People are drawn to online environment for many reasons, the main one being utilizing the convenience of these sites to connect with a potential love interest. More and more singles are going online, whether their aim is to find a long-term partner, or they’re looking for a website that will arrange a casual encounter sooner rather than later. But the ability of contacting other site users via a web browser also has a downside. Not everyone forming an Internet relationship is a single. This raises various questions. If you’re already in a relationship but still choosing to connect with others via a dating site, are you actually cheating?
The nature of online dating
Where does online infidelity start? That’s sometimes difficult to quantify. People using dating sites will get in touch with any number of strangers in the online environment, exchanging flirty messages, or simply sending a ‘wink’ to someone who has caught their eye. The latter is the virtual equivalent of strolling into a crowded bar and smiling at someone you find attractive. This is hardly the same as a steamy affair. Sometimes dating websites or social media sites serve a social function, allowing individuals who share hobbies or passions to interact regularly and widen their friendship circle. But as with most areas concerning human relationships, even where the parties aren’t actually in physical contact, there are red lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
The symptoms of online infidelity
One aspect of Internet dating that makes it so much more exciting than the traditional versions – typified by blind dates or hanging around in singles bars – is the way site users can choose who they contact. If there’s no way of knowing much about someone’s personality, then physical attraction become the prime motivator. This is taken to the Nth degree by some dating apps that are purely focused on looks, inviting users to swipe past anyone who doesn’t meet their high standards. If you’ve homed in on one particular site user to start messaging, is it purely because you think they’re good-looking? Suppose your ‘real-life’ partner was to enter the room, would your automatic reaction be to quickly close the laptop, or shove your smartphone into a pocket?
The problem with online infidelity is that a lot of people don’t think of it as cheating at all. They might look upon it as the 21st-century equivalent of touching base with a penpal. But it’s not like that at all. It’s all-too-easy for site users to become obsessive about someone they’re messaging on a regular basis. They might spend a lot of time away from their actual partner, contacting this ‘penpal,’ and providing excuses for being out of the room, or for continually deleting their search history. And it’s one thing to message somebody you shouldn’t really be messaging. That’s the thin end of the wedge.