Advice on Cyber Relationships and Cheating


The debate is out, is a cyber relationship cheating? The world of the Internet has opened a whole new door in the world of dating and relationships. Let's see what our dating coach thinks...

Are You Wondering Is a Cyber Relationship Cheating?

Reader Question

My fiancé and I have been together for almost six years. We laugh, we play, and we "get" each other. He is truly my best friend. We have our tiffs now and then, but we always work it out. Though in every OTHER way he is very good to me, I have come to realize that whenever I'm not home he spends time chatting with other women online, or having cybersex. He even has a webcam, which I have now hidden from him. I've NEVER SEEN him use it, but I know why he has it. I have confronted him, and explained to him that this hurts me. I told him when we first started discussing marriage, that I would never be ok with it. He tells me that it's all "just chat" and not of the sexual nature. That's completely bogus. I guess what I really want to know is if this is a serious enough issue to consider it cheating, and what more can I do to put a stop to it without attacking him? I want to handle this as harmoniously as possible. I'm also curious if I'm wrong to spy? I don't want to invade his privacy, but I can't trust him to tell the truth about this. I KNOW he loves me, and he would be devastated if I ever left him. I just don't know what to do. HELP PLEASE!!!-- Contributed by: Amanda

Expert Reply

Dear Amanda,

The old-fashioned definition of cheating used to be limited to the physical act of sexual betrayal by one person with someone other than his or her spouse, or committed partner. With the greater understanding of what it takes to maintain a committed relationship, (heart, mind and body), the definition of betrayal has expanded to encompass emotional cheating. Emotional cheating is defined as, betrayal by one person with someone other than their committed partner, through acts of thought or feeling. With technology, cheating can now take place in person, through a cell phone or meetings over the Internet.

The primary difference between traditional cheating and emotional betrayal is the actual physical contact. Both types of cheating involve a place for people to meet. With the expansion of technology, these meeting places now include the computer as well as the cell phone. Likewise, sexual activity now can take place within the confines of separate locations even though the people involved aren't actually touching each other.

Those involved in emotional cheating often don't consider their behavior as being unfaithful. Their argument is, "if I can't see or touch the other person then it's not really cheating." For the betrayer, there is no difference between the old-fashioned definition cheating and emotional infidelity. They prefer to think of unfaithfulness as limited to the physical act betrayal. For them, the locations and methods they use to communicate are irrelevant.

When someone cheats, he or she engages in the same behaviors, flirting, sexually suggestive conversations, and secrecy regardless of where the cheating takes place. The bottom line is that the unfaithful partner is paying emotional and/or physical attention to someone other than his or her partner. When this occurs, the betrayer is removing him or her self from the committed relationship. For all too many, emotional intimacy with a person other than their partner often leads to an actual physical relationship. This is due in a large part because emotional relationship involves the sharing of personal information with the other person. The more information shared, the closer you feel to the other person, and the more likely you will desire the physical contact of touch.

Your fiancé can love you AND do behaviors that hurt you. In other words, he can love you and cheat on you at the same time. He may not agree with you that he is being unfaithful, but that doesn't make it any less so. You have already confronted him and hidden the webcam, yet he continues his behaviors. This suggests his behavior is compulsive, meaning he has difficulty controlling it on his own. Worse, spying won't make him stop; it'll just force him to find secret locations where he can continue his behavior without your finding out. My concern is his behavior is unlikely to stop with marriage and children unless he seeks professional help.

I would suggest that you discuss your concerns with him and that both of you seek professional counseling with an expert who treats sexual addictions and does marriage counseling. Let your fiancé know that trust between the two of you has been destroyed and to rebuild it he has to commit to working on this with you. Make it clear to him that having a professional involved is necessary for restoring trust in the relationship. Explain to your fiancé that working with a professional will help guide both of you to determine if his behavior is compulsive, cheating and in need of intervention. At the very least, working with a professional will give you both the skills and tools for building and maintaining an honest relationship. This will provide the confidence to discuss difficult issues and work to solve them.


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Advice on Cyber Relationships and Cheating