I’ve been in love, or at least thought I was, with two previous boyfriends where during our relationships, someone else just kind of moved in and swept me completely off my feet. It’s not easy to explain—like, I probably wasn’t in love with  those boyfriends at the time in the first place or that never could have happened, right? I definitely was not with one; I very much so was with the other, but maybe I was getting bored. Cheating is not always black-and-white.

That is true of the last time it happened to me. I didn’t really love him. I wanted to love him, but I did not. And then I fell in love with someone closer…neighborishly close. He was so much more my type of person and it was hard not to spend time with him. I acted on it; I didn’t have the courage to break up with my boyfriend first, but I couldn’t let my lust object of affection get away. The emotional came way before the physical, and it ended very badly—an almost year-long ending—with all parties losing.

However, another time this happened, I was very much in love with my boyfriend. We were going through rough times, but I didn’t really doubt our relationship would last. I had hope for us. It’s just that this really funny guy at work was so charming, and I was working sometimes 12-hour days with him. He was attractive, flirty, and refreshing. I didn’t act on it. I wanted to, but refrained because I loved my boyfriend more. Still, this had a way of unraveling my relationship.

My boyfriend had an idea of my connection with John, and he wasn’t too happy about me working with him. John showed up at one of my parties, saw my boyfriend, and immediately turned around. I chased him to the elevator. “Don’t leave my party,” I said. “I can’t see you like this, with him,” he said. “I can’t.”

He left, and I went back into my apartment. My boyfriend and I fought viciously later that night. “Why did you chase him to the elevator?” John and I had not hooked up, but it was clear there was something there.

After summer was over and I was back in school and John was fired from work for excessive lateness, things eased. But they never really did. Because I wasn’t happy. I flirted with other men with abandon. I was searching for something…else. Someone like John.

Physical cheating can lead to emotional cheating, but that happens out of cowardness of breaking up when something is already broken. What about emotional cheating? Falling into lust first with someone else before the inevitable? I’ve found that that this type is more threatening to your relationship than a sex-one-time cheat.

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