Why Sexting Is Cheating

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    Some people can be pretty loose with their definition of cheating until they’re on the receiving end of it. But if you find out your partner’s been exchanging intimate photos or video’s with someone else, you may suddenly find yourself wanting to know if sexting is cheating.

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    Most people – at least initially - think of cheating in terms of physical contact, anything from kissing to sex. But that’s certainly not the only way a person can cheat, especially in today’s digitally connected world.

    Today, not only do smartphones and computers make life easier in many ways, but they also make cheating much, much easier. Sexting, for instance, has become very common.

    One question you need to ask yourself if you’re wondering why sexting is considered cheating is, “Does it feel like cheating?”

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    It certainly can feel like it when your partner is doing it.

    Sharing pictures of body parts or images of yourself in sexual situations with other people crosses the line of a healthy relationship boundary and is a betrayal of your partner.

    Not all cheating involves sex, but the sexual element of sexting makes it feel like cheating for many people.

    The Problems Sexting Causes

    A great example of sexting and the problems it can cause can be seen in the life of ex-congressman and former New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. His antics were made public and offer us a picture of what sexting looks like and the significant damage it can do.

    The shame and embarrassment caused to Wiener, and all associated with his sexting behavior should be taken as a reminder that nothing is really private when it comes to texting or the internet.

    The post below is one I published about this famous sexter. Carlos Danger, aka Mr. Weiner, who has quite the portfolio. After you read it, tell me if you think sexting is cheating or something that we should be okay with.

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    The biggest problem with cheating isn’t the sex, nor is it the other woman or man. It isn’t even the form in which it occurs - whether it’s flirting, becoming overly close with a coworker, too connected with someone on Facebook, watching porn, getting emotionally connected to someone else, or actually sleeping together (check out Does Sexting Count As Cheating?).

    No, the biggest problem with cheating is the breaking of trust with our partner and going outside the relationship for needs that are supposed to be met inside the relationship.

    Some of the smaller actions like,

    • Friending past partners or lovers

    • Following people on Facebook or Instagram that you find attractive

    • Texting in an overly friendly manner or about private matters

    and even flirting can fall into a cheating grey area.

    These actions can seem harmless enough, but if the energy, feelings, and intent behind them go beyond platonic even a little bit for either participant (even if they didn’t in the beginning), it really does qualify as cheating, or at least is micro-cheating.

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    Typically, micro-cheating is made up of little things each partner knows feels wrong, but defining exactly how they’re wrong can be challenging. And there’s an element of deniability that can make it easy to hide behind because there’s not actual sex occurring.

    These things on their own will slowly erode your relationship’s trust over time.

    Sexting, on the other hand, goes a step (or two or three) further than micro-cheating.

    Don’t underestimate the fallout from sexting. Not only can it affect your current relationship, but it can also affect future relationships as well. Once you’ve cheated through sexting, especially if it becomes public as Wieners did, your ability to be trusted will be in question – forever.

    There may also be professional or legal consequences. If explicit content is shared without consent and becomes public, it can have professional repercussions, potentially affecting one's career and livelihood.

    What Makes Sexting Cheating

    Almost everyone texts. Texting in and of itself is neither good nor bad. And texting on it's own is also not cheating – unless it's with the wrong person for the wrong reasons.

    It becomes cheating, however, when we share something with someone else that should belong only to the person we’ve committed ourselves to. Our bodies, intimate thoughts, and feelings, or certain parts of our lives should only be shared with our partners, unless there’s an agreement in place that says differently.

    And for those who are considering it, I can tell you from my many years of experience in counseling couples that open relationships rarely ever work.

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    Doing these things damages the trust and intimacy with our partner, causing immeasurable pain and hurt. Once this happens, rebuilding things can be a long, difficult road.

    In fact, rebuilding broken trust can be really tough to do without the assistance of a professional counselor because effective and productive communication is now incredibly challenging.

    What To Take Away

    So, is sexting cheating? In a word – yes.

    Sexting is cheating because it does all of the things described above. It,

    • Breaks trust

    • Gives to someone else what only our partner is supposed to get from us

    • Causes pain

    If you still aren’t convinced, consider how you’d feel if your partner did the same thing – and be completely honest with yourself. I bet you’d rather they not.

    Sorry, ‘Carlos Danger,’ but your sexting is cheating. And if you’re wondering, his wife thought so too, as it was one of the primary reasons she divorced him.

    A note of caution to those who want to engage in sexing with their partner: While what’s done by consenting adults in the bounds of a committed relationship should be private, anything transmitted digitally is at risk of being seen by more than just the person for whom it’s intended. So, sexting is best avoided, even when it’s with your partner,

    What do you think – is sexting cheating? Please explain your reasoning in a comment below.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 5, 2014 updated on August 7, 2019, and updated again for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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