Cheating is when you fold in on yourself or someone else. Cheating on someone else almost always implies sexual infidelity, but for me it has been as slight as coveting another woman with your eyes, hands, or intentions. It surprises me that cheating on someone seldom applies to anything beyond that, for it is apparent that we are capable of various ways of being weak and having someone suffer for it.

For me, cheating is something I consider or contemplate every day. I cheat mainly on myself, and though I have not cheated on someone in the aforementioned way, I know I have held back from people devotions or commitments, things they asked for that I was unable to give, though I will be told that I promised these things, later on when it is too late and my memory fails me.

I cheat on my rigorous gym schedule, my online limits, my time reserved for myself that I claim to so desperately need. I cheat myself of the ability to move forward financially or professionally, personally or emotionally, using fear as the primary excuse. I cheat myself of the Bible study class I attend weekly with the other women in my small congregation, women who are mothers and friends to me, whose banter I often welcome at the end of my bleak Wednesdays. Whatever excuse I have, it's given only to myself, so who is going to argue? I've already won.

The first cigarette I pick up after I've quit feels odd fit to my fingers, the wrong circumference. I don't want to want it, and I extinguish it in the street. Eventually, I'll snap all the filters from the rest of the pack and chalk up the wasted cost as cheating deferred. Par for the course.

I try to limit the cheating in stages, try to adhere to rules set and maintained by only myself in my life in the singular. The sensation resembles watching an iguana wrestling in a tub of warm water, his delicate claws scattering to find a surface to cling to, until finally he lies still, breathing deep to keep his body afloat. When he swims his laps, his limbs lie against his body, and he becomes a ribbon of green, beautiful and fluid. But every bath starts with that struggle to grasp the sides of the porcelain, to find footing where there is none.

I think cheating is whatever your so thinks it is.

If it is ok with your significant other that you flirt at work and go to lunch with people, then it should be ok.

On the other hand, if your so doesn't even want you looking at other people (drop them), it isn't ok.

My wife doesn't mind me going to strip clubs if I want (i don't). I actually went to a "lingerie show" last weekend that had several models wearing skimpy clothes. There was a playboy model, Laurie Wallace, signing her issues... My wife said "That sounds like you will have a good time! Have fun, sweetie!"

Cheating could also be defined as what hurts your conscience. If you feel guilty about something, don't do it (again).

How's this.

Think of your significant other, ok.

Imagine he/she has a friend, an acquaintance, that you do not know.

Now what would he/she do, what behavior would occur that you would consider "cheating on you?"

Heartfelt letters?
Cybersex?
Some heavy petting in the back of an Acura?

What is the standard of intimacy that you would set for them, this imaginary couple?

Whatever you would find intolerable and "too much," well, there it is,
that is what you consider cheating.

Several noted anthropologists have enlivened modern life by postulating that cheating (meaning sexual infidelity) is instinctive behavior, reinforced over millions of generations of human evolution. This theory, contrary to popular belief, applies to both genders, although the version which applies to men is far more widely accepted. Both theories hinge on the basic idea that behaviors that result in having more, and more healthy, long-lived children will be selected for over many successive generations - so that people with those tendencies will flourish, and collectively those "instincts" and natural proclivities will prevail, while those people without them would be drowned out and eventually, disappear. Human sexual response itself is the most basic example of this line of reasoning.

To roughly summarize the theory:

  • Men cheat because cheating men can manage to have many, many more kids than faithful men - by getting multiple women pregnant at once. The men they cuckold may even mistakenly believe these children are their own, and devote their own effort to raising them, adding to the "payoff."

    Women participate in this cheating because they are genetically predisposed to recognize "successful" qualities in men - and the simplest way to judge that is looking for men whom other women have chosen. A more complex theory is that women may recognize that being clever and good looking enough to make a career in cheating is successful quality in itself.

  • Women cheat - although in many cases this is simply termed "matriarchy" or "polygyny" - in order to enlist multiple men to care for her children, in order to increase their collective chances for survival.

    Why men readily participate in this kind of activity is left as an exercise for the noder.

Speaking personally, from some self-examination, my best guess is that men, at least, are not predisposed to be 100% monogamous as some other animals are, and I am inclined to give no small credence to the "successful cheater" theory. Other interesting questions of personal responsibility have already been broached, and rightly, on this node; suffice to say that raising issues of instinct and inherited behavior must already muddy the waters of free will and self-determination. However, I will put forth the notion that most men would rather want to be faithful. Silent, unacknowledgable guilt over uncontrollable impulses, even when not acted upon, is a common part of committed male life. Regardless of vestigal genetic imperatives, almost all of us crave a loving, stable relationship - even those of us who have known very few first hand.
Cheating also extends to any form of competition - be it computer games, at cards, sexually (see above), in sports, or in any activity that involves a form of ranking or competition.

As a social commentary, cheating is more the act of altering the way a person acts to achieve inflated results. Often, the act of cheating is immoral or "illegal" - whether to the rules of the competition, the ordinary actions of a person in a social sense, or against the concept behind the motivation for the competition.

Cheating also has been documented to lead to reduced overall performance through the reliance on the "cheat" to achieve consistent results. Cheating in computer games usually leads to the player being ostracised, often even being banned from the game all together. If the player continues though, studies (too numerous to mention) have shown that the use of cheats leads to the overall maximum potential for the player being reduced to those who do not cheat.

Cheating is a concept that is anti-social, yet remarkably accepted in today's society. A cheater is often given "the benefit of the doubt", and sometimes is coupled with the underdog affection mentality and the reformed criminal hopes.

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