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Food for Thought > What's cheating to you?

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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
I know we've asked this before, but I'd be curious to see what people are thinking right now.

How do you define cheating?

If you are against cheating in a romance story, do you ever make an exception?

A related question. Does it make you doubt the character's love for another person when they are having sex with other people while they claim they are in love with one particular person?



message 2: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen) , Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Jan 20, 2015 12:18PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
I have to admit I really have a chokepoint when it comes to cheating. I hate it. I especially dislike marital cheating in the story. If I know a book will have cheating, I try to avoid it.

I will admit there are a few books I did like despite the adultery aspect, but that's pretty unusual for me.

I feel that even if it's a marriage of convenience, knowing that one of them wasn't faithful to their vows ruins the story for me. I feel that if I was the person being cheated on, I'd have a hard time getting past my spouse being unfaithful, even if it was in the past. I know you're supposed to forgive, but I think it's even harder to forget.

There is a book I'm considering reading where the hero was supposed to be deeply in love with the heroine, but he was sleeping with other women during the period before they could be together. Just hearing that about the story makes me less inclined to read it. I like when the hero's love makes him faithful to the heroine no matter what. Maybe that's not realistic, but I don't read romance for realism.


Paganalexandria  | 354 comments Great topic Danielle

How do you define cheating?
For me cheating is being sneaky with someone else behind a partners back. It doesn't have to progress into anything sexual, but getting emotional needs with another counts with me too.

If you are against cheating in a romance story, do you ever make an exception?
Cheating in a romance isn't a deal breaker for me, if it makes sense as a character arc, and it's not forgiven too easily.

Does it make you doubt the character's love for another person when they are having sex with other people while they claim they are in love with one particular person?

This really depends on the skill level of the writer on how I feel while reading each scenario. A good writer can explain emotional layers well enough to make me understand the reason for the betrayal. I'm open to the process of making me see the world through their eyes. Even if it hurts. Talent is the deciding factor on me forgiving characters for this lapse though.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
Thanks for commenting, Pagan. I think I don't have enough emotional distance from it to be able to appreciate it even if written well.


Paganalexandria  | 354 comments Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) wrote: "Thanks for commenting, Pagan. I think I don't have enough emotional distance from it to be able to appreciate it even if written well."

I guess it can make sense on some levels because of real world experiences with it.Cheating in itself isn't a deal breaker for me in real life either. It's all about circumstances for me. I'm more offended by disrespect than cheating. Like if finding out a a partner strayed doesn't bother me near as much as doing it in my face without regard to my feelings. I would prefer for a partner not to cheat, but my deal breakers revolve around other things associated with it.


Susan (the other Susan) (theothersusan) | 259 comments I'm not sure that people ought to have just one sex partner, forever. In real life or in books.


message 7: by Becky (new)

Becky  (BeckyNJ) | 7 comments I have no problem with an open real marriage or MOC where both are free, not really cheating if it's not behind the back. That is very different than one partner telling the other that they are going to cheat while expecting the spouse to wait around (usually the guy is the cheater in romances). Both men and women can love one person and have sex with another, but that's "love light", not the love I read romance novels for...

I think a couple having one sex partner and viewing sex within marriage as the only option for them is also a perfectly healthy and valid life choice, just as valid as having many partners. If the couple share those values, why would that be wrong? it creates a powerful connection and strong family unit. It is not the exclusive way to achieve that, but it's valid and works where two people have the same values and/or religious beliefs.

unfortunately, i don't think there are more romance novels about this than you can count on one hand (I know of only one, although perhaps there is a historical out there?). The vast majority have heroines who have one lover for life (or if she isn't a virgin, it sucked before hero) while hero is experienced, in fact he is usually incredibly promiscuous and had many, not just one prior partner. That relationship would be very unlikely to work in real life, the couple is mismatched with different values, and most of these "heroes" have double standards. Men with double standards cheat. Maybe you can find a rare exception, but it is pretty safe to say that a mysoginistic manHo who marries a virgin because she is "worthy" under his Madonna/whore mentality will cheat, so the HEA in many romances is false to me.


Paganalexandria  | 354 comments Becky wrote: "I have no problem with an open real marriage or MOC where both are free, not really cheating if it's not behind the back. That is very different than one partner telling the other that they are go..."

