What being faithful really means: 19 relationship rules

What does it mean to be faithful to your partner?

If you’ve just started dating someone it can be difficult to figure out what constitutes being faithful in a relationship.

We know that sleeping with someone outside of your relationship is definitely not being faithful, but what about flirting?

What about having a best friend of the opposite sex?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

Here at the Hack Spirit blog, we’ve researched and talked about relationships for a long time now, and during this time we’ve come to figure out what the mainstream definition of being faithful really means.

So in this article, we’re going to talk about what being faithful is all about. This applies to monogamous relationships, not open relationships.

If you adopt these behaviors, you can guarantee that you’re being faithful in your relationship.

1. You have deleted all online dating apps

If you found love online, good for you. Now, take a moment and get rid of those dating sites from your phone, computer, and tablet.

You don’t need them anymore. If you are serious about your relationship, you won’t feel like you need a backup or a “just in case things don’t work out plan.”

It’s unfair to your partner if you keep those accounts active. And you should expect them to delete their accounts as well.

If you and your partner aren’t ready to delete their online dating apps, then you’re not ready for a relationship (even if you like each other).

2. You have given up flirting

Sure, flirting is fun and relatively harmless…until it’s not. This is a common problem online, especially on social media platforms where comments are shared and posted publicly.

People can get hurt easily. It’s best to refrain from making comments that could be construed as flirting, especially if you are into your partner and want your relationship to work.

Flirting with others is a sign of cheating or at least the capability to cheat.

3. You don’t hide things

When you are in a relationship, it is important to maintain an open line of communication.

When you start to hide things from your partner, even if you do it because you think the information will hurt them, you are not being faithful to your relationship.

If you meet an ex-lover for lunch, don’t hide that from your current partner. It only leads to pain for everyone.

Also, don’t meet your ex-lover for lunch. Leave the past in the past.

4. You don’t give your heart to someone else 

People have long thought of cheating as a sexual game, but it’s so much more than that. If one partner feels betrayed, then the faith is lost.

It can be harder to trust someone who has betrayed your confidence, even if sex isn’t involved. The best way to avoid hurting someone else, and your relationship, is to not engage in activities that you think you need to hide from your partner.

If you hide a text or a picture, then you probably shouldn’t be doing those things in the first place. If you feel like you could hurt your partner, don’t do it. If you worry about “getting caught”, even if it’s not in someone’s bed, don’t do it.

Being faithful to your partner means not giving your heart to someone else, and not letting someone else have a piece of your heart. It’s not just about sleeping with someone else.

So the next time your smartphone dings and you get a little twinge of fear about what the text message will say, consider cutting those ties.

5. You don’t form a stronger emotional attachment with someone compared to your partner

Your significant other should be the first person you turn to for most of your daily ups and downs as well as your life’s greatest hurdles – when there is no longer the case, something is wrong.

Emotional cheating is essentially an “affair of the heart”.

It’s very different from a platonic friendship because there is also an attraction and flirting going on.

6. You don’t get physical with someone outside the relationship

Fairly obvious, right? Sleeping with someone outside the relationship is obviously a breach of trust.

However, what about a meaningless drunken peck on the lips during a company party or holding hands with another physically attractive person? The intent is important.

Now I wouldn’t want to stereotype but according to Yvonne, a therapist at The Affair clinic, a good way to look at it is “in terms of the sex cycle.” Yvonne, a therapist at The Affair Clinic,

“A man is like a gas cooker, turned on from the flick of a switch. A woman needs much more warming up time, like an electric hob!”

She says that this is why a woman generally needs to feel an emotional connection with someone before she feels she wants to engage in sexual/physical activity.

As a result, a man may feel the pain of physical cheating harder and women find emotional infidelity harder to deal with.

7. You’ve decided to be committed to your partner through thick and thin

Relationships are a choice. Sometimes, it feels like we are trapped for a variety of reasons, but we forget that we decided to be in this relationship.

Nobody made us do this.

And yet, there are times when we feel like we can’t change our minds.

If you want to be in a loyal, happy relationship, you have to decide to be committed to this person, over and over again.

Being committed means being dedicated or loyal to your partner. It means always being there for your partner when they’re going through a hard time.

It means supporting them through thick and thin.

You help each other be happy. You don’t hurt or betray other’s trust.

You have to make the conscious choice to be together. It won’t work unless you do.

8. You don’t do anything that would break your own heart if it was done to you

Being in a loyal relationship means not hiding things that would hurt your partner, but it starts with not doing them in the first place.

Again, in order to be in a loyal relationship, you have to decide to be loyal.

So many people think this is just something that happens, but cheating partners are never accidents.

They made decisions to cheat, whether they admit it or not.

9. You talk about your feelings with each other

When it comes to being in a strong, committed, and loyal relationship, you and your partner must agree to explore your thoughts and feelings.

If you never talk about how you feel but instead blame each other for how you make the other feel, you’ll never find the happiness you’re looking for.

We are each responsible for our own feelings. It is not up to anyone else to make us happy.

You’re honest with what you’re feeling and who you are. There is nothing to hide.

