Tracey Cox reveals how woke culture is changing the rules on what counts as infidelity

‘It’s just men being men. All men cheat. It’s always been that way.’

If you got a group of women talking ten years ago, these kinds of statements would have been expressed.

Not in today’s culture.

There’s been a massive shift in what women will and won’t put up with when it comes to infidelity.

Women are more powerful than we’ve ever been – and we know it. Things we’d previously turn a blind eye to now mean the end of the relationship.

The result is a lot of confusion on the man’s part – and disbelief on ours. Men write to me complaining they don’t know what the ‘rules’ are any more. 

Tracey Cox revealed how woke culture is changing the rules on what counts as infidelity and how to avoid getting yourself in hot water. Stock image

Women complain that, in these more enlightened times, men really should know better.

The definition of monogamy might be straightforward: I pledge not to have a sexual or romantic encounter with a person other than the person I’m committed to. But how people interpret it is not.

Here’s my take on the new rules of infidelity, focusing on the ‘grey’ areas that men seem to grapple with.

In anticipation of the claim that women are just as guilty of cheating as men are these days, I’ve also included a female equivalent for each of these male cheating sins.


This one has always been divisive.

Some women don’t mind if their partner visits a strip club on the odd occasion (generally a stag night); other women have always considered this infidelity – and won’t budge from it.

Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox, pictured, gives her take on the new rules of infidelity, focusing on the 'grey' areas that men seem to grapple with

Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox, pictured, gives her take on the new rules of infidelity, focusing on the ‘grey’ areas that men seem to grapple with

Today’s woke woman is likely to object for new reasons.

First up, while some strippers have voluntarily made it their career of choice, others are forced into taking jobs like this for financial reasons.

Even if the stripper IS very happy doing her job, stripping objectifies women.

There’s now something inherently distasteful about women getting naked to satisfy the sexual fantasies of men.

My advice to men on this one would be to ask your partner how they’d feel about you going, if it’s on the cards. A lot of women (me included) might not relish the idea but also see it as relatively harmless male bonding. But if your partner has moral objections or it makes them feel uncomfortable, don’t go there.

Female equivalent: Men are less likely to be hung up on the moral issues of their partner going to a male strip club or show but plenty don’t like the idea of their partners salivating over another man’s physique. Again, check first to find out where your partner stands.


Another polarising situation – though one with more women on the ‘definitely cheating’ side.

There might be a strict policy of ‘Look but don’t touch’ at most clubs but it’s still a near-naked woman grinding suggestively against your partner.

‘He wouldn’t be happy if you had a d*** swinging away in front of you, would he?’, was one of the comments on a fiery Mumsnet debate, sparked after a woman said her husband confessed he’d had a private lap dance on a stag night.

The NEW cheating rules for social media – from who to ‘like’ to what emojis you can send 

Arguments over inappropriate social media behaviour is one of the biggest problems facing younger couples today.

Never have more people been offered up to us to interact with. In the old days, the chances of interacting with a celebrity were zero for the average person.

These says, a total random might get a personal ‘Thank you’ in return for a complimentary comment.

And it’s not just famous people who catch our eye. There’s a seemingly endless array of beauties showcasing their attributes and allowing strangers to contact them.

Because online activity often doesn’t include meeting up in real life, the lines of cheating are even more blurred than usual.

It took a while but (just about) everyone now knows sending intimate photos or texts to a person other than your partner – or receiving them – is cheating.

But there are still many grey areas. Let’s make things black and white – for all genders.

Liking sexy photos posted by people other than your partner: Unacceptable (I like to think) obviously. Depending on the personal views of you and your partner, liking less sexual photos might be OK but posting ‘hot’ emoji’s on a bikini shot is not.

Liking all the photos on an attractive person’s grid: This sends an indisputable clear message that says ‘I’m infatuated by you or at the least terribly impressed’. Who wants to see that?

Sending photos of yourself to other women or men: I’m not talking ‘sexy’ shots but just photos of yourself doing stuff. If there’s a purpose (I’m hiking and think you’d love this walk), maybe it’s justified. But if it’s done regularly, it’s shimmying its way into being an emotional affair, The look but don’t touch variety that can be even more dangerous than physical betrayal.

Secretly and regularly contacting your ex: If it’s innocent, why not tell your partner? Reminiscing about old times, via socials or any other medium, is an emotional betrayal of your new relationship.

Using sexually suggestive emojis: Like eggplants and donuts (genitalia for those not in the know).

Inappropriate commenting: Commenting ‘I’d kill to be with you right now’ on a post of a woman lying provocatively in bed is just wrong. On so many levels.

