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Tales from the Sexual Underground
Cyber Infidelity
by Rick Reed
2003-02-05

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Good Lord, you'd think those of us in relationships, especially gay male relationships, would have enough to worry about without the advent of a new kind of infidelity. But type the phrase 'cyber infidelity' in on the Google search engine and you'll come up with a

plethora of information on this new fangled way to betray your mate.

So what is cyber infidelity? Savvy web users probably don't have to be told, but I would define it as getting it on virtual style on the Internet. You may have a honey in an AOL chatroom, you may cruise the ads on barebackcity.com, you might wile away the hours chatting with other guys who, er, display their wares and wants on m4m4sex.com . However you do it, you have eschewed corporeal reality for virtual. You have made a bold stance to satisfy yourself with an electronic embrace over a more warm-blooded connection.

The question here is: is this really cheating? If my boyfriend, let's call him Stan, is cruising the chat rooms, message boards, and picture postings of various Internet sex sites, does that mean he's being unfaithful? I'm not sure. I suppose it would depend on how you define infidelity. I know I would feel a little bit better if Stan were only communicating with other men over a computer modem or DSL line, rather than communicating with them down at Steamworks, but still, I might wonder why he needed to communicate like this at all. Some people say the titillation they get from this kind of 'intercourse' is no different than what they might get from watching porn and beating off. Certainly, the object of their 'affection' at the moment isn't their partner, but porn and cyber infidelity do have one important difference: porn is one-sided, cyber infidelity is not. It takes two to tango in cyberspace.

And therein lies the danger, boys and girls. Cyber infidelity, I suppose, can be a perfectly acceptable sexual outlet for committed couples, as long as it goes no further than manipulating a computer keyboard and, on the odd occasion, one's own genitalia. But cyber infidelity presents a real danger of leading to good old-fashioned infidelity. My old priest would say that cyber infidelity leads to an 'occasion of sin' (something Catholic priests seem to know more than a little about!). Because it takes two to chat in a chat room, exchange GIFS, and e-mail one another, these exchanges open the door to more covert, and tactile, exchanges. Oscar Wilde once said that the only way to conquer temptation is to yield to it.

My opinion: infidelity is infidelity … it's sex outside of what you've agreed to in your relationship. Sex. Not chatting in a chat room. Not e-mailing a stranger with XXX-rated GIFS and naughty fantasies. But if your goal is to take your vow to your partner seriously (whatever that vow is, I'm not suggesting anything is more proper than anything else here), then cyber infidelity can be dishonest and it can lead to even more dishonesty and, eventually, with temptation, cyber infidelity can so easily lead to the real thing.

And that's where you might find yourself getting 'booted.' You know what I mean.

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