When Does Chatting Become Cheating – an interview with Dr. Sheri Meyers

loveu-podcast-episode-44

Friendships are great. Emotional affairs are trouble. If you’re sensing that something is “off” in your relationship because your partner is distant, secretive, critical, suddenly busy, working later hours, texting and Facebooking constantly, your suspicions may be justified. Join me on this week’s Love U Podcast where Dr. Sheri Meyers will share how to distinguish your fears from reality and begin the healing process.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jane

    Thank you so much for that podcast.   I just recently left a guy who I invested my entire life savings on a future with only to find out he was having those kind of chats that you were talking about and trying to tell me “it meant nothing”?!   Thank you so much for validating everything I felt with regards to it feeling like a betrayal.  It is a betrayal!  Needless to say our relationship never made it as he was unwilling to admit his mistakes and I’m just not okay with being betrayed.

  2. 2
    Dango

    Hey Evan —

    John Gray has some interesting things to say about Why people stray, and he doesn’t blame it all on the marriage or the partner. Interesting, isn’t it?

    John Gray says that if you’re unhappy in the sex / love department of marriage, you might simply need more development, and there are actually 9 other areas of self-development that one could turn to (before cheating) to satisfy that inner hunger: closeness to God, resolution of problems with parents, establish same sex friends, develop creative outlet, advance your career, relationship with your children, serve your community.

     

    Maybe try one of those areas first, before cheating, and see if the urge doesn’t go away.

    And probably if you were cheated on, you might find a relief in thinking that the cheating was partly your fault, because it means you can undue some of this horror that has just now happened, you believe that there is something you could do differently, so it doesn’t happen again. Maybe the above could help, too.

  3. 3
    Persephone

    Okay, then, what my husband accused me of is not even close to being cheating. I chatted on social media with a handsome male friend. In fact I probably chatted with about four handsome guys, each of whom I had prior to known in person from 6 months to 3 years. They seemed to sense that something was awry in my life. They were correct.

    My husband had become emotionally and verbally abusive, and was right at the tipping point where it was about to become physically violent. I would flee sometimes 10 o’clock  p.m. or 1 o’clock a.m., to avoid situations from escalating. I would park on an isolated country road to sleep in my vehicle for a couple hours (it was unsafe but it was more safe than being at home), and then go back home when I thought the dust might have settled.

    With numerous episodes of this, and a handful of police reports on file, I decided I’d had enough, and gave him papers that were prepared for an uncontested divorce. This escalated the situation.  As the necessity of fleeing late night continued, a handful of people, both men and women, would check on me through social media. Things narrowed down, as they often do, to one particular individual. He was very supportive of me.

    This brings me to one point. It seems to me that cheating would be where a secret type relationship is to the detriment of someone’s marriage or any relationship. My husband and I did not have a relationship, and we had a marriage in name only. Before any of you try to tell me that I’m rationalizing, I am not one for religious, moral, or social ills finger-wagging. I was in danger, both emotionally and physically.

    I sent a photo via private messaging on social media to my sisters. It was accompanied by a  comment on  how handsome my supportive friend is. My husband broke into my social media account and my email. He read these comments and saw the photograph, and he’s now accusing me of cheating. I say that this is not cheating. I say that his snooping is far worse than anything I did. I would never have been able to make it on those dark, lonely nights, alone and in tears, trying to sleep in my vehicle, without having a supportive person to chat with.

    I was not committed to my marriage at that point. I had made it clear to him before I begin chatting with my friend that I wanted a divorce, and that our relationship was over.

    1. 3.1
      Stacy2

      Why do you care about what your horrible piece of shit soon to be ex is accusing you of?

      1. 3.1.1
        Persephone

        Because, Stacy2, I live in a state where the legalities of a divorce could be affected, through “Equitable Distribution.”  The cause of the marriage disintegrating is one of the factors in determination of what is equitable.

        It also is for peace of mind.

        And lastly, it is for discussion purposes.  Why bother discussing anything at all depends upon whether or not we still care what our creepo exes think?  I believe someone might learn from my experiences in being able to argue what cheating is, and what cheating is not.

        1. KK

          Stories like this make me cringe. You just gave up all your bargaining power.

          You told him you wanted a divorce, but remained in the marital home and chatted up other guys. Not smart. He was smart enough to “get dirt on you” and will now use it to his advantage.

        2. Persephone

          ADDITION to comment above:  I would not had the emotional/mental strength to make it without, as you call it, “chatting up other guys.” Maybe if I had gotten on heavy duty anti-depressants.  I chose human interaction over prescription drugs.  And the thing that frustrates me is that I had similar conversations with female friends, who also offered a should to cry on.  I shared a photo of a female friend, also, telling my sisters I thought she was so kind and pretty and smart for a country girl.  The only difference is the gender.  Having to keep my conversations a secret is not a good marker for whether or not this is cheating, either, because I had to even keep conversations with my own sister a secret when it was mundane things such as how their day went.

        3. Stacy2

          It sounds like you need good legal advise because that is not what equitable distribution means (most states including mine use it) and it is more likely that hell freezes over than your silly facebook banter affects your property distribution in the divorce.

          In any case, the point i was trying to make – as i was somewhat in the same boat – stop worrying about what your ex thinks of you. Some people are just bad (yours sounds like one), you will never get them to see the error of their ways and feel remorse for how they treated you, so it’s better to not waste any mental energy on that at all. Your closure will come from within. Best of luck with getting rid of that ex.

        4. Persephone

          Thank you Stacey2, but I have gotten excellent legal advice, and I understand the concept of equitable distribution quite well.There is no set measure of what is fair and equitable. In my state, fault is considered by the Court in determining how to equitably divide the assets of the parties.  However, in some other equitable distribution states fault is not considered in property division. My state clearly uses a standard as follows

          Abuse or Infidelity – a spouse who has committed abuse or adultery may be “punished” for such acts by receiving less of the marital estate.

      2. 3.1.2
        Persephone

        Hi, KK. You make a valid point about leaving if this was the average individual.  I had other very compelling reasons for not leaving.  In my case it’s different because it’s a separate estate with  no intermingled funds when doing maintenance, and no proceeds of the estate intermingled with marital maintenance.  Any court would recognize the “prevention of economic spoilage”   I couldn’t force him to leave, either.