10. You’re honest about your past

There are no two ways about it: you can’t be in a loyal relationship if you’re lying about where you were, who you were with, what you were doing, who you used to date, how many people you’ve been with, what your middle name is – people lie about all kinds of crazy things.

It just hurts any chances you have of being in a loyal, committed relationship.

Rather than risk your relationship for the sake of your pride, learn to talk to each other and be honest at every turn.

11. You work to understand each other

One of the leading causes of divorce is that two people come to find they are not compatible.

There is no effort to get to know someone beyond the wedding day and when you come to find out that your partner is not who you thought he or she was, you look to leave.

Rather than walk away from what could be a perfectly amazing marriage, have the attitude that you are going to spend the rest of your life getting to know this person.

There’s no way you can know everything there is to know about someone, so don’t pretend there is. Be open to being surprised on an ongoing basis.

12. You work to respect each other

You’ll break each others’ hearts from time to time but that doesn’t mean the marriage has to end then and there.

Instead, work to understand what the other person needs and wants.

When you work to respect the needs and wants of one another, it becomes easier to forgive.

It becomes easier to have tough conversations about what’s working and what’s not working.

If you expect everything to be perfect all the time and you’re trying to hurt one another because you can’t deal with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, you’ll be doomed.

13. You don’t argue in the heat of the moment

There’s no prize for giving someone the silent treatment.

While you might not have the words to describe how you are feeling in a moment of heated frustration, it is okay to ask your partner to give you space for now until you are ready to talk.

You don’t have to hash everything out as it happens. In fact, it’s often a better idea to let cooler heads prevail before launching into a fight or argument.

You’ll have a clear head and have some time to think about what you want to get out of the conversation and ultimately how it will help your marriage.

14. You always tell the truth

Above all else, if you can’t be honest with your partner, you won’t last long.

You might be able to hack it together for a while, but it won’t be long before things start to fall apart at the seams. Honesty is called the best policy for a reason.

If you try to skirt around it or ignore the fact that you’re lying to your spouse, things will continue to escalate.

If you think your partner is lying to you or being dishonest about something, no matter how small, it’s always a good idea to talk about it.

You don’t want to end up feeling resentful because of it. And resentment can kill a marriage slowly and painfully.

15. You support each other in your own lives

Finally, try to keep in mind that you weren’t born with your spouse attached to your hip.

It’s a funny way to think about your relationship, but at the end of the day, you are still two separate, two different people.

If you try to live your life like you are one being, it won’t work.

You don’t have to do everything together. You should have separate lives and have a life together.

Anyone who has been married a long time will tell you that one of the keys to a successful, faithful marriage is supporting the other person’s goals, aspirations, and dreams.

You both have a right to live the life you want, together. Or apart.

16. You listen to your partner

Being faithful means respecting what your partner has to say. It means listening intently, even when the topic of discussion isn’t important to you.

It means listening to your partner when they’re talking about how their day went.

It means listening to their problems and offering solutions.

It means asking for their opinion because you respect what they have to say.

17. You appreciate each other

Being in a relationship means working together as a team. And never failing to appreciate that work that you’re both putting into the relationship.

It’s all too easy to take your partner for granted when you get used to them.

But it’s imperative that you and your partner recognize the work you’re putting in.

Being faithful and loyal is all about loving and valuing each other.

If you both feel loved, the better and stronger the relationship will be.

18. You don’t bring up past mistakes

This is all about having good communication and forgiveness. If you’ve moved past certain issues in the relationship, you don’t bring them up again so you can “one-up them”.

They trust that you’ve moved on and you trust that they will never repeat their mistake.

Being faithful means letting go of previous mistakes because you’ve both managed to work through them.

19. You forgive each other

Forgiveness is one of the main ingredients for a successful relationship.

But it isn’t easy. After all, it takes an incredible amount of trust to forgive someone for their past mistakes and move on.

If you can learn to forgive, you can strengthen the bond between you.

If you want to get more specific about what is being unfaithful in the relationship, then we’ve summarized a study below about what behaviors people consider cheating.

Behaviors that many people consider cheating

A 2013 University of Michigan study tried to address the question, what is considered cheating in a relationship? 

To do so, they asked a pool of undergraduates to rate 27 different behaviors on a scale of 1-100. 

A score of one indicated that they didn’t think the behavior was cheating, whereas a score of 100 indicated that it was absolutely cheating. 

What did they find? 

That all in all, there was no direct definition of cheating, with the exception of sex. 

It tends to be on a sliding scale, with some people believing certain behaviors are more damaging than others.

Here are some behaviors that some people may consider cheating, and others may not. 

  1. Grabbing or touching inappropriate areas
  2. Going to an event, having dinner, or buying gifts for someone who is not your partner.
  3. Constant texting (especially explicit texts) or flirting with someone who is not your partner.
  4. Going on a date with someone who is not your partner.
  5. Being on internet chatrooms or social media with the intention of flirting/or getting other people’s numbers.
  6. Meeting up with ex’s.
  7. Grinding and bumping with someone other than your partner (while clubbing).
  8. Flirting or teasing with someone other than your partner.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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