Sweets brought up an issue that I’ve often blogged on before. In short, would online ‘hijinks” be considered cheating on a partner? (http://idodgebullets.blogspot.com/2009/01/white-horse.html)
First and foremost, if BOTH partners are open and honest and have incorporated that type of “play” into their primary relationship, then that is their prerogative and I would NOT consider it cheating. Specifically, if one partner is indulging time, emotion and effort into a relationship online without the other partner’s knowledge, fully cognizant that IF the partner discovered it they would be impacted negatively, then it IS cheating.
I got into a big debate a few months ago about this and spent a lot of time thinking about it - people argued back and forth, some saying it wasn't as if bodily fluids were exchanged, others perceived online interactions as similar to interactive porn ... not really "real".
Yet an emotional betrayal can be as devastating (if not more so) than a more standard type of affair.
I think if you look at it logically and break it down, that is hard to argue.
If your relationship is actually just physical (and don't get me wrong, if that turns your crank, more power to you) - then maybe this type of interaction won't impact you unduly.
But to me, ,most relationships are far more complex than that - the physical is a factor, of course (I could never have a strong love relationship without the physical), but more importantly, there are emotional and spiritual elements to a relationship that cannot and should not be ignored. To emotionally freeze out your partner and share those emotional aspects of your day to day life, to confide in virtual strangers your intimate thoughts, worries and dreams is (to my mind) cheating – and often very indicative of something missing in your real time relationship.
ALL relationships - I don't care what kind - take work - sometimes lots of work and the longer term the relationship the easier it is to fall into a rut - to forget why you were with that person in the first place. Everyone needs to remind themselves to stop, think and REMEMBER WHY they were with their partner in the FIRST place. It is particularly easy to lose sight of the importance of your primary relationship when life gets in the way - children are a great way to lose touch, for instance - as the two of you become caught up in the day to day realities of making a living and dealing with the minutiae of a child's (or children's) life.
Ultimately, if you are sharing parts of yourself with a stranger instead of with your partner, face up to it and either work at rekindling your relationship or let go and get out.
Which of course is one of my own personal peeves; if your primary relationship is so unhappy or you are lacking some essential element so thoroughly that your life is unfulfilling and bleak beyond tolerance, then END it and move on.
I'm not saying people can't have friends nor that it is wrong to bitch to your friends about certain things that piss you off about your partner. EVERY relationship has its ups and downs; the moments when life is perfect and ones where you look at your partner and go “WTF was I THINKING of?” That is (in my opinion) a “normal” relationship, the point being that people in a committed dynamic at some point recognize that they need to take a reality check, to step back, take a deep breath and say, ok, I fell in love with him/her BECAUSE and then start remembering why ...
But, I'm talking about scenarios where precious time (for most of us in short supply) is spent on the nurturing and care of a relationship that starts to loom as very important in your mind. Because, bottom line, time spent playing online (sexually but also emotionally) is ultimately time spent AWAY from your partner – time wasted online is time NOT spent on working on the relationship you DO have.
Again, I want to reiterate - I do not think anyone should be with someone very moment of every day - I am independent, D. is independent - you can have varying interests, friends, things you do that don't involve the other.
But, the things that SHOULD be part of your interaction with your partner should be with that partner - not with an online stranger.