Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can singles cheat?

I haven’t actually bothered to watch this viral video:

–but to judge by what others are saying:

i) As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, a lot of teenagers have been nurtured on the romantic illusion that boyfriends and girlfriends can cheat on each other. But that fails to distinguish between dating and marriage. One of the defining features of marriage is monogamous commitment. “Forsaking all others” is a marriage vow. Only spouses can cheat on each other. The notion that singles can cheat on each other has become a deeply engrained myth in the popular culture.

Dating isn’t marriage. Going steady isn’t marriage. Even engagement isn’t marriage. At most, these constitute a prelude to marriage. This confusion occurs when social mores are defined by high school or Hollywood rather than God.

Of course, in a culture where many young people shack up rather than tying the knot, cohabitation becomes substitute marriage. But, of course, the original motivation for cohabitation (in distinction to marriage) is that it’s not the same as marital commitment.

ii) The poor girl can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Just because two movie stars play devoted lovers in a film or TV series doesn’t make them devoted lovers in real life. And promiscuity among movie stars is hardly unprecedented.

iii) Finally, and most importantly, this is what happens when girls lack a Biblically-defined identity. When they have no identity beyond their social circle, beyond social expectations. A Christian girl who’s properly grounded in the Bible wouldn’t be so emotionally invested in vicarious identity. She has a sense of self-worth and self-identity which comes from knowing who she is in relation to God. Biblical manhood and womanhood matters.

Of course, many teenagers are levelheaded. This isn’t necessarily representative of the younger generation.

And it’s not uncommon (or so I’ve heard) for adolescent girls to go through phases and mood swings.


  1. And it’s not uncommon (or so I’ve heard) for adolescent girls to go through phases and mood swings.


  2. I'm not sure why you say "singles can't cheat". If I'm dating someone and tell them that I plan to see them exclusively, but then play the field, is that not cheating? It's not adultery for sure, but it certainly seems like cheating to me. I am being dishonest about my intentions/actions.

  3. I see that you've been conditioned by Hollywood values.

    1. "If I'm dating someone and tell them that I plan to see them exclusively, but then play the field, is that not cheating? It's not adultery for sure, but it certainly seems like cheating to me." (Grifman)

      "I see that you've been conditioned by Hollywood values." (Steve)

      Ok, so how is Grifman supposed to determine if the chick he is dating will be faithful to him after marriage? If he ignores her unfaithfulness during their exclusive dating and says "ah, that's not cheating" and marries her anyway, will she be faithful? or will she keep "cheating"?

      So it is "cheating" even in the case of singles, but its not serious cheating. Its provisional cheating.

      (I'm assuming, of course, that there is no sex going on at all, and that the cheating is kissing. Sex before marriage is wrong.)

  4. That really doesn't respond to my post. Explain to me why this isn't cheating in some sense? You state that dating, etc isn't marriage which is true and all well and good. But that doesn't mean cheating can't occur within a dating relationship. You haven't made that case as far as I can see.

    1. Don't make promises you can't keep. Your case is based on false expectations. Singles break up all the time. That possibility is understood, or ought to be.

    2. Your case is upon a false understanding of what I said. Sure singles break up all the time, that's not the issue, no one's denying that. The issue is whether cheating can occur within a dating relationship. If you both agree, "As long as we are dating, we will not see other people" there's nothing in there that says the couple won't/can't break up, but it does imply there should be honesty within the relationship.

      There's no reason that promise can't be kept. If you want to start seeing other people, then you let the person you are dating know, and they can decide if they want to continue the relationship or not. That's just being honest. If you don't do that, then you are being dishonest, and by default cheating. It's all about being honest.

      It has nothing to do with whether a couple will or will not break up. You seem confused by that, not sure why.

  5. I'll also note some common definitions for cheat:

    to deceive; influence by fraud
    to practice fraud or deceit
    a person who acts dishonestly, deceives, or defrauds
    a fraud; swindle; deception

    All of which would apply to a person who says one thing and does another with the intent of deceiving another.

  6. You're describing a rash vow. The proper question in that case is not if you should keep a rash vow, but if you should make it in the place.

    Dating is not a long-term commitment. Singles can be quite shortsighted in their momentary infatuations. How they feel one week isn't how they feel the next. That isn't deceptive or fraudulent. That's just the nature of dating. It's naive to think otherwise.

  7. You haven't proven that it's a rash vow. You've merely assumed that. Saying up front, "As long as we are dating, I will see only you" isn't rash. That's just setting the terms of the relationship. If that changes, then the other person should be told. That's just being honest. Nothing rash about that situation.

