Is Virtual Cheating Really Cheating?

As people begin to spend more and more time online for both work and pleasure, it’s only natural that you’re going to meet people online through websites and even through friends.

Sometimes, however, people build relationships with others online, even if they’re currently in a relationship with someone in the real world. Is virtual cheating really cheating?

Dear Dan and Jennifer,

Just recently I found out that my husband has been e-mailing other women online. When I confronted him, he said he did not think it was cheating. We have a great marriage and sex life. How do I get past this and begin to trust again?

–Katie, California

The Dishonesty Factor

While many couples define cheating differently, one way of looking at it is through the dishonesty factor. Whether it’s an online relationship or watching pornography when you’re not around, if your partner is dishonest with you about it or only takes part in these activities when you’re not around, you can pretty much bet your partner is cheating on you.

Not cheating in the “I had sex with someone else” sense; we’re talking emotional cheating here, which is often more hurtful than purely physical cheating. If you look at “cheating” through the dishonesty factor, any activity which your partner is dishonest with you about or tries to hide from you can be considered cheating.

Virtual Cheating – How Does It Make You Feel?

If you and your partner have a different take on cheating, for example, if you both feel like cheating is simply having a sexual tryst with someone else, it probably still doesn’t make you feel too great if your partner is chatting online or developing romantic relationships with other people online behind your back.

Just because it might not fall under your definition of cheating, if you’re not comfortable with it, it’s time to speak up!

This goes for anything in your relationship. If you’re not comfortable with something, it’s important that you discuss with your partner the way the virtual relationships and chatting makes you feel so that you can begin to work it out and find boundaries that make you both happy.

Talking To Your Partner

So you’re uncomfortable with your partner developing romantic relationships online, and you may even consider it cheating. It’s time to bring it up to your partner and let them know how you feel. It’s important not to be critical, regardless of how angry and hurt you might be.

Don’t let the argument escalate! Take the time to sit down and really talk to your partner about how it makes you feel and why you consider it cheating or why you don’t. Listen to what your partner has to say about it. If you both give each other the chance to present your sides of the issue, most likely you can work out a solution that makes both of you happy!

You should also take this opportunity to clarify the boundaries of online relationships and online chatting. Talk with your partner about what is okay and what isn’t. Make suggestions and even talk about some hypothetical situations and how they might make you feel if they happened.

You can begin to shape some clearer lines about what is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to virtual relationships and chatting – only you and your partner can decide what is right for you!


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