Is Dating Site Use Cheating? Acceptable Swiping Etiquette

The more popular the idea of dating sites becomes, the more challenges it poses for people in relationships.

Finding a partner on a dating site leaves a sour taste in our mouths—it leaves us feeling hurt, uncomfortable, and restless.

But, is one’s presence on such platforms enough to label them a “cheater”?

And if so, are there times and situations in which being on a dating app is—at least—remotely acceptable?

Defining cheating and its forms! What is cheating in actuality?

First of all, what is cheating

Cheating is when a person who’s in an exclusive, monogamous relationship forms sexual or emotional connection(s) with people other than their partner behind their partner’s back.

However, this definition varies based on people’s comfort levels and boundaries.

For example, for some people, checking a person out who isn’t your partner is considered unfaithful.

Basically, whatever your partner does with/to other people that crosses your boundaries and/or hurts your feelings is considered cheating.

According to Choosingtherapy, there are 7 types of infidelity:

Physical infidelity: A person having a physical or sexual relationship with one—or multiple—people who aren’t their partner.

Emotional infidelity: Forming an emotional attachment or intimacy with another person or people.

Cyber infidelity: An affair through digital platforms or methods (e.g. dating platforms, social media, even viewing pornography).

Object infidelity: An obsession or interest outside a relationship that causes distraction.

Financial infidelity: When a person is deceitful about financial matters in a relationship (e.g. how much they earn, the way they earn it, their spending habits, their debt, etc).

Micro–cheating: A person who acts inappropriately, doing seemingly trivial things that bother their partner. Not quite “physical” or “emotional” per se, but it crosses one’s boundaries.

Combined infidelity: A form of cheating that includes two or more types or elements of other infidelity types.

So, is being on a dating site or app while in a relationship cheating?

Based on what we know now, we can confidently answer:

Yes. Using dating apps is considered cheating based on common beliefs.

You see, based on the 7 types of infidelity, swiping falls under the category of physical, emotional, cyber, object, micro, and combined cheating.

And at times—financial, due to a lot of purchases that can be done in dating apps regarding features or even the app itself.

Even in the mildest case of it being micro-cheating, it still checks all the boxes and fills all the cheating requirements.

Not to mention, in general, it makes us very uncomfortable knowing that a partner is—for whatever reason—using dating apps.

Why is being on dating sites considered cheating?

Why is being on dating sites considered cheating

A person who partakes in cyber sexual/romantic activities is still risking the integrity of his or her relationship.

A lot of people believe that because there isn’t any physicality involved, it’s okay.

Even what might seem like “harmless” flirting may lead to something much bigger, like meeting up in person and engaging in sexual activities.

Exchanging sexual videos, pictures, or even words with other people is extremely disrespectful and inconsiderate to one’s partner; it breaks our trust and leaves us feeling uneasy.

A person who does such things—even online—is still considered a cheater and untrustworthy.

A wandering eye can be much more dangerous than we might think; it has the power to make things escalate in the blink of an eye.

If my partner is on a dating website/app, are they definitely cheating?

Although the answer is usually yes, it doesn’t mean that everybody who indulges in such platforms is cheating.

According to data from YouGov, 7% of people who have ever used dating apps or/and websites did so with the intention of cheating on a significant other.

However, amongst the many unpleasant reasons, people have also reported using the app/site for purposes other than creating romantic/sexual relationships.

Such as the 39% of people who have reported using the platforms just to do something fun or interesting.

Or the 29% of people who simply wanted to see what the app/site was like.

Or even the 19% of people who say they wanted to form platonic connections.

So, we shouldn’t jump the gun and accuse a partner of cheating; at most, they’re just oblivious to the harm they could cause to the relationship.

Based on our boundaries regarding what’s acceptable and what’s not, somebody using a dating site can be perfectly fine.

Though, keep in mind that if your partner’s presence or activity on dating platforms hurts you, that’s completely understandable.

Finding out that a partner is on dating platforms would bother most of us.

7 times being on a dating site is considered cheating or unacceptable!

Using dating sites while in a relationship, in most cases, is unacceptable. Especially, considering the secrecy, and the intentions behind this act.

Here are 7 times being on a dating site is considered cheating:

– When the intention is to replace the partner.

When somebody wants to replace their partner

One of the times when using a dating site is considered cheating is, of course, when a person is looking for other people.

The partner using dating sites may have lost feelings for the person or gotten “bored” of being in the same relationship.

Imagine creating a dating profile for the sole purpose of replacing a partner instead of just breaking up with them.

If we do this, we’re deliberately going on the platform to establish a sexual, romantic, or emotional relationship with somebody that’s not our partner, fully aware that this is a hurtful thing to do.

– When somebody uses the site to find sexual partners.

One of the most common forms of cheating—physical—is what pushes people to be active on dating apps or websites.

If a person decides they want to be a part of dating platforms for the sake of having sex with other people, then that is cheating.

Now, whether they succeed or not doesn’t matter—what matters is the fact that they had ill intentions and not our best interest in mind.

– When somebody is aware it makes their partner uncomfortable.

Another instance that can be considered an act of unfaithfulness is doing something despite your partner’s protests.

If, say, your partner has expressed their discomfort regarding your usage of dating sites, yet that doesn’t urge you to stop, that too can be cheating. 

If we disregard our partner’s needs and feelings regarding serious issues, such as this one, then we’re behaving unacceptably and disrespectfully.

Even if we don’t engage in any physical or intimate relationships, crossing a partner’s boundaries is still considered micro-cheating.

