Published in Uncategorised by Yessica Apolo from Marriage Care on October 14th 2021
Technology allows us to interact sexually with people online. Although this may seem different to in 'real life', there is reason to think that doing so carries similar emotional weight.
Virtual sex is usually where two or more people interact through a communications device (e.g. smartphone, tablet or a computer) in a way that is sexually explicit. It’s mostly been defined as ‘interactive’, meaning that there is usually a partner involved, although some people count individual activities as virtual sex. It can include:
It’s important to know that cheating (both on - and offline) has different meanings depending on who you ask; there doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all definition. Some people may think of cheating as having sex with someone other than their partner, whereas others may include flirting, keeping secrets, or having a strong emotional connection with someone outside of your relationship in their definition. For more information see our ‘it is only online – can it be cheating?’ page.
Cheating (both on- and offline) has different meanings depending on who you ask; there doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all definition
Studies have shown that partners of people who secretly engage in virtual sex experience great emotional distress, including a sense of betrayal, when they found out. Many people have reported that they consider the behaviour as serious as a traditional affair and it could have a negative impact on their relationship. Despite this, it’s important to remember that everyone’s definition of cheating is different. If you’ve had a conversation with your partner about what you both consider to be appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in your relationship, then you may already have an idea of how they will react.
If you are involved in any activity that could be considered virtual sex and you are worried that you may be cheating, it’s probably worth thinking about a few things:
To see the full list of research references which have informed the content on this page, please see our research references section.