Are Facebook Affairs Still Cheating?

When social networking arrived on the scene, the opportunities for flirting exploded. All of a sudden, practically anyone could talk, send pictures and video to anyone, anywhere. No need for a computer any more with mobile phone technology rapidly blurring the gap between phone and computer. Communication can be private and fast with few traces left behind. Is it still cheating if there is no physical contact?

The social networking tools are much the same as other tools — used well and they are useful and productive but used badly they can be as dangerous as any weapon. Around 20 percent of affairs start on the internet. People who may have never met each other linking up through innocent (or not-so-innocent) websites where they can chat and send each other pictures or watch each other via a webcam. This can lead to a physical meeting and an escalation of the affair.

Mobile phones now give easy access to the same sites without the need for a computer. In fact, much of the internet is now designed to be accessible to either computer or phone users. For cheaters this is like finding a gold mine — easy access and almost total privacy. Phone bills will hold some clues if you are doing some digging or hiring a private investigator.

Many people, particularly men, do not regard anything they do online as being cheating. The excuse being there is no physical contact. But does there need to be physical contact before there can be an affair? Certainly not! An affair starts the moment you go behind your partners back. Saying that you are “just friends” does not cut it when you have deliberately hidden this contact from your spouse. An affair does require physical contact.

Ever heard of an emotional affair? This is an affair in which there is no physical contact. A person shares their emotions with a person outside their relationship and may receive support and friendship in return. People who are involved in an emotional affair often do not regard it as cheating because there is no physical contact, however, an emotional affair can cause just as much damage as a physical one. The betrayal of trust is still there along with the lies and deceit.

Just because the only contact you have with a person is via a screen or a few lines of text, this is still an affair. You can have a friendship with someone without it being an affair simply by keeping it all honest and out in the open. A platonic friendship is also without any sexual attraction between the people involved. Be wary of friendships developing into something else however. Most affairs begin in friendship and then a bond starts to develop between the friends excluding their partners. Think very carefully about what you say to people online if you value your marriage.

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Richard J . Watson

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