Can Cheating Be Good For Your Relationship?

The good, the bad and the ugly.

In our recent article, "This Is How Dating In 2015 Will Look Like, Research Says,"
 we mentioned that a whopping 38 percent of people around the world admit to having dated someone who's already in a relationship. 

We all know cheating is gross, and yet so many people still do it. And so it's reasonable to ask: "Can cheating on your significant other be good for you or your relationship?"

Robert Weiss, Senior Vice President of Clinical Development at Elements Behavioral Health, which offers sexual addiction treatments, told A+ that he hears that sort of "dude-trying-to-get-his-cake-and-eat-it-too" thinking from many of his cheating clients. Weiss explained that many of them try to distort reality to suit their needs and give themselves an excuse for cheating.

"Usually the primary lie that they rely on is some form of the following: 'What she or he doesn't know can't possibly hurt her or him.' But there are many other rationalizations, justifications and minimizations," Weiss said. "Suggesting that cheating is somehow good for the relationship is just another twist on the denial that cheaters utilize."

Has "The Notebook" Made Cheating Look OK?

We all know what happened. Despite having a gorgeous fiancĂ©, Allie drives back to see Noah. The mere fact that she hides her trip from her husband-to-be is already a red flag for emotional cheating.

Making out in the rain with her crush takes it to the whole new level. In case you need further clarification, that's cheating cheating.

While what Allie does is so not cool, many people understand. After all, it's Allie and Noah, not Allie and her fiancĂ©, that were destined to get married, have a bunch of kids and shower one another with love for years to come.

Sure, there were heaps of other ways Allie could have handled the situation. But perhaps, given the circumstances, cheating is not the most deadly sin of them all.

Cheating Can Expose Unhealthy Relationships

In a way, cheating can be good for your relationship. Dr. Kelly Campbell, an Associate Professor of Psychology at California State University, makes a fair point that cheating can prove to the cheater that they are not in the right relationship, so it's time to break up. She told A+:

I remember a friend of mine in Greece telling me that every time she cheated on her boyfriend, it showed her that he was not the one for her. She eventually moved on and ended up in a happier relationship where she didn't have the urge to cheat. So in that sense, cheating revealed that she did not have a healthy relationship with her partner.

There's An Eyebrow-Raising Study That Claims Cheating Is Good For Your Marriage

A very controversial study carried out by Lucielle Ostertag from the Italian Institute of Social Sciences turned up evidence that cheating on your spouse can actually lead to a longer lasting marriage.

Wait, what? That does sound a bit like a scene from "House of Cards." Both Frank and Claire have affairs on their sides and yet seem to be one of those unbreakable power couples.

Ostertag claims that some of the strongest relationships she had studied involved both partners having repeated affairs. These affairs, however, had to be strictly short-term. Well ... Frank Underwood certainly made sure that Zoe Barnes didn't stick around for too long.

Many believe Ostertag's study to be "irresponsible and unsound," but this did not stop Ostertag from developing a set of rules for couples that mutually decide to go down the cheating road.  Matt Bett, the author of the controversial article "New Study Reveals Cheating Makes You Marriage Stronger," summarizes Ostertag's rules as follows:

The Long Distance Rule: Any time you are out of your own area code, it doesn't count as cheating. Even better is to be out of state. Dr. Ostertag notes the further you are away from home, the better off you are, as it increases the likelihood of not getting caught. 

Don't Ask/Don't Tell: Never ask your spouse about their infidelities, and never say a word about yours. The less you both know, the better.

Live guilt-free: As long as you and your spouse have an understanding that you can both cheat equally, neither of you ever has to feel any guilt about what you have done. Don't keep in touch with the people you cheat with: A one-night stand is supposed to be just that: One night of passion. Any time you try to extend it beyond that, you run the risk of hurt feelings and jealousy. 

In all fairness, to us this does sound more like an open relationship or open marriage that outright cheating. After all, the "relationship rulebook" is not the same for every couple.

You Better Be In Agreement About What's OK

Robert Weiss seems to agree:

Sexual infidelity is more about the keeping of sexual secrets than any particular sexual act. In other words, if both parties in a relationship can mutually agree, without coercion of any kind, that certain behaviors are OK, and those behaviors, when engaged in, don't compromise relationship trust or the emotional connection in a relationship, then so be it.

The monogamy box is not for everyone. However, when one partner unilaterally rewrites the relationship rulebook to suit his or her needs and then keeps that a secret, that person is cheating.

Cheating Involves Betrayal And That's, Like, Really Ugly

Figure out what relationship rules work for you and your partner. It's really more about honesty and respect than anything else. 

Because cheating cheating is just not cool.

If you enjoyed this, you might be interested in reading This Is How Dating In 2015 Will Look Like, Research Says.

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