When did the cheating occur in this scenario?

(Inspired by watching the greatest movie of all time, Love Actually, the other day.)

Alan and Emma are a middle-aged married couple, and though Emma is a goddess Alan is nevertheless having a midlife crisis. For the past few months he’s been noticing his much-younger secretary, Miam who is frankly a skank but that’s not the point.

Anyway, on 2 December, at the office Christmas party, Mia waits for a moment in which no one else is around, approaches Alan with a piece of mistletoe in hand, and asks for a holiday kiss. When he gives her a peck on the cheek, she pouts, and then grabs him and sticks her tongue down his throat, saying he can have more at will. Alan does not resist the tongue-down-the throat, but he does not stick his tongue down hers in return.

Mia continues to make her sexual availability known to Alan, though she remains discreet about it. On 9 December, at lunch, he notices her looking at a particular piece of expensive jewelry in a catalogue and makes note of it. Mia invites him out for drinks that evening, and he agrees to go; he calls his wife and tells her he has to have drinks with a client. The post-work-drinking is filled with salacious conversation. As Alan and Mia are leaving the bar, they walk under mistletoe, but to his surprise she does not kiss him. When he asks why, she says that she is tired of doing all the pursuing. If he wants another kiss he will have to initiate it, After a moment’s thought, he grabs her and kisses her. After a few moments of making out, she tells that if he wants any more, she will need a token of his affection. It needn’t be expensive; a $10 paperback book of love poetry will do it. They part on that note.

Nothing more happens for a while, as Alan has to leave town on business. While he is out of town, on 16 December, he buys a copy of Browning’s Sonnets from the Porteguese for Mia, paying exactly $10. When he returns to town, on the morning of 18 December, he gives Mia the book, inspiring her to kiss him again, manipulate him manually to orgasm, and promise him something better that night.

That afternoon, Alan and Emma go to the mall to finish their Christmas shopping. Alan is distracted the entire time for obvious reasons. He buys an expensive gold necklace for Mia, concealing it from Emma for reasons left as an exercise for the reader. When he returns to work, before he can even tell her that he’s bought a present for her, she goes into his office, closes and locks the door, and tells him that she is so excited she cannot wait, and thus gives him a blowjob. He reciprocates orally as well.

That night they engage in coitus.

In this scenario, when did Alan FIRST cheat?

When he didn’t tell Mia to back the fuck off at the Dec. 2nd Christmas party.

I’m going to say he first cheated the moment he didn’t pull away from her kiss.

On a related note, I saw this movie on Thanksgiving for a first time in a looong time, and remembered nothing about it. At the end of the film, I commented, ‘‘I wish they’d made it more clear whether or not Alan actually cheated or just thought about it.’’ Guess someone edited out all the naughty bits, thus rendering this plotline somewhat mystifying.

Morally: Right there. Lying to wife to be with another woman. The act of cheating is complete, what follows are aggravating circumstances.

Legally: Probably whenever somebody touched the other’s genitals.

Do you mean that he should have refused to give her even the mistletoe peck, that that he should have told her to BTFO after she tongued him, or that he should have said BTFO when she said, Anyplace, any time, condoms welcome but not required?

Tricky. I’m going to opt for him initiating the kiss. I can certainly see a case for some earlier actions, but they are all things that are not necessarily inexcusable, just tacky. It doesn’t make them OK, but I’m not usre I’d call them cheating. Once he initiates the kiss, though, that’s right out.

I edited out the word adultery on purpose.

I concur, as does my vote.

THAT is what Love Actually is about? I had no idea.

I went with the kiss he initiated as the first technical cheating. But the options leading up that one definitely fall under the category of “bad behavior.”

I am tempted to agree with olives that it is the first kiss he didn’t pull away from, but I would be less inclined to call that cheating if it happened between two other people and nothing else ever happened between them again, ever, and so no one ever made a movie about them. It seems more like cheating in light of what we know came after.

I’d say the first kiss wasn’t cheating, if he had not allowed the flirtation to continue and escalate. When he did, and it became the first episode of several increasingly serious ones, then the cheating began with that kiss.

LA’s about a lot more than that. The Rickman-Thompson story is one of about a dozen plotlines, which seem completely unconnected at first but are actually intertwined.

Hmm - I’m not one for even casual pecks on the cheek, but I’m trying to think of this from the perspective of someone more casual than I am - the peck on the cheek is probably okay, but when Mia went sexual kiss on Alan, it was his responsibility to tell her that he is not interested and don’t do that again. Married people often fantasize about other people or have crushes on them, but you just can’t act on them if your relationship isn’t open that way (and if they get too out of hand, you need to do something to prevent the crush or fantasy from going further).

I think the word cheating is overused and often applied to all situations which are inappropriate and/or outside the agreed upon boundaries of a relationship. IMO, cheating refers to breaking the promise of sexual fidelity, whatever that means the two of you. To me, I wouldn’t call kissing sexual contact, no matter how passionate it was. It was 100% wrong and a violation of trust, but it wouldn’t hit my definition of cheating. (The way I decide is if someone says “X cheated on his wife,” would I find the details consistent with my assumptions from that phrase?)

So, I guess I’d say the handjob is the first moment of cheating. The kiss was the first moment of betrayal, though, and from a relationship standpoint far more of a tipping point. If you want to play relationship forensics after the fact, that’s where I’d say things went off the rails.

Yeah, what you said, and for that reasoning. He probably had intent-to-cheat when he lied about going out for drinks, but maybe not entirely. (Haven’t seen the film, that’s just my guess by what I read in the summary.)

Most of the events in the OP came not from the film but from my ass. In the movie we don’t even see him kiss her, though she is explicit in wanting to boff him. And he does buy the gold necklace and give it to her.

hah. I was going to say, I didn’t remember any of those sexual bits from the movie. Incidentally, I hated that movie, which made me mad, because I like the actors and the genre.

I’d say the peck on the cheek wasn’t cheating, but not stopping her when she was trying to lick his tonsils crossed the line.


Call me old fashioned, I say he didn’t break his vow not to f&ck anyone else until he actually f&cked someone else, assuming he even vowed that to begin with.

I think cheating is one of those things that…how do I put this…there’s a word for it but I don’t know what it is. Anyway, it’s one of those things that it is an action (or rather a series of actions), and one can start as not cheating, intentionally do things, and then be cheating. But there’s no clear delineating time from case to case–or even within a single case–where that is THE action that crossed the line. If that makes sense.

It’s…I know there’s a word for it…it’s, isn’t it a mathematical concept? I’m pretty sure it is. Now that’s going to be bugging me all day.