I guess that's why cheating in a book doesn't offend me so much, if presented as relationship growing pains situation. If it happens, it establishes what the heroine won't put up with, and the hero suffers. I loved The Mighty Storm (The Storm, #1) by Samantha Towle which had a cheating heroine. I like messy, angst ridden storylines, and very few thing bring more drama than that.


message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky  (BeckyNJ) | 7 comments I'll have to reread that...I don't remember her cheating! I've read very few cheating heroes who I buy as having 50 years of fidelity ahead. But then very few of the promiscuous heroes who view women as meat to be used would be faithful anyway if they were real life...I guess the cheating just proves that they can have feelings for heroine but still engage in and fully enjoy sex with other women. They are OTT jealous but not OTT in love...,it's more that they view heroine as a possession. I haven't seen them suffer very much either...heroine rarely moves on to other men...often she still saves her virginity for him and stays celibate for years. they may lose the heroine for a while but usually that just gives them more time to screw around while she stays on ice. Maybe I need better recs on cheating heroes where he really suffers because she moves on while he falls apart. I did like Forgiving Reed and The Pregnancy Bond for those reasons but haven't found many...


Paganalexandria  | 354 comments Becky wrote: "I'll have to reread that...I don't remember her cheating! I've read very few cheating heroes who I buy as having 50 years of fidelity ahead. But then very few of the promiscuous heroes who view ..."

Remember she had a boyfriend when they reconnected. She was cheating with him, and spent most of the book stringing them both along.


message 11: by Becky (new)

Becky  (BeckyNJ) | 7 comments For some reason cheating on someone else (especially if not married) to be with one's true love is something I can stand...I loved Thoughtless and The Sicilian's Passion.


message 12: by Kim Davis (new)

Kim Davis | 134 comments I define cheating as having physical or emotional relations with anyone other than your SO.

I have a weird 'thing' about cheating. I will not, under any circumstances, read a book or watch a movie/tv show if I know cheating is involved. If I accidentally start, I'll stop as soon as the cheating starts.

I don't know why it bothers me as much as it does. To the best of my knowledge I've never been cheated on. I'm also not very religious so it's not so much that a Godly vow was broken. This has simply always been a line I won't cross.

This is the main reason I haven't been able to bring myself to read the Outlander series. Time-travel aside, she is married at the start of the series.


message 13: by Pamela(AllHoney), Danger Zone (new)

Pamela(AllHoney) (pamelap) | 1706 comments Mod
How do you define cheating? I think of cheating as also being more than sex. If the couple is in a relationship I expect fidelity. If there is a question about the relationship, i.e. the man is pushing woman away because of issues, then to me the cheating is questionable.

If you are against cheating in a romance story, do you ever make an exception? I say I don't like it and if I know there is cheating in a book I will probably avoid said book but I have made exceptions in the past. I recently read a book where the woman was married and she was in a situation where she was attacked and hero helped her. Meanwhile, her husband is cheating and had been for some time. In fact, husband had tried to kill her. I was very okay with the cheating in that book.

A related question. Does it make you doubt the character's love for another person when they are having sex with other people while they claim they are in love with one particular person? Yes. I love Kristen Ashley but I must admit that there have been a few books where one could claim cheating. It angers me but I read her anyway. But its usually back to the relationship thing. The relationship was questionable. They broke up or weren't really together at the time of the "cheating". But it did make me wonder how they could have another person in their life if they were really in love with another.

So, although I claim not to like it I have read some books that it didn't bug me as much as it should have. It's all in how its written, I guess.


message 14: by Lauren (last edited Jan 21, 2015 08:33AM) (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) How do you define cheating?

For me, cheating is mainly a physical act although in some circumstances it could also be emotional.

If you are against cheating in a romance story, do you ever make an exception?

Physical/sexual cheating is a complete deal breaker for me. If the hero or heroine cheats while they are in a committed relationship, I will DNF the book.

For me, once a cheat, always a cheat. A person who cheats can never be trusted again. It is a complete betrayal of the person you have pledged to love and respect. If you cheat on them, you cannot possibly love or respect them the way that they deserved.

Situations where I could understand (and possible forgive):

1. In historical romance, where the hero and heroine have separated for whatever reason and one or the other is in a relationship with someone else before the H/h are reunited: The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales, #4) by Eloisa James for example. Not sure if this happens in Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage (MacKenzies & McBrides, #2) by Jennifer Ashley but if it did then it would fit here.

