I'm not telling him anything along the lines of "I want to be with you".

At first I was wrestling with whether to tell my boyfriend or not but then I realized that wrestling with whether or not to tell him meant I should. The problem is that he has an incredibly jealous personality (because of his mother's infidelity) that I have never contributed to in anyway and I'm afraid that if I brought this up at all he would automatically assume the worst.

So that is my question, sorry I took so long to get there. Is flirting cheating?

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OWL Dan
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I can only offer you my opinion, since everyone’s definition varies. I don’t see it as cheating, especially since you have made it clear that you are involved. Are you concerned with the level of flirting that this guy is at? It sounds like you might want to set some boundaries with this online guy before things get more intense.
I would recommend that you let your boyfriend know about this, especially if you are concerned about his reaction, because he’d probably take it worse if he were to discover it as if you were trying to hide it.

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Dan

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Onionpie
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What's considered cheating depends on who you ask, and since none of us are in this relationship, you and your boyfriend are going to have to work out what you consider cheating together. Part of good communication around a relationship model includes what is and is not considered cheating to each of you, what you are and are not okay with when it comes to being exclusive.

So what I recommend is a calm, clear, in-depth discussion between the two of you in which you negotiate the boundaries of your relationship and your relationships with other people. That way you can know for future reference what both of you are okay with, and you can better know if you're both expecting similar things out of this relationship [Smile]

Here's a great article that applies not only to sex, but sexual or romantic relationships as a whole:
Be a Blabbermouth! The Whats, Whys and Hows of Talking About Sex With a Partner

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DreamCatches
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I agree with Onionpie. The only way to be sure is to discuss it with your partner. No one but the two of you can make "rules" or "boundaries" about what constitutes as cheating. Since we all have different opinions on it, it can be dangerous to ask someone other than your partner. And different partners will considered what cheating is differently. You might also want to discuss what flirting means to your partner and such. That can be a confusing area too.

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Think of me, when you're out, when you're out there...

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Britster
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Cheating is determined by the rules laid down in the relationship, but I also think that one needs to take into account personal feelings. For example, it may be just fine and dandy for a certain person in a relationship to flirt, but if she feels any uneasiness or that it isn't just friendly banter, she can decide not to flirt for other good reasons.

If you feel uneasy about this guy and the compliments he gives you, feel free to take the friendship level a notch down; it doesn't need to count as cheating to become an unhealthy situation.

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Relic
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Thanks guys. I talked to him about it and he just kind of looked at me a bit funny for a second before saying "Its just on the internet, *Relic, I don't care."

I feel so much better. No if I was actively flirting with this guy, I would count it cheating but i kind of felt bad that his compliments made me smile you know? Well anyway thanks a ton. I appreciate the quick responses and good advice.

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Relic
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Alright now I feel dumb. For some reason I am always able to get myself into the most difficult situations possible.

So now this whole internet flirting thing has gone way beyond that. At first it really just was innocent banter but its become way more. He was just my friend first, and would try to help me with my problems. I told him about some basic issues I'm having with my boyfriend, like how I'm being ignored and under-appreciated.Anyway now he claims to have real feelings for me and he wants me to leave my boyfriend for him. I have told him many times I can't do that and also tried to get us back on the friendship track but it doesn't seem like thats gonna happen. (Now we aren't doing anything sexual at all. Its completely just talking about life and stuff. He compliments me too but yeah its just talking)

I do like him but I want to stay with my boyfriend. But I found out recently that he had been going through a terrible depression (which I had been going through as well)and he says I helped him out of it (his girlfriend cheated on him and he recently got in a terrible car crash) I'm afraid that if I completely cut ties with him he will spiral back into the depression. I also enjoy talking to him so part of me doesn't want to but I know in the end that might be what I have to do.

I'm just afraid that whats gonna end up happening is my boyfriend will find out and think I'm cheating. I've admitted to this guy that I care about him and am a bit infatuated with him but I never implied I'd leave my boyfriend for him.

I just can't believe something like this could blow up in such a short amount of time. I am so afraid of being one of those girls that just leads guys on. Thats the last thing I want to do. I don't want to hurt anyone at all about this. So what should I do?

