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

BIO:

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. 🙂

xoxEDxox

35 Comments
  1. SEXTING, CYBERCHEATING, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT IS ALL CHEATING. EVEN WITHOUT TOUCHING THE OTHER PERSON. IT’S ALL A HORRIBLE BETRAYAL!

  2. Kiri this was an amazing post and so spot on. I feel so awful for your betrayal. I’m very sorry for that. This Weiner dude is a real badass. One lie after the next. I feel bad for his wife who just announced she is pregnant.

    1. Thanks for reading, Chantal. And thanks all…. we seem to all be in agreement here. Anyone think it’s not cheating, or maybe not serious?

  3. If you try not to let your Partner know about it, then it is cheating, and you know it. Why else do these guys hide it from their partners?

  4. Kiri, thank you for your great post. I 100% agree with the readers- it is absolutely betrayal. I don’t care if my husband never so much as spoke to the woman. Sending pictures of yourself, or having ANY kind of connection or relationship with someone else and keeping that hidden is cheating.

  5. CHEATER LIAR. What blows me away is that this guy won’t step down. Who does he think he is? It’s one thing to sext but it’s another thing to blantantly lie about it over and over again. How can we trust him?

  6. Could our society be any more schizophrenic? Sexual images everywhere, and new tools to share fantasies (sounds like some of the Weiner exchanges were dialogues, not monologues.) On the other hand the media vilifies any male who deviates even one inch off the straight and narrow path, even if just in his mind. This is one reason why men are rapidly becoming obsolete.

    1. I think you make an interesting point, David. Certainly we have a very schizophrenic society when it comes to sex. What do you expect from a culture descended from Puritans, I guess. We’re very much like this with tweens and teens. On the one hand, they are constantly bombarded with sexual messages. Their idols dress and act provocatively at very young ages. And, let’s face it, teens are sexually active. Have been for eons! Yet, sex education is verboten in many states. Parents don’t discuss sex with their kids. Sexual content is forbidden on TV, in movies, and in books marketed to tweens and teens– yet extreme and graphic violence isn’t. Schizophrenic.

  7. Maybe it wasn’t the physical aspect of cheating but emotional. It would be so upsetting. What do you do as a spouse? Carry on as graciously as you can and figure out what you are going to do. The fact that pictures move across cyber space would make it more disturbing. Unfortunately, not only does she have to feel betrayed but must also deal with the publicity.

  8. All the signs are easy to spot; Once the affair is revealed. I’m of the belief that partners will tell and show you exactly how they’ll behave long before you’re even a committed couple. The question is whether or not you’re willing to open your eyes and see the evidence. I happened to see my then “girlfriend” out at a bar with work colleagues without her knowledge that I was in the place. She was a totally different person. I didn’t think much of it and never mentioned it to her. Ten years later she’d use her cellphone in the garage and so secretive that I wondered if she was even the same person. It’s all cheating and a humiliating betrayal.

  9. I have been in the same situation just recently. My bf had a girl on the side whom he sexts every now and then. I got to know about it just last week although their “relationship” had been going for almost a year now. I decided to stick with my man provided he allows me to check his Blackberry every now and then.

    1. Wish u the best I was maried for 24 years and my husband cheated on me both in real life and cyber life..he still holds his apple close to him and keeps his passwords secret. The betrayal is devastating…I find it hard to go on on everyday. If your BF shows transparency give him a chance if not run like hell…I wish I could..but we have a son and a business together NONe of which he cares about

  10. Dear Kiri, when you are commited with someone there is no such things as sexting or thinking about someone else. I think sexting is the same as cheating. Sexters are not only betraying their couples but they are betraying themselves. The point is, trying to cheat on your girl (as a man) means that you are not sure of your feelings towards her, therefore what are you doing with her?

  11. Too often, I hear from my readers that one person cheated and the other said, “No, that’s not cheating, because I didn’t actually….”

    I think it’s important for couples to sit down and redefine what their agreement is — before it gets to the point that one is indulging in any kind of titillation outside the relationship. I think we promise to love and honor without thinking much about what form dishonor and betrayal might take.

    Now that cybersex in all its forms is so easy, ubiquitous, and seductive, I think it’s crucial to have that discussion: “If you do this… I consider it cheating. If you do this… it’s okay as long as….”

    Joan Price
    Author of Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.
    Join us — we’re talking about ageless sexuality at http://www.NakedAtOurAge.com.

  12. I’ll be talking about this topic tomorrow night (Friday) on ABC’s “20/20.” I actually say a lot of the stuff I said here, because I thought it said it best. Hope you can tune in!

