With the increase of social media as a way of communicating and connecting with others, there has also been an increase in the incidence of online affairs. Texting, instant messaging, chat rooms and even Facebook make it easy to begin relationships without a spouse knowing. But what counts as cheating?
Cheating is Hard To Define
In the general sense, cheating involves betraying a partner’s expectations about what is appropriate contact with others outside the relationship. As such, it is very difficult to define exactly what constitutes an affair because different people will have different expectations of what is inappropriate. For example, while someone may think it’s okay for their partner have good friends of the opposite sex, other may view this as emotional cheating.
It Doesn’t Count
In reality, many people do not consider online affairs cheating, as no physical contact takes place. Not only is there less guilt involved but many of the issues associated with traditional affairs, such as being seen together in public, finding the time and place to cheat and hiding phone calls, are non-existent. However, online affairs always involve some form of emotional attachment and when you are emotionally attached to someone, you naturally begin to devalue your current romantic relationship and are more likely to notice their flaws and shortcomings. As partners become more and more involved online, they have less time for their partner so it also begins to create distance and friction at home.
While people may disagree about the “definition” of an affair, there’s no mistaking the impact of having an online affairs on the partner, who will likely be hurt and threatened. When these hurt feelings are ignored or dismissed as unreasonable, it shows a lack of caring that is far more of a threat to the relationship than the affairs themselves.
Where To Draw The Line
An online affair involves the same types of emotions that other affairs do. And while no physical contact may be happening, there is secrecy, fantasy, excitement and emotional intimacy involved. But where do you draw the line When does simple online connecting and flirting turn into an full-fledged emotional affair? If you can answer yes to 5 or more of these statements, you may be involved with more than just chatting online.
- You spend more than three hours of personal time online with your friend per week
- You look forward to spending time with your online friend
- Your online friend is a secret
- You confide about relationship issues with your friend
- Your online friend more responsive than your partner
- You are beginning to resent your spouse
- You have less interest in being intimate with your partner
- You have exchanged photos and other personal information with your friend
- You have suggested a real life meeting with your friend
If you are finding yourself thinking about your online friend more often, and in more intimate ways than your spouse, the first step is to get rid of your denial. While you may be justifying it to yourself that it’s ok since you have never met and are not having sex, in reality, it will eventually turn into something that you likely didn’t go looking for in the first place. By being honest with yourself, you can begin to take the steps necessary to determine what your ultimate goals are and if what you are doing is worth the pain it will cause your spouse and your family.