        1. KK

          If you didn’t do anything wrong, don’t worry about it. I had a friend in a similar situation who swore up and down she never did anything inappropriate on (you guessed it…) Facebook. Well, unbeknownst to her, her husband had put some sort of spyware or key-logger on the computer and printed out every single interaction she had with one particular person for months. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. When she did finally hire an attorney and told him she wanted a divorce because her husband had been verbally and mentally abusive, he asked her if there was anything he needed to know about her… Had she done anything that could be used against her. She said no. Nothing.

          During the discovery process, her attorney learned about her emotional affair through the evidence her husband had presented to his attorney, and he was pissed. He threatened to drop her case. She had zero evidence to prove her claims of emotional abuse. No eye witnesses, no recordings, nothing. Just her word against his. And guess who the judge believed?

          It affected her settlement and custody negatively. So, again, if you have nothing to hide, you’re fine. Get a good attorney and they will help you get this taken care of.

        2. Persephone

          Hi, KK.  I wish life was so simple that we didn’t have to worry about it if we did nothing wrong.  Innocent people are accused every day in all sorts of areas of life.

          Legally, the “Reasonable Expectation of Privacy” standard would make evidence obtained from  spyware being called “fruit of the poisonous tree”, and thus inadmissible in court.

          I live in a rural area, and my neighbors down the road can not only hear my husband yelling at me, but they also hear the content of the language. I have 4 police reports on file.

          But Yup.  You have advice that is good in general.  Happy Holidays.

        3. KK

          Persephone,

          I was strictly speaking from a legal standpoint. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about (legally in your divorce). From a personal standpoint, if he’s trying to ruin your name in your community, yeah, that sucks. You’ll get through it. I wish life was simple too. Since it isn’t, I try really hard not to make it more complicated than it has to be. 🙂

          The case I mentioned, the husband claimed he was checking up on their teenage daughter (legal) and oops! What has wifey been up to?!

          Anyhow, good luck and happy holidays to you! 

        4. Persephone

          Hi, KK.  Thank you for a great conversation.  I was actually speaking in legal terms.  In family courts, here is an example of how an innocent party might be accused so that the court believes the accuser:  a totally innocent mother is made to appear as child abusers by  alcoholic fathers who are abusive to their wife and children, but who also have deep pocket to buy many resources.  In one case I am thinking about, she has no resources because she and the children fled with little more than the clothes upon their backs.  The children are afraid of their father, so it’s twisted around to appear as “parental alienation.” Child protective services wrongly calls her abusive, because so called    “parental alienation” is so called child abuse.

          Yes, yes, yes, totally innocent parties are made to appear as abusers, adulterers, and much worse in divorce court.

        5. KK

          I get it. But even if she had to use a court appointed attorney, they should (hopefully) be able to defend her and represent her appropriately. If CPS gets involved it’s to see if the children are being taken care of properly. Food, shelter, clothing, no signs of physical, emotional, sexual abuse. Being accused of parental alienation is a separate issue; not something determined or investigated by CPS. If her attorney is half- way competent they will be able to present the case apprioprately.

          I have many friends and family members who practice law. Several specialize in family law. They see this all the time. Judges expect it. They know people sling mud during a divorce.

          So, in your case, I was honestly just trying to reassure you that if you haven’t done anything wrong not to worry. The courts rely on facts and evidence; not hearsay and allegations without proof to back them up.

        6. Persephone

          What does all this have to do with the topic?  ANSWER: to show how easily innocent people can be accused of things, and make it look believable to others.

          I don’t know what state you are in, KK, but I don’t know of any state that gives a party a court-appointed attorney in a divorce.  That is only in criminal cases where there is 6 months or more incarceration up at stake.  CPS gets involved b.c. someone called them and reported something. The attorneys in her case are both very competent (more than half-way), but the father’s family is one of the richest families in the USA–meanwhile the mother was flat broke after fleeing abuse. Many of the so-called “experts” on parental alienation claim it is emotional abuse.  The cases often get referred to a so-called “custody evaluator” who automatically and inappropriately bonds  with one party, usually the one with the money. CPS found, by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the totally innocent mother was guilty of “emotional abuse” because the children didn’t want to see their drunk father.  Yes, yes yes it happens.  You are living in a dream world, describing courts as they should be rather than as they are.

          Moral of the story:  allegations of infidelity can be serious!  Innocence will not save you!

        7. KK

          “What does all this have to do with the topic”?

          I was just responding to your response.

          “I don’t know of any state that gives a party a court-appointed attorney in a divorce”.

          Not in divorce, but in cases where child custody issues arise and the parent can’t afford an attorney, a court appointed attorney can be put on the case to represent the best interests of the child(ren). Of course, the by product is that they would be helping the mother.

          “CPS gets involved b.c. someone called them and reported something”.

          I know.

          “Many of the so-called “experts” on parental alienation claim it is emotional abuse”.

          That’s because it IS emotional abuse. But in your friend’s case, if she had a valid reason to fear for THEIR safety, and consulted a half decent attorney, like you said, they could’ve (should’ve) ordered an emergency custody hearing granting her temporary custody, until it could be decided if HER allegations were true. I’m sorry if your friend got screwed.

          “You are living in a dream world, describing courts as theyshould be rather than as they are”.

          Not at all. But I know the law well enough to know not to do stupid shit based solely on ’emotion’ then hope it doesn’t come back to bite me.

          I don’t know what state you live in, but where I live, no merit is given to anyone making a false accusation against you. If you do not have evidence (proof) it will not hold up in court.

          Allegations of infidelity ARE in fact, serious. But… They hold no weight if they can’t be proven.

        8. Persephone

          Hi, again, KK!  We are having one big discussion, eh?  Anyway, I disagree, yet again.  The “Best Interests Attorney” also known as Guardian Ad Litem, ain’t free, Hon. The mother will be in contempt of court if she doesn’t pay her half, even if she is too poor to have her own attorney.  No no not they are not helping the mother.  That’s in the world of the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where there are lollypops and rainbows, and unicorns that….. uh, well you know, something about rainbows. I better not complete that thought!

