Are you happy to share your innermost secrets with male colleagues and friends? Is it cheating? And could it wreck your relationship?
You’re on the late shift at work and, to pass the hours, you find yourself chatting to your male colleague.
These days you find it easier to talk to him than to your own partner. You’ve started confiding in him about your hopes for your children, your health fears and even relationship niggles.
For most people, cheating means having a sexual relationship with someone else. But is having an intimate, emotional closeness just as bad as cheating?
Sex and relationship therapist, Lorraine McGinlay, believes it is.
She says: ‘If you’re forming a close relationship, it can be considered as “cheating”, and it can often trip over into a physical affair.’
So why do some of us need to be emotionally intimate with someone else?
‘Sometimes it’s about escapism,’ says Lorraine. ‘Or it can simply be that you’re spending a lot of time with another person at work.
‘Social media has made emotional cheating more prevalent too. Often people say: “We’re only chatting online”, but that can be just as damaging to a relationship.’
Problems arise when partners define ‘cheating’ in different ways.
Lorraine says: ‘You need to be honest and, if you’re the one having an intimate relationship with someone else, ask yourself: “Why is my partner having a negative reaction? And would I want to be treated the same way?”’
Lorraine is a firm believer that couples need to talk about the boundaries of their relationship. She also says that keeping an intimate, non-sexual relationship a secret from your partner can be just as damaging.
‘You need to be open and honest about when this person contacts you — or when you see them,’ she says. ‘Some people form these relationships in innocence, without realising the effect on their partner.
‘If it is innocent, invite that other person into your relationship and be honest about your dealings with them.
‘It’s about putting yourself in your partner’s shoes.’
Edited by Julie Cook
‘I felt he was cheating in his head’
I used to be in a relationship with a man called Steve. After eight months, we were planning on moving in together, but then he started not turning up when he said he would. When I asked him where he’d been, he’d say: ‘At Liz’s’.
Liz was a friend of his. She was going through a difficult time and he said that he was helping her.
‘But you’re my partner,’ I’d say.
He told me I was being silly.
Months passed, and the situation carried on. I knew he wasn’t sleeping with her, because he would always come home to me.
But I felt he was cheating in his head, whether they were having sex or not. He always put her needs before mine.
I tried to talk to him about breaking up but, again, he was at Liz’s house. So I even had to break up with him via text!
From Rose Roger, 46, of Perry Common, Birmingham
• Steve and Liz’s names have been changed
‘I have close male friends and it’s NOT cheating’
I’ve been with my partner Jon for 11 years.
We know each other inside out and well enough to trust each other, but I also have close male friends who I see without Jon.
And he doesn’t mind.
With my male friends, I talk about anything and everything, from our relationships to girls they want to date — and I give my advice as a woman.
Jon has never complained and, the way I see it is, there’s no flirting or cheating going on, so there’s no harm in it. If it isn't sexual — it isn’t cheating.
From Dupe Falegan, 26, of Stevenage, Herts