Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Does it make a difference if your spouse cheats only online, but never in person?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) December 27th, 2009

I’ve heard women say that affairs of the heart bother them more than sexual affairs where there are few feelings. In both cases, there is physical sexual contact in the real world.

Online relationships can be just as intense as real world relationships, as far as feelings are concerned. But there is no physical contact. Does that make a difference as far as you’re concerned? Does the fact that there were never any physical fluids exchanged make a difference?

What is that difference, if any? I mean in terms of feelings and fears and anger, not the obvious physical world difference.

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34 Answers

laureth's avatar

I think it would make very little difference, at least for me. The big thing about an online vs physical affair is the distance between point A and point B. The fact that my spouse and his theoretical mistress never swapped fluids is incidental, if the only thing keeping them from doing so is a plane ticket. In other words, if they had been closer, they probably would “do it,” right?

It might make an affair easier to nip in the bud, but it doesn’t make them any less guilty of being “together.” Online relationships can be intense, sometimes moreso because it is a meeting of minds, first. I’d still be very upset to learn that my sweetie cheated with someone else online. It would be a sign of things going wrong with us, if he’s even looking for the opportunity.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

My opinion is that if you’re doing anything that you know is not being honest or “faithful” to your spouse .. online or offline .. it’s cheating. I suppose you can justify it anyway you want—but you know if you’re cheating and you have to live with that on your conscience.

Facade's avatar

No difference at all. Cheating is cheating whether online or in person, emotional or physical.

chyna's avatar

If any conversations/emails/texts are going on that can’t be shared with my SO, then something is going on that probably shouldn’t be going on.

bunnygrl's avatar

I agree with @Laureth @JustPlainBarb and @Facade cheating is cheating. I would be so hurt if I found out hubby had an online relationship and it would hurt every bit as much as one in the real world, because if he’s connecting with another person, there is obviously something missing between us, no? and if he was to be looking online how long before he starts looking elsewhere?

well said @chyna I agree. Doesn’t mean you have to live in each others pockets or be looking over each others shoulders 24/7 but if you’re doing something you don’t want your partner to know about (or the other way about if they’re doing something and hiding it) then whatever it is it’s not right.
hugs all xx

chyna's avatar

You bring up a good point @bunnygrl. Maybe someone would only want an online affair, and never a real life one as that is safer and maybe not really cheating in that manner.

marinelife's avatar

It is still cheating, and it is just as bad in my book. Because it takes away from the relationship.

The feelings, time and effort invested in the online relationship are stolen from the primary relationship.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

In my opinion, emotional infidelity is worse than physical infidelity. Sleeping with another person could just be because that person does not feel they are getting enough sexual attention from their partner and needs it elsewhere. Cheating with someone online means they have developed a deep relationship with that person, something they obviously don’t have (to the same extent) with their partner. Not that I’d want to be cheating in either sense, but I’d probably be more upset to discover that my boyfriend has been in an online relationship with someone else for months than that he had a one night stand with someone at a club.

Not everyone views online relationships the same way, since it’s not a face-to-face thing. I hope that most of us jellies understand how deep online relationships can be, seeing as we’re all a lovely online community. I have been in online relationships in the past, as a teenager, and it would be devastating to me to find that my online partner was being unfaithful. It would hurt on a very deep, emotional level, since online relationships (in general) are based on personality more than physical chemistry.

Darwin's avatar

Cheating is cheating so an online affair would be just as bad as a real world one. However at least with an online affair you don’t run the risk of spreading VD to your partner. You might end up with a couple of computer viruses, but that is all.

klaas4's avatar

I agree with @ParaParaYukiko. When you’re seeking, well, not especially love, but attention, from someone else online is much worse than actually admitting it and daring to say it in person to your spouse.

That’s just my take, but hey, I’ve never been in a relationship.
And yes, I’m back on Fluther. God you’ve grown! :)

wundayatta's avatar

Cheating is cheating, online or in reality. That’s not the question here. The question is whether online cheating is different from physical world cheating in any other way besides the lack of physical contact?

filmfann's avatar

I first read this question as: Does it make a difference if your spouse cheats only online, but never in prison?
That would be a different question, I guess.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@daloon Depends on the situation. Physical cheating can be a purely physical thing or a deeper emotional situation. Although there certainly can be “physical” intimacy in an online relationship, it’s more purely emotional. Physical cheating could be just a situation of “I’m not getting enough from you” or it could indicate a lack of affection, feelings of sexual inadequacies, and all sorts of deep emotional problems. Actively seeking an online relationship shows that the original relationship isn’t emotionally fulfilling enough, not just physical. It also, imho, indicates deeper incompatibilities between partners.

dpworkin's avatar

Statistically, women are more likely to be distressed by emotional infidelity; men are more likely to be distressed by physical infidelity. It is no great leap to surmise the evolutionarily adaptive reasons for this dichotomy.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’ve learned the hard way how online emotional affairs have a real impact on irl relationships so now I’ll say either way would be hurtful and a big threat to how I feel in any relationship where I’ve agreed to be exclusive.

susanc's avatar

I’ve always been very careful not to flirt with anyone but kevbo on fluther because of all of the above.

knitfroggy's avatar

It would matter to me!

