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Is Flirting Online Considered Cheating?

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Fotolia 36590412 XS 150x150Imagine this scenario. You met him or her online. You fell in love online. You fell madly in love and took your profiles down together to live your offline life.

The end. Or is it?

When a former boyfriend decided to take his profile down so we could date exclusively, he was excited about our future. He was marriage-minded, gave me an office in his home with a beautiful view so I could write, we met each others’ families, and we were both excited about the possibilities of our new relationship going the distance. It was his decision to take his profiles down. He asked me for my help in removing his online dating profiles from OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and Senior People Meet. It was a ritual and a milestone in our relationship and he was absolutely sure this is what he wanted to do. But there was a piece of him that still felt uneasy about it.

When a man makes a relationship milestone, he wonders if this is the last woman he’ll ever make love to or ever touch. He wonders if other women would still want him if the relationship doesn’t turn out. My guy was going through a major digital withdrawal and his ego was taking over. He started telling me that his inbox was feeling lonely and he wasn’t getting emails from women anymore. After spending six solid months logging onto three dating sites every day, he had mixed feelings about the situation and felt a bit of a loss in not hearing from admiring women.

Before my guy made the big digital commitment, he would log on to view who wrote to him, but would never write back. He was curious. It was an ego decision, but he wanted to make sure that I knew where he stood and that he didn’t want to date others. I smiled and told him to take his time. There was no rush.

Typically when someone has spent a lot of time on online dating sites, it’s hard to make the final break. They know in the back of their minds if it doesn’t work out, they can go back online at any time and go fishing again for a new date or a mate.

I’ve watched both men and women put up secret profiles or reactivate their profiles temporarily after a bump in the road in their relationships. While this is normal, it’s incredibly hurtful. As big as the digital dating landscape is, there are too many friends and family members who will notice the profile, even if it’s up for a few days or so. They will bust you. It will blow up. It might not be recoverable. Is it worth the risk?

In my book, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online, I describe the serial online dater or online dating addict in chapter 12. This man said, “I love you,” while on a romantic vacation, while simultaneously logging onto Match.com for hours every night to talk to other women. This, my friends, is emotional cheating.  Even if he never took the relationships offline, this act was so hurtful that it resulted in the ending of the relationship with the woman he really did love.

Often a man or woman might go fishing just before making a major commitment to make sure he or she is not making the wrong decision. More often than not, it’s for the ego. We all want to know that we’re loved. It’s so powerful, isn’t it? But is it worth losing your relationship over? Is it considered cheating?

My online dating advice is: If you?re in a committed relationship, I urge you not to blow it by flirting with a former love interest on Facebook or reactivating your online dating profile while checking out your options. If your significant other finds out you’ve reactivated your profile without discussing it with them, don’t be surprised if they either leave, or start withdrawing from the relationship. You just may lose the person you love so much.

If you’ve agreed to be exclusive or “facebook official,” communicate offline with the person you?re in a relationship with, instead of flirting online and looking for other options. If a relationship runs its course, be a grown up about it. Agree together that it’s time to move on, or talk about what needs of yours need addressing to move together to the next stage. Often the love you have with the person you’ve invested the time with is worth saving and will be worth its weight in gold, compared to the heartbreak you might be creating.

Your comments and thoughts are welcome.

Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.

Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. She’s the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online and creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert.

Photo credit: Lasse Kristensen – Fotolia.com

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Comments

One Response to “Is Flirting Online Considered Cheating?”

  1. Alicia on March 26th, 2013 7:08 pm

    You have a plethora of wisdom & insight for dating online but this article is the only one facing reality of cheating online. This is affecting mass amounts of relationships, all due to the fantasy of allure and many couples who were really in love are now lost. I enjoy your writing & your advice, please get into the meatier side of online dating……the cheating, the lying, jealousy, boundaries, etc. and how to deal, discuss and cope with the real issues.

    My partner has deeply affected me due to online/emotional cheating. Now I have an issue (or another one lol) to work through and trying to rebuild trust with men & the internet but yet respect privacy will be a difficult task.

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