– When somebody wants other people to notice and compliment them.

Cheating comes in forms other than physical and emotional, and this is one of its other forms.

Essentially, what we’re doing here is allowing people who aren’t our partners to
“feast their eyes” of sorts; entertaining others.

And you might be thinking: “What’s the big deal here?”

The big deal is that this is a partner flirting and seeking validation from other people who don’t have platonic intentions toward them.

“Would I be okay with my partner asking for other people’s attention?”

Most of us wouldn’t.

This can be seen as micro-cheating; and as “micro” as it may be, it’s still considered cheating!

Or at the very least, it’s highly inappropriate and insufferable.

– ”Harmless” flirting.

If we go on dating sites and start flirting with fellow users, then that can be considered cheating.

What we are essentially doing is behaving in a way that tells the other person we’re attracted to and interested in them.

This includes:

  • Compliments;
  • Talking about made-up scenarios painting you and the other person in a seductive or romantic light;
  • Joking about specific stuff;
  • Expressing your interest;
  • Asking playful and sexual questions;
  • Sending pictures or videos.

Let’s face it: there’s no such thing as “harmless” flirting once you’re already in a relationship.

Whatever we do will affect our partners—for good or bad.

– When somebody is keeping their options open.

When somebody is keeping their options open

Going on a dating site/app looking for “backup plans” is unacceptable.

As we all know, people sometimes like keeping their options open even though they’re already in a committed relationship.

And what better way to look for options other than online?  It’s low-risk, convenient, and spacious.

However, we’re not talking about the benefits,

We’re talking about the fact that it’s extremely disrespectful and inconsiderate to one’s partner; the wandering eye is, without a doubt, considered cheating.

– One person sexually interacting with the other.

This includes,

  • Talking about sexual topics;
  • Sending sexual pictures;
  • Recording sexual videos and sending them;
  • Asking sexual questions;
  • Talking about what would happen if they met up.

Basically, every kind of sexual interaction a person who’s in a relationship might have with another person on the platform is intolerable.

A lot of people seem to think that because it’s online, it’s no big deal—however, that only lays the groundwork for other more “serious” forms of cheating.

It’s also the fact that if we were to ever partake in such conversations, it would make our partners feel extremely uncomfortable and hurt.

Times when being on a dating site can be excusable.

Whether you’re shocked or not that there are times when being on a dating site is tolerable, keep in mind that it’s always up to the other person.

People have their boundaries; they know best what is acceptable in a relationship and what’s not.

But despite that, if a significant other isn’t on dating apps/sites to cheat—and never has—we can’t really call it “cheating”.

Here are 5 examples of when swiping on a dating site is remotely acceptable:

– When a person has created their account long ago but doesn’t use it.

If you’re wondering “Is creating a dating profile cheating?”

The answer to that depends on how much is that dating profile being used by your partner.

One of the rare times the answer is no is when the account has been created before two people got into the relationship.

The majority of people have tried dating apps at least once in their life, so it’s possible for an account to still be there.

– When a person wants to create platonic, non-romantic connections.

As established earlier, not everybody who goes on dating platforms goes there to cheat; some people go on there hoping to make friends.

Although the idea itself of going to a dating website or application to make friends when there are hundreds of other alternatives is a bit odd, if a person has no intentions of straying away from their relationship, they won’t.

Again, this makes a lot of people uncomfortable—rightfully so—and the majority wouldn’t want their partner making friends in such a way.

– Somebody who is pointlessly swiping and not interacting.

Somebody who is pointlessly swiping and not interacting

Somebody pointlessly and mindlessly swiping with no intention of interacting with people can also be seen as acceptable.

There are times when people are bored and interested in seeing what’s all the commotion with dating platforms!

People like these don’t tend to interact with people; they’re simply observing and investigating.

It’s similar to people who scroll through other social media when they’re bored and curing their boredom!

If your s.o. is okay with you checking dating sites because they trust you and know no funny business is going on, then it’s not considered cheating!

– When somebody is simply curious about who’s there.

Now, this is a tricky one because a person who’s in an exclusive and committed relationship shouldn’t feel the need to do that.

The idea of having a dating app alone is considered unfaithful, let alone swiping.

But even so, it’s—objectively—okay to swipe out of curiosity if you’re hoping to find a friend or relative whom you can later tease about it.

It’s not technically cheating because there is no contact or other forms of interaction with the people you come across; you’re simply looking.

Nonetheless, if somebody would appreciate it if their partner stopped, that too is understandable.

At the end of the day, it’s still a platform used mainly for dating.

– When a partner agrees and knows it’s harmless fun.

If your partner knows and agrees, then by all means, go ahead! It’s your relationship, after all.

If two people trust each other, they will not feel uncomfortable if one or the other is present on a dating platform.

They know no actual cheating will take place and know where home is.

If we tell our s.o. that we have a dating app installed just for the heck of it, and they’re not opposed to the idea, then that’s not compromising the foundation and integrity of the relationship.

Hence, it’s acceptable and not considered an act of infidelity. 

Pro tip: people should always make sure and know for a fact that their partner is 100% okay with being active on a dating app or site.

It’s also usually okay for couples in an open relationship to browse dating platforms!

Don’t let others decide what you should tolerate and what not.

For some people, the thought of installing a dating app alone is considered cheating; and that’s okay.

What might seem like too much or too little to us, might seem the opposite to other people—and that’s because everybody has different boundaries.

Be attentive to the one you love, but do not let your sense of security and comfort be messed with either!

Mutual respect: the perfect balance.

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