I woke up this morning to find a case of cyber infidelity in my timeline involving two of my married followers. Not surprisingly, the wife is very hurt and understandably so. I won’t go into the details because it is a private matter even though it was posted on twitter. However, I do have strong feelings about it.
I’ve often joked about being on twitter for a year and a half and no one has ever hit on me. On one occasion I joked about lack of saucy messages in my DMs and you guys responded with a plethora of DMs (ketchup, mustard, relish, etc). A few people have tested the water but I always fend them off saying I’m happily married.
I believe that a thought is just as bad as an action. The biggest test is if the other person involved would be hurt if they read the messages. If so, don’t do it!
I’m no saint. Prior to meeting my husband I was in a relationship for six years and towards the end I cheated….even though we were technically on a ‘break’ (Ross and Rachel style). In hindsight, I’m grateful for it happening as it told me that things weren’t right and I ended it shortly after that. On a side note I discovered he had cheated as well, with one of my mates. We’ve both moved on and are both much happier.
I know people do it for a number of reasons, if they are not getting what they need at home, feeling insecure, lacking attention, etc.
Is it harmless fun? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
23 thoughts on “Cyber Infidelity”
I remember seeing a documentary back when "Second Life" was all the rage, about people who found love through it. There was one American couple where the woman was basically addicted and spent 14 hours a day playing/interacting etc, to the total detriment of her home-life (husband and 4 kids). She "met" a guy from London in Second Life and they would flirt and ended up spending all their time there together, eventually having Cybersex. She basically then came over to the UK to see if it would work out (it didn't). This is of course an extreme example, but I think it did bring home the fact that what can start as a harmless online flirtation can become something more dangerous. I can see how the relative anonymity of a computer screen might make people feel like they are being less unfaithful than if they were flirting in a bar. Therefore, what starts off as harmless fun has the capacity to turn into something more intense more quickly.
I have been involved in a twitter relationship (whilst married and with a married woman) ~ out of every disaster something positive can be taken and many issues in my marriage have been addressed. However, I feel twitter is a hotbed (excuse the pun) of cyber and actual infidelity (in fact cyber is as bad as physical infidelity IMHO). There are those that are actively on the prowl and I think there are many many lonely and sad people looking for some escape from their lives. Best to deal with the problems in real life and not seek solace in a cyber world.
I've been on the receiving end of cyber infidelity with an ex, and it hurt, a lot. A random cheeky flirt as a one-off is OK. Ongoing, repeated comments are not. Regardless of whether it's online or not, it's emotional infidelity.
One of the things I worry about the intimacy I share with my online friends vs. that I have with my husband. Its not that we're flirting but it is sharing an aspect of my life with people who aren't him.Online flirting is no different from real time real world flirting, if you take it past a point its going to hurt, and if you're prepared to do that in the cyber world its just a step to doing it in person in my view
Its an interesting blog and something that people will have different views on. I feel that you are right if your actions online will hurt your other half then you probably know you should not be doing it. I discuss openly what I talk about online with the other half as she is not on twitter despite me trying to get her on it! Also if it is something you find yourself keeping secret then you know what your doing is wrong
Exactly….why hide if you're not guilty?? :-)
I'm not sure I agree with infidelity being liberating and healthy. I know it works for some but for the most part I think someone is going to get hurt. Thanks for reminding us all about keeping safe. :-)
I agree that an element of flirting both online and in the real world can be healthy.
'Do unto others' I say!
I'm glad you were able to address your issues. I worry about people who pray on individuals who are in a sad place in their lives. I'm sure it happens way too often.
I couldn't agree with you more.
Frightening isn't it. I assume she lost everything (kids, husband, etc) in the end?
I meant flirting although infidelity can work for some but it can cause a lot of pain if you get it wrong or lose sight of your real love.
Thanks for clarifying that! :-)
I wouldn't want to judge anybody, particularly as “I am not without sin” but I don't think you can draw a distinction. If you have decided it's OK in cyberspace, then you've basically decided it's OK in the real World.
The new social media is only a tool for what already goes on in life. Infidelity, swinging, no strings attached sex both inside and out of relationships. Nothing new there, in fact it can be incredibly liberating, and healthy. You can dicuss things and flirt with ultimate discretion, ask the questions you could never ask close friends or your partner. You can openly dicuss fantasies, and see new horizons all protected by your anon status if you have it.
The bigger topic is how to keep yourslef safe online, there are some strange people out there. Make sure you're anon and no personal details become known, never meet off the cuff. There are people grooming and pretending to be who there not, if you do please be safe.
I think flirting is ok, but I agree that is your partner would be upset/hurt by the message then it's not ok.
It wasn't clear to be honest – she went back to the US and was "trying to work things through" with her husband (who in my mind should have thrown her out sooner, as this had been going on for months, but I guess each to their own).
As you've discussed with Muddling Along below, an element of flirting can actually be really invigorating for a relationship. It can help remind you that you are attractive and that you have something to offer your partner. On the other hand it can also be divisive. I seem to have a radar that attracts men who like to cyber-cheat. I don't know why, but it keeps occurring. I've learnt that the best way to deal with it (for me) is to be honest with my husband and to quietly back away from the cheat. Just kinda get lost in cyber space. It's the only way. Telling my husband helps to absolve me of any feelings of guilt and to ensure that there is never that feeling that I'm keeping something from him.
I could comment on this for days as it is something that I experienced first hand and tore my family apart.
I just want to say that just because you are online does not give you the right to lose your morals, you should always act online as you would in 'real life', because chatting to people online is not real at all, we can think we are popular and that these people are our friends but they are not, they are nothing. Real friends meet for coffee, phone for a chat.
I use Twitter as a business tool and it shocks me to the core the amount of people that continuously tweet about this and that yet in their bio they claim to be happily married and living the good life. My advice to them is turn off the laptop/phone and go and spend time with your partner and chilren because clearly they are being neglected.
And while on the subject of children, how many are going to grow up with the only childhood memory they have is of mum or dad (or both!) sat gazing at a screen and talking to strangers! There is a whole generation out there being emotionally neglected because of their parents addiction to social networking.
But thats a topic for another day. Great blog by the way. :)
so knowing all that why are you still on Twitter? Does you wife know you are on there?
I believe cyber-infidelity is cheating because it can cause tremendous harm to spouses and family members. I also do not think people realize how easily cyber-infidelity can happen. Since internet access is so easy and can be anonymous, it is important for all couples to discuss what they believe constitures cyber-infidelity. Boundaries and limits should be set so that neither partner is harmed or feels betrayed.
It is also important to remember that anything that happens online can be found later by a spouse or even children. There is no certainty that electronic happenings are ever fully deleted. As social media continues to become a major part of our lives in the 21st Century, all couples should add cyber-infidelity to the list of things they have discussed and continue to openly communicate about if they want to have a successful monogamous relationship.
I’m in a graduate course this semester about social media and relationships, and we had a discussion tonight about cyber infidelity. I agree with you that thought can be just as bad as action. I don’t understand it when people say that online relationships don’t count as cheating. How does having cyber sex with someone that you don’t know NOT count as cheating on a significant other? If someone were to have sex with a stranger during a one night stand, and yet had a significant other waiting at home, it would most definitely count as cheating.
I believe that whenever you are intimate with a person who is not your partner, that it can be defined as infidelity. Intimacy can be emotional as well as physical. People end up creating physical bonds through the exchange of words online, but what about the emotional connection it creates? It’s just disturbing to me that certain people can carry on cyber-sexual relationships with someone other than their partner, and somehow feel that they are doing nothing wrong and not cheating on their partner.