    You also haven't shown that a 30 year old single is more or less shortsighted or emotionally less mature than a 30 year old married person.

    Lastly your topic is not clear. Are you talking about teenagers or "singles". If you are talking about teenagers, then we are in closer agreement. But if you are talking about adults, that's another thing. Your title says "Singles", who could be of any age, but you mainly seem to be talking about teenagers.

    1. Dating isn't about commitment. At most, it's exploratory. And it can be a good deal less. For instance, seeing a film alone maybe less fun than taking a girl along.

      Singles dump each other at the drop of a hat. That goes with the territory. It's gullible to think dating implies exclusive commitment to someone.

      You've been watching too many teen dramas or reality shows.

    2. Dating isn't about commitment unless the couple chooses it to be so. Singles don't "dump each other at the drop of a hat". Some do, some don't. You're overgeneralizing, maybe based upon your own experiences? People can and do choose to date someone exclusively. It happens all the time in real life. Denigrating my opinion by saying I watch too many teen dramas or reality shows is just silly. But one good turn deserves another - maybe you just haven't gotten out enough on your own.

      The point remains, unrefuted, I might add, is that singles can cheat. If they say they are not going to date others but then do, that is cheating. That's a fact. If it's not cheating, then tell me what it is. Whether that is wise or prudent, whether it was an emotional decision is irrelevant. A promise was made, and a promise was broken. That is cheating. That should be obvious, even to you.

    3. You keep diluting the difference between dating and marriage.

      When you date, you should understand, going into it, that it's noncommittal. If you don't understand that, then you're just guillible.

      You're also confusing whether a boyfriend (or girlfriend) can be a cad with whether that's "cheating."

  8. The meaning of 'cheating' in a relationship is having sex with someone else. This is what the Bible calls adultery, which is when two people have sex, at least one of whom is married to someone else. Singles should not be engaged in sexual relationships (fornication) in the first place. Sleeping with someone who you are not married to could rightly be considered as adultery against your future spouse. The unmarried partner who complains about being cheated on is, in fact, cheating on his/her future spouse. Dating and marriage are two different estates. You are either married or single. And God forbids sex to anyone who is single, and sex with anyone but your spouse if you are married.

    1. "The meaning of 'cheating' in a relationship is having sex with someone else."

      Really? That's not my definition and I don't think you show everyone accepts your definition.

      For example, if you have sex only with your wife but choose to spend all of your time with another woman, taking her on trips, taking her to dinner, buying her gifts, would that not be cheating, depriving your wife of the emotional aspects of the relationship? A relationship is about much more than mere sex, isn't it?

  9. Steve said it - dating, by definition, is meant to be short term. It's purpose is to find out what you like and don't like. I dated a girl for 4 years straight - not on and off - 4 YEARS! That should have been a huge red flag right there. We were exclusive, but we never exchanged vows or anything. Why not? Why didn't I ask her to marry me? Great questions. I wish someone would have asked me - it might have made me realize that we were dating because it was convenient. You know what we had - we had the benefits of exclusivity with the escape clause of leaving whenever one of us wanted.

    Dating != Engaged. Dating != Marriage. But, society has turned dating into "short term marriage."

    Whenever I ask any "exclusive dating" couple "Why aren't you getting married?", their answer is almost always "we're not ready for that kind of commitment." However, they each expect the other person to remain true and faithful and forsake all others even though there is no covenant, no binding of hearts, no leaving and cleaving, no two becoming one flesh. So evidently, they are ready for that kind of commitment as long as they can cancel at anytime and return the unused portion for a full refund. That is why you can't cheat while dating - that kind of commitment is not a commitment at all. How can you cheat on a "vow" like that?

    It's like Ming's marriage vows to Dale Arden in Flash Gordon:

    Priest: Do you, Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe take this Earthling, Dale Arden to be your Empress of the hour?
    Ming: (pause) of the hour, Yes.
    Priest: Do you promise to use her as you will?
    Ming: (pause, then very slyly) Certainly!
    Priest: Not to blast her into space?
    Ming: (silence)
    Priest: ....Until such time as you see fit...?
    Ming: I do.
    Dale Arden: I DO NOT!

    Here's the standard dating covenant: "I'll stay faithful until I don't want to be anymore - could be a day, a month, maybe even a whole year!"

    And in reality, that's all anyone should expect out of dating. But we expect "exclusive dating" to be more than dating, and it's just not - because at the back of our minds is always an out - "I can leave whenever I want."

    Grifman, you wrote:

    "The point remains, unrefuted, I might add, is that singles can cheat. If they say they are not going to date others but then do, that is cheating."