  13. It’s cheating…plain and simple. It betrays a trust. Who wants to hear your significant other sending sexual texts or even photos to some other woman? It betrays a trust. It’s cheating. My soon-to-be ex husband was hooking up with women online and actually talking with them on the phone. I never suspected a thing till I overheard a phone call he was having in the middle of the night with some woman. I caught him doing this twice, and the conversations were explicit. He claimed he was sorry and that all it was was talking and no physical relationship was going on. I didn’t believe him. And sure enough, when I checked his computer I found very explicit photos of him having sex with one woman and another image of a woman half naked next to his motorcycle jacket. Nice, huh? He was real piece of work. So whether it’s “just flirt texting” or not….it’s betrayal and I also believe leads to or is indicative of a physical affair.

    1. My heart goes out to her after 25 years of marriage my husband met some married stranger on Fb and started an affair with her..they met while we dropped offf our son in college in an alley..then she came out to our hometown while I was tecovering from surgery to be with her “soulmate” …cyber sex leads to real sex my life is in ruins thanks to 2 worthless married cheats with too much time on their hands!

      1. You’re hurting now and anyone who was truly in love with a partner who did this understands. Hope it doesn’t sound trite but it does get better. You deserve someone whom you can believe when they say that they love you. It’s not your fault that you gave your trust to someone undeserving. There’re better men out there and one day you’ll get over hoping your ex loses concentration at a train crossing.

  14. Hi everybody,I recently saw a testimony about a spell caster of some sort in a blog
    I visit for relationship and marriage counselling problems and I just
    thought after ripped off the previous year of almost about $580, I
    should try it*maybe out of desperation of some sort*..and I contacted
    them..Atfirst everything felt dreamy and unbelievable,their
    consultations and solution was a little bit easy and strange and I was
    scared a little cos I heard read and heard lots of stories of fake
    spell casters and scammers ripping people off their money..I played
    along with a little hope and and faith and I was sent some few stuffs
    after everything and it worked like a miracle,everything went to a
    while new direction,it was and is amazing…I guess it was all good
    faith that made me read That particular post that faithful day..I hope
    they could help other people too like they did me…I did a little and
    I got everything I wanted and wished for*my husband,my family and my
    life back*their address is: odonmark11(at)gmail(dot)com.

  15. Its cheating. Get rid of those type of men! I know the struggles we have in life and business. This blog has kept me hungry and willing to go the extra mile to make my website successful. I am really looking forward to launching http://www.insure-db.com at the end of the week and hope that we as women togehter can continue to support one another in this journey through life. Once again, its cheating. We need to step up as women and help one another get through this.

  16. I hear most on this site replying with anger, “Of course cyber is cheating!” However, their reasons seem emotionally charged with little articulation nor comments on the ‘degree’ of cheating. Firstly, it seems logically to me that cheating is defined as a violation of the couple’s agreement. (This is likely obvious.)

    More importantly and secondly, it is important to mention that different people will react differently to different “degrees” of cheating. For instance, a guy (or woman) who goes to a chat room with a group of ‘strangers’ and lives out a fantasy, it may hurt a partner less than “sexting” or “camming” with a known friend or colleague. If the online cheating involved an emotional relationship, that would be more hurtful to me than if it were only a ‘sexual fantasy.’ Some people feel that fantasizing (by oneself) is cheating. Some feel porn is cheating, but not as hurtful as a full fledged relationship. I think some forms of cheating seem more consequential and hurtful than others. I think online cheating is less reckless and blatant than physical cheating. Physical cheating can pass on disease and other hurt. I feel less hurt by online cheating. I do not feel hurt if my wife or lover masturbates to thoughts of Johnny Depp –it’s normal and I would not be surprised. I would not be too hurt if she looked at porn, but I would be concerned if she were having an emotional affair. Each person, based on cultural and religious background may feel differently. (This forum attracts a particular demographic.)

    If a partner “cheated online” and confessed on his or her own that they screwed up and were taking action to improve themselves, I would personally be willing to continue the relationship. Even if the person got “addicted to porn” but managed it and was honest about it, then I would take that person back. If the person repeatedly lied, then I would learn to not trust. I usually give imperfect humans at least a try to improve him or herself.

    The problem with internet blogs is that they seem to be adversarial and demonizing of people who made mistakes and wish to improve. I think doing something dishonest is unethical but people can redeem themselves if they work on honesty and transparency. It DOES happen. Unfortunately repeat cheaters may have a hard time. I’d give it one (MAYBE two tries) at big F- ups. If they cannot straighten out to meet your own needs then move on.

  17. This was an interesting link about actual statistics on fantasizing and how and why women and men will not be forthright about their fantasies. Our world seems to create a hell of a stigma about sex that makes everyone feel cheated, sexually problematic, and over sensitive. I am not condoning dishonest behavior, but I am saying people should consider more than a single perspective.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201010/fantasy-lovers

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