Online infidelity: my partner is cheating on me in cyberspace!

Posted on 15 May 2023 by Natalia
Online infidelity: my partner is cheating on me in cyberspace!
The digital revolution has touched every aspect of our daily lives, and relationships are no exception. Our lives are now often lived online and, like many other digital phenomena, online infidelity has developed at lightning speed.

What is online infidelity? Simply put, It is a kind of cheating that takes place online and is made possible by the rapid development of social media, multiplayer video games and dating apps. Online infidelity can take various forms: exchanging photos, sending erotic messages, live videos and long-distance love affairs, to name just a few. These practices can only be called "online infidelity" in a very specific case: when the perpetrator’s "official" partner, who has been kept in the dark, does not know what is going on behind their back.

Why does online infidelity occur?

There are several reasons for the rapid rise of virtual cheating: here are the most common.
1. Dissatisfaction in one’s in-real-life relationship: When one of the two members of a couple feels frustrated, emotionally or sexually, when they feel that they’re not receiving enough attention from their partner, they may try to compensate for the lack of attention with a virtual relationship.
2. Protecting one’s partner: Sometimes we hesitate to ask "too much" of our partner. The fear of tiring or irritating them, or the desire not to put unnecessary pressure on them, may make us want to keep our desires to ourselves and call on a third party. The virtual relationship is a way of satisfying our needs while sparing our loved one.
3. Idealising the other person: What could be easier than attributing to an (nearly) virtual person all the qualities that we would like to see in our real partner? By idealising the person you’re communicating with online, you may temporarily forget your troubles. This new person will seem perfectly attractive to the cheater, while their real partner won’t stand up to comparison. Their faults will soon seem unbearable.

Does chatting with someone else online count as cheating?

Is online infidelity the same as true adultery? There is some debate on the matter: for some, online relationships are synonymous with betrayal; for others, virtual infidelity is in no way the same as an actual affair.
1. Judgement on a case-to-case basis: it would be impossible to say definitively that all online relationships amount to proven infidelity. It will always depend on the intentions, motivations and feelings of the protagonists in each story. A virtual conversation is not necessarily on the same level as real infidelity.

2. Total transparency: If your partner is aware of and approves of your online relationships and continues to trust you, you aren’t cheating on them. Open communication and unwavering loyalty allow couples to build on solid foundations and strengthen the ties that bind them.

3. Hiding and lying: If you hide the nature of your online interactions from your partner, if these exchanges are fulfilling for you, but you continue to keep them secret, then yes, your online discussion could very legitimately be considered infidelity. If you lose your partner's trust, beware: the foundations of your relationship will be permanently weakened.
4. Communication, always: Never stop talking to your partner. To avoid misunderstandings, lay down rules, set a framework for your relationship and don't overstep each other’s boundaries. This will help you maintain a balanced relationship based on trust and respect.

The consequences of online infidelity

Just like traditional infidelity, the consequences of online infidelity can be severe. Knowing how to spot online infidelity will help you preserve a balanced relationship.

Consequences for the couple

  • Destruction of trust: Obviously, once one partner finds out about the other's online infidelity, trust within the couple is likely to be seriously diminished. The secrets and lies will lead to legitimate feelings of anger and mistrust on the part of the hurt partner.
  • Conflicts and tensions: After the resentment will come conflicts. The partner who has been cheated on may not be able to move on easily and will not get over the betrayal.
  • Dissatisfaction and comparison: The partner who has been unfaithful may have the tendency to compare their real relationship with the one they have online. This can lead to feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction and resentment towards the neglected partner.

Consequences for the individual

  • Feelings of guilt: The partner at the origin of the online relationship may feel incredibly remorseful about what they’ve done. If the overwhelming guilt becomes too great, their mental health may also be threatened.
  • Emotional distress: For both partners, an illicit online relationship can cause a lot of sadness and be very difficult to deal with. Guilt, shame, anger…these are just a few of the many emotions that you and your partner may feel.
  • Social isolation: Developing an online relationship involves a strategy of secrecy and concealment. Partners involved in a secret online relationship run the risk of cutting themselves off from those around them and gradually isolating themselves, even if this means putting their mental health at risk.