In the era of easy access (no pun intended), how do women draw the line between their husband’s potentially harmless cyber-voyeurism and relationship-ending infidelity?
The spectrum of infidelity:
- A sexual and emotional affair with another woman
- Sex with a local, known woman (e.g., a neighbor or colleague)
Cheating but with potentially less severe consequences:
- Sex one time with a stranger (e.g., someone he met at a conference out of town)
- Hiring a prostitute (we tend to rationalize this one as ‘sex addiction’)
Stepped WAY over the line:
- An emotional affair with another person
- Sexting with a known person (ex-girlfriend, acquaintance)
Disturbing and Confusing:
- Cyber sex with an anonymous woman (e.g., someone from an internet chat room)
- Paying money for a sex webcam ‘professional’ to perform titillating acts
Not cheating, but objectionable to many women:
How can any of us be certain that our husbands or significant others aren’t doing these things? And, does it matter? Is your relationship doomed if these things have occurred?
The entirety of the issue rests on the idea of whether or not the behavior is a SECRET. If your husband swears that he’s going on a business trip to Vegas but you later learn that he was visiting another woman, there’s an issue. If you believe strongly that watching porn is the same as cheating, then you should make that clear to your significant other. Sexting, ‘emotional friends,’ webcams, and porn are not the issue. Betrayal is always the issue. If you feel betrayed by your husband’s behavior, then you are facing infidelity in your relationship.
Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D.