2. If both the H/h are tempted by someone else (sort of a tit for tat thing) but don't act on their temptation: Shakespeare's Trollop (Lily Bard, #4) by Charlaine Harris comes to mind.

3. When either of the partners is distant or keeping secrets from the significant other and drives that person away. This one is more problematic and would definitely depend on the circumstances. Examples are Blindsighted (Grant County, #1) by Karin Slaughter and Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt - in the latter, (view spoiler)

Does it make you doubt the character's love for another person when they are having sex with other people while they claim they are in love with one particular person?

Absolutely! If you want to cheat, break up first. How can you claim to love someone and then hurt them by cheating?

Some books with cheating that I didn't DNF but the cheating hampered my enjoyment of the romance:

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong - (view spoiler)

Killer Heat (Dept 6 Hired Guns, #3) by Brenda Novak - (view spoiler)


message 15: by Kim Davis (new)

Kim Davis | 134 comments Pamela(AllHoney), you bring up a good point about KA's books. I do read them and there is (to me) some amount of emotional cheating. In At Peace you could say it became physical. Now the main couple weren't technically "together", but there were feelings there so how can someone be with person B if they're in love with person A? Something to consider...


Paganalexandria  | 354 comments Kim wrote: "Pamela(AllHoney), you bring up a good point about KA's books. I do read them and there is (to me) some amount of emotional cheating. In At Peace you could say it became physical. Now the main coupl..."

I guess I get this because sometimes you don't know how much another person means to you, until you compare it to something else. That's one of those things that sometimes make a story feel more realistic to me. To me it makes sense for these alpha men used to having any woman fall at their feet to at first treat this relationship like any other. I hate inta-love more than cheating storylines.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
Becky wrote: "I'll have to reread that...I don't remember her cheating! I've read very few cheating heroes who I buy as having 50 years of fidelity ahead. But then very few of the promiscuous heroes who view ..."

I hate the double standard, honestly. While I'm not for either H or h to be promiscuous, it's irritating that it's always the hero who is the promiscuous one with a virginal or near virginal heroine. I recently read a book where the heroine was very experienced and less principled about sex than the hero. It was a nice change, although I can't view sex casually or jaundiced personally. I take it very seriously, so I don't care for the characters in the romances I enjoy to be callused about sex, unless there is some deep emotional issue behind it.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
I think I tend to be distrustful of men who have cheated in the past.

For me, it's partially because of my faith, but also intrinsically I hate infidelity (my dad was a cheater). It really destroyed our family and it caused a lot of trust issues for me and my sister. I feel that cheating is a sign of disrespect and that love isn't as strong as one professes. I know that sexual needs are strong, but I like to think that strong respect and love for one's partner would cause a person to think twice and try to stay faithful to their partner, even if it's hard.

In the books where the hero is really promiscuous and is around his ex-lovers constantly, I don't now how a heroine can put up with that being rubbed in her face. I'm glad I don't have to worry about that in real life. I think I am a fairly possessive person, and I wouldn't like to be constantly running into my husband's ex-lovers.

I often wonder how woman be willing become the other woman and know that they are destroying a marriage and a family. I don't like to see the heroine in that role because it really affects my respect for her.


Susan (the other Susan) (theothersusan) | 259 comments I don't think it's possible for a third party to destroy a loving relationship. They can certainly insert themselves into a broken one, but only the committed partners can destroy their love for each other. I guess I've come to question the intrinsic value of monogamy - whether sexual or emotional - and have come to believe that the one essential element of a committed relationship is not monogamy but honesty.

I was a fan of HBO's series Big Love, which explored the question of whether it is possible to share someone you love; to love so much that the partner's happiness is essential to you, even if it means sharing. I couldn't live that way, but I admire the ideal of a an unjealous love.


Susan (the other Susan) (theothersusan) | 259 comments That said, if we're talking about romance novels then we're not in the realm of Big Love (voluntary polygamy, which as Becky said tends to unfortunately favor men in real life) or open marriage ("I love you and will always come back to you but we are both free to explore as long as we are honest") We are reading romance novels to escape, and we want our couples to arrive at a particular destination: Perfect for Each Other, an uncomplicated HEA.

