If it feels like cheating, infidelity, or adultery to you, then it is. Infidelity and cheating are a betrayal of the expectations you have of your partner. If you and your spouse have talked about this subject and you have openly expressed to him/her that you are uncomfortable with flirting, he/she should respect your feelings on the matter.
It's difficult to define what constitutes cheating and infidelity because people have differing opinions on the subject and what they consider appropriate or inappropriate behavior from a spouse. It's especially difficult if this wasn't a subject the two of you discussed before marriage.
Some people consider it cheating in a relationship if their partner does the following:
- Flirts with someone other than their partner
- Discusses things of a sexual nature with someone other than their partner
- Gives gifts to someone other than their partner (unless they are a relative)
- Has sexual contact with someone other than their partner
- Chats online with someone other than their partner
- Shares personal information and emotional feelings with someone other than their partner
- Texts with someone other than their partner
Some people would have no problem with any of the above behaviors. Some people even feel it is OK to have sex with a person other than their spouse. Then there are those couples who find all of the above to be unacceptable even though, for some, the above seems innocent.
Whether it is physical, emotional, or cyber cheating, only a party in a relationship or marriage can define for themselves what they view as unacceptable.
The only way to define cheating and infidelity is if you feel your expectations of faithfulness from your spouse have been violated. When your expectations of faithfulness are not being met, the emotional outcome is feelings of betrayal. If those are the feelings you are having, then, yes, your spouse is cheating.
How Do You Define Cheating in a Relationship?
Here is where you might have a problem, though. Most couples don't discuss this issue in great detail. They may express to the other that cheating or infidelity is not acceptable but they do not define what constitutes cheating or infidelity in their minds.
I suggest you sit down and have a discussion with your spouse and you both come to an agreement about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. It won't be an easy discussion, especially since his view differs from your view on the subject. He or she may find it hard to view from your perspective or he or she may feel that you are over-reacting. Regardless of how your partner responds when you share your feelings, they are your feelings and you may have to learn to live with the fact that they aren't going to validate them and change their behavior.
You can't force someone to adopt the same viewpoint but you can express the hurt caused by their behavior.