When is it Cheating (or just Dangerous Territory)

Romayne Danielle Rivera
·3 min read

“Once, twice, thrice, gaano ba kadalas ang minsan?”

Hilda Koronel delivered this striking line in the 1982 film, Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan. The question may already be 39 years old but the wounds still cut fresh every single time.

A profitable genre in the music and film industry, infidelity is the act of being unfaithful to your partner or spouse.

Many may find this type of plot twists in films and series intriguing, engrossing, and entertaining but that’s because it’s in movies. Nobody ever dreams of getting into this kind of mess in real life.

Cheating, however, isn’t just limited to being physically unfaithful to your partner. It comes in other forms like emotional and even objects infidelity.

This poses the question: When is it cheating or just dangerous territory?

Emotional Affair

Look, it’s pretty hard to call the bounds of emotional cheating but when you’re talking to someone other than your partner and sharing intimate things that ought to be “solely” for your partner, then that’s something else.

An “affair of the heart”, you necessarily don’t have to engage with the third party physically. An emotional affair isn’t applicable in all cases but, if your emotional connection with your partner is getting weaker by the second your emotional connection, not to mention commitment, with the third partner is getting stronger, then it’s time to face the truth.

You’re emotionally cheating.

Some friendships can lead to late-night texting, constant social media updates, and perhaps even an exchange of photos, and that’s fine as long as it’s plainly platonic. What’s not fine is doing all these with a hint of flirting paired with subliminal messages that all lead to sexual tension so thick you can cut it with a knife.

Object Affair

It sounds weird but when your partner has a certain obsession with something or is too absorbed in a hobby to the point that it ruins your relationship, then that’s cheating.

Now, don’t take this out of bounds and prohibit your boyfriend (or girlfriend) from playing online games! Every single person needs to spend time away from their lover or spouse and just unwind. That’s fine and that’s natural.

In an article written by Michael J. Formica MS, MA, EdM, a psychotherapist, teacher, and writer, object affair is defined as the "situation where the attention of one partner is drawn off the primary relationship because that attention is placed in something outside the relationship, reshuffling the person's priorities relative to the primary relationship."

Whether it’s a hobby, an idea, work, or even pornography, when it lessens your time and affection which eventually leads to the deterioration of your relationship with your partner, then that’s cheating.


Micro-cheating is like a little bit of everything. Depending on the situation, some forms of micro-cheating may not be an issue to other couples.

Some of these come off harmless, some are even borderline friendly but if it’s something that bothers you, it's best to confront your partner and talk about the issue.

The following are considered micro-cheating:

  • Communicating with your ex

  • Leaving flirty comments on other people’s profile/photo

  • Flirting with someone online

  • Having another account to explicitly talk with other people

  • Still having a dating profile on dating apps

  • Spending an excessive amount of time with someone else

  • Going on dates, events, and/or buying expensive gifts for someone else

There are plentiful other forms of cheating and some may have the excuse to justify their wrongdoings but when a person hides something from their partner and that secrecy consumes the better of the cheater, then it’s time to re-evaluate actions and decisions.