by Pierre Le Roux
The Internet has become an important part of most people’s lives, but apart from being a useful tool it also could have a dark side that could threaten relationships. With social networking sites, pornography and chat sites a thin and blurred line has been drawn between what is considered to be faithful behavior in relationships and what is not. Recent conversations and some shared experiences on the Internet by my friends and I, and debating the issue of fidelity with reference to the Internet it repeatedly raised the question – Is cyber flirtation and cybersex or browsing pornography cheating?
Like so many people, I spend a good couple of hours everyday on social networking sites chatting to my friends, reading my message and participating in discussions. Every now and again the inevitable message from a stranger pops up asking “ASL”. Being blond I needed a friend to explain to me “ASL” stands for “Age Sex Location”. Usually my first though is “Haven’t you read my profile?” Usually I responded and the next question that follows is “Are you gay & single?” Which brought me back to my previous question combined with wondering whether this person is illiterate, retarded or just lazy? A number of times I fell into the trap of pursuing these kinds of chats and most times they always ended up with some kind of proposition for cybersex, reference to penis size and/or other forms of cyber sexual behavior –it annoys me especially when I am actually in the middle of doing something important! So now I just snub these kinds of messages.
I have never quite understood cybersex or what people get from it – even having a lively imagination myself! I just don’t comprehend how sexually charged discourse typed on a cold keyboard between 2 strangers can culminate in an orgasm. Besides, on the Internet people can create a whole new persona for themselves, and you never can really be sure whether you are chatting to a hot young sex god or whether it’s a vile sex crazed predator. A psychopathic killer who in the basement of his house has a pit, a bucket, some lotion and a white poodle and once he has lured and trapped you there utters the ominous words “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again” – the lambs will never not stop screaming for neither Clarice nor you!
In my opinion a distinction should be made between cybersex and cyber flirting. To me flirting, like in real live, can be an innocent act of being friendly in a sexy way without crossing the line. However, once flirting advances into action it can be considered cheating. My foolproof rule relating to both are when in doubt just ask yourself 1 simple question “How would I feel if my partner were doing this and I found out?” The other good way at preventing being solicited into cyber flirting or coerced into cybersex is not accepting chats or friend requests from people whose profile pictures are of their genitals – duh?! That too I learned the hard way and have since either deleted them from my friend list or blocked them! As all of them tend to favor the cybersex.
When it comes to pornography, the issue becomes a thorny one. Different people have different views on the issue. My personal view of porn is that I am more concerned about the people that star in them: I always wonder whether they grew up wanting to be porn stars, whether their parents know and if they are proud of their careers… But I digress… Some heterosexual women I have known are fervently opposed to having their partners even having pornography in their homes, and would not allow their partners to watch or read it. Many of my gay friends who are in new relationships also indicated that catching their partners watching or surfing porn on the Internet behind their backs troubles them. Is this due to insecurity or is it a form of cheating?
One of my old lecturers (a Prof of Criminology) did a research study on pornography and the exploitation of woman. She was in her early 60’s, married and had to watch a lot of porn as part of her research. We always joked behind her back that her husband probably couldn’t wait for her to bring her work home and we were all perturbed at imagining their sex life. I remembered asking her this question years ago and her answer was fascinating. She said that men and women who are bothered by their partners watching porn may feel that way due to insecurity, as they feel they have to live up to expectations created by the images in the pornographic material, it provokes self-image issues and it challenges their inhibitions. Especially women ends up feeling inferior as they perceive themselves as not being sexually arousing and sexually not being good enough for their partners; they could also feel insulted that the partners have to watch porn to get aroused. I think many gay people may feel the same way – it’s a human thing!
When it comes to pornography, in my opinion, it will depend on the 2 individuals in the relationship to make up their own minds on the issue. If your partner watching or wanting to watch porn makes you feel insecure, or uncomfortable the best advice would be to talk about it. Many couple use porn to spice up their sex life which can be healthy and good for their relationship. When one person in a relationship has to do it in secret and actively hides it, then it could be construed as cheating and damaging to the relationship.
The Internet is a great resource that we all have come to rely on. We have access to a magnitude of information; it’s made the world seem smaller and made our life more convenient. With the good also comes the bad. The Internet can also complicate relationships as new ways of interacting with people can now also compromise your relationship as a whole new spectrum of infidelity has been born from it. One can now have a passionate affair with some sitting on another continent and have passionate sex with that person without uttering a single moan or breaking a sweat. Whether this will have or has caused many relationships to break up, I don’t know, but as technology and we as a society evolve we have to adapt to all the challenges and opportunities. So is having a cyber flirtation and cybersex or browsing pornography cheating? This was my opinion, what is yours?
Till next time!