Online Infidelity: Where Do You Draw the Line?

May 1, 2019
Cheating standards change from couple to couple; what two people in a relationship deem as cheating, for another two it might be the opposite. That's why the meaning of online infidelity depends on what's acceptable to you and your partner.

With new technology available to everyone, there are ways to make life easier, but it comes with new problems as well. One of them is online infidelity. 

Many people don’t know whether to classify this as cheating or as a game with no major consequences. In this case, facts are more important than the ideas, and that’s what’s so shocking about it.

Whatever you think of it, the truth is that currently there are many people who get in an online romantic relationship, even if they’re in a committed relationship in real life. In this case, there’s no physical contact per se, and that’s why it’s hard to put it in the cheating category. So… Is online infidelity cheating or is it just another fantasy?

“The last whose disloyalty we forgive are those we have disappointed.” 

-E.M. Cioran-

Online infidelity can also make you question the concept of infidelity itself. There’s those who think the true foul occurs when there are feelings involved. Even having sex with another person wouldn’t be as bad as falling in love with them. 

There are also people who think it doesn’t matter what their partner does as long as they’re not lying or hiding something from them. How can we approach this topic? Let’s see.

 woman suspects her boyfriend is engaging in online infidelity

Online infidelity: a hard-to-refuse opportunity

Something about this topic is very clear: social networks make cheating easier. British service Divorce-Online published some very interesting statistics about its clients: about 80% of infidelities start with an online affair.

Before the world of virtual exchange existed, flirting was a much harder task for someone who was in a committed relationship. The risk of exposing themselves to being seen or recognized was higher, and they needed more money and time.

Now, however, all you have to do is be a social network user or sign up to an online dating site to start flirting. Plus, the virtual world is anonymous, so anyone can tell their story as they please. Anyone can create a character and have different virtual romances without much trouble.

So, those who are more likely to cheat, or those who are looking for a new relationship, have the Internet as their ally. But now you may be asking yourself: what leads them to look for new adventures? Does online infidelity negatively affect their real-life relationship? Let’s dive deeper.

A dangerous game

Many of those who engage in online infidelity claim to be in love with their real-life partner. In this kind of infidelity, like many others, it often has nothing to do with love, but other factors instead.

Some might just want to experience the adrenaline of the forbidden. Others want to put their seduction skills to the test and feel flattered. And others try to just break their daily routine a little bit.

The problem is that online relationships tend to be deceiving in various ways. It’s easy to idolize people when you only know what they want you to know.

Lots of people worry about showing only their most presentable and attractive facade on social media. They’ll post the pictures in which they look more attractive, they’ll try to sound smart and interesting, and naive people might easily fall for it.

a woman looking at her phone

It’s real if it affects your partner

A study carried out by Guadagno and Sagarin in 2010 about online infidelity revealed that in this topic, there’s a great difference of perspectives between women and men.

Men don’t give online relationships too much importance. They don’t deem it as cheating in real life. But any type of sexual relationship, including online sex, is infidelity to them.

On the other hand, women think basically the opposite. To women, it’s more important whether feelings are involved or not. That’s why they think that online infidelity is actually cheating. They also think that all relationships with another person can bring negative consequences for the couple.

As with almost everything, it all depends on the perspective you approach the topic with and the context in which it’s taking place. It’s each couple who must come to an agreement on what infidelity means. If there’s no agreement, then online infidelity will always endanger the bond between partners in committed relationships.

  • Núñez, F., Cantó-Milà, N., & Seebach, S. (2015). Confianza, mentira y traición: El papel de la confianza y sus sombras en las relaciones de pareja. Sociológica (México), 30(84), 117-142.