Advice on Cyber Relationships and Cheating

Updated October 17, 2018
Cyber Relationships

The debate is on about whether a cyber relationship constitutes cheating. The world of the Internet has opened a whole new door in the world of dating and relationships. Dating Coach Lori Gorshow has plenty of advice to help navigate dealing with infidelity that originated online.

Definition of Cyber Cheating

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.

No Physical Contact

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 and a change in use is a sign of infidelity. Likewise, sexual activity now can take place within the confines of separate locations even though the people involved aren't actually touching each other.

Emotional Intimacy in Cyber Cheating

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.

How the Betrayer Feels

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.

Overcome Online Infidelity

Your partner 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. If you have confronted him and taken away the means for online cheating, like a webcam, but he continues his behaviors, it's a sign of a deeper problem.

When Online Cheating Is a Compulsion

This suggests his cheating 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. The behavior is unlikely to stop with marriage and children unless he seeks professional help.

Visit a Counselor

Discuss your concerns with your partner and seek professional counseling with an expert who treats sexual addictions and does marriage counseling. Let your significant other 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.

Cyber Affairs Hurt Relationships

Even if you and your partner decide that the cyber relationship didn't cross the line into cheating, the cyber affair has damanged your relationship with one another. Counseling, as suggested, can help overcome this and give you tools to move forward in a healthy way, regardless of whether you stay together.

Advice on Cyber Relationships and Cheating