          Chances are, the Best Interests attorney makes some claim that the so-called Custody Evaluator/Social Worker is a professional and he/she will defer to them, instead of doing an independent assessment. So they bill hours just speaking to the so-called Custody Evaluator/Social Worker on the phone, not even meeting the children.  They are useless but empty baggage in the child custody case, and do nothing except needlessly drive up costs of a divorce.   If the mother has a valid reason to fear for a child’s safety, say for example multiple convictions on the father for DWI, and she complains, it will be twisted and called “parental alienation” if she complains.  The abuser gets his revenge and uses the courts to further abuse his ex.  It’s all on who the the so-called Custody Evaluator/Social Worker believes, and if they see “hate” in the mother’s eyes, that is enough.  The hate is more than likely fear after being beaten up for years by a drunk.  Sorry to be so glum, but it’s reality, man.

           

        9. Persephone

          KK, the emergency custody hearing is only in deprivation/dependency cases for Juvenile Court.  They do not permit one parent to file against another parent.  They send them to divorce court to do that. If the mom makes allegations of abuse, she is more than likely punished by the court system for “making false allegations.”  It’s messed up.

        10. KK

          “KK, the emergency custody hearing is only in deprivation/dependency cases for Juvenile Court”.

          That’s simply not true.

          You can seek emergency custody orders from your local court. The court in the county where a child lives typically has local jurisdiction in most emergency custody matters. If your child is in danger from the other parent, you can go to your county courthouse and request emergency temporary custody. Depending on the laws in your county, you may or may not have to appear before a judge. The court may place your child with you on a short-term basis and may not require the other parent’s appearance when it issues a temporary emergency order. However, judges usually schedule full court hearings to determine permanent custody orders, and these take place relatively quickly after granting temporary orders, so both parents will have an opportunity to present their side of the story to a judge. 

          “If the mom makes allegations of abuse, she is more than likely punished by the court system for “making false allegations.” 

          That’s bull. Punished how? Unfounded allegations are not punished. Why do you think so many men (innocent of being abusive) get so angry about the whole divorce process?

        11. KK

          “The “Best Interests Attorney” also known as Guardian Ad Litem, ain’t free, Hon. The mother will be in contempt of court if she doesn’t pay her half, even if she is too poor to have her ownattorney.  No no not they are not helping the mother.  That’s in the world of the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where there are lollypops and rainbows, and unicorns that….. uh, well you know, something about rainbows. I better not complete that thought!”

          I’m a little confused by your friend’s situation. You said she had no resources and then later said, she hired an attorney. If someone cannot afford an attorney, they can qualify for free legal aid. Ever heard of women’s shelters? If a woman is desperate enough to end up there, they will provide her with all kinds of information in order to help her. If someone can afford an attorney, legal fees are paid in advance, in the form of a retainer. If and when that retainer is depleted and new charges are incurred, a bill is sent to you and if you can’t afford to pay it in full, you make payments. If you fail to make any payments within a reasonable amount of time, the law firm can sue you and garnish your wages, if necessary. They do not charge you with being in contempt of court.

          “Chances are, the Best Interests attorney makes some claim that the so-called Custody Evaluator/Social Worker is a professional and he/she will defer to them, instead of doing an independent assessment. So they bill hours just speaking to the so-called Custody Evaluator/Social Worker on the phone, not even meeting the children”.

          It is their job to meet with the children.

          “If the mother has a valid reason to fear for a child’s safety, say for example multiple convictions on the father for DWI, and she complains, it will be twisted and called “parental alienation” if she complains. 

          Bullshit. That is not the definition of parental alienation and no opposing attorney is going to make that claim on that fact alone.

          “It’s all on who the the so-called Custody Evaluator/Social Worker believes”

          Yes, determined by facts.

        12. Persephone

          Dear KK.  I truly know what I am talking about.  There aren’t many around, but there are attorneys who will do pro bono cases.  The attorney fee on one would have been in excess of $30,000, yet it was pro bono.  Legal Aid is stretched to the max.  Only a small percentage of those who actually seek the assistance of Legal Aid  get it.

          No, it’s not the Best Interest Attorney’s job to meet with the children,  it’s their job to review what the Best Interests of the children are, not matter how they see fit to make that determination.

          I did not list the definition of parental alienation in any of my posts.  Many father’s rights groups try to use that to defend against allegations of abuse, even when they are valid allegations.  The psychologist who invented the term was a pedophile.  It is not in the DSM-V, and does not meet proper court standards.  Nonetheless, attorneys frequently try to use it, especially with a client whose family is wealthy.

          What you are saying simply cannot be done in my local court or anywhere in my state. Unless you are an attorney, and also in the same state as me, we should probably not be discussing legal procedures any more, because you are getting it very wrong. It could be that you are getting it right for your state, but not for my state.  I am not telling you my location.

        13. KK

          Yeah, that’s probably a wise idea. You can have the last word.

          However, I do feel compelled to correct what you said about Richard Gardner; the psychiatrist who coined the term ‘parental alienation syndrome’.

          You said, “I did not list the definition of parental alienation in any of my posts.  Many father’s rights groups try to use that to defend against allegations of abuse, even when they are valid allegations.  The psychologist who invented the term was a pedophile”.

          He was NOT a pedophile!

          He wrote a paper about atypical sexual behaviors, which included pedophilia, rape, and sadism. He did not condone any of them and said they were abhorrent. Colleagues joked about him being a pedophile because of the paper he wrote on the subject, even though he clearly expressed he did not condone it.

          Ironic, considering that you’re worried about being falsely accused of something. Sheesh!

  4. 4
    D_M

    I don’t know Evan, you folks are the relationship experts, but I wouldn’t advise someone to admit supposed emotional infidelity. You kind of alluded to it being sort of a suicide mission. The simple fact is we have no idea how our respective partners will internalize the revelation. Folks are better off saying, “I feel us drifting apart. What can I do to restore that close bond that we had? How can I consistently convey how import you are to me?” Hopefully, your other half recognizes that it is a two way street and reciprocates with similar questions.

