At one time, men and women had strictly defined roles and expectations. People married young and stayed together for life. Married partners had separate friends, but generally of their same gender. Today, most people have lots of friends of both genders who remain very close even when one is in a serious relationship. Clear communication and mutually acceptable boundaries are vital in keeping you and your girlfriend on the same page.

Defining Your Relationship

If you have not done so already, sit down with your girlfriend and define your relationship. Staff writers for eHarmony.com recommend a direct approach. Choose a time and place that allow you to talk freely, and ask whether she sees your relationship as casual or exclusive. Be ready to talk things out, but avoid arguing or pushing. If she isn’t ready to have the conversation, give her the space and time she needs to come to a decision.

Setting Rules and Boundaries

Defining your relationship is only the first step. Next, you need to decide together where your relationship boundaries lie. If your girlfriend is extremely jealous, she might be threatened by even a light conversation with a female co-worker. At the opposite extreme, she might have no problem with you traveling for several days with a close female friend. Most couples fall somewhere in the middle. Be sure to address the issue of private conversations with your friends, as verbal cheating is largely a matter of interpretation. Getting on the same page helps avoid hurt feelings later on.

Close Friend or More

While a physical affair is easy to define, an emotional one is much more insidious. Verbal cheating comes into play when, even if you never kiss or otherwise interact physically with another person, you engage in inappropriate or suggestive phone calls, texting, email or other communications. Sometimes banter and verbal cheating cross into an emotional affair, in which you rely on the other girl, rather than your girlfriend, to fill your emotional needs. If you are sneaking around, sharing things that you don’t say to your girlfriend or intentionally hiding your conversations, you might be engaged in verbal cheating.

Moving On

If you verbally cheated on your girlfriend, the first step is to break contact with the other girl. As long as you remain in contact, the possibility that you will cheat again remains high. Talk openly with your girlfriend and ask for forgiveness. Discuss the situation, set new boundaries and accept that, at least for now, trust is destroyed. Expect her to be suspicious and jealous. You can work through this issue, but only if you are willing to be open, contrite and honest.