The advent and evolution of the Internet create new spaces (particularly in social media networks) in which people can interact and build relationships. This option has helped birth a new way of being unfaithful in a monogamous relationship. “Freed of limitations posed by physical bodies, identities, reputation, or accountability, people are experimenting with new types of relationships and expressions of love and romance on the Internet” (Maheu and Subotnik 17). Many view the Internet as a way not only to meet people but also to form substantial and fulfilling relationships. Still, because the Internet limits actual physical interaction, the question remains regarding whether or not Internet infidelity constitutes legitimate cheating and betrayal. Nonetheless, I believe that Internet infidelity constitutes a real act of betrayal and can affect a relationship just as significantly as an offline act of infidelity.
The advancement of the Internet does not merely provide the new avenues through which society can form relationships; it has resulted in the establishment and evolution of an entirely new culture in and of itself. To this end, the relevance of online infidelity should not be mitigated. Rather, many people view their online relationships and lives as valid and real; it stands, then, that the adulterous elements of those relationships are also legitimate. “Today, those who use secrecy and denial to have their way are now empowered with technologies that are better, faster, and more clandestine. The Internet is making it easier for the deceitful to hide their infidelities” (Maheu and Subotnik 8). Just because the Internet does not yet allow for actual physical touch does not mean that acts of infidelity do not count. Fulfilling, lasting relationships are largely predicated on emotional and mental happiness. Relationships bred on the Internet are fully able to provide that fulfillment, which also helps lead to a fulfilling if non-traditional, physical relationship. All in all, Internet infidelity should be considered a real act of betrayal, with as serious and far-reaching impacts on a relationship as traditional offline affairs.
Maheu, Marlene M., and Roba B. Subotnik. Infidelity on the Internet: Virtual Relationships and Real Betrayal. Naperville: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2001. Print.