Sexting: The New Not-Really-Cheating?

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve seen the new craze that’s sweeping the nation: getting busted with wang pics (yours, or someone else’s) in your email/phone/twitter inbox…etc.

Anthony Weiner (insert allll those penis jokes here) couldn’t tell us “with certitude” if the wang in question was his…till he told us that and a lot more in a circus-style press conference, copping to every sordid lie and nipple shot transmission. Sexting while in office. And married. With a pregnant spouse no less. Bad, Anthony. Bad, bad Anthony. But, as he emphasized, he never met any of the women in person! Just sexting! Who’s cheating?!

Kimmy K was alleged to have had a fling with…uhhh wait…well, some black NFL player. I know. Nothing new there, ‘cept that the accusations put the fling on the same timeline as her current engagement to Kris Humphries. Oh wait! It allegedly all took place on the phone, over text, and email. Just harmless, wholesome sexting! No cheating here either, folks!

::side-eye::

These stories in the news have people examining their own moral compasses to ask: what’s really cheating? Remember when the prime argument was “getting some head isn’t cheating”? Bill Clinton took that one right out the window. But technology has ushered in a new avenue. Skype sex via computer (ew…creepy), mobile Facetime, text messages, videos sent with one click – there’s 100 ways to pretend-fuck a person. So, is sexting the new not-really-cheating?

Do those actions count if they’re not REALLY happening, just being discussed? Fantasized about? Collaboratively acted out across ISDN lines, rather than on satin sheets? Still, it seems almost impossible to defend the notion that a whole fling can happen with two parties never meeting in person or feeling a single warm touch.  But somehow…can it?

The dictionary defines “cheat”:

“to defraud, swindle; to elude, deprive of something expected; to violate rules or regulations”.

In relationships and marriages, there’s an expected amount of fidelity implied by the status itself. Flirting is usually the toughest non-physical threat to that unspoken promise. Can relationships handle an onslaught of cyber booty? Are we supposed to “update the relationship model” to accommodate it? Or is monogamy grandfathered in to all future technological communication mediums?

For me… I think anything that would make your partner feel hurt or betrayed by expressed affection or desire toward someone else…just might count. If I pledge fidelity to you, I shouldn’t be recreationally talking about breaking that fidelity with him with the casual defense “it’s nothing – we never met”. The mental connection, the desire to do what you’re speaking of…sometimes that is realer and more powerful than any physical touch can be.

Ultimately, I think each relationship has to define “cheating” for itself. Every partnership has its own boundaries to set, and decide what falls outside of them. One man’s harmless flirting is another man’s blatant sexting. And while you can’t say with certitude what your partner will feel about it if you get caught, just know that they CAN say with certitude if that’s your wang or not. Think about it before you press “send”!