Is chatting or flirting online considered cheating?
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I don't think anything above the waist is cheating. And in the immortal words of Fallout Boy's Peter Wentz, nothing above the waist is gay, either.
I'm just kidding. (Or am I?) I can guarantee you this much: If you ask two happily married people who've been together for 20 years this question, you will get an entirely different answer than you would if you asked anyone who is single and can't figure out why they aren't married yet. And that's because of two things. One is that people get married before they are even mature enough to understand what marriage is, and the second is that too many people have ridiculous expectations of their mates. I'm not skirting your question. I'm just taking a long way to get there. Stay with me, it'll make sense soon.
There are tons of people that want to get married. It's not that they have met someone they imagine spending the rest of their lives with. It's not that they even really understand the facts of the matter, like how long the next 70 years is going to me. To them, marriage is an item on a checklist. They have an agenda. They have a rigid plan for what they claim they want out of life, before they've gone out into the world and done any actual living. They want to be married by a ridiculously young age, and to make it worse they want to have kids they can't afford and don't have a clue how to raise. No real thought, energy, or intelligence goes into this. They just want what they want.
The shitty thing is that society encourages this asinine behavior. Everyone from their parents to their friends push the issues asking, when are you going to get married. What happens is, if you're one of those people that gets married for the stupid reason of the agenda, before you're mature enough, before you really know the kind of person you should be marrying, before you're actually ready…. I guarantee you, you will wind up in a situation where one of you is cheating, or seriously contemplating doing so.
That's because you change. You grow. Your brain develops. Seriously, your brain is not fully developed at 21. And neither is your spirit, or your personality. The person you are at 22 is a far cry from the person you are at 28. Let alone 35. It is unrealistic and impossible to expect a person you chose at 23 to be the right person for you at 43. That's the facts.
the most realistic way I can answer your question is to consider it regarding the majority of people who got married way too young and for the dumbest reasons. And in that regard, lordy no. Online flirting is not cheating. And that's because the majority of those marriages end in misery and divorce, and the cheating is much more elaborate. It's emotional, and purposeful. It's secret bank accounts and real full-on sexual encounters. So god no, if all your partner is doing is masturbating with the computer, who the hell cares? Consider yourself lucky.
A better question might be, can online flirting and chatting lead to real cheating? And that's an excellent question. Let's put it this way. Consider that stand in the grocery store with the cut up little cheese puffs and the smiling hostess that hands you a free sample and says, 'Try this!' You take your little cheesy poof and smile and nod and think, hmmm if I can hit 3 or 4 more free sample plates, I don't have to spring for lunch. It's the same as online chatting and sexy flirting. If the seeker can satisfy his craving online, then the odds are pretty good he's not going anywhere. He's just going to masturbate at home with the use of a webcam or chat dialogue or some sexy emails. Big Whoop.
Is it possible that after you have the cheese puff you think to yourself, wow that was good. I'm going to buy those? Yes of course that's a possibility. It's just not the majority of people. Most people want to try something. They don't want to extend themselves, or commit to something, they just want to taste a cheesy poof. In regard to those people that go into a chatroom and start sexy camming and chatting, and then wind up taking the next step and making real life dates and rendezvous, do your really think the reason is the flirting? Let's talk about logic here. If you like cheese and puffs, the odds are one day you will buy yourself some cheese puffs. The free sample did not make you suddenly want cheese and puffs. Your taste for it was already there.
If someone is unhappy in their marriage, and they're so attention/sex/affection starved or unattracted to their partner that they're considering cheating, going into a chat isn't going to be the 'reason' they began cheating. It was merely a step, and most likely it was a decent one, to see if maybe they could deal with just putting another band aid on their misery. If the band aid failed, if it wasn't enough, and they decide to go outside of their marriage for satisfaction, you can't blame that on the chatroom. So in my opinion, no. Chatting and flirting online isn't actually cheating. And it doesn't 'lead' to cheating either. If anything, it may prevent it. As always, I recommend try talking to your mate about this before you legally bind yourselves together. If you two disagree on this or any of the big life issues like having kids, money issues, where to live, etc, then don't get married to that person. Problem solved.