Modern-day Infidelity
Her World Malaysia|October 2016

Stephanie Yap investigates what constitutes cheating in today’s relationships.

Dr Yeo Pei Li

Try typing ‘why do people cheat’ into your Google search bar. You’ll be bombarded with article after article telling you about the different reasons your spouse is cheating on you, signs to look out for, or what you should do after you’ve found out about the affair. There’s a smorgasbord of explanations as to why both men and women decide to break their vow, give up on a relationship they’ve taken years to build, and play away from home. While the topic of infidelity is not new, we’re still astounded when a close friend confesses to us that their significant other has cheated on them, or worse, when we realise that it’s our marriage that is under threat.

Infidelity 101

What is infidelity anyway? Is it having sexual intercourse with someone who isn’t your partner? Or does touching and flirting count as cheating too? Everyone seems to have a different definition. Some may think that cheating is just about sex, but others consider having an emotional attachment with an outsider cheating. Whilst there is no universally agreed-upon definition of what constitutes infidelity, it’s generally understood that infidelity means being unfaithful in a marriage or committed relationship. It’s a hidden secret from your spouse that could result in a sense of relational betrayal, and it could severely strain and end a relationship when exposed. “The definition of infidelity keeps expanding and it comprises a number of activities – sexual intercourse, kissing, fondling, emotional connections – that are beyond friendship,” explains Yeo Pei Li, licensed professional counsellor at Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy.

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