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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You're not his therapist, and it's not on you to take sole responsibility for helping him with his depression. I'd also be pretty wary of someone who says they want a romantic relationship with you and want you to leave a partner who pairs that with any kind of statements that suggest if you don't do that or stay in contact with them, they will spiral into depression.

I do think that if conversations with someone else have gotten to this kind of point that it's probably time to fill your boyfriend in on that.

Per what you should do, if he's not getting your own wants and limits when you make clear you don't want to leave who you are with, and you're starting to get uncomfortable, it sounds to me like you need to step way back, maybe consider cutting off contact.

Any time we get close to someone, people can get hurt: that's just the deal. If you've been honest about what you want and what your limits are this whole time, but he's ignored them, that's on him, not you. Mind, having big flirtations with someone AND sharing everything you're not happy about your current relationship with was probably a bit of a recipe for disaster from the get-go: if that was the deal, it might certainly be hard for the other person to realize what you want, especially if you weren't very clear with boundaries. In that case -- or in the case you were not transparent about wanting to stay with who you're with -- you may simply need to apologize to this person for misunderstandings as well as then restating your limits and making whatever choice in communicating with this person still that you feel comfortable with.

P.S. I'm sure you're not dumb. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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SidonieAdena
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As Heather said--this person is not your responsibility. You are not his therapist. As much as our friends can help us when we are depressed, and as much as we appreciate their support, if he is relying on you for support, he needs to be seeking professional help. If he's putting more pressure on you than you want to be giving, he needs to be seeking professional help. If he hasn't, that's his responsibility, not yours.

Additionally, if you are going through some depression yourself, it seems to me that the last thing you need is the added stress of taking care of someone else. Maybe I'm wrong, but in my experience, that just doesn't help the situation.

I think that maybe you should also consider that if you've been feeling depressed and less than happy with your relationship at the moment, you are definitely more vulnerable to manipulation. The fact that you've said to this guy many times that you will not leave your boyfriend for him, and the fact that he seems to be unable to accept that as an answer sends up red flags for me.

I'm not saying he's a bad guy--how would I know?--but I am saying that I don't think that he's the sort of person who can be a good boyfriend right now. He sounds to me to be very needy, and doesn't seem to be respecting your feelings.

Maybe cutting off contact, at least for a little while, would be a good thing.

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Heather
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Sidonie: those are such excellent additions. [Smile]

They remind me, too, to mention that one thing that's common with people who are depressed is being emotionally manipulative. It's not always intentional (I don't mean to say depressed people are automatically manipulative: they're not), but it is often part and parcel of depression and the way people can interact when deep in depression.

It's one of many reasons why when we or anyone else are depressed, it tends to be the worst time to pursue or get deeper into intimate relationships -- it can just be way too hard to see the forest through the trees and to interact with others in a healthy way.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Britster
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"But I found out recently that he had been going through a terrible depression (which I had been going through as well)and he says I helped him out of it (his girlfriend cheated on him and he recently got in a terrible car crash) I'm afraid that if I completely cut ties with him he will spiral back into the depression. I also enjoy talking to him so part of me doesn't want to but I know in the end that might be what I have to do."

From this, I'd say, get out of that situation as quickly as possible.

Because this is exactly how one and a half years of an abusive relationship started for me. It started out as friendly banter, and then he started talking about his depression problems and how after some girl left him, he tried to commit suicide. And I admit that I tried to be kind and friendly. And then the situation turned into outright manipulation where he practically threatened to commit suicide if I didn't say that I loved him. And I did because I felt responsible and I worried about what would happen to him if I cut all contact off.

But it's a lie- neither you nor me are responsible in that way for the well-being of another person.

So I implore you, get out of this situation now. Like my ex, this guy probably won't respect boundaries, which is why you can't return the relationship to a friendship. You need to stop it before it can get worse.

And believe me, it can get a lot worse. My ex had power over me because of my pity, and he didn't respect my boundaries, and it quickly turned into emotional and sexual abuse. I'm not saying that your friend is necessarily like that, but it can start innocently, and he may seem like a nice enough guy. My ex did too.

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