    1. 4.1
      Persephone

      Yeah, but what happens when the spouse snoops into the online accounts of their partner?  In my case there was no “I love you.”  It was similar to friendships with females, except for gender.  He has always kept bank accounts, earnings, doctor appointments, new clothing purchases, ect secret from me.  If he finds I so much as ask my sister how her day went he goes ballistic, so secrecy isn’t the measuring stick.

      1. 4.1.1
        D_M

        Persephone,

        I’m not sure what you are actually asking me. If you are asking what happens when your other half presents you with information that could be interpreted as you being emotionally distant, I would say not to be dismissive of their feelings. It might sound contradictory given my previous statement, but I was advising against highlighting your emotional outlet without specifically being called out on it.

        1. Persephone

          Dear D_M, I am not asking you anything.  I was merely presenting a rhetorical question to all for discussion purposes. I already know the answer. His snooping is worse than anything I did.  I did nothing wrong, and I did not act untrustworthy. Considering the circumstances, it was fair to dismiss his feelings. I have feelings, too, but he dismissed mine, putting me in harms way mentally, emotionally, and almost physically.  I shouldn’t have to flee the house in my pajamas to seek out safety.    I merely had friends of a non-romantic nature of all ages and both genders–which under healthy circumstances should be cause for celebration instead of secrecy. I was not in a healthy marriage.  If he were a healthy, whole human being, he should not have gotten his feelings hurt by anything that I did.

          I have made that choice that I must be generally dismissive of his feelings, because that’s how divorce works.  That doesn’t mean I am going to be cruel.  If people don’t do this, they will never get through the divorce process.

    2. 4.2
      Nissa

      I disagree. I’ve been cheated on twice in long term relationships and that truth is a necessary part of the process. Without it, the cheater continues to rationalize, justify and deny what happened. Only by admitting all the behavior can both parties move forward. Without it, the cheater doesn’t have to deal with all the thoughts, feelings and needs that motivated the cheating in the first place. If the cheater is not willing to do that, it’s also a sign that they are less than committed to the process of making the relationship right.

      For the record, I would have stayed with both of the guys that cheated on me if they had confessed, acknowledged how hurtful they had been and made a commitment to repairing the relationship. Because they didn’t, the relationship could not heal & therefore ended.

      1. 4.2.1
        D_M

        Nissa,

        I think we have multiple layered discussions going on all at once. The first topic on the table is about emotional affairs. I can’t tell from your post whether you experienced just the emotional part without your previous partners progressing to the physical. I think what’s open for discussion is whether one believes that having intimate conversations with individuals other than your current significant other constitutes cheating. For me, that’s a gray area because I’m not bothered by my significant other having confidants, but can readily accept someone else’s objection to it.

        I don’t disagree with your point about clearing the air. My point was, I wouldn’t say, “Hey Nissa, I’ve  been relying on Suzie Q these last few months as my confidant because I feel we have been drifting apart”. You don’t know how someone will respond to hearing that, so why put it out there. In order to try and rekindle the flame after one realizes that they have been getting emotional support elsewhere. I suggested,  “I feel us drifting apart. What can I do to restore that close bond that we had? How can I consistently convey how import you are to me?”, without mentioning Suzie Q. If confronted about Suzie Q, I would address it and not be dismissive of your feelings.

        We all strive to have that person in our life that no subject is too taboo for discussion, but sometimes we pick up on subject matters that will inevitably cause conflict. I suspect that in those cases, people are just using the emotional confidant as a sounding board in order to figure out the least confrontational path forward. People always say that they want the truth, but not everyone can handle the truth.

        1. Nissa

          In both cases it started as a friendship and progressed to the physical. I’d say that in both cases they saw it as “just a co-worker” or “just a friend” and justified it all the way down that slippery slope. There was never an acknowledgement that regularly choosing to spend time with people other than your SO/spouse was a poor choice. I get what you are saying that not everyone wants to hear the truth, but I’ve seen it where the cheater uses that an excuse to avoid being accountable. As Evan’s speaker noted, it’s not the fact that they are having an emotional confidant. It’s the fact that they are making it secret, which shows that on the inside, they are aware that they have crossed the boundaries of appropriateness.

    3. 4.3
      KK

      D_M said, “I don’t know Evan, you folks are the relationship experts, but I wouldn’t advise someone to admit supposed emotional infidelity. You kind of alluded to it being sort of a suicide mission”.

      I actually agree with this. Someone who wants to take it to the next level (ie, physically cheating), isn’t thinking about how that will affect their partner. But someone who catches themselves and realizes they’re going down a slippery slope, should stop all contact and move on. Why hurt your spouse over something that is over, you’ve learned from it, won’t do it again? To me, it seems MORE selfish to relieve your guilty conscience by dumping this sort of confession on your spouse. So now, you can feel you’ve done the right thing and they get to feel crushed. Not to mention, what it could do to the future of your relationship. Just not a wise choice, in my opinion.

      1. 4.3.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        I’m pretty sure that’s why I called it “suicide.” In other words, you took a point of agreement and turned it into a point of disagreement. Magic!

        1. KK

          Come again??? I DO agree with you! Where did I say otherwise?

      2. 4.3.2
        Nissa

        If you’ve ever watched the commentary of a movie, you’ll notice a lot of actors and directors will reference deleted scenes and backstory that doesn’t actually make it into the movie. And they all say, “but it’s in there” – meaning that those interactions between the actors and reasons for behaviors informed other words and actions that did make it into the movie.

        It’s the same thing with relationships. It’s in there, whether the other person sees it or not. There’s been a betrayal. There have been multiple times where the cheater has made a poor decision, or a conscious decision to cheat. That’s a decision to deliberately hurt that person and the relationship when they could have made a choice that didn’t. Gottman calls these choices “turning away” and says they are a major sign that the relationship won’t make it. Those things hurt the relationship. BUT – if the cheater hides that, he’s hiding the very information that is needed to heal the relationship. Odds are that the cheatee feels something is wrong, is asking the cheater for more closeness and intimacy. The cheatee can’t help the cheater be more objective or find different ways to meet those needs, because he’s hiding the needs and how significant they are, as well as what he’s doing to meet the need.

