Is Sexting Cheating?

A recent survey found that the majority of participants (a whopping 85% of women and 74% of men) believed sending sexual or flirty messages was considered cheating.

The majority of people believe it is cheating because they know it hurts their partner and they are hiding their contact with the other person. Why are they hiding it? Because they know it’s wrong.

The biggest problem with cheating isn’t the sex, nor is it the other woman or man, nor is it the form it comes in — whether it’s flirting, ‘friending’ someone on Facebook, getting emotionally connected to someone else, or actually sleeping together. The biggest problem with cheating is going outside the relationship for something that is supposed to be met inside the relationship.

Almost everyone texts, and texting in and of itself is neither good, bad or cheating. It becomes cheating when we’re sharing something with someone else that belongs only to our partner — our bodies, intimate thoughts and feelings, or parts of our lives that we committed to our partner. No one should have to compete with another for their significant other’s affection, real or virtual.

If you’re sending any kind of sexual message to someone other than your spouse that’s a conscious choice. There’s a degree of thought that goes into composing a sext, however fleeting, and enough time for you to think, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t do this.’

This issue is wide open for the hypothetical “if the circumstances were reversed” question. It can be largely agreed upon, however, that if you don’t want your spouse to see the texts that you are sending to other people then you’re having an inappropriate “relationship.”

We are all responsible for our own behavior as well as what we decide to put up with from someone else.  Certain behaviors are out of bounds in a marriage. You know, like sexting a “friend.” Everyone has to give up something for the warmth and care of a committed and loving partner.  It doesn’t mean you get to cheat on them in real life or in virtual life. Anonymous pictures, fantasies and thoughts are okay when contained. Cheating is when there is a real third person.

Everyone should know what is and is not okay with their partner. The most successful couples have a simple rule: if you wouldn’t do it in front of me, don’t do it. That leaves no room for grey areas or arguments.

Individuals have their own definition of what constitutes cheating – which is why you need to spell out, specifically, what counts as infidelity for you when you’re in a monogamous relationship. Ask yourself this ‘What would my partner think, if they could see me right now?” Doing whatever it is they’re doing.

If their partner wouldn’t like it then it’s considered cheating. Even though there’s no physical contact, sexting is still sharing intimate, sexual words or images with someone other than your partner. Whether or not you actually sleep with the person you’re sexting with, your partner is going to be just as hurt as if you actually had consummated the affair. Whatever the act is, if it makes one spouse uncomfortable, unhappy, or feeling betrayed, then it is wrong.

Men are radar-like when it comes to being threatened by other men sexually hitting on their woman. Men know there is nothing platonic about suggestive sex. When he’s messaging something sexual then there’s a problem. He’s emotionally invested in the idea of sleeping with her.

There’s only so much online flirting a woman can take before it’s unforgivable. Women will forgive a lot, but they will never forgive a shady inbox with flirty or explicit messages. You may as well just have sex with them. Because that’s what you’re trying to get, isn’t it? Isn’t the groundwork just as harmful as the deed?

He may say that you had no right going through his phone. And, you had no right going through his phone. There has to be some trust, and some level of respect for one another in a marriage. But, where do you draw the line in your marriage over privacy? What limits do you have when you suspect something is not right? He brought the suspicion on himself by doing something out of routine, such as checking his phone all the time. Hiding things, doing things he shouldn’t, and looking guilty while doing it. Your instincts kicked in, and you know something was not right.

“If you discover your partner is sexting other women online, confront him. If he lies, denies, or blames you for invading his privacy, you can be sure there is more trouble ahead.  If he owns up to his misgivings and shows genuine remorse, regret, and begs to get the help, then you’ve got a shot for the future. Once a person is caught sexting, their partner is entitled to ask to see their phone or online messages on a regular basis. Everyone has a right to privacy, but once trust has been broken and the couple wants to work together to reconcile, the cheater will have to make their partner feel comfortable again, which may involve giving them access to the phone that enabled the relationship rift in the first place.” Dr. Fran Walfish, psychotherapist.


Personally I believe any kind of sexual suggestion to another in a text is just as disloyal as physical fling. Since it involves a recipient, it’s a way of being sexually intimate with another person, and that’s cheating.

If I found out my husband was sexting another woman – whether it was subtle innuendos or overtly sexual messages –  my marriage would be over. Sexting another woman crosses a sexual and emotional boundary and I’m not sure I could forgive that action. I know I couldn’t.

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