Infidelity used to be about having sex with someone other than your marriage partner. In the 21st century, those clear lines seem to have blurred. If you have a flirtation online and there’s no sex, should it really be considered as cheating? The advent of the internet has changed the face of infidelity, including the type of people involved and the actions that are considered to be unfaithful.
Marriages are more vulnerable than ever in these tough economic times when both partners may work hard to make ends meet, leaving less time to nurture the relationship. In movies, affairs tend to be glamorized, and the internet is a whole new frontier, with greater access to pornography and the pseudo-intimacy of cyber relationships.
The internet provides a way to create an alternate identity where individuals can express aspects of themselves that may have been suppressed. The relationships formed online are disconnected from those in everyday life. Sharing intimately with another person online is getting into dangerous territory.
Getting close to someone online because of an unmet need for intimacy is a threat to your marriage. It takes away from the healthy intimacy that should be there in the marriage. This is called an “emotional” affair, and a number of married people are in such relationships. It may feel manageable and safe, but people are often drawn in more than they ever imagined they would be.
Watching porn creates unrealistic expectations
As far back as 1988, some studies were done about the effect of consuming pornography over a long time. It was found that watching porn created unrealistic expectations about what sex and partners should be like. Those who watched porn become less satisfied with what they had. The internet has made pornography more available, affordable and anonymous.
Many researchers do not equate watching pornography with infidelity, especially if couples watch it together. Cybersex and hot chatting, on the other hand, involves interaction with another person and this is seen as infidelity.
A study in 2016 reviewed over 600 pornography studies and concluded that there is strong evidence that constant watching of pornography has a negative influence on family stability.
Men say that they often watch pornography when they feel stress or tension to alter their mood. They rarely share this with their wives. Many times, the wives have no idea of what their husbands are up to and are very shocked if they find out. It makes them feel inadequate because their husbands appear to need more than what they can give them.
Pornography can lead to a decrease in trust in a relationship and a higher likelihood of having an affair outside of marriage. There’s no doubt that regular watching of porn is associated with behavior and sexual attitudes that are potentially harmful to intimate relationships.
A definition of infidelity for today
A better definition of sexual infidelity today could be keeping sexual secrets from a partner, rather than having sex with another person.
Keeping secrets from the one person with whom you should be sharing is a betrayal of trust. Basically, if you’re hiding any romantic or sexual behavior from your partner, this counts as cheating.
It’s not unusual for a partner that’s questioned to deny any questionable behavior and even to suggest that the partner is being paranoid. In this way, partners who are being betrayed are often made to feel as if their emotional state of mind is the source of all the relationship issues.
Some people do manage to remain in the marriage and work through their problems. To do this, both partners have to be committed to a healing process. However, when trust has been broken, the pain may be too great for the person to stay in the marriage. Ultimately, what is most important for betrayed partners, whether they stay in the marriage or not, is to learn and grow from the experience.