Is Engaging in Online ‘Sex’ Cheating?

phone-man

When my friend contacted me to ask if she could write a guest post for my blog, I was immediately stunned, outraged and upset for her when I found out why. She said writing it down would help her to process it and not only that, it is becoming so much more common place and needed to be said that it is not ok! As I’ve got older and had children, marriage inevitably becomes harder. I hear it time and again that some men feel neglected and therefore look elsewhere for attention. In the past two years I have heard of at least 5 men firsthand who have been found out engaging in the same practices as what this post is about. They seem to think because they didn’t actually physically DO anything that that makes it ok.

What do you think?

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A GUEST POST

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When I was in my 20s, I met a guy at a club. I was newly single and he was gorgeous. We shared a dance floor kiss and exchanged numbers. Living in a small city, it was no surprise that my friend knew him. What did surprise me was she told me that he had a girlfriend. He lived with her.

I was horrified.

I called him and let fly. I told him I knew and it was disgusting, she had the right to know and if she had any self-respect, she would dump him. I remember saying to my friend “I have a zero tolerance policy for that kind of thing. If he cheats, he’s gone. No questions.”

So that’s pretty clear cut, right? You pash a stranger on a dance floor when you are in a relationship with someone else and very clearly, everyone would consider that cheating. Right?

So what about the other kind? The kind that is on the rise in our society, but is still a “grey area” to many? What about internet cheating?

In this day and age, it’s easy to assume a whole different life online. With so many chatrooms, dating apps and different social media at our fingertips, we can assume any identity. We can join dating websites like Tinder, Zoosk and even Married Affair. We can use any name we like. We can be older, younger or hotter. We can use fake profile pictures and no one is any the wiser.

The other day, while working on my home PC, I came across a folder. Inside that folder were pictures of at least 3 different women all in different stages of dress. Some of just body parts, some of just faces, and most shocking of all, inside that folder, were naked selfies my husband had taken of himself. The pictures were named – and were from only 2 months ago. My mind was spinningThen, I scrolled down and I saw the screen shots of the messages he had been sending to these women and them to him. I can’t describe the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realised the messages were actually them describing what they were doing to themselves and what they would like to do with and to each other, spattered with the naked selfies. It dawned on me that my husband of 8 years was engaging in message sex (is that what it’s even called?!) with other women. I checked his Facebook friends list but couldn’t find any of the women. The messages also had some weird logo on them. 

Oh my god.

So I sent him a message and I waited:

“Please answer me honestly… are you or are you not taking nude selfies and sending them to other women and are you or are you not on any dating sites?”

Then, the message I feared most:

“Yes, I was a while ago, please call me.”

I called. I cried. I was told it was only because he was seeking validation since I had been pre occupied with the baby (she is 5 – so basically this has been going on for years). I was told that I made him feel like I didn’t want him, because I didn’t have sex with him enough, so he sought validation from women that did find him attractive.

I don’t know the whole story about what went on with them because I have only seen a selection of the messages and pictures and my husband is being cagey on the details  but that’s not the point of this story. 

I know many people believe that the only type of cheating is the type discussed earlier in my story. The physical. Whether it be regular hotel sex or a dance floor pash. That is obviously clear cut cheating. 

But what about this?

My 20 year old self would tell me if he cheated, I need to dump him and leave… No questions, remember? If I have any self-respect, I should kick his butt to the curb. Only he swears “nothing happened”. That’s the word he used. Nothing. He never had sex with them so really, while he is sorry I am hurt, and he won’t hurt me again, it’s nothing. It’s just his way of feeling like he is worth it. But is it nothing? Really?

In reality, we share a lot of ourselves in our digital footprint. Hardly anyone picks up the phone anymore and calls someone. Instead, plans are made, conversations are had, friends are made via text message, email or facebook. The written word and the spoken word have become interrelated. I have friends I have made on social media that I have never spoken to, but my friendship with them is so real. I share my personal life with them and them with me. We have long conversations over social media about ethics and marriage, and parenting. I really like my friends. I actually know them better and am more emotionally attached to them than I ever was to the “Pash and Dash” from my 20s.

I think this is our answer. Emotional attachment. I believe that where naked pictures are sent, erotic words exchanged and sexual gratification achieved, it’s cheating. Where do we draw the line?

Let’s head back to the 1980’s.

If a man calls a sex line, and he has a partner, is that cheating? I say yes.

If he watches sex is that cheating? I say no.

Why?

Because of the personal and emotional attachment. A voice on the other end of the phone, responding to your requests, or telling you what you want to hear is personal. So too with this new kind of “phone sex”.

When a man or a woman is sending messages of an erotic or sexual nature to someone without their consent, it’s sexual harassment. So then if they are sending them to a willing participant then it’s clearly sexual relations … obviously not intercourse, but the emotional attachment means so much more than that. 

Meeting someone online and forming a relationship with them whereby you engage in actions or words of a sexual nature is not ok. 

It is cheating. 

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What do you think? Would you consider what my friend discovered about her husband as cheating? Where do we draw the line?

Linking up with: #IBOT @ Kylie Purtell 

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