In the 21st century, with our increasingly digital lives, the once-clear line between monogamy and sexual or romantic infidelity has become rather blurry.
As a psychotherapist specializing in sex and intimacy issues, I regularly see couples in conflict about what does and does not constitute cheating.
Consider these examples: None of these individuals has had an in-the-flesh sexual encounter outside of their primary relationship, and yet all four have been accused of infidelity by their spouse.
These scenarios beg the question: A few years ago, in an attempt to answer this question, Jennifer Schneider, Charles Samenow, and I conducted a survey of women whose husbands were engaging in significant amounts of extramarital sexual activity, either online or in the real world.
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He is the author of books including Infidelity starts with the mere thought of being intimate with another person other than our spouse or hubby. The fact that some couples are more liberal than others does not changes the label - I assume.I'd sit for scores of minutes at a time, waiting impatiently for that little running AOL man to enter his successive phase of connectedness.Words like "modem failure" and "inability to connect" haunted us, forcing us to redial and redial until finally we could enter our glorious online community.To a betrayed spouse, the emotional pain associated with the loss of trust hurts far more, and the pain lasts far longer, than the hurt caused by any specific sexual or romantic act.And it is only as trust is slowly restored that the betrayed partner and the relationship start to heal.Sure, we may have been making under-the-table investments with Nigerian princes, but our parents were solely worried about the busy signal clogging our line.Back in the day, there was no wireless or high speed internet connections, there was a little phone jack that shared a common line with our home phones.As such, I have developed a definition of cheating for digital age that might help couples clarify what is and is not acceptable within the bounds of their relationship: Please notice that this definition does not directly refer to affairs, pornography, strip clubs, hookup apps, sexting, webcams, flirting, chatting, fantasizing, or any other specific sexual or romantic act.Instead, it focuses on what matters most to you, your partner, and your relationship—the emotional distancing, the sense of intimate betrayal, and the loss of trust.There was no catching of predators, no online policing, just pure, unadulterated dangerous fun.If anything, our parents were more concerned with our tying up the phone lines than our online whereabouts.