Personally, I need some tension to sustain my interest in a romantic story. It can come from an outside source that causes some conflict between h/h, or it can be caused by some unresolved issue that might result in an affair before they both realize they're Perfect for Each Other.


message 21: by Becky (new)

Becky  (BeckyNJ) | 7 comments Susan, I agree, the other person is irrelevant to me and while not brimming with morals, not the cause of betrayal. Unfortunately, romances often demonize the other woman, which I see as an attempt to put blame on her rather than where it belongs. Kind of like that song "you ain't woman enough to take my man". It's your man who is the betrayer, she can't take him if he ain't going...there are tons of women happy to sleep with a married man...they aren't right but they aren't the cause of your man cheating. I loved Big Love too, but i didn't view it as a romance, any more than life as Joseph smith's 19th wife was "romantic". I thought it was a thriller about the sect and a great drama about th the relationship op among the women. The husband was more of a prop to me.... I certainly didn't view the husband as a hero...i might be fascinated by a train wreck story or one about a weak and selfish man, but that's not what I read romance for..if reading romance, I'm looking for true love with a "hero".

That's why cheating doesn't usually work for me...it brings the real world in..and in the real world, I know there is no real HEA in the future. I've seen cheaters...I've been hit on by these guys and seen what goes on..women who find out about an affair or encounter and think their man will become faithful are lying to themselves...maybe for a couple of years but then that alpha male with women falling all over him is cheating again. Unless you've got him literally locked down at home (and even then, he'll still find someone at the grocery store or in the carpool line). Cheaters who turn into one-woman men in the absence of erectile dysfunction are 1 in a million. So maybe he realizes heroine is perfect for him...he's still going to hook up with other women when opportunity strikes, he'll just be careful to hide it. So I hate when reality destroys my romantic fantasy...

Danielle, what was the book you are referring to with experienced heroine? I'm desperate for that...the lack of variety is killing me!


message 22: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen) , Loves 'Em Lethal (last edited Jan 27, 2015 08:16PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
Just to be clear, I'm not down for demonizing the other woman, but I do think it's morally wrong to sleep with someone who is married. No question about that. I mean, it's not like there aren't plenty of other people out there other than a man who is clearly married. However, it takes two to tango. She's not any more wrong than the spouse. However, when the other woman is rubbing it in the wife's face, yeah, that's wrong.

Becky, the book is At No Man's Command


message 23: by Arch (new)

Arch  | 4132 comments Mod
Cheating is wrong. Love doesn't have room for cheating.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
Arch wrote: "Cheating is wrong. Love doesn't have room for cheating."

Yeah, I often wonder about the person who says they love their spouse but they are unfaithful.


Paganalexandria  | 354 comments Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) wrote: "Arch wrote: "Cheating is wrong. Love doesn't have room for cheating."

Yeah, I often wonder about the person who says they love their spouse but they are unfaithful."


Danielle, I think for me, spouse is the key word when it comes to how much cheating bothers me. For me cheating just isn't a much of betrayal when no vows or real promises have been broken. I personally think people take dating way more serious than myself at times. I think dating is like trying on an outfit, to see if it fits, or how comfortable you are in it. If you don't even care enough to even bother to putting it on layaway, you can't be that mad that someone else wants it too. Unless I have the commitment conversation, don't care what someone else is doing. Even then, unless the other person also has a personal connection to me, could care less about their part in it. I have dated someone with a girlfriend, but would never date a married person. Don't even get me started on "baby mama." I guess that's why it doesn't bother me if a hero or heroine has a little messy relationship overlap at the beginning while they try to figure things out. That goes double if the book features people under 30.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
I can see your point, Pagan. My hard limit is definitely marital cheating. I am not fond of cheating while in a committed relationship or when one claims to be in love with someone. It feels emotionally dishonest to me.

I think that if you are in an uncommitted relationship and both parties know it, that's different. While that wouldn't work for me, I don't think that's necessarily cheating.


Susan (the other Susan) (theothersusan) | 259 comments If George Clooney wants to have sex with me, I'm doing it. Sorry, Mrs. Clooney.