        I guess I don’t see it as ‘suicide’ because when that happens, the cheater is even cheating himself of the possibility of having a open, trusting relationship. He’s cheating himself of the option of having a life where he doesn’t have to hide parts of himself. He’s cheating himself of having the security of being a team where no matter what life throws at you, you handle it together.

        I get what Evan is saying about some women feeling “you feel better and now I feel worse”. But to me that means she is more married to a fantasy than reality. That she’s saying she’d rather have a pretty lie than an ugly truth. The people I have known that were like that? weren’t nearly as invested in the relationship as they were in avoiding hurt. It fails to build real relationships and keeps their SO from having true intimacy with them. It’s a failure to accept a partner with all their flaws and the fact that they may have made a crappy relationship choice. I’d say that’s a failure on both sides.

        1. KK

          Nissa,

          I get where you’re coming from and respect your opinion. 100%.

          Whether you get married at 22 or 35, and plan on staying married ’til death do you part’, I think it’s naive to believe that you won’t go through stale periods, or disconnections, or whatever you want to call it. I think it’s naive to think that you will never face temptation in a 40, 50+ year time span. What’s important is how you deal with those temptations. If someone gives in and has a full blown affair, I think it’s clear to assume it’s a character issue. However, if someone starts edging down that slippery slope (getting too close with a co-worker or an online flirtation), recognizes it as the slippery slope it is, and stops themselves from getting further involved (physical affair), I think that actually shows character! But… I don’t think their spouse is going to give them a trophy for not fucking someone they’ve been chatting up and flirting with online for 3 months. They’re still going to feel hurt and betrayed. So why tell them?

          You said, “I get what Evan is saying about some women feeling “you feel better and now I feel worse”. But to me that means she is more married to a fantasy than reality. That she’s saying she’d rather have a pretty lie than an ugly truth”. 

          It’s already a fantasy if you think your spouse will never face temptation. It’s already a fantasy if you think you’re super close and connected and you aren’t.

          To me, it’s more important HOW you handle it when those temptations come. I get it. Your spouse(s) (boyfriends) failed the “test”. But what if they had had enough insight and yes, character, to stop it before it escalated? What if they had simply come to you and said I feel like we’ve been drifting apart and I want to feel close again? (1) Reality kicks in so your fantasy of how great things are is put to rest. (2) You get the opportunity to improve the relationship together. (3) You’ve avoided heartbreak by not ever knowing how close they came to actually straying.

        2. Nissa

          KK, what you are saying makes sense to me. I agree about disconnections, etc. I agree that spouses (and we!) face temptation.

          Only speaking for myself, when the cheating happened, before it ever came to light, I was already feeling the disconnection, feeling like my partners weren’t all there. It already felt sad, lonely, not great, just treading water. So when I found out, there was this relief of “I wasn’t crazy or wrong. Something really was wrong – I was getting half truths, out-and-out accusations, and secrecy.

          So, I see where you are coming from, and it makes sense to not hurt the other person unnecessarily. I agree. However, when I experienced this, the hurt actually happened during those three months that he was drifting. That horse is already out of the barn. But if someone told me that, I would again sense the half truth, the deception, the secrecy.  For me, that’s a new hurt, a new deception. I wouldn’t say everyone is as intuitive as I am. But for me, only half of the truth means only half of the problem gets resolved. It means my partner is not trusting me to be understanding or accepting. Those are major issues to me. If he can’t trust me like that – then he probably shouldn’t be with me. I wouldn’t call the full truth heartbreak, I’d call it an opportunity for connection and trust. Like a visit to the dentist, it’s painful but productive, and almost always worth it.

        3. KK

          “Those are major issues to me. If he can’t trust me like that – then he probably shouldn’t be with me. I wouldn’t call the full truth heartbreak, I’d call it an opportunity for connection and trust”.

          I think I’m talking about an emotional affair and you’re talking about a full blown affair. As far as full blown affairs go, I’m not so sure I’d consider that a great opportunity for connection and trust. That person has just shown you that they aren’t trustworthy and has shit all over your connection. If anything, it seems more like an opportunity to reevaluate and decide that you deserve to be treated better.

          “Like a visit to the dentist, it’s painful but productive, and almost always worth it”.

          True. If I get a cavity and choose on my own volition to get it filled. Not true if you’ve knocked all my teeth out and now I have to get them replaced.

        4. Stacy2

          I think it is strictly on a case by case basis and no one size fits all. In general I agree with Evan – there’s no need to unnecessarily rock the boat. However, if your partner has gotten suspicious and noticed some change in your behavior and brought it up, it may be worth clearing the air to nip this suspicion in the bud. Other than that – its best to let sleeping dogs lie.

        5. Emily, the original

          Nissa and KK,

          What if your partner has become infatuated with someone else? He’s not going to physically cheat (not his style) and there’s no emotional affair (he does his best to avoid her), but this new woman has camped out inside his head. Is that something you’d want to know? Is that cheating?

        6. KK

          Emily,

          I don’t know. That’s my honest answer. Lol. But I wouldn’t consider that cheating. If it were, we’d ALL be cheaters.

          When I was married, that same exact scenario happened with me. I knew I wasn’t going to stray, but I found myself attracted to others from time to time and those thoughts always went away in time. Did I tell? Would I tell? No.

        7. Emily, the original

          KK,

          I didn’t mean just attracted to other people. I’m sure that happens to everyone. I meant infatuated to the point of distraction. (I use the word infatuation for lack of a better one.)

        8. KK

          Hmmm… I guess I just see infatuation as a really strong attraction. If you’re talking about obsession, that’s not really in my wheelhouse. Not sure. What would you do, Emily? Would you want to know?

        9. Emily, the original

          KK,

          I agree. That’s how I define infatuation as well, but I’ve been infatuated with only 2 people in the last decade. For me, it doesn’t happen often, though there are other people I’ve found appealing on a much lesser level.

          If a man I’m with is infatuated with someone else, that would bother me. Because that’s dangerously close to becoming ” a thing,” where you are plotting and planning to run into the person, checking to see if her car is in the parking lot (if you work together), thinking about her all the time, etc.

        10. Emily, the original

          KK,

          And keep in mind that you can be in a relationship with someone, a good relationship, and never been infatuated with the person. What happens if you years later feel that for someone else?

