youre-a-cheaterWe used to say that as kids and we knew what it meant. The cheater was trying to win or gain an advantage over another by doing something dishonest or unfair or by lying or breaking the rules. When it comes to cheating in a love relationship, though, is it as clear?

A few years ago a friend of mine told me he was in love with someone other than his wife. But he hadn’t acted on it yet. In other words, he hadn’t cheated on her…or had he?

If you are in a relationship and are attracted to another, are you cheating? Or do you have to act on it for it to “count”? Is emotional attachment to someone other than your partner really cheating?

We explored these questions from the context of Freedom. He acknowledged he felt upset, even guilty, despite the fact that he hadn’t “done” anything. His feelings of discomfort were evidence of his loss of Freedom. As we talked, he began to see that what was happening was not a passive act. He couldn’t say, even to himself, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fall in love with someone else. It just happened.” He acknowledged that he was an active participant in developing this other relationship. He recognized he was being dishonest in his relationship with his wife and came to the conclusion that he really had been cheating on her.

And, by behaving in ways that were inconsistent with his core values of honesty and integrity, he admitted the worst betrayal of all …he had been cheating on himself.