Cheating or Chatting? Are You Cyber-Cheating Your Partner?
Cheating or Chatting?
A few days ago, I received a call from a journalist asking me why this has become so common?
To which I said, “I think it is because of the sheer ease of it. Infidelity or a full-blown affair used to require hiding, sneaking around, cheap motel rooms and a lot of effort. To some, therein lies the thrill, but for most who consider indulging, the fear of getting caught and losing the little nest they have created, acts as the deterrent, but with the internet or texting, having a “side-relationship” has become so easy.”
I understand that there is no perfect marriage and that what goes on within an intimate relationship is unique in all of them. There may be stereotypical ideals but how many real life relationships are anything like these typical relationships we read about.
We are unique and transforming every day, how then can we conform to having typical relationships in order for them to be considered good? Agreed, but I am speaking now about those of us who want close, honest and emotionally intimate relationships based on trust above all else.
Chexting – a combination of cheating and texting has become very common and many don’t even acknowledge that they are in fact cheating. Many will disagree and brush it off, in fact a survey in Divorce Magazine found that only 46 percent of men considered intense internet relationships to be infidelity, compared to 72 percent of women. I guess it depends on who is doing the cheating!
In my books (literally), (excerpt below from “Don’t Think of a Blue Ball” a real, loving relationship is a partnership of mutual support, mutual pleasure and mutual respect. You make a choice to continue to relate with another person in a loving and conducive way so that each of you can meet your life goals and attain personal growth.
If you keep secrets, in a relationship where trust is the main glue, and there are areas that you cannot talk about, this will kill the intimacy. I’m not saying you need to tell your partner every single detail about your past, if you have forgiven yourself and accepted all of your past then they are resolved an do not need to come into this relationship. I am however talking about your present, is there anything in your current life that if they stumbled upon, they would feel betrayed?
Infidelity is a killer of any real and trusting relationship, and it is not even just about the sexual indiscretion, it is about all the other lies and betrayal that is needed to carry it on.
Simply put, intimacy, love and trust go together. In order to be intimate (physically, emotionally or spiritually), we have to let our guard down and be vulnerable. This requires a sense of emotional safety on both sides, and a belief that our partner will not betray or intentionally hurt us.
If you doubt your partner, it will come through in anything you say. You will be insinuating doubt and suspicion, which will make the other feel un-trusted. The easiest way to sabotage your relationship or marriage is to simply not trust your partner. By trust I am referring to all levels of trust not just fidelity. Trusting your partner with money and decisions. Trusting your spouse to look after your kids competently. Trusting that they care about you enough to respect your wishes and not abuse you in any way are all part of trust.
However, this can be difficult to do if your partner is giving you reasons to feel disconnected from them and lied to. If either of you is investing time energy, thoughts and emotions in another relationship, this is to me a complete breach of trust even if there is no actual sex cyber or otherwise involved.
We learn to justify our actions and behaviors so that we can live with ourselves, but that does not mean that what we do is honest. If your cyber friend was as emotionally intimate with someone else, you would feel betrayed, so why the hypocrisy?
So why then is this so common?
I think it is because of the sheer ease of it.
Having an affair is almost always a byproduct of the relationship not fulfilling your basic need of connection. Intimacy is what we crave and long for, without which we feel lonely. When either partner feels this emptiness, they become vulnerable to attention from the others, usually the opposite sex who make them feel interesting, attractive and heard. With Facebook, WhatsApp and all things cyber, this can start very innocently at first through casual chatting.
Soon the interactions become addictive as most of the chemicals that would be released through love and sex are triggered by this “thrilling” new “friendship”. Chemistry leading to fantasies and an obsession for this other person starts. This is NOT a plutonic relationship, if it were then your spouse would be privy to it and would be able to participate in any of your conversations without any one getting hurt. I am not judging, I am merely asking you to “see” what could be going on.
Like I said, people can justify their actions but if your internet relationship is truly just harmless innocent chatting, it would be open enough for your partner to sit beside you and observe the nature of the conversations, uncensored. If you’re not willing to do this and you are insecure of your phone being read by your partner, then chances are, you are cheating!
In my opinion, this sort of dissatisfaction happens in phase two of a relationship/marriage. Infatuation according to Dr. Christine Meinecke can last nine months to four years – this may vary greatly when they are modern or long-distance relationships.
In this stage, partners overestimate their similarities and idealize each other. The relationship then travels through the disenchantment stage, where the focus in on what is wrong with each other, perhaps even questions like, have I made a mistake? In fact it is these similar phases of growth that every relationship goes through that has shown me how you sometimes need to stick it out.
If you are only going to crave for the high of the infatuation stage, you will never really deal with your own issues or discover who “me” really is in order to build a solid “we”. This “need for a fix” is what contributes to seeking out other people to connect with in a flirty, intimate way.
According to doctor Meinecke, the third stage after infatuation wears off and disenchantment sets in is mature love. Mature love is self-responsible. Self-responsible spouses do not try to change their partners. Instead, they focus on managing their own insecurities and dark moods, expectations and reactions.
Trust that your partner has the internal strength to be in a relationship of mutual respect and equality. If you don’t trust their intelligence and strength, they will pick up on it and often take on that role so as to avoid confrontation. When we give our partner the truth and we respect that they can handle it, we are empowering them, this is mature love.
To each their own and of course, no marriage is perfect and many people actually need this sort of connection with anther person in order to remain in the primary relationship. Some feel that it would be unfair, even ridiculous to expect one human being to fulfill all your needs hence they have different people in their lives for different reasons. Though some may argue that isn’t this then mature love, as described above, where you live and let live allowing your partner and yourself to live your lives the way you desire, I’m not judging, simply suggesting that you be honest at least with yourself.