In school we are taught that cheating is an extremely severe offense punishable with failure and in some cases expulsion, but how many of you sneaky bastards have gotten away with a little dishonesty from time to time? The fact is, students pull fast ones on their teachers all the time, only to yield a passing grade and no consequence. If we allow our morals to relax in one area of our lives, where do we draw the line elsewhere if we do indeed get away with it? Calling all monogamists: today’s class discussion is “Degrees of Cheating.”

So they didn’t sleep together, but he tells her intimate details he won’t disclose to you. They’ve never kissed, but have been exchanging “sexts” for the past week. She lied to you about letting her ex buy her a drink at a club. Are you in the wrong for feeling angry and betrayed?

The fact is, jealousy is seriously dangerous territory. It can be healthy in small doses, but poisonous in excess. If your partner’s jealousy is smothering you and removing all stability and trust from the relationship, then it’s time to call it quits. However, the topic of discussion at hand may in some cases justify suspicion and jealousy to a certain degree. So then, what exactly constitutes cheating?

Rarely will it be as black and white as you walking in on your man humping another woman in your bed with her panties in his mouth. Technological advancements have made casual cheating a part-time hobby. No longer must we stage a secret rendezvous at an out-of-town motel wearing oversized sunglasses and a cheap wig to get our juices flowing with another; we just have to boot up and log on. In this gray area of Facebook invites and picture texts, what does getting caught red-handed even entail?

I think it’s fair to say that cheating begins with lying — if you feel like you need to lie about your actions or feelings, then you are engaging in deceit. A relationship should be open and honest, period. You should feel like you can have friends of the opposite sex and be trusted by your lover around them. If you’ve compromised that trust, you’re probably cheating.

Alright, so maybe you do love your boyfriend or girlfriend, but get wasted one night only to wake up the next morning in an unfamiliar bed spooning an unexpected naked body. What should you do about a one-time slipup? Do you blab to get it off your chest or keep your mouth shut to avoid the backlash? I think it’s important that you first ask yourself why you got into this situation. Are you dissatisfied with your relationship, out of love or lacking the attention you need? If so, then you might consider the indiscretion as a wake-up call. If, however, you really do feel like it was a one-time mistake, it is better to zip it and bear the burden yourself than to break the heart of the person you love over something emotionally meaningless to you. Feeling guilty is your punishment, so suck it up.

And what about a reversed situation? If your beau strays, do you forgive and move forward together or send him/her packing for good? Well, I’m from the school of thought that says sex is something corporeal and instinctive that often doesn’t come with emotional attachment. In other words, not all cheaters are made equal. If your partner had a lusty accident with some fox on the dance floor, that is entirely different than feeling emotionally attached to another person. Sex can be forgiven, love cannot.

But, if you are very sensitive in this department and believe any form of cheating is betrayal, you may not feel comfortable staying with someone you don’t trust. Just listen to your gut. Time does heal wounds, but a broken heart is a tough cut to mend.