Online Cheating Sites and Infidelity-The Ashley Madison Relationship Impact
There were lots of statistics that came out of the announcement by the Impact Group when Active Life Media the parent company of AshleyMadison.com would not take down the online cheating site. The Impact Group was releasing personal information about the site’s users. There are several companies who created handy websites in an attempt to make it easier to verify online cheating on the site by searching to see if you or your significant others email was in the database. You can easily search by email address.( Use with caution as one such site started spamming users.) The Washington Post is doing a great job of keeping everyone updated. Another issue is that email addresses were not verified by Active Life Media. Of course these folks using the site were on the down low. So there is no telling how many people used their boss’s/brother-in-law’s/neighbor’s email address or just grabbed a random one from somewhere. One of the most amusing statistics was about the number of government employees using their work emails. I am sure they were not all fake. While the internet, social media and phone technology have made cheating even easier and feasible over longer distances; it has also made the ability to catch a cheater much easier as well. The information technology trail of GPS systems and phone logs are very accessible. At the pinnacle of all this technology , the premier online cheating site was Ashley Madison. The online cheating membership site which was designed for confidentiality and bringing infidelity to men and women across the internet. For someone such as myself who is a proponent of maintaining both a joint and individual bank accounts; a cheating spouse buying credit could have quite an easy time for men in such enlightened relationships. But then again if he only looked and never actually met anyone is it still cheating? So many of the female account holders were fake profiles created by the Impact Group. Of course who was there to come forward and ask for a refund. “Not I,” said many a married man. Which brings up my main point of my writing. How do you define cheating?
The Definition of a Cheat
Webster’s Online Dictionary has the following definitions of cheat:
- to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something
- to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule
- to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get
So looking at those definitions, where does cheating online,chatting or browsing online fit in? The thing that gets kind of complicated for couples is that no one really talks about how they define what it is to cheat or what the rules are. So while there are some very obvious forms of cheating such as a full-fledged affair complete with secret sex meetings and exchanges of devotion; technology can leave some grey areas around “chatting and shopping” online.
Here are a few scenarios to contemplate:
- You are on a business trip and meet an attractive stranger. He buys you several drinks and flirts with you for several hours. He asks to friend you on Facebook. Is this cheating?
- You have a “work husband”. You tell him everything including things about your sex life, you go to lunch often, and he often picks up the tab for you at happy hour. You tell him things you don’t even tell your significant other. Is this cheating?
- You regularly turn the other cheek about your husband’s porn habit. You recently saw a match.com pop up and he says he is just looking at the pics. Some of the photos women put in their profile are pretty racy. Is this cheating?
In all of these scenarios, No one exchanged any bodily fluids. There was no need for contraceptives. So technically no one cheated. However, how would you or your significant other feel about these situations.
The Ashley Madison Opportunity
So what The Impact Group really gave us wasn’t personal data and an unfiltered email list; but instead we have an opportunity to open the dialogue about what cheating is for each couple, especially online cheating where things tend to get a bit grey. Just like other decisions in our lives, we can’t do what is right for everyone else we have to do what is right for us. No one else is walking our journey. So it is important to be vocal about what online cheating is to you and make your partner feel it is okay to do the same.
If you are okay with your significant other chatting or flirting on FB that is really only between the two of you. If your husband doesn’t believe in the concept of emotional infidelity; then he won’t think there is anything wrong with your “work husband” or having a peeping tom match.com account and therefore he won’t think of himself as anddoing any online cheating. Neither of you will know this until it may be too late, that is if you don’t talk about it. Insecurity and fear often keep people from asking. They may be afraid they are planting a seed. Just know it’s okay if you find out about something that doesn’t match between what your ideas about infidelity are and those of the one you love. It is better to find out and reach an agreeable compromise before someone steps over a line they didn’t know exists and it changes your relationship forever.
Esther Perel did a TED talk recently on infidelity and rethinking what it does in a relationships. I hope it is as thought povoking for you as it was for me.
For more relationship information and food for thought connect with me.
Until next time