Thu, 17 Oct 2013 03:15:00 GMT | By Hugh Wilson

Are you cheating without knowing it?

A new poll suggests men and women view cheating very differently...

Man caught with wandering eyes (© Simone Becchetti-Getty Images)

Do you flirt on Facebook? Do you sext? Do you kiss women who are not your wife or girlfriend and consider it a perfectly innocent act?

If so, you may be cheating without knowing it. A new poll has revealed that men and women have very different ideas about what constitutes infidelity, which means that your act of harmless fun might have pretty dire consequences if your partner takes a different view.

So what is cheating and what isn’t? We delve into the brave new world of 21st century sexual mores.


Sexting (© Ray Kachatorian-Getty Images)

Most men and women take a dim view of sexting

According to the new poll, commissioned by the Huffington Post, and carried out by YouGov 85% of women claim that sexting - sending sexual texts to someone other than your partner - is cheating, despite the absence of any physical contact.

The good news is that, according to the poll, 74% of men feel the same way. The bad news is that there’s a hardcore 9% who may soon be in for a very rude awakening.

The fact that the majority of both men and women view sending sexual texts as cheating, despite the absence of physical contact, is probably sensible. Recent research by psychologists at the University of Nebraska in the US found that sexters often escalate their behaviour into real world affairs. Nearly eight out of 10 respondents had made arrangements to meet someone face to face after initially communicating via text.

But while that may be true, not everyone agrees that sexting - or any sexually charged virtual relationship - counts as cheating. In his book In Defense of Sin, John Portmann, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, says we have to distinguish between sex - and just talking about sex.

“The internet has not given us a new way to have sex, but rather an absorbing new way to talk about sex. Distinguishing between flirting and infidelity will show that talking dirty, whether on the internet or on the phone, does not amount to having sex.”

So is sexting with someone other than your partner cheating? There’s a certain amount of intellectual debate about the matter, but for the sake of your relationship it’s probably best to assume your partner will think it is.

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