Defining Infidelity

Once upon a time, it was easy to know if you were cheating on your partner. If you were sexual with someone other than your spouse, you were guilty of infidelity. Then came the internet, and the once-clear line between sexual fidelity and infidelity got very, very blurry.

  • Does online porn count as cheating?
  • Is social media flirting a form of cheating?
  • Does having a profile on a hookup app, even if you’re not using it to have sex with anyone, count as cheating?
  • What if you sext with people but don’t hook up?

What I have learned after nearly three decades spent treating intimacy and relationship issues is that when it comes to the negative effects of sex outside a supposedly monogamous relationship, digital and real-world sex are no different. The pain of betrayal feels the same to the cheated-on partner, regardless of where and how the cheating took place. Recognizing this, I have formulated the following digital age definition of infidelity:

Infidelity (cheating) is the breaking of trust that occurs when important secrets are kept from a primary romantic partner.

Please notice that this definition does not mention affairs, hookups, porn, sexting, video chat, or any other sexual or romantic act, either real-world or online. Instead, it focuses on what matters most to a betrayed partner – the loss of relationship trust. Put very simply, if you’re engaging in any romantic or sexual activity that you’re covering up with lies and secrets, you’re cheating.

Help is Available

Seeking Integrity hosts Weekend Workshops for Couples trying to heal after infidelity. These workshops are facilitated by renowned couples and sex addiction therapist Paul Hartman. Space is limited to four couples per session. Call Seeking Integrity at 747.234.4325 for information, pricing, and availability.