If you send sexy photos or lewd text messages over the Internet to a stranger, is it really cheating?
If you never meet and never have sexual intercourse and your only contact is virtual, do sexting and tweeting count as infidelity?
That depends on who you ask.
Heed the wise words of Jon Austin of Minneapolis, a husband and executive in corporate public relations. "Would you text it, post it, send it with your spouse looking over your shoulder?" he asked The Associated Press. "If yes, then it's not infidelity. If no, you're cheating."
And that perception is verified by Yvonne Thomas, a Los Angeles psychologist, who told The Huffington Post, "When you're going outside the boundaries of what you're supposed to share, emotionally and physically, only with your partner, cheating is cheating is cheating."
Some people turn to the fantasy of online relationships to escape reality and the responsibilities and pressures of real relationships. Kimberly Young, a practicing psychologist and director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, told AP it's easy to convince yourself that an online relationship isn't real. Once the laptop is closed, it's easy to say, "I didn't really do that. That wasn't me."
"I've seen married people go to great lengths to cover things up, hiding phone bills and the like," Young told AP. "But they don't think it's cheating. They say, 'I love my wife.'"
Here's the crux of the issue: Men see it differently than women. "For men, the sexual act is much more disturbing than anything else," Manhattan psychologist Gail Saltz explained to AP. "For women, what constitutes a betrayal is any emotional or sexual interaction."
Not everyone agrees chatting is cheating. John Portmann, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, writes in his book "In Defense of Sin": "The Internet has not given us a new way to have sex, but rather an absorbing new way to talk about sex. Distinguishing between flirting and infidelity will show that talking dirty, whether on the Internet or on the phone, does not amount to having sex."
--From the Editors at Netscape