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Is it Cheating? Internet Flirtations, Affairs and Love Connections

Donna was engaged to be married in two weeks. She was sitting at her fiancés computer, looking to find addresses to send early thank you notes when it happened. Donna “accidentally opened” the email that changed everything in an instant. “Tina, thanks for sending me those pics last night. They were even sexier then the ones you sent before. I’m sure I’ll be thinking about you and those pictures tonight as I drift off to sleep with a smile on my face.. I’ll call you tomorrow after work on my drive home.”

Stunned, sickened and panicked, Donna confronted Todd over the phone while he was at work. He was home in fifteen minutes and in a marathon fight that last until midnight Todd denied having an affair. He said he’d met Tina online in a chat forum and had never even met her in person. He wasn’t even sure Tina was her real name. Todd explained the stress associated with the upcoming wedding was killing him and he was just mindlessly browsing the web when he stumbled into this chat with his new online “friend”. At first they talked about day to day stuff, even the wedding plans. But after a couple of weeks it turned flirtatious, and after a couple more, sexual. He urged Donna to read the emails so she would believe him. As painful as it was to read the sexually charged correspondence, Donna read far enough to believe they’d never met. However, although they decided not to call off the wedding, Donna moved into the spare room. Too humiliated to face it she told no one! Fifteen days later she walked down the isle, in white, all smiles. Fast forward nine months to today. Todd and Donna are in couples counseling. The outlook is shaky at best.

This leads us to the question that is facing more of today’s couples than can possibly be estimated. Is an internet fling or flirting cheating?? My answer is simple, that answer is totally up to you. If you find out your mate has been heating up the internet with another woman and it bothers you, which I’m fairly sure it will, then yes, without a doubt, that’s cheating. The idea of “finding out” itself, indicates that there was hiding of the truth involved in the first place. If your man knew you wouldn’t dig it, so he hid it in the first place, then even he knew it was cheating – no matter what he says about how innocent it was. If you are one of the very small minority of women out there that would not be bothered by this behavior, who would shrug if off as “boys with a keyboard will be boys”, then you wouldn’t be asking this question in the first place.

Cheating used to be very black and white. However these days a lot of men would like to think the internet has created a million shades of grey. I beg to differ. I think cheating is still black and white. I think it’s fairly easy to define as a behavior that creates feelings of emotional or sexual betrayal. I think men know when they are cheating, almost always confirmed by their hiding the behavior in question. Now, I know, women do bad things too. However, statistically men are much more likely to engage in “internet affairs”. Not to mention many real world physical affairs start online and men who engage in questionable online behavior are vastly more likely to have a “real” affair.

So, in the end, only you know the answer. Is it cheating? Ask yourself one thing, “does it feel OK to me?” If the answer to that question is no, then your answer is, yes, he is cheating. Don’t cut him any slack on interpretation of the rules. Trust me, in his heart of hearts, he knows it’s cheating too.

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