    Why then don't they get married? Are they really promising not to see other people? That sounds like a marriage vow to me. If they are willing to make that kind of vow...oh, with, there's still an escape clause.

    Society had screwed up the definition of dating just as much as it has screwed up the definition of marriage. They want people to believe that dating has some sort of permanence, some sort of covenant, some sort of vow attached to it. It jives with prolonged adolescence. It jives with unmarried people living together and having kids together. It jives with no fault divorce.

    If they want exclusivity, shouldn't they pursue a relationship based on exclusivity? But, if they aren't ready for that kind of relationship, why expect the benefits of that kind of relationship - fidelity being one of them? The fact that dating always leaves an out demonstrates it's nature of non-exclusivity. "I don't want to get married, I just want all the benefits for as long as I feel like it."

    It's like a pre-nup. My wife would have never said "yes" if I said "Will you marry me and sign this paper defining your course of action if we get divorced?"

    If you enter a relationship with the expectation that it will not last, chances are pretty good that it will not last. That's dating - a relationship that you don't expect to last.

    Because if you did truly want it to last, wouldn't you get married?

  10. Steve, I think this is where we get the high divorce rate these days and the ever increasing level of commitmentless cohabitation.

    I say "commitmentless" to make a point. I once thought that perhaps marriage was conditioned on the act of consummation where the ceremony merely provided a representation of the accountability for an assumed commitment and the civil machinations merely provided the state with a means for accounting for a marital relationship.

    However, I've come to see that marital commitment is more of a corporate responsibility. The RCC would agree, however, as they see it as a sacrament, but that doesn't mitigate what I believe is the truth of it. If marriage is indeed a living proclamation of the relationship between Christ and the Church, then it requires a statement as such with the assent of the community of faith.

    That's what's wrong with mere cohabitation. It's a failure to make the vow (and we lack a full understanding these days of vows) of a sacrificial life that testifies of Christ's sacrifice and our submission to Him resulting in our sanctification. The reason is that the couple can split up at any time at the blink of an eye.

    Dating is no different whether a couple is fornicating or not. What defines "dating"? Is it that one can't spend any time with other people of the opposite sex by saying, "We're only friends?" Isn't that what dating is anyway? What's the difference between "dating" and "spending time as friends"?

    And what about sex? If someone says that having sex implies dating, haven't we all heard about one night stands? So what's the difference? Frequency? How much time or how often in the sack does dating someone entail? There's no formal commitment.

    So unless we can answer these questions regarding commitmentless relationships, we can't determine what "cheating" is outside of commitment.

  11. I'm not dogmatic here, but shouldn't Christians date with the sole intention of finding a potential spouse? Or are there other legitimately Christian reasons for dating? Friendships and dating are two different things. If there aren't other legitimately Christian reasons for dating (I'm not sure), then it seems to me that Christians should seek to only date fellow Christians (of the opposite sex, of course [heh]).

    In which case, wouldn't such *CHRISTIAN* dating and courtship imply that the person is seeking IN another person, and displaying TO another person attributes which he/she would expect after marriage? If so, then, it seems to me that if one can't be "faithful" and exclusive before marriage, there would be no reason to expect that person to be faithful after marriage. Therefore, it seems to me that a Christian can "cheat" on someone he/she is dating. Since courting would be a kind of trial run of engagement, just as engagement a trial run of marriage. Of course, that assumes (in general) the modern concept of "dating".

    It seems to me that most Biblical (especially OT) marriages were arranged. My limited understanding of of the Reformed world (especially Presbyterian) is that rather than arranged marriages, what's often encouraged are courtships where both Christian families are expected to approve of the potential marriage of the couple before they actually get married. It seems to me that that would be ideal. Though, obviously not every single Christian seeking marriage has Christian family (mother, father, siblings etc.) who would be able to discern by prayer and godly use of sanctified wisdom whether the union would be best and blessed by God. It's not uncommon for a single Christian to be the only Christian in his/her family.

    This is an interesting subject I want to learn more about. Tell me where I'm right and wrong folks :)

  12. Btw, it should be obviously that I believe that Christians who are dating can decide not to continue dating. Which therefore frees one up to date another person.

  13. Upon further consideration, I realize there might be a 3rd option where two Christians are dating and both agree (or it's understood) that they are not exclusive at the moment because it's the default position. Only upon agreement may they later commit to be exclusive or non-exclusive again after such commitment. However, before one of them does start dating someone else after a commitment of exclusivity, that person must inform the other that he/she is no longer exclusive. That way the other person isn't being lead on, or misunderstands, or deceived into thinking the relationship is deeper than it actually is. This position would be similar to the one advocated by Grifman above. I don't know if Grifman is a Christian or not.