You know that religion consider cheating a sin.. you know also that the concept of cheating is different from religion to another and from one society to another.


I always wonder about these kinds of ethics issues and I would like to ask some few questions,


# How can atheists and agnostics practice faithfulness in their relationship?

# What is your concept of cheating in the relationship?

# What is your understanding about faithfulness?

# When you can call somebody a cheater?


Thank you!

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# How can atheists and agnostics practice faithfulness in their relationship?


Well there are certain evolutionary advantages to faithfullness and monogamy, though they seem to relate more to having children than to the wellbeing of the couple- though I'm sure an expert in Evolutionary Psychology can correct me.  From an ethical standpoint its down to each individual and relationship to decide if that is what they want.  At some level it involves jealousy and posessiveness, the idea that anyone other than us could have offspring with our "mate".  So you could argue from an animalistic level about preservaiton of your own genes.


For some people it just "feels" right to be monogomous, for others it doesn't.

# What is your concept of cheating in the relationship?

Having a sexual encounter with another person without an agreement within the relaitonship that that is okay to do.  By sexual you could also include kisisng in a romantic way.

# What is your understanding about faithfulness?

This is an odd question, it doens't really make sense.  I understand that faithfulness exists.  i also understand that some people prefer more open relationships.  But thats as far as "understanding" faithfullness goes.

# When you can call somebody a cheater?

This is just a variation on question 2.


Ultimately it is down to the couple to decide what counts as cheating or not.  For example I'm in a polyamorous relationship (Though I hate the term as it doesn't in anyway really describe the relationship) and both my partner and I are allowed to sleep with other people outside of the relationship.  It would count as cheating I guess if when asked about it we lied, which would be dishionest.  We can see other  people and both feel that it is possible to have feelings for others and not have it affect our own feelings for each other.  And we're doing fine - been together 5 years, Poly for about 18 months and not having a problem.


So it all comes down to the individual, but I'd say Cheating and unfaithfullness is something that violates the terms of the relationship.

Regarding the evolution of constructs that promote monogamy (jealousy, marriage, patriarchy etc.), we should be careful not to confuse proximate causes or monogamy with ultimate causes.  People often accuse evolutionary biology of taking the humanity out of morality by arguing that everything can be reduced to evolutionary terms, and thus that things like love, cooperation and culture are nothing more than cynical ploys to ensure genetic survival.  And, on an ultimate level, this may be a fair criticism. However, the fact that we have evolved jealousy and a drive towards monogamy does not make these things inherently less worthy, just as the fact that our moral sense is a product of evolution does nothing to detract from its validity.  So, despite the fact that intelligent people can recognize things like jealousy and monogamy as products of evolution , those things do not deserve to be treated as any less real.  They still constitue the proximate cause of monogamy; that is, the cause that monogamous person would name if you were to ask him to justify the practice.  Rather than saying 'My genes make me, because genes for jealousy and monogamy have had selective advantage in the past', he'll say something much more human about a deep need for companionship etc., even if he knows his evolutionary biology. 

Traditional marriage used to mean monogamy but in recent decades that has changed. Some couples are comfortable swinging or having extramarital affairs. It only works if there is an agreement or conditions accepted on both sides of the relationship. Sexually interacting w/ another person w/o your primary mate's agreement is cheating in my book. What they don't know won't hurt them is true but also cheating nonetheless. My conscious is my own personal guide. I know married men who somehow have a convenient moral disconnect when it comes to "getting some on the side."


I can look at the menu but dining is forbidden......   :^ )




Yeah so true! 

Still, you can get full up from just looking...

# How can atheists and agnostics practice faithfulness in their relationship?

By living up to the understood norms that exist between the people in the relationship.

# What is your concept of cheating in the relationship?

Cheating is intentionally doing something on the sly outside the norms set the people in the relationship. 

# What is your understanding about faithfulness?

Live up to what everyone in your relationship expects, and be damned the excuses.

# When you can call somebody a cheater?

When they deliberately violate the expectations of the other person(people).

I have never looked at being faithful to someone from a religious point of view.  It's morality to me, which has nothing to do with religion.  If I agree to be with one person and that person agrees to the same, we have made an agreement.  My word is my bond and I have faith that the person I am with, feels the same.


If I was with someone who wanted a different type of relationship, there would be different rules for us, in our relationship.


I, personally, like having a monogamous life with my partner and it is something we agreed to.  So if one of strayed, and we have an agreement in place, the other person who break the promise and be a cheater.


It's not very complicated... you make a promise (whatever it is) and if you break it, you have broken your word and to me, that's cheating.



Hi Sharon

//I have never looked at being faithful to someone from a religious point of view.//

because morality to us is not imposed by religion :)


//I was with someone who wanted a different type of relationship, there would be different rules for us, in our relationship.//

so, these different rules in the relationship must be agreed between the two parties!

Correct.  When you are in a relationship, you should establish the rules of the relationship. Any relationship should be defined by what is expected of each person.  Communication is key, people need to talk to each other.  

I am always amazed when I hear people complain, years into a relationship that they didn't realize the other didn't want children (for instance).  Really?  You didn't talk about this before making a commitment?

If a person wants an open relationship, they should tell the other person, so the other person can either consent or leave because it isn't what they want.  If you can't or don't want to be faithful to one person, say so.

And I don't buy that "cheating" is brought on by someone else's faults.  If your partner gains weight or lets themselves "go", tell them, leave them, but if you promised to be faithful, don't stay and cheat.  You make your own choices, other people don't drive you to tell and if you are an honorable, honest person, you will tell the other person, this isn't working for me anymore.

There is no reason to break your word.  And if you during the course of the relationship you begin to feel differently, want something different, don't make those changes without communicating to your partner.

Very sensible, and honorable, and morally clear, and respectful of the other person.  And that's the way we like it, ideally.  Me anyway.  A good way to treat people. 

Hoggamus, higgamus, man is polygamous, Higgamus hoggamus, woman is monogamous.  -William James

Doug, you may be right.  But why?  Women have babies.  We have historically needed to know, and to have the father know, who is responsible for helping us raise the child.  The females of other species of animals with brief childhoods and early independence don't need help from the father as much.  Look at the difference between dogs and coyotes.  Dog males walk off after sex.  Coyote males stay around and help the females with feeding and watching the pups.  Maybe that's why men are often called dogs.


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