Is It Really Cheating?


As a counselor, I frequently hear these statements: “I didn’t realize I was being unfaithful!” and “Why is my spouse is so upset? Nothing physical happened.”

Touching, oral sex, or intercourse are not the only paths to cheating. There’s a path to emotional intimacy that’s created through the cyber communication of Facebook messages, emails, or texts.

According to B. Smith in Monitor on Psychology, “People often feel more comfortable revealing intimate details of their lives to relative strangers because the relationship exists only in cyberspace. Things happen so quickly online. Some people really begin to think the other person is in love with them. They develop this intimacy and fantasy relationship. The cool thing about fantasy relationships is they don’t require any work.”

You might read this and say, “How is a cyber relationship being unfaithful?” There are three key words in this quote that reveal the point at which your heart starts to travel away from your marriage–revealing, intimate, and details.

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Maybe you’ve heard about a friend, family member, or coworker who reconnects with an old high-school flame. Their conversations start out innocently enough as they catch up on past and current events. But then a subtle shift occurs in their conversations. One person starts asking for advice on how to deal with a husband who works crazy hours or a wife who’s constantly on the run with volunteer activities. The hidden message becomes, My spouse doesn’t know me, care for me, or love me. Feeling sorry for this old flame, the other one decides to reveal a few of their own marital difficulties. And suddenly, without warning, they’ve created a sense of intimacy and a feeling that finally someone understands their frustrations. Justification races through their thoughts: I’m not really cheating–we haven’t touched each other.

 Scripture provides additional insight into expelling the “no intercourse means no infidelity” defense: “You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt” (Matthew 5:27-28, MSG).

How do you know you’re headed into risky cheating territory that could harm your marriage?

  • If there were a camera recording your activity, and the tape was shown to your spouse, parents, brothers and sisters, or pastor, would you be embarrassed?
  • You’re discussing problems you’re having in your marriage.
  • You’re hiding your online activity from your spouse.
  • Throughout your day, all you can think about is the other person.
  • You’re taking photos of yourself to send out.
  • You’re sharing your emotions, struggles, concerns, fantasies and dreams with someone other than your spouse.

If you have to ask, “Is it really cheating?” your words reveal the real heart of the matter. What you’re really asking is, “How much can I get away with and not have my spouse find out?”

  • Rhonda Mae Monks

    Excellent information. It is so easy to slip into something you never intended. We must pray every day that our hearts and minds are guarded.

  • healing

    Speaking from the spouses point of view, I can tell you from experience that the problem is often seen by the spouse even before the situation becomes “cheating”. I tried desperately to tell my spouse and my close friend of both of ours, that what they were doing was wrong. The intimacy the two of them were sharing with each other was headed down a path that could soon destroy 2 families and a ministry that had taken a great deal of time to build. Both of them were blind to what was happening. They could not see the damage that those “innocent” texts, disguised as “ministering” to each other, were causing to both families. This kind of damage is rarely able to be overcome and repaired once it occurs. The intimacy that is being shared with the other person outside of the marriage had to be taken from the spouse where it belonged in order to be shared with someone else. There can be nothing good at the other end of that road when someone decides to shut their eyes and deceive themselves into thinking that they are the one person who can keep themselves in check. God said there is nothing new under the sun that we can be tempted with and He Himself will give us the way out, if we choose to seek Him first in all things. This innocent connection between the 2 of them did lead to an adulterous relationship and if not for the powerful Grace and Mercy of God that both I and the other spouse chose to reveal in forgiveness, the enemy would have been victorious in his efforts to destroy 2 more families as well as a strong Christ based ministry that has served thousands over the years. The healing that needs to be completed for all that are involved is not yet done but God is walking us all down the right path for His purpose and hopefully one day this too can be used for His Glory. I ask that if you are involved in an emotional affair (that is what this innocent displacement of intimacy is) end it now. Better for the other person to be hurt, yet saved from what awaits them at the other end of this if it is allowed to continue, than to let it be your spouse, your marriage, your children, your ministry, and your walk with Christ that end up being the casualties of fleshly lust. If you are the spouse and you see what is happening, speak up in Love, fight for your marriage. sometimes that is all your spouse needs to know is that you care enough about them to fight for them.

  • been there

    If you have to ask yourself if what you’re doing is “cheating” then the answer is YES!!! Put yourself in your spouses shoes… have taken intimate information (that doesn’t belong to ANYONE ELSE other than you and your spouse) and GIVEN it to someone else! Imagine if the person you just “gave” intimate details about you and your spouse, decided to tell your spouse everything you told them! Speaking from the standpoint of the BETRAYED spouse it would have hurt less if they had stuck a knife in your heart! It’s only a heartbeat away to the physical aspect of CHEATING! If you find yourself in this situation RUN don’t walk as fast as you can! Put as much distance between yourself and the “FRIEND”!
    There is no ” MIDDLE GROUND” in a situation like this. You have already committed a SIN by even thinking about opening the door to any type of Emotional Sharing with anyone other than your spouse! I can’t even begin to explain the DEVASTATION and PAIN a so called Friendship of tbis nature causes. Once you “SHARE” intimate details you can’t ever take it back! Just as Eve couldn’t just spit the bite of the apple out and act as though NOTHING happened. It’s JUST NOT WORTH IT!!!!!