While gay men embrace non-monogamy and sexual liberation more than heteros, the rates of cheating are still high. Jace Alexander explores cheating and why honesty and communication are important.

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A recent cover story and survey by gay men’s health magazine FS revealed surprising results around the number of gay or bisexual men that had cheated on their partners.

In Britain, just under 1,000 men were interviewed, with 52 per cent of respondents admitting to cheating on their partner and 58 per cent declaring they had been cheated on. But the revelations didn’t end there.

The survey also highlighted some of the sexual habits and tolerances of the British gay and bisexual male population.

For instance, 61 per cent of men said they would break up with their partner if they had been unfaithful, while 29 per cent weren’t sure and would consider sticking by their man.

In 2018, cheating on a partner is as easy as picking up your smartphone and logging onto any of the available sex apps. Within minutes of opening up Scruff, Hornet, or Grindr, someone can be knocking at your door or naked in your bed.

Social media has also opened up a whole new path for flirting and scheduling discreet hookups, giving people a safe space to message a partnered person under a veil of feigned innocence. It only takes a double tap on Instagram or friend request on Facebook to get the ball rolling.

As a gay man, I grew up watching movies and television shows with plots revolving around a man who cheats, then the wife find out, torches his brand new BMW and leaves him.

The social rules fed to us then suggested that cheating should end relationships and marriages. However, with marriage equality and the increasing likeness of both hetero and gay relationships, gay men are left to wonder if this is still the case.

Open and sexually non-monogamous relationships are growing increasingly common in the gay and bisexual community, with partners setting boundaries that cloud the lines between opening up a relationship and cheating.

The most important question that needs to be asked, though rarely is, is why? Why did someone cheat?

In most cases the people around us will become the judge and jury, without looking further than the act itself.

Was it a lack of sexual compatibility between the two gay men, or did one of the partners’ sexual roles change mid-relationship? Perhaps the bottom decided to start topping, or wanted more than what their partner could offer, particularly in the realm of kink or fetish.

And after two, five, ten, or even twenty years together, the sexual chemistry between two people may have dissolved completely, leaving a loving, but sexless relationship.

But does that make it okay to stray? Is cheating the problem, or simply a failure in communication? Some people just want freedom separate from commitment.

I personally struggle to see cheating as a black and white affair – pun intended – or something that signifies the end of a longstanding committed relationship.

What happens when one half of a loving long-term relationship wishes to explore sexually and the half other forbids it? Society sees the former as the one in the wrong.

Whether it be a drunken mistake at a work party, a more calculated approach at a local beat, or a Grindr hook up, it’s a commonly tread path in gay and bisexual relationships, and at some point it will be a discussion that needs to be had.

I have come to terms with the fact that I am a ‘cheater’.

I was often turned on by the thrill of the cheating, doing something secretive and without my partner knowing. However, I did learn that this creates an air of distrust that can eat away at a relationship and leave only ashes.

Cheating can be very detrimental to any relationship. It is a part of life that has been around longer than us and will continue after we are gone, leaving everyone with very passionate views on how cheating has affected them.

I have seen many strong relationships crumble after one bad decision, and seen others strengthen from the realisation that there was a problem driving a partner to cheat. Everyone deals with it differently and so they should.

The truth is, sometimes being completely honest with a partner can be a terrifying thing, but honesty with him or her (or them) means honesty with yourself, and that’s a good place to start.

We asked for your thoughts on the topic in the latest Gay Scene Guide. Here are some responses.

Is cheating a deal breaker or less black and white in the gay community?

Alé Lauren, Newcastle

Definitely a deal breaker. I enter relationships to give myself and my energy to one special person. I let them know if they want to see other people I am not the person for them. If that trust is broken it’s something that can’t be fixed. Once a plate cracks it never looks the same.

Daniel Bennett, Melbourne

It depends on what has been communicated and if you have the patience to work through any mistakes. So I’d say it’s a grey area. So many scenarios and so many motives. We should just talk to our partners and not be afraid to express what we are experiencing.

Darienne Lake, United States

Cheating is getting an unfair advantage. If we are both having sex outside our relationship, it’s not cheating, it’s leveling the playing field.

Hakeem Allen, Cairns

I don’t pass any judgement on anyone, just clarifying that upfront, but for me, cheating just isn’t forgivable in terms of saving the relationship. It’s really not that hard to stay faithful and if you get to a point where you think you might have feelings for someone else, be honest.

Braydon Alexander Fisher, Sunbury

You cheat on me it’s game over. No second chances. If you cheat on me you have no respect for me and if you have no respect for me there’s no point being together.

Greg Millan, Newcastle

The issue is that many gay men go into relationships thinking it is a monogamous one but they don’t talk to their partner to find this out. They assume. That’s where the problems start. You need to sit down and work out if you both want a monogamous or open relationship.

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