Is An Online Relationship Cheating – Yes Or No?
How would you feel about your husband or wife spending a great deal of time in an online relationship with someone else?
Is it cheating?
I suppose the safest answer is, “it depends.”
If you and your spouse each have many friends of both genders with whom you spend a lot of time staying in touch online, and you are comfortable with this even though it takes time away from each other, then it’s unlikely either of you would consider it cheating.
But if to you, having a deep, emotional connection with someone, with whom you also spend significant amounts of time, is cheating, then whether it’s online or offline you might say that your spouse is being unfaithful to you.
This is a slippery slope because on the one hand, to some degree, you and your spouse define what is and isn’t cheating.
But, on the other hand, there are clear boundaries that once crossed, whether emotionally or physically, do, according to social or spiritual norms, constitute cheating.
We live in a new era where the Internet makes it possible to connect with anyone in the world. It’s fun to make new friends or to connect with people from our past.
Here’s the thing, though. This creates marriage problems when your spouse enjoys spending more time with his or her pals online than with you.
We should see it as a red flag if/when our online friendships become more important than our friendship with our husband or wife.
Even if we aren’t being unfaithful with our online relationship, spending more time with a person online than with our spouse can create marital conflict.
When a spouse becomes emotionally attached to someone on the Internet, and begins growing that relationship, it takes time away from the emotional bond they should be developing with their husband or wife.
What should you do if you feel that your spouse might be spending too much time online with another person?
You know exactly what you should do. Talk to them about it. Have a conversation.
Don’t nag, accuse, raise your voice, or get all defensive. Talk.
Share how you miss your time together. Explain how you want to strengthen the connection and emotional bond you share.
You’re not asking for ALL of his or her time. Just a little bit more of it to live and enjoy life away from cyber space in the real world.
Maybe ask them out on a date – go do something fun.
Be calm and loving with this whole conversation and watch how they respond.
If you truly refrain from insinuating that your spouse is doing something wrong, but then they become angry and defensive, something isn’t right with their online relationship.
Or, on the other hand, maybe they work hard and don’t feel like they have enough time as it is just for themselves and are frustrated with the idea of having even less time as a result of your request.
My only advice is to be respectful, kind, warm and wise.
But if your spouse is angry and defensive with your request, and you figure out it’s because they resent the idea of spending less time with their new “friend” online because of having to spend more time with you now, then it’s unhealthy and reveals that a fairly strong emotional attachment is in play.
I don’t think any of us would be comfortable if our spouse spent more time with someone else (other than work, perhaps) or thinking more about someone else than they do with and about us.
What do you think? Am I crazy or do you think I’m making a fair point?
Here’s the one thing I know for sure.
The earlier in the process you share your concerns and discuss potential problems, whether real or perceived, the better it is for your relationship, as long as you don’t start accusing your spouse of doing something wrong. Just have a friendly conversation.
Here’s a thought: If you’ve wondered whether online relationships are a form of cheating, then I’d say this is an indicator that either you are in an online relationship that you know in your heart isn’t quite right, or you suspect the same for your spouse.
If either you or your spouse is emotionally attached, or have romantic feelings/fantasies for someone online, then your marriage is headed for trouble.
Sure, surfing the ‘Net to connect with someone is easier and more convenient than hooking up with your spouse and getting out of the house to do something fun in the land of Three Dimensional People :-), but it is so worth it.
Try it. I think you’ll like it. And I know it’ll make you mad about marriage again.