If you’re married, is it okay to hold someone else’s hand? It’s a question the Internet is attempting to answer after Justin Timberlake was papped holding hands with his co-star Alisha Wainwright.
The pair, who play lovers in their upcoming film Palmer, were filmed and photographed on a night out in New Orleans holding hands, touching knees and getting cosy. To make matters worse, Timberlake had also ditched his wedding ring for the occasion.
According to The Sun, sources say, “they were smiling and laughing. At one point he grabbed her hand and rested it on his knee. She then gently started stroking his leg.”
“Then he clutched her hand with both of his and was playing with her hands.”
Since the photographs and footage surfaced, reps for Timberlake and Wainwright have denied rumours that there is anything romantic going on. In a statement to Page Six, a source close to Timberlake said “he was on an open balcony. They were among friends. It was nothing. There is 100% nothing going on.”
Whether there’s something going on between JT and his co-star or not, it begs the question: what constitutes as cheating?
In a 2018 interview with Women’s Health, a range of experts outlined the different kinds of cheating. According to relationship expert Esther Perel, cheating typically involves at least one of these three elements: secrecy, emotional involvement, and sexual alchemy.
The feature states that examples of cheating include being physically intimate outside your relationship, harboring feelings for someone else, fantasizing about someone else, hiding your money habits and having secret social media habits.
While there’s no way of telling whether Justin Timberlake and Alisha Wainwright’s hand-holding and knee-stroking was “emotionally involved” or intended to be kept a secret, you could argue it’s technically being “physically intimate” outside a relationship.
Romantic or not, holding hands with another woman feels like a pretty bold move if you’re happily married. No word from JT’s wife Jessica Biel on the cheating allegations, but I’m guessing there are some long conversations happening in the Timberlake household right now.