The other day, I received a notification from dating site Plenty of Fish encouraging me to revisit my profile, since there hasn’t been much activity on my account as of late. The truth of the matter is my account has been inactive for almost five years since I’m now engaged and off the market. (You missed your shot, ladies.) Of course, Plenty of Fish’s email hit my phone exactly when my fianceé standing over it.
“Um, babe…why do you still have a POF account?” she asked. Being dead-honest, I told her it’s because the site’s developers intentionally make the process of deleting an account difficult, and all those years ago, I couldn’t be bothered. We then proceeded to work on deleting the account together.
I tell this story because new research from Deseret News and YouGov has determined just how much digital culture has blurred the lines of dating and relationships, and specifically, what constitutes as cheating in 2017.
The study, which analyzed data from more than 1,000 people across the U.S., reported that 63 percent of participants regarded “actively maintaining an online profile” as cheating. Actively is the operative word here.
More shocking is the fact that nearly three-quarters of respondents define cheating as “regular sexual relations with someone other than your partner” is cheating. Here, the operative word is regular. In other words, one if four people don’t consider having sex with somebody else regularly as adulterous. So then…what the hell is? Let’s look at more numbers.
Seventy-three percent said a one-night stand constitutes cheating (duh); 71 percent feel the same way about kissing (double duh). As for online adultery, 69 percent said sexting somebody else is enough for concern concerning and 51 percent thought flirting online is a no-no. Smaller— but no less present—is the belief one in five people have that merely following an ex on social media is adulterous. (In our opinion, that’s a bit extreme.) Other interesting stats within the survey determined that nearly a quarter of people believe that going to a strip club without your partner is cheating and 19 percent believe watching porn is.
In every category, men were less likely to think a woman was cheating in these scenarios; these perceptions decreased considerably the younger the respondent.
The most obvious revelation of this study perhaps is that cheating is no longer as black-and-white as it’s traditionally been. With more options and avenues than ever to be unfaithful, cheating has become an indistinguishable gray area with too many negotiable—and non-negotiable—terms. That could be scary, unless you’re able effectively communicate boundaries with your partner. Of course, that’s a pretty good idea anyway.