Mind Candy

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Is cyber-cheating really cheating?

Posted by mandyf on July 1, 2012

The question of whether or not cyber-cheating which is the practice of having an online “romance” of sorts has been open for debate since the internet launched. The usual answer is, if you have to hide it – it’s cheating. I’m an insatiable flirt, but I do it wide out in the open – I never hide it from my partner. I don’t even really hide it from my friends or anyone else for that matter, but that is the nature of our relationship, not too many are like that.  While it would be nice to provide a cut and dry one answer fits all response, that just isn’t possible. The first step however is to define what cheating means to the parties involved, and to then see if the cyber-activity falls within the boundaries

Cheating is defined as depriving of something valuable by use of deceit or fraud. Obviously the first thing to examine is whether or not the cyber-relationship employs either of those components. Is the cyber-relationship depriving the physical partner of something valuable? The usual argument is it is depriving the person of time that could have been spent with each other and can never be replaced as time does not replenish itself in regards the time we have on Earth. If you feel you are being deprived then cheating is taking place.

The second thing to examine is whether there is deceit or fraud at play. Is the partner engaged in a cyber-affair lying to you about it? If they lie about it and feel some need to keep it a secret then it is pretty obvious they feel there is something wrong with it. If it is wrong they know they shouldn’t be doing it. The other aspect is whether or not they are telling lies to their cyber-partner which misleads them as to the true nature of what is going on. If they are concealing information that they are in relationship in the physical sense with another person to their cyber partner there have to be reasons for that which only raise more red flags.

What makes all this tricky is individual perception. It isn’t uncommon in the least for people to flirt online with those we come into contact to. Flirting is not in the minds of most people cheating. We all to some degree flirt all the time, even in front of our significant others with no malice intended, but rather just for fun. If flirting is all that is going on then it is no big deal. The line in the sand so to speak is when it crosses over to sharing of personal information and engaging in intimate types of online activities to the point where the real life partner becomes a secondary figure.

When the online partner becomes more important than the real life partner then it is reasonable to say that cheating has taken place. That is the point when a person is being deprived of time, sharing, intimacy, and more often than not the truth. It is a situation which is going to cause a variety of negative emotions which are just as real as if the cyber partner were physically present. In many minds it boils down to feeling duped and viewed as being unable to provide something another person can. It often makes the physically present partner feel like they are not enough somehow and no longer the central focus of the cheaters attention. The sharing of intimate thoughts with another person can be just as devastating, and in some cases even worse than actual physical cheating.

While the above points can point to whether or not cyber-cheating is cheating by definition, it really comes down to how each individual defines cheating. If you feel deprived or feel that you have been relegated to secondary status by a persons cyber-affair then yes, you are being cheated. In the final analysis, only you can decide what cheating is, but cyber-cheating definitely is more than a possibility, for many it is a reality.

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