Today the Internet is changing the way people interact and it is having an impact on committed relationships. People are chatting, flirting, and even cheating online. The internet permits many to live out their fantasies. They can do and say what they cannot in real face-to-face encounters. This sort of behavior can destroy relationships. To some, an online affair is just as harmful as an offline one. Many see it as an emotional affair even if they never meet face to face.
On the other hand, to others it is just harmless internet chatting. They feel real emotions cannot arise by typing on a keypad. So we must ask the question: is cyber cheating really cheating?
This topic is becoming a hot debate these days. Maybe it is time for many couples to discuss what they think is and isn’t online cheating. Let us examine both perspectives.
Cyber cheating is emotional cheating
Most women seem to feel that cyber cheating is cheating. Although it may seem harmless, flirting via email and messages can be very destructive to a relationship. It can be considered a betrayal. The very fact that a partner feels the need to have regular contact with someone else in an enticing manner is totally inappropriate. Any regular form of contact is a form of bonding as the two chatters get to know more and more about each other.
Mary says. “I view cyber cheating the same as offline cheating. There is an emotional involvement. It kills trust.”
“It is bad enough I have to worry about my boyfriend every time he goes to a bar with his friends. Now I have to worry about him flirting in chat rooms and other social networking sites,” says Sandra.
Alice says, “My husband should devote what little free time he has to me, not to cyber flirting.”
Most women would agree. The consensus being that over the course of time a connection may develop between the online cheaters. Even if they never meet in person, they are sharing intimacies and sexual fantasies that should only be shared with their partner.
Besides, many feel that as their men become more entangled in the online affair, the possibilities for offline cheating increases.
“I broke up with my boyfriend after I caught him sending numerous emails to one particular woman,” says Phyllis. “Although they haven’t met, it was clear that he was planning to meet her. It got me to thinking, can I ever trust him again?”
It is not cheating, it is just harmless flirting
Not only is the Internet the leading edge of infidelity, it is also causing more confusion between the sexes—apparently men and women cannot agree on what is cyber cheating.
Sam says, “I don’t see it as cheating unless I am, you know, actually doing it.”
Bill says. “Yeah, I am married and I have a profile on Match.com. I’ve chatted with tons of women but never met one offline. What’s the problem?”
Adam says. “I am not doing anything wrong because I am just typing.”
When confronted about the possibilities of developing emotional attachments, many men indicated that more often than not, emotions are faked. Let’s face it, just because someone puts up a smiley face doesn’t mean they are really smiling.
Point of view
It seems that when it comes to cyber cheating, it may come down to a person’s point of view. Partners will have to agree on what is appropriate and what is not appropriate Internet behavior. Where as one partner might consider online flirting as harmless fun. Others might consider this behavior just as harmful as a midnight romp in a hotel.
Interestingly, studies indicate that one might critic their partner’s online amorous advances more severely than their own. When I do, it is okay, but when you do, it is not. Anyway you chop it up, Internet flirting is a real issue. To address this, couples should discuss what they think is and isn’t online cheating. Although cyber cheating may seem more innocent to some, it can still ruin a relationship.
The bottom line, if you are flirting with someone online behind your partner’s back, you are being deceptive. If you are honest about your online hanky-panky, and your partner is uncomfortable, insecure or outright hurt by it, maybe you should stop. That is, if you cherish your relationship.