        11. Nissa

          Infatuation at that level tells me something else is going wrong in our relationship that needs to be addressed as a couple. So I’d prefer he tell. If the relationship I’m in isn’t working for the man I’m with, he’s better off breaking up with me and working out his issue. If he does, great. If not, it wasn’t meant to be.

        12. Simply L

          Beautifully said!!

  5. 5
    D_M

    Persephone,

    Obviously, only you walked in your shoes and you are discussing snooping from your experience. There is a whole lot to unpack in your 4.1.2 post. If one wants to have associates of the opposite sex as close friends, that discussion needed to have happened long before going down the aisle. I don’t think jealous lovers just appear out of no where. Everyone isn’t comfortable with their partners having close friends of the opposite sex. It’s an ideal to aspire to, but it can make ones love life rather complicated. I’m trying to address the thought exercise of snooping independent of your specific situation. I don’t endorse snooping, but I understand it. We all have certain patterns that our respective lovers pick up on. When we deviate from those norms, it raises red flags, and the jealous types begin to snoop.

    1. 5.1
      Persephone

      D_M, thanks for your feedback.  It’s an excellent point that you made about associates of the opposite sex as close friends.   That discussion in fact did happen long before going down the aisle!  He met colleagues, business cohorts, service providers, and those who perform various services for me on my farm, such as shoeing horses, cutting trees, mowing fields, putting up fencing, ect.  He knew ahead of time I would need to have these kinds of associations.  It is not fair for him to think he could marry me and then swoop in to change the situation. This comes across as “bait and switch advertising”, because during courtship he acted like and even verbalized that he understood my necessity to have these associations and friendships.  

      My “deviation from the norm” was my new years resolution for 2016 was to get rid of being yelled at.  I decided I had enough when he started getting more controlling of me as he gradually became unhappier in his job.  Rather than admit that his behavior is the problem, it’s easier to look for blame in my lap.  

  6. 6
    KK

    Hi Emily,

    You asked, “And keep in mind that you can be in a relationship with someone, a good relationship, and never been infatuated with the person. What happens if you years later feel that for someone else?”

    You decide what’s more important to you. A fleeting infatuation or your good relationship.

    1. 6.1
      Emily, the original

      KK,

      Well, infatuation can move into love, thought certainly not always.

      I guess my question is really about what happens if you pick a partner based on high compatibility and reasonable chemistry … and then years into the relationship meet someone with whom you feel the 10 level chemistry. I don’t mean “I find him attractive and if I’m ever single, I’d like to date him” type of attraction. I mean a “I’m hiking on the Appalachian Trail” type of attraction where you are standing on the precipice. What do you do if you’re feeling something you haven’t felt in years and never really felt for your partner?

      1. 6.1.1
        KK

        Hi Emily,

        In this scenario, am I already happily married? Or am I in a dating relationship? If I were technically single (relationship but not married), I’d probably give Mr. Appalachian trail a shot. Not 100% sure about that, though. If I’m married, then I’d pass. 

        My parents and one set of grandparents were happily married (til death did they part). But I had this great aunt that was married something like 10 times and had a few live in lovers who never made the cut, somewhere in between some of those marriages. She was always looking for her next Mr. Appalachian trail. Lol. Anyway, I saw her life (one extreme) in contrast to my parent’s, and I whole heartedly believe my parents were much happier and definitely healthier. Oh yes, she got to experience the highs of new love repeatedly, but also some really low lows. I’d prefer a steady stream with the occasional dips that inevitably come along. But thats just me. 🙂

        1. Emily, the original

          Hi KK,

          I guess I asked this question because of a conversation I had with a friend about a male friend of hers who married in his lates 20s (he’s now in his mid-50s) to a woman he was very compatible with: similar life goals and values, same religion (which was important to both of them). My friend had found out that he’d had affairs, and we both wondered if it was because the marriage was always (even from the beginning) a but utilitarian. I don’t want to get into a morality debate, but what happens if, instead of the high chemistry/low compatibility relationship that can implode, you go for a high compatibility/low chemistry … decades later, does that wear thin if Appalachian Trail shows up?

  7. 7
    KK

    I think it goes back to what was discussed earlier; knowing that after you get married, you’re still going to face temptation (regardless of the chemistry level in the beginning) and what to do when it happens. I think it’s impossible to discuss infedility without including morality. Because, Emily, if your husband truly loves you he’s not going to give in to every temptation that comes his way. If he doesn’t truly love you, why are y’all married in the first place? And of course, vice versa.

    1. 7.1
      Emily, the original

      KK,

      knowing that after you get married, you’re still going to face temptation (regardless of the chemistry level in the beginning) and what to do when it happens.

      Very true.

      If he doesn’t truly love you, why are y’all married in the first place?

      People get married for all kinds of reasons. In this guy’s case, I think he felt it was time (maybe all his friends were getting married) and he found someone with whom he had a tremendous amount in common. I’m sure he loves her, but it was not a big “in love” story. Not everybody has to have that. It depends on what you prioritize.

      1. 7.1.1
        KK

        “I’m sure he loves her, but it was not a big “in love” story”.

        He doesn’t love her. He loves himself.

        “Not everybody has to have that. It depends on what you prioritize”.

        Hmm… Don’t you think his choices have shown otherwise?

        1. Emily, the original

          KK,

          Again, I’m not going to get into a debate with you about the morality of cheating. I believe that topic was covered on a recent post.

          This post is about cheating and my question was what might lead someone to it.

          He does love his wife. They have created a life together. Not everyone who gets married is ga-ga “in love” with his/her spouse, and, as we have learned from this web site, that may not be necessary for long-term happiness in a relationship.

        2. KK

          I won’t debate it either. But I don’t think you can claim someone loves their wife if they’re having affairs. I don’t see how you can say it’s a happy marriage either. Happy for who? Him. Because she doesn’t know. So he gets to play family and get some on the side. Great set up for him until it blows up. Sorry, morality aside, that’s just not reality. He doesn’t love his wife. If he did, he wouldn’t risk breaking her heart and ruining what he has.

