Love, Actually and what it shows about cheating

As a popular Christmas movie, it’s likely you recently watched Love Actually over the Christmas break and enjoyed the heart warming stories of love conquering all and bringing people together over the holidays. However, you may have also noticed that there are few less than stellar relationships in the movie as well. Cheating and other unfaithful behaviour pops up in this movie about love, showing us both the good and the bad side of love.

Emotional Cheating 

You may have read our earlier post about emotional cheating and what it is. If you want a clear example, Love Actually gives you a great case study of someone cheating on their wife, without physically cheating on their wife. Alan Rickman’s character, Harry, is seduced by his flirtatious new assistant Mia (Heike Makatsch) and, while never actually cheating on his wife Karen (Emma Thompson), with Mia, he succumbs to her suggestions and buys her an expensive necklace. Karen find out and reacts as though he has cheated, because emotionally, he has. He has treated another women as a love interest, dancing romantically with her, giving her an expensive gift and allowing her to speak suggestively to him without rebuff. Luckily he doesn’t deny the infidelity.

Sibling Betrayal

Jamie (Colin Firth) comes home to discover his girlfriend has feigned illness in order to cheat on him. Unfortunately, the other man is none other than his brother. This highlights the double betrayal when you are not only cheated on by your partner, but that your sibling has also betrayed your trust and broken up your relationship. It’s hard to know until you’re in that situation which is worse, but suffice to say it’s not a happy situation to be in.

Coveting your neighbours wife/ Unrequited love

Cheating is one thing, an easily condemned act of infidelity, but lusting after someone who is not yours opens up a gray area in cheating. Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are recently married and clearly very much in love with each other, but it is clear that Peter’s best man,  Mark (Andrew Lincoln), is in love with Juliet. It’s obvious that if Peter knew about Mark’s feelings, he would not approve. Until Juliet figures out about Mark’s feelings, he stays quiet about his illicit desire, but once his secret is out in the open, he lays his feelings out on the line in a romantic display of love via placard. Knowing that this is his best friend wife, he is clearly crossing a line, but is it cheating? It’s a sad, grey area of unrequited love.

‘It meant nothing’ infidelity

Peter’s romantic display is followed by him walking away sadly, but what happens next is another example of unfaithful behaviour. Juliet, moved by his hopeless love for her, runs out and gives Peter a quick kiss on the lips. This kind of infidelity is a classic example of cheating that ‘meant nothing’. She is clearly giving him a kiss out of pity, and it appears to not indicate any desire to cheat on her husband, but cheating is almost definitely what she did. Would Peter be OK with this? Probably not. Luckily he never finds out, but does this make it OK?


While Love Actually does show beautiful stories of love, it also shows how infidelity can be a complicated scenario. If you think something complicated is happening behind your back, contact our trained private investigators on 1300 721 715 or email, who can help you find out the truth and make up your own mind about what it means.