Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is it still cheating if there's no sex?

I was reading on online article and they had this premise and question:

You never intended to have an affair. But let's say your husband travels often for work, leaving you home alone with your toddler and a wayward imagination. So one evening, while online, you see an advertisement for classmates.com, click on it and type in your alma mater. A list of people who you haven't thought of in years pops up. And then you see the name of your college crush, the boy who would smile at you in English class and torment your undergraduate heart. Fifteen years later, you wonder how Jim has aged. Your heart beats quickly as you type, "Remember me? Just came across your name and thought I would say hello."

The next evening, you check your e-mail. "Good to hear from you!" the subject line blares. It's Jim, and of course he remembers you. You e-mail back and the exchange continues for months, only you never mention it to your husband. Jim is also unhappily married and you begin to commiserate. Is this cheating?

I say it is. Any other thoughts?

You can find the rest of the article here.

It's an interesting piece because they theorize that emotional cheating, which is what the above is, can be more damaging than physical cheating.

16 comments:

Amy said...

Yes, I think it's cheating. I don't know if it's more damaging than if something physical happens, but it's certainly damaging.

Nonny said...

I don't agree that it's cheating. I don't expect that I should have to tell my husband of every online interchange with someone of the opposite sex, nor do I expect he should do the same.

Could it lead to infidelity? Certainly. But I don't think the action of speaking to someone without letting your partner know counts as cheating. If someone is going to significant lengths to hide it, then it's certainly unhealthy and doesn't bode well for the relationship, but not every relationship problem boils down to infidelity.

Kristie (J) said...

Amy: I think it's just as damaging because we women are emotional creatures. If it's physical cheating, and not that I accept that in any way shape or form - but it could be said the guy or girl could just be getting their physical jollies. But if it's emotional cheating, then they have invested part of themselves into the cheating - which to me is deeper.

Kristie (J) said...

Nonny: The article goes on to give further examples and putting myself in the place of others, if my husband had been carrying on an online relationship with another woman, and not letting me know about it, I would have called it cheating. The occasional email back and forth - no not so much, but in some of the other cases they cited, the husband withdrew from the wife emotionally and invested more of himself into his online relationship. To me that defines cheating.
But interesting discussion material isn't it? *g*

Kate Diamond said...

Here's the thing: no relationship is ever going to perfectly fulfill your every need and desire. Most people I know have a cadre of friends and family that somehow fill in the gaps missing in their romantic relationship.

The problem is not having interactions with someone of the opposite sex. The problem is not even having a mini-crush on an old flame. (My husband actually has a mini-crush on one of my favorite college friends, which I find adorable because it reaffirms my belief in his good taste!)

The problem--the emotional infidelity--comes when you begin to value your connection to this other person over your connection to your significant other. If you start to think that this other person understands you better, that you'd be happier if you were with this other person, and that your significant other is holding you back then (a) you're cheating and (b) you need to do some serious thinking about whether or not you should be in your current relationship.

General rule of thumb: if you're trying to hide the communication from your significant other, there's something wrong with it. If you're open about it, or don't bother telling him/her because it doesn't even rate as significant, it's no big deal.

nath said...

I think it's cheating. I don't think that anyone needs to report every online exchange with one's spouse; however, if it's a frequent, day-to-day email exchange, then yes... Seriously, cheating sex is just "la goutte qui fait deborder le vase" (sorry, couldn't remember the english dicton. but basically, it's the last drop that makes the water overflow.)

and I agree with Kate, if you're hiding anything... then you should start questioning yourself.

Janicu said...

I think it's cheating too. It's not that they're emailing someone other than their husband, its not telling them about it. The fact that they're hiding it sort of is a red flag that they're doing something not really kosher. Going to someone else for emotional support is fine if they're just a friend, but if you tell this person things you don't tell your husband, and also don't tell your husband about this person, then something is wrong. Add to that the fact that you have certain feelings for this person? So cheating.

azteclady said...

Emotional cheating is cheating, as much if no more than physical cheating.

With physical cheating it may be nothing more than lust, with emotional cheating there's much more invested by the cheater on the person s/he's cheating with.

azteclady said...

And I just realized kristie said it much better than I did.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Kristie, this brings up a good point. I am reading a historical romance where the hero is your typical rake and he has been in and out of every bed in England. But he decided to abstain from sex because he finds he is in love with the heroine and wants to be true to her even though she thinks he is a man ho and won't be able to stop from cheating on her.
Part of me finds that so romantic, the other part of me, is like whoa there! Whys is that such a major sacrifice for the hero because he can't take part in the usual sexual urges. Should he be given a medal because of it?

I always thought of cheating as more physical but if I was with someone and they couldn't get over a pass flame and I was second in their heart, that would hurt just as much as if they had sex with another.

JenB said...

I still think it's cheating. Emotional affairs can be just as damaging as sexual ones. Sometimes even more.

MB (Leah) said...

What Kate said. I think it's cheating if the person is hiding the relationship and or is pulling their energy away from their partner.

I talk online with guy friends all the time. Even ex-boyfriends. I've had some attractions to others while being married with my husband. He knows everything. I don't hide a thing and he could go through my computer and nothing would show up that would surprise him. I'm also very clear that he's the one I want and that's it.

I would also be fine with DH having friend relationships with other women or even crushes as long as it's all out in the open and he keeps me in the loop. I don't feel threatened by that.

So, I do think it's OK to get emotional needs met that you cannot with a partner, but you gotta be perfectly honest about it. Or, your a lying, cheating dog.

Leslie said...

Cheating. Just the fact that it went on for months but she didn't tell her husband...

I tell my kids if they're not sure they should be doing something they should pretend I'm there watching ~ would they do it then? Same goes for dh. : )

Hilcia said...

I do believe is cheating. Emotional cheating can be as damaging to a relationship as a physical one. When one partner or another starts to "feel" that another person is more understanding, when they start to feel fulfillment from that "other" relationship, instead of the marriage, someone tell me that's not cheating. That person has to be attracted to the other one in more ways than one, the heart has to go pitty patter, and if its not stopped on time, it WILL go on to physical cheating at some point. But even if it doesn't, it will damage the current relationship, because comparisons will be made, and the husband / wife will come out the "looser." So, yes... IMHO, it IS cheating.

Tracy said...

If the conversations are being hidden then it's cheating.

Sarai said...

From someone whose been cheated on by a spouse I say its cheating. If your not telling your partner about it and you are hiding information or don't want you SO to know its cheating and you know it is.
However, if you show your SO and they are aware of the situation and you openly answer any and all questions they have about the situation then I think you are fine.