  8. 8
    JB

    I finally had the chance to watch this interview last night. And as a guy I sided with Evan as usual. I loved it Evan when you looked straight into the camera after she vindicated you (just you not the rest of us porn fans ie….99% of ALL men) on the porn thing….lol What planet does Dr. Myers live on? She thinks men that are married or in a LTR are going to tell their spouse/significant other after they just had a wonderful masturbatory experience or it’s cheating???…..LOL I almost fell off the couch laughing. Can you imagine THAT conversation…..”Honey come here, I want to share something with you so we can be closer”……… I’m sorry Evan Dr. Myers is out of her mind on this issue. To her credit though I do agree that having an ongoing intimate emotional connection with someone outside of you LTR is cheating but even that’s a far cry from seeing someone you find attractive and thinking to yourself “I wouldn’t mind doing that” which I’m sorry Dr. Myers ISN’T cheating.

    1. 8.1
      Malika

      You definitely don’t need to tell your other half every time you watch porn. That level of detail would be tmi. It would be advisable to let your partner know that you do watch porn sometimes. That way it won’t come across as a surprise when/if she found out. I watch porn. It’s exciting and gets the job done, so to speak. Maybe that makes unusual for a woman, but i really wouldn’t mind at all if he watched it and would hope he doesn’t see it as a threat to our relationship.

  9. 9
    John

    I think cheating is physical. For example, kissing, oral sex, intercourse.

    Emotional affairs don’t qualify IMHO.

    I agree that temptations are always there. I stayed away from temptations when I was in LTRs. If a woman tried to make a move, I would disappear. If it was at work, I’d say I was taken. If I stumbled into a room full of naked women, I would run out the door and never look back.😃

     

    1. 9.1
      Emily, the original

      John,

      Emotional affairs don’t qualify IMHO.

      Actually, I think most women would see an emotional affair as far more damaging. They know that men can have sex without emotional attachment. Women are different from men in that they share a lot of their emotional life with their friends. Men share their emotional life with their partners, so if he is sharing that with another woman, the threat is very real.

      1. 9.1.1
        KK

        “Actually, I think most women would see an emotional affair as far more damaging. They know that men can have sex without emotional attachment”.

        A lot of affairs are more than just physical. Since we’re talking about men… yes, there are men that are serial filanderers that have multiple affairs just for “fun”. But there are also men that have affairs with women and become very emotionally attached. In either case, the underlying message is that their wants / needs are more important than their spouse’s.

        1. KK

          *philanderers

      2. 9.1.2
        John

        Hi ETO,

        I probably cannot understand why you consider an emotional affair cheating. I can understand what you say as far as women sharing their emotions with their friends and men sharing emotions with their wife only. I don’t think emotional affairs are indicative of a healthy relationship, but I don’t see it as cheating.  I see it as a cry for help before it becomes physical.  If you take it to the physical, then it is cheating. A court of law would not  consider emotional affairs as real cheating as far as I know. You may feel violated by a man who has an emotional affair, but that doesn’t make it cheating legally.  If you feel upset about an emotional fair that is been committed against you, you can of course, break up with the guy.   I think it goes too far to actually call it real cheating.  I would call it pre-cheating. If you think about hurting somebody and you don’t do it is that actually hurting somebody? No. That’s why legally you have to actually do something illegal to get in trouble with the law; not just think about it. Emotional affairs to me are thinking about committing adultery, but not actually doing it.  Therefore, you’re actually not guilty of doing something, you’re just guilty of thinking about it, which is not the same as doing it.

        1. Simply L

          Hi John,

          An affair, emotional or physical is a violation of trust. It has nothing to do with a “legal” interpretation. Though I can see that you do not agree with this. So lets dispense with the word “cheating”. I realized that this does not make sense to you. In truth if you were in a relationship with a woman who was emailing and texting another man, sharing with him her feelings and desires and you found out you probably would not be upset, because she hadn’t gotten physical. Maybe you would see it as a harmless flirtation. If she told him of her desire for him and how she thought about him while you were having sex with her, what does it matter it’s just words. If she tells him how your lovemaking no longer excites her and how she longs to be with him, well it’s just words in space, there is nothing real. If she tells him that she feels a connection with him that she doesn’t fell with you and how she cant stop thinking about him, no harm no foul, nobody touched anyone. If she sends him some photos and gets some photos in return, they are just pictures, right? So what if she wants him to want her. So what if that secret that she holds puts distance between you. So what if it is her addictive little drug and the thrill of it all beckoning her back again and again. What’s the harm? It not real, right? There’s no touching. How far can it go before it crosses the line? Sexy pictures? Sexting? Little FaceTime erotica? It’s not touching, is it okay? What is the intention? Why keep it a secret if there is nothing to be hidden? And what is the intent?

          I get that men are visual, I get that men get turned on by beautiful, sexy women. I get that that is biology and says NOTHING negative about a man, his integrity, nor his feelings for the woman in his life. I know that many women would like to believe that if a man truly loves them he will never look at another woman. I find that ludicrous in the extreme! Looking at other women is not a betrayal. Speaking to another woman is not a betrayal. Feeling desire for another woman is not a betrayal. It is action with intention that sets it apart.

           
          And please don’t be fooled. If it is secret there is a reason. And if someone is carrying on a secret online relationship, the are not praising their partner and communicating how much they love, respect, and admire their SO. They have to justify their behavior and soon their partner is seen as the one standing in the way of their dreams.

        2. Emily, the original

          John,

          I am going to have to respectfully disagree. You don’t have to have sex with someone to fall in love with him/her or have her take camp inside your head.

          Did you ever see the movie “Fatal Attraction”? What’s the first question the wife asks Michael Douglas when he tells her he’s had an affair? “Are you in love with her?” Not “Did you have sex with her?” (although maybe that’s assumed); not “Was the sex better than the sex we have? Describe it to me” but, in essence, “Do you have feelings for her?” It’s hard to recover if your spouse is in love with someone else.

  10. 10
    Simply L

    Evan, thank you for the great podcast!

    I liked the clearly defined lines of the three Ss of online cheating. Secretiveness, Sharing intimacy, and Sexual attraction. I liked the the “daily vitamin As” Appreciation, Attention, Affection. 

