Could they be suffering from virtual/cyber infidelity?

While some people worry only that their spouse or partner do not cheat on them at work, they may not perceive that their partner spends a great deal of time on the phone or on-line.

According to an article published in “The UK Times” (1); Gian Ettore Gassani, the president of the Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers stated that messages found in the application “WhatsApp” are used as evidence in 40% of the divorce cases in Italy.

“Time Magazine” published an article by James J. Sexton Esq.; a successful divorce lawyer; who suggests that Facebook “is the single greatest breeding ground for infidelity” (2). He goes on to describe why this is so.

While “The Guardian” (3) published an article based on a study conducted by “GlobalWebIndex” (GWI) years ago where 30% of “Tinder” users were married and 12% were in a relationship; Tinder has severely disputed the claim. Whether it is 42% or less o more, the fact remains that some users of the App, are married.

It may well be that many or most people do not consider flirting or exchanging photos or conversations in cyber space which are rich in sexual tone as unfaithful; the fact is that many relationships are broken when this behavior is discovered.

The question is: if a date is not made, there is no physical contact; and only photos and text are shared on-line, is this being unfaithful?

Well, it all depends of what kind of infidelity we are referring to.

Famed sex educator, researcher, and therapist Dr. Laura Berman  as quoted in an article The Truth About Online Cheating published by Everyday Health in their section Emotional Health(4); stated: “Sexual infidelity means you need to have sexual contact with a person who is not your partner, and emotional infidelity means that you’re confiding in and emotionally connecting with a person outside of your relationship without the sex,” she says. “We’re dealing with a whole new category here!” Dr. Berman has named sexting, social media, and e-mail flirting phenomenon “cyber infidelity.”

So then cyber space is becoming a preferred space where emotional infidelity is growing. 

While this interaction does not necessarily lead to physical sexual infidelity, it does set the stage for getting there.  Affective involvement, constant conversation, not having the “other” person in front of you, facilitate the establishment of a sort of bonding which is easier than in the real world. On the other side are social networks and dating apps., which allow the formation of an alter ego that would not otherwise surface in the physical world (day to day reality). Everything is simpler through a computer or phone screen. One can become anything they would like to appear as.

Between Boredom and Monotony

One would think that relationships should get stronger, more solid as time goes by. However, many couples fall into a routine, instead of doing new things together that nurture and strengthen their bonds.  They allow themselves to be dragged into a daily and boring situation. Not to blame one or the other, but it is both allowing things to get cold.

Few are the unfaithful that while having a relationship for many years, look to leave their partner for good.  Most really look for the emotion, the adrenaline of the first date; of feeling desired, of having someone else tell them how attractive or successful they are. It is here when the internet comes in, and where they feel safer with the dating apps can deliver what they are looking for. It feels safer than being seen or getting caught in a restaurant. Most think the internet offers the solution to avoid getting caught.

Sexting is the most used alternative these days, as it facilitates sending sexually toned messages, explicit photographs, and blatant video calls. Not only is it a growing and preferred way because it is easy, but because most do not consider they are being unfaithful by using this means for doing what they do.

In their study “Reframing Sexting as a Positive Relationship Behavior” (5); Emily C. Stasko, M.P.H. and Pamela A. Geller, Ph.D. of Drexel University, Department of Psychology; refer that 87.8% of adults polled reported having used “sexting” at least once in their lives and 82.2% in the last year. Also, one of their findings indicated “that greater levels of sexting are associated with greater sexual satisfaction and that participants who identified as single had significantly lower levels of sexual satisfaction than individuals who were casually dating or in a relationship”.

An overall conclusion from the study is: “that sexting is a prevalent behavior that adults engage in for a variety of reasons. Although the relationship between sexting and relationship satisfaction requires further attention, these findings indicate a robust relationship between sexting and sexual satisfaction”…Given the possible implications, both positive and negative, for sexual health, it is important to continue investigating the role sexting plays in current romantic and sexual relationships”.

5 Signals of Possible Infidelity Via Sexting

As with “traditional” physical infidelity, there are some signals, alerts, and/or attitudes that can indicate our partner is being unfaithful:

  • Hiding to send a message or make calls.
  • When you get close, they try to hide the screen from you.
  • Will not share password to phone or another device.
  • Spends more time in the computer than with you.
  • Is more irritable or more condescending with you than would be normal.

Not being “here and now while with you” will always be a signal to look for some sort of help.  Some reach out for conventional therapy; others wait to prove the infidelity before taking any action.

It is always better to put the cards on the table before embarking on any form of infidelity.  Chaos and a great deal of anguish can be avoided by being open and honest with what we feel; before embarking on the road to infidelity.