:-D

Meanwhile, back at the romance topic. I agree that too much real life can take the escapist fun out of reading a romance. BUT it bothers me sometimes when the mega-rake hero, who isn't even involved with the heroine yet much less committed to her, suddenly discovers that he can't perform with other women because he has met The One. I've been around long enough to laugh at that trope. I know we readers are supposed to think, "Aww, he's in love but doesn't know it yet, therefore he is no longer able to find other women sexually attractive," but to me that's a cop-out.

The challenge of remaining sexually faithful in a relationship is precisely because we are able to feel a sexual attraction to people we aren't in love with.

The idea that love and sexual attraction are the same thing is false, even in a novel. It's one level too far of unrealistic for me. Show me instead the rake who still feels drawn to all those sexy available women but fights his promiscuous nature so he can become the man the heroine would like him to be.

If George Clooney happens to fall in love with me during our illicit 3-minute affair in a stairwell, we'll just have to figure something out. I think I can share him with Amal. We'll work out some visitation arrangement.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 9730 comments Mod
Hmm, I don't know. I've seen it done well where a hero who was notoriously promiscuous doesn't want anyone but the heroine. I believe that you can love someone and want to be faithful to them. On the other hand, I do believe that sexual feelings don't always follow what is right or what the higher intellect wants. That is a realistic struggle, and I've seen that done well in romance.

I'm a romantic, so yes, I want a hero who wants no one else but the heroine.


message 29: by Jais (new)

Jais (jetoftherock) | 28 comments How do you define cheating?

Hmmm, for me, it's betraying your partner's trust. It's CONSCIOUSLY doing with another person what you know would hurt the person you're in a committed relationship with. It's the violation of the vows you made to each other. If you were forced or drugged or whatever, well, that's a totally different story, though.

If you are against cheating in a romance story, do you ever make an exception?

I actually don't. Haha! It makes me want to dnf a story. Haha! I really don't like cheating.

A related question. Does it make you doubt the character's love for another person when they are having sex with other people while they claim they are in love with one particular person?

Yes, it does. I just read Blaze and in some scenes, I really wanted to strangle the hero. he was really something, haha! It didn't actually matter to me that the H/h weren't together at that time or that they were brought up in totally different ways. I wanted the hero to make a conscious effort to be faithful especially because he says he's in love with the heroine and he doesn't know the whole story. It made me ask if he was really in love with the heroine.

As for me, I can't imagine myself having sex with someone I don't love and I'm not in a committed relationship with (but that's just me). Haha!


message 30: by Arch (new)

Arch  | 4132 comments Mod
My favorite couple is Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke. They are married and very much in love with one another. If either of them would go out and sleep with another person, then the love their proclaim for one another is a lie.

I hate hearing people say "I love my wife" or "I love my husband", after they cheated. Really! They weren't loving their wife or husband, when they were sleeping with the other person.

True Love will never cheat, no matter what. Why do people cheat? Every woman have the same body parts. Every man have the same body part. Of course, body parts come in different shapes and sizes and colors, but still they are still the same body parts.

Lust drives a person to cheat.

I can't read a book about cheaters. If I start to read a book and find out that's the theme, then I will either throw the book away or give it away.


Susan (the other Susan) (theothersusan) | 259 comments It's not just about parts. Personally, I like a little lust.


Susan (the other Susan) (theothersusan) | 259 comments It's not just about parts. Personally, I like a little lust.


message 33: by Pet (new)

Pet (petruck) | 22 comments I do have double standards on cheating. In real life I understand that it can happen, and that it's possibly a sign that there are problems in a relationship on both sides and that cheating is often a result of something much deeper needing addressing.
However, I live in the real world, if I wanted to read about the real world I'd read the latest Hollywood gossip magazine. I read romance books because I want to escape into a better world, a world where people are just a little bit better than normal, where a man or woman can find twuu luv in the blink of an eye. Where evil can be defeated before it win's and where once a heart is touched it remains steadfast forever.
So no, for me cheating in a book starts with either party just going out looking for someone to scratch the itch. I recently DNF a book because the H started to get into it with another after he told the h not to let anyone else touch her, despite the fact that he could not finish, it turned what could have been a beautiful story, well ugly.

To be clear though I have nothing against multiple partners, as long as they are true to each other. There I think is the rub, you can have as many people in one relationship as the writer wants to put there, but as long as they are all in love with each other they should only be, with or think of each other.


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