I received a comment on my post Liars or Cheaters and as I went to reply I realized that I had more to say on the subject than just a simple yes or no answer. The question was “but what if you are lying to protect the other person’s feelings? [he/she] cheated, but rather than come out with it, simply broke up with the person or let things just… peter out. Is it still cheating?” I guess one of the first questions I would ask to properly give my opinion would be why did you cheat? If the answer was that you were unhappy and just looking for an out then I suppose it is in the gray area as to whether or not you cheated. People do some dumb and immature, often hurtful things when they are unhappy and don’t know how to close the door. Sometimes they need that extra edge or push so that they cannot go back and create a situation that is similar to cheating in their own minds.
Now on the other hand, if you ended things or let things slowly fizzle out afterwards because you were ashamed and not honest about what you did, then to me that is the most offensive form of cheating. The person who is unable to be honest and upfront with their actions and instead cause their partner all the loss and pain without the true reason for ending things? Well, to put it bluntly makes you a pussy and an ass. What if the act of sleeping with another person was simply a natural expression of a new chemistry, or simply an act of momentary lack of judgement. Is that something that you could not share with your partner and discuss as two rational adults? If anything you should let your partner be fully informed of the situation and allow them the time to decide how they would like to react. If for no other reason than safety first and foremost, because you have potentially put your partner at risk by not disclosing where your fluids have been. Even the safest sex has risks, and you need to be honest enough to trust that a person you are seeing will be honest and you should be doing the same.
Saying that you are protecting this persons feelings is simply another way of saying that you are not responsible enough to engage in sexual activity. The responsible party fesses up, and accepts the reactions that they receive within reason (no endorsement for a Lorena Bobbitt type reaction).