Doug was engaged to be married in two weeks.  He was sitting at his fiancés computer, looking to find addresses to send early thank you notes when it happened.  Doug “accidentally opened” the email that changed everything in an instant. “Joe, thanks for sending me those pics last night.  They were even sexier then the ones you sent before.  I’m sure I’ll be thinking about you and those pictures tonight as I drift off to sleep with a smile on my face..  I’ll call you tomorrow after work on my drive home.”

Stunned, sickened and panicked, Doug confronted Amy over the phone while she was at work.  She was home in fifteen minutes and in a marathon fight that last until midnight Amy denied having an affair.  She said she’d met Joe online in a chat forum and had never even met him in person.  She wasn’t even sure Joe was his real name.  Amy explained the stress associated with the upcoming wedding was killing her and she was just mindlessly browsing the web when she stumbled into this chat with her new online “friend”.  At first they talked about day to day stuff, even the wedding plans.  But after a couple of weeks it turned flirtatious, and after a couple more, sexual.  She urged Doug to read the emails so he would believe her.  As painful as it was to read the sexually charged correspondence, Doug read far enough to believe they’d never met.  However, although they decided not to call off the wedding, Doug moved into the spare room.  Too humiliated to face it he told no one!  Fifteen days later he stood at the alter, all smiles.  Fast forward nine months to today.  Amy and Doug are in couples counseling.  The outlook is shaky at best.

This leads us to the question that is facing more of today’s couples than can possibly be estimated.  Is an internet fling or flirting cheating??  My answer is simple, that answer is totally up to you.  If you find out your mate has been heating up the internet with another man and it bothers you, which I’m fairly sure it will, then yes, without a doubt, that’s cheating.  The idea of “finding out” itself, indicates that there was hiding of the truth involved in the first place.  If your woman knew you wouldn’t dig it, so she hid it in the first place, then even she knew it was cheating – no matter what she says about how innocent it was.  If you are one of the very small minority of men out there that would not be bothered by this behavior, who would shrug it off, then you wouldn’t be asking this question in the first place.

Cheating used to be very black and white.  However these days a lot of men would like to think the internet has created a million shades of grey.  I beg to differ.  I think cheating is still black and white.  I think it’s fairly easy to define as a behavior that creates feelings of emotional or sexual betrayal.  I think men and women know when they are cheating, almost always confirmed by their hiding the behavior in question.  Now, I know, women do bad things too.  However, statistically men are much more likely to engage in “internet affairs”.  Not to mention many real world physical affairs start online and men who engage in questionable online behavior are vastly more likely to have a “real” affair.

So, in the end, only you know the answer.  Is it cheating?  Ask yourself one thing, “does it feel OK to me?”  If the answer to that question is no, then your answer is, yes, she is cheating.  Don’t cut her any slack on interpretation of the rules.  Trust me, in her heart of hearts, she knows it’s cheating too.