Interacting with women you don’t know: Even ‘Hi. What you up to?’ takes on ominous overtones when the comment is on the feed of someone your partner doesn’t know. It’s the equivalent of chatting up a stranger at a bar.

Having DMs with another person who isn’t a friend: Taking your conversation out of the public eye generally means you have something to hide.

Storing people’s names under fake names: It is an immediate dumpable offense. Doing it because your partner has ‘jealousy issues’ isn’t an excuse. Doing this like this is what’s CAUSING those issues!

Encouraging followers who flirt with you. Yes, it’s an ego boost. But there’s a fine line between saying ‘Wow! Am complimented’ to ‘Of course I don’t mind if you DM me’.


Some women did proclaim it a relatively harmless ‘tradition’ but most didn’t.

‘He paid for a woman’s body. I wouldn’t hang about,’ was one response.

The fact that money changed hands makes it easier to accept for some women, harder for the woke.

Paying makes it impersonal, he’s paying to be entertained, some women say.

Her woke sister disagrees: paying turns it into a form of prostitution. While plenty of women recognise sex work as a profession some women choose, it’s also fact that a proportion are coerced or have substance abuse issues. Modern slavery exists.

Personally, I think the line for infidelity is crossed when there is interaction between your partner and another person. In person or online.

Paying to interact with a cam-girl is cheating and watching porn isn’t.

Being one of a crowd of men who are watching a stripper perform is one thing; having a woman individually dance for you alone is quite another.

Female equivalent: Usually it’s the ‘hen’, plonked on a chair in the middle of the room, who gets the private ‘performance’ by a male stripper. But not always.

If a stripper takes a fancy to someone, it’s quite likely they’ll pull you out of the group for ‘special attention’. Even more dangerous: it’s far more likely for the male stripper to hang around after they’ve done their show and have a drink or two. 

Everyone’s all excited and feeling flirty and aroused…all too easy to think a little kiss isn’t going to harm anyone.

It will.

Warn your partner a stripper could be on the cards, stay on the side lines and if you do get targeted, wriggle your way out of it.


Our mothers might have dismissed it as ‘boys being boys’ (or more accurately, ‘drunk men being boys’) but few women today will stand for this.

It’s highly tempting – there’s a person right there giving you lots of attention (they’re usually as drunk as you are) – and highly dangerous if everyone is doing the same. The chances of someone being unfaithful to a spouse shoots up if there are others doing exactly that. It creates a (false) sense of security that everyone cheats and if everyone does it, it must be OK.

It’s not OK. Even if it’s all just ‘a bit of fun’, ask yourself the question that will give you the answer to any infidelity issue you consider borderline. What would my partner think if they could see what I’m doing right now?

Female equivalent: Same rules apply when the girls meet up with a group of men on a girl’s night out. 

Dancing without intent – no flirting, no touching – is OK. The minute it gets ‘handsy’, it’s a no-go zone.


Fine if you want to take your partner along as well, not fine if you go solo and don’t let your partner know there’s a one-sided crush going on.

Even if you have zero interest in the person romantically or sexually and just enjoy the ego boost and/or free dinner, today’s woke woman will protest – and for good reason.

Plenty of women have been on the other end of that dinner date.

The guy at work who you’re pretty sure is attached but who’ll say yes to drinks or dinner, won’t mention their partner, but won’t ever make a move on you either.

The friend who knows you fancy them – who laps up the compliments and hints that ‘if things were different’, you never know what might happen – but nothing ever does.

This isn’t just crossing a line; it’s playing with people’s emotions.

Female equivalent: We might know what it feels like but we’re also just as guilty at playing this game. Bad behaviour, regardless of gender.


There are very (very) few women who will agree that this is something that’s OK for their partner to do.

Social media lets men binge-perve in private – but it still doesn’t stop some doing it in public.

Giving other women a very deliberate once-over while you’re with your partner isn’t just disrespectful to them, it’s insulting to the woman you’re checking out.

The message it sends is: ‘I already have a partner, so it’s unlikely I’ll want a relationship with you. But, hey, I’m letting you know I find you attractive in case you fancy sex without strings, behind my partner’s back’.

Any female with so much as a whiff of self-esteem is going to meet that leer with a withering look of disgust.

Female equivalent: Men are less likely to look insulted when being openly admired by an already ‘taken’ woman. But your partner sure as hell will be. 

Everyone gives super attractive people a second look – no matter what gender they are. Resisting the third is what will save you from that massive row or possible break-up.

Listen to Tracey’s weekly podcast, SexTok with Tracey and Kelsey, here. You’ll find her product ranges, blogs and more info about sex and relationships at