[Online] is where you are playing, flirting, falling in and out of love, chatting, sexting and dreaming – with your partner and with other people. Of the nearly seven billion people in the world, just over two billion are online, a 484% increase over the last decade.
Online dating is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry. Online dating sites now earn about $2.1 billion a year in revenue in the USA. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, online matchmaking saw record growth.
The temptation and drive, the curiosity to communicate with such a huge pool of people, makes us crazy. So crazy that one-third of you is using social media to develop new relationships. Whether you are married or in another form of significant committed relationship, you are drawn by your need for intimacy, sexual satisfaction and distraction into this playground of plenty. The question I’ve asked is, what is cyber-infidelity? And how, if at all, is it different from face-toface infidelity?
Think about this: you are both in your early 20s, virgins on your wedding night. Sex is immature, amateur. Three years later, you discover that she has had an “emotional” relationship with a colleague. She vows they did not have sex but you suspect that they did. A few months later, you push the fuck-it button and have a brief sexual fling with a colleague. I am sure everyone agrees that this can be defined as infidelity. There were “real” people involved, and “real” bodily fluids were exchanged.
Now consider this: you are attached, in a significant relationship or marriage, and you are on Facebook with a friend. The conversation turns from cyberchat to cybersex. You respond with much seat-wetting. You’re tweeting someone you admire or follow and the tone changes from friendly to invitational and eventually to seductive. Bulge in your pants.
You’re spending time watching porn and jerking off. You join www.ashleymadison.com, a dating site for married people, because you feel emotionally neglected. Are you cheating?
Millions of people are using the very technology that you as a married or attached person are using in these situations to connect with people in intimate ways. From Facebook to WhatsApp to Twitter to dating sites and porn, technology is seducing you into new and interesting relationships and attachments. Many – yes, many – of these online connections are secretive. They may even be considered infidelity. Infidelity is breaching the principal oaths and vows of sexual fidelity, monogamy and commitment that you have taken. Practise this online and it’s called cyber-infidelity.
The problem with cyber-infidelity is that many of you do not consider it cheating – and thus end up badly hurt.
The discovery of any cheating forces a couple to reconsider their relationship. Somehow cyber-infidelity takes this a step further. It is amorphous; it is so easy, accessible, affordable, anonymous to have cybersex, to engage in flirtation or sexting, or to send a Snapchat via technology.
What is cyber-infidelity and what do we do with it? Is it really cheating or merely recreational fun? Does it violate the fundamental values and principles upon which your marriage is based? Should you simply be flexible and incorporate this new form of relating into your modern marriage? In this cyber age, what do we really want out of intimacy and significant relationships?