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Can a spouse cheat in a tweet? Cyber infidelity still cheating, many say

Published: Thursday, June 16 2011 2:27 p.m. MDT

Infidelity can have a devastating effect on a relationship or marriage, but with new technologies like Twitter, Facebook and texting facilitating communication and interactions between people, crossing the line of infidelity can become fuzzy.

While the line may not be clear, the effects can still be devastating, especially when trust is broken.

According to Boston.com, lawyer and newlywed Bostonian Feyisara Olotu had a clear definition: "If you can't do something in front of your wife, that's cheating."

As the article points out, today it's very easy to send a quick tweet to an old sweetheart, or carry on a Facebook chat with a friend of a friend, while an unsuspecting spouse sits just a room away, and often closer.

In an article featured on Livestrong.com, infidelity can cause distrust, grief, obsession and retaliation in a relationship.

However, the question bouncing around the Internet is whether it constitutes cheating if it is virtual infidelity. According to an MSNBC report, "many Americans seem to think it does."

In the same article, Jon Austin, a PR professional and husband said, "Would you text it, post it, send it with your spouse looking over your shoulder? If yes, then it's not infidelity. If no, you're cheating."

Much of the sentiment expressed throughout the article and across the Internet is that despite the lack of physical contact, the emotional betrayal constitutes infidelity.

According to Yahoo News, John Portmann, a University of Virginia religion professor, said "for those involved and those who love them, cyber sex is not as big of a deal as the real thing." Still, while the devastation may not be as bad in cyber cheating, according to an article in The Week, it is still considered cheating.

For Shelley Green, a Nova Southeastern University professor and family therapy instructor, the distinction is a boundary that should be set by each couple, according to the Miami Herald . But she also said, "for most people who are in a committed relationship, the partner does see it as cheating."

EMAIL: awhatcott@desnews.com

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