Weinergate and Cybercheating
I really wanted to blog about the current events surrounding Congressman Anthony Weiner. Yes, THAT Weiner who showed HIS Wiener on Twitter and then lied about it. But then I reconnected with one of our amazing previous Guest Bloggers, Kiri Blakeley, who has been covering all things Weinergate. And I think she did a better job than me.
I really wanted to pose this question to you: IS SEXTING AND CYBERSEXING WITHOUT PHYSICAL CONTACT, ACTUALLY CHEATING?
By Guest Blogger Kiri Blakeley
Last time I guest blogged on WomenOnTheFence.com, I described finding out that my longtime fiance, the man I was about to marry, was secretly gay and had been cheating on me with men for years. I wrote a book about it called Can’t Think Straight: A Memoir of Mixed-Up Love.
My fiance, Aaron, was able to find these men—not surprisingly—through the Internet.
The Internet has not only revolutionized the way we shop, read, research and keep in touch—but also the way we cheat. It has introduced a whole new form of infidelity: cyber-cheating or “sexting.” This type of betrayal may never end up between the literal sheets, but it rolls around in the ether-sheets of cyberspace, a Minotaur that’s half real, half-fantasy.
It has also made “real” cheating, physical cheating, easier than ever. Aaron would arrange to meet up with strange men he find online during his lunch hour—something that, time-wise, would have been much more complex before the Internet. In fact, given how Aaron and I spent virtually every single night together for ten years straight (no pun intended), I don’t know if he would have ever cheated had it not been for the convenience of the Internet. Certainly, if he’d been coming home at 3 a.m. smelling like a gay bar, I might have caught on to things.
Then there were the times Aaron wouldn’t meet up with anyone, but merely send people pics of himself and of his penis. Speaking of which, how about that Rep. Anthony Weiner scandal?
Part of the reason this salacious affair, which I have been writing about on my Forbes blog, interests me is because I can relate to what Weiner’s wife, the pregnant and brilliant Huma Abedin, might be feeling. We all suffer heartbreak if we discover our man is cheating—but there is something particularly galling about infidelity sparking to life via modern day technology. I’ll tell you why.
The Internet, computers, Blackberries, iPads, cell phones and other forms of technology have become such an integrated part of our lives—and often integral to our jobs—that there is virtually no way to tell a hubby who has been caught cyber-cheating, or cheating with someone he met through cyber-space, to give up the tools that facilitated the betrayal.
In the old days, if your husband met someone in a bar and ended up cheating, you at least had the option of demanding he stay away from that bar. Years ago, if the mistress called, you could scream at her and hang up. Now, how would you know hubby is chronically sexting unless you regularly checked all of his online accounts and cell phones? Not only would you have to get his passwords for everything, but you’d also have to know about every account. Most women aren’t part-time, high-tech forensic scientists.
For me, there’s something about cyber-cheating via Facebook, as Weiner did, that is particularly ick-inducing. That’s the same venue people use to talk to Aunt Doris about her gall bladder operation and keep up with old college pals! In Weiner’s case, he would use it to update constituents. Call me crazy, but I’d prefer my man cheat through AshleyMadison.com. Something more honest and up-front about it.
My book also delineates the relationship I had with a man named James, whom I date after my break-up with Aaron. James and I had one of those love/hate, on/off relationships, but after we finally settled into a monogamous (I thought) relationship, a little snooping into his email and cell phone revealed flirtations with other women. I was as upset about this as if I’d found out he’d physically cheated—probably because I could see the words they exchanged. It’s one thing to have cheating left to your imagination; it’s another to see it in plain black and white. Especially if the black and white shows that the other women are banal and can’t spell.
With physical cheating, every molecule of your being is outraged, and rightfully so. But with cyber-cheating, some small part of you is determined to be relentlessly rational about it. “What’s the harm?” that part of your brain might nag. “He didn’t have sex with them.”
That cold nugget of reason wars with the part that of you that is crushed to learn that your man would say he loves you and then turn around and sext another woman. Since cyber-cheating happens in the click of a mouse, he can even do it right under your nose: A practiced sexter can sext anytime, anywhere—maybe while he’s in bed with you, pretending to check his Blackberry for messages from his boss. Maybe he’s even emailing his boss and 200 women! People are pretty good at multitasking these days.
There used to be some separation between you and the mistress. Perhaps you got Mondays; she got Wednesdays. You got the country; she got the city. Not so with cyber-cheating. One scene in my book describes how I break into James’s email account to find he is emailing me and another woman simultaneously. Bleh!
So the question is, do you stay with a cyber-cheater? The answer would be different for every woman. What would you do? And the other million dollar question… is sexting without physical intimacy considered cheating? I’d love to hear from you.
Kiri Blakeley is the author of a great summer beach read Can’t Think Straight: A Memoir of Mixed-Up Love. She also writes about women and pop culture for Forbes. Visit her at kiriblakeley.com or at her blog at Forbes The Bold Type.
Have a great weekend readers! Off to meet Richard Branson soon. 🙂