    Once upon a time I had what I thought was in a good relationship. There was a lot of laughter, love and sex. We lived together, cooked together, played together, we would clear the living room floor and dance together. There was a lot of cuddling, silly inside jokes, it was warm, happy and mutually supportive. When I would walk through the door at the end of the day he would jump up off the couch with a big smile on his face and wrap me in a warm embrace, every day, day after day. I loved coming home to him. I loved him and I believed that he loved me, how is it possible to fake that kind of warmth day after day for two years if it is not real? In the podcast Sheri says that what takes the biggest hit is your own self trust. I know that is true for me. 

    There was some online history between my now ex-boyfriend and the woman he had the online affair with. I will say that there did seem to be something “off” in those last three months leading up to our split. I even asked him if she had contacted him and he lied to me, telling me that he hadn’t heard from her. What is strange is that the sex didn’t drop off (which would have gotten my attention immediately) he was a little bit critical of me which I noticed but he had denied that there was any contact.

    I know that my ex-boyfriend justified what he was doing because it wasn’t physical. I know he told himself it wasn’t cheating, but here’s the thing, he kept it hidden, it was a SECRET. He knew I trusted him. We had agreements that he violated. I am not a jealous, suspicious woman. I don’t believe I need to monitor the man in my life. I leave the monitoring of his actions and his integrity to him. Trust is all or nothing.

    He had once gone to a birthday party for a nurse that he worked with and the nurse (who was at least 15 years younger and, in my opinion, attractive) got drunk and told him she would have sex with him. He thank her, reminded her that he was in a relationship and walked away. When he told me about it later and I said that I wish I had been there. He said, “what would you have done?” I said, “I would have told her that she obviously has stellar taste in men and that you F*#% like a champion.” There was a brief pause and then he started laughing and he didn’t quit smiling the entire night. The exchange he had with the nurse was not a secret, he was not pursuing anything with her. I didn’t feel the need to say anything to her or handle anything, he had already done that.

    Here’s the another thing about an online affair that was addressed in the podcast:

    When the affair is online it isn’t a real person that they are having an affair with it is the IDEA of who that person is. My ex-boyfriend didn’t really know the woman with whom he was having the online affair but he thought he did. There is no way to “compete” when the woman is not real but a fantasy. What did he tell her about me? Did he share personal things with her that he knew I wouldn’t want him to share? Did he put me down? Did he hold me up to that unreal fantasy and find me wanting?

    After he had admitted that he was writing to her again, and admitted to having doubts about our relationship, I told him that if he wanted to be with her all he had to do was tell me and I would walk away, no ugliness, no drama. But if he wanted to be with me he would have to close the door on that online relationship. He said he loved me and wanted me and he would end it. A week later admitted he was still in contact with her. 

    On our last day together we sat on the couch and I asked him what it was that he had wanted in a relationship when he went on Match. He said, “you are exactly what I wanted.” I said, “I don’t understand, I just don’t get it.” He said, “I don’t either, I just know I will never be at peace until I know.” He believed there was some strong connection with her and he had to know what it was. Though we were both in our fifties (his online woman was too), I had had more dating experience, he had come out of a 28 year marriage and he didn’t understand that that strong pull wasn’t real, that his idea of her wasn’t who she really was. I said, “Then there is nothing left for me to say.” I did asked him if there was anything he would like to say to me before I left, thinking that maybe there was something he was secretly angry about and he could get it said before I was gone. But what he said was, “You brought light into my dark world, you made me feel like a man again. This is the happiest I have been in many many years.” I told him how much I had appreciated his love and his support of my dreams and he helped me pack some of my things. At one point I turned to him and said, “I am really sad that we will never dance again.” And he started to cry. I had never seen him cry before. I held him for awhile then I loaded up my car and hugged him goodbye and left. I never saw him again. He made himself scarce when my friends and family helped me move out all of my things six days later.

     

  11. 11
    John

    Hi ETO

    I respect your opinion. I have to tell you they it is hard for a man to fall in love with a woman before he has sex. Maybe women can fall in love without sex, but as a guy, it’s damn near impossible. I think that is why I don’t understand why you see it as cheating. If my gf had an “emotional affair” with my best friend it would not nearly bother me as much as if she had sex with him. I would have a real hard time with that. I can only guess that emotions are more important to women than men. Agree to disagree.

    1. 11.1
      Emily, the original

      John,

      If my gf had an “emotional affair” with my best friend it would not nearly bother me as much as if she had sex with him.

      But as I said, women can fall in love through an emotional affair. It might not mean anything to you, but it could to your girlfriend. If she has an emotional affair with your best friend, she could develop feelings for him and leave you for him, whether she has sex with him or not. I had a friend who was head-over-heels in love with a co-worker of hers. They were in constant communication and were saying “I love you” to each other, but they had never even kissed. Had he said the word, she would have left her husband in a heartbeat.

  12. 12
    Nissa

    What Evan is saying about essentially this being a biological release for men that doesn’t include a real person outside of the marriage, does make sense.

    However, what Dr Meyers says about intention and contracts is very on point. If one is using this behavior (to put it in terms of the Gottman’s theories) to turn away from the relationship, then that’s a behavior that doesn’t serve the relationship. I’d hesitate to call the guy that does this ‘a cheater’ in the traditional sense, but I would say this is a person who’s making a choice that hurts his relationship, whether the spouse knows about it or not. Using porn together is a ‘turning toward’ behavior.

    I’d have to agree with Evan that what he is doing is not cheating, for one very important reason: it’s included in his verbal contract with his wife. It’s no secret. He told her that he does this, and she is ok with it. That changes everything. Additionally, it’s not chronic and it’s not interactive (no interaction from a picture of a person vs skyping a real person). Thus, it would be harder to frame that as a ‘turning away’ from his marriage, or ‘turning toward’ another person for intimacy.

    I personally would be much more worried about a live person (via internet or in real life) vs a picture of a woman who’s name the man doesn’t know. Dr J. Richard Cookerly defines emotional intercourse as “the frequently satisfying and often passionate giving and receiving of each other’s many and varied emotions”. That’s what really hurts – the turning away from the spouse, the breaking of the contract, the turning toward someone outside the marriage.

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