Cheesefoot's avatar

Difference between what and what?
Maybe it doesn’t make a difference, but you do.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

If you are married or in a committed relationship in real life, you owe your Significant Other the respect of not carrying on an intimate romantic relationship with someone else. It undermines trust and disrespects your partner. If you are ready to leave your marriage (or equivalent) you must do that before moving on to an intimate relationship with someone else. Cheating is cheating and if you are involved emotionally with someone else in any manner that would hurt or humiliate your SO if they knew, then you are cheating, regardless of physical distance or how this affair is being conducted!

dannyc's avatar

What do you think?

Symbeline's avatar

I wouldn’t believe it, because online is online and fails, apparently, to deliver the same level of communication and empathy as real life does.

But it would appear that online business has ruined many a real life couple, understandably, even if it should have been evident.

So I’d say yes. It may mean a whole lotta fuckall, but if you believe or feel it does, it totally makes no difference.

wundayatta's avatar

In my experience, online affairs almost never last as long as real world relationships. Anything that lasts longer than a month is quite unusual. In fact, if it lasts, then it might actually be something serious.

If my wife did something, it would bother me a hell of a lot more if it was in person compared to online. Of course, everything depends on circumstances. In my case, I was driven by mania. That tends to make these relationships somewhat questionable in terms of significance. They are more an attempt to make me feel like I shouldn’t commit suicide than anything else. In other cases, it’s about self-esteem or just trying to feel real. Funny that. Going virtual in order to feel real. Obviously it doesn’t work.

I think that just about any outside relationship is a sign that things are wrong, either with the relationship, or with the person. Sometimes, though, I think it is really difficult to say if something is wrong, or what it is. Maybe the person just doesn’t agree with the rules of society. What might motivate a person to do that, I couldn’t tell you. Some things are mysteries.

bean's avatar

no, i think it’s just as bad… there is no difference between cyber cheating or cheating in person

would there be a difference if you met the person?

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@bean That would mean that what was originally a purely emotional connection with that person got to the point where they wanted it to become physical. In my mind, that would make it even worse.

bean's avatar

@ParaParaYukiko I think the no made you think wrong of my answer… I was stating it is cheating… what were you trying to say?

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@bean No, I’m agreeing with you. I think I did misread your question though. I assumed when you said “would there be a difference if you met the person” to be when people in an online romance decide to meet in real life. I guess you meant if the person who was being cheated on met the person with whom their partner was cheating?

bean's avatar

@ParaParaYukiko lol its ok, but what I mean was cheating online… if you were to meet the person online would there be a difference? like if you start cybersexing or what not on the Internet… and then meet them in person… would you have real sex with them? i was thinking if you cheat on line… you would cheat with the same person IN person

SomNinja's avatar

If your partner watched a porn film then is that cheating?

How about calling a sex line?

I guess it depends on your definition of ‘cheating’, and where they intend to take things…

zebter's avatar

It is just as bad if not more hurtful than a physical affair.. To me they are the same..

Aster's avatar

Before computers my ex had “girlfriends” over the phone-even at midnight. He said , ‘YOU CAN’T HAVE SEX OVER THE PHONE.”
(angrily). He knew these girls. Two years later we got divorced. “A” leads to “B.”

Coloma's avatar

Deception is deception…sure one can reduce or increase the deceptive behaviors by degree, but…if it walks like a duck.

Stealing a candy bar may not be the same as stealing a car..but..the act of stealing remains unchanged.

My favorite all time line for cheaters ( given my humorous bent ) was from an episode of ‘Weeds’.

‘You’ve made your bed, now FUCK in it!’ lololol

I don’t ever give deceptive people a second chance…not that they may not deserve one, just won’t happen with me.

In my opinion there is no worse character flaw than sneaky and deceptive. Ugh!

BeccaBoo's avatar

If you’re opening up and sharing emotional intimacies that you would normally share with your SO I think its probably worse than having sex. The reason I feel like this is because when you start a realationship its not as easy to open yourself up and become vulnerable to a computer screen as it is with a real person. You give yourself, your thoughts, your fears and feelings exclusively to them. Today it is too easy to form a bond on the Internet with someone who is not really real. You may see a picture of them, however its not quite in the same league as having them sit in front of you and watching them respond. So yes I think online cheating is more damaging than an actual physical relationship. Just my opinion :-)

laureth's avatar

@BeccaBoo – Yeah, it’s not the same as having them sit in front of you, but the rest of us really are real. ;)

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