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What counts as online cheating?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  January 21, 2011 07:48 AM

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It's the second anniversary of Love Letters tomorrow. I'll post winners of the cotton contest on Monday.

Just wanted to say happy anniversary. And that you still satisfy my needs.


Q: Hi Meredith,

Let me start out by saying that my significant other "Joe" and I are no longer together for multiple reasons. Prior to our breakup we had a debate about internet cheating. Toward the end of our relationship I was having trust issues with Joe so I browsed his computer (which I admitted to him). What I found in his history was a Chatroulette-like site geared toward video sex. I considered this a form of cheating because Joe would have been interacting with someone other than me. When I talked with Joe about it, he said he only did it a couple times and didn't see the harm in it.

I got outside opinions and it brought up an interesting debate. Some considered it cheating while others didn't. Many who thought using the site was cheating also thought looking at pornography was, as well. Personally, I don't see pornography as cheating because there is no interaction.

So I have to ask, with all the forms of technology these days, what is considered cheating (besides the obvious)? Is interactive video intimacy with another person considered cheating?

– Internet Killed the Pornography Star, Boston

A: Is it cheating, IKTPS? I don't know. Some people don't want their spouses to have extramarital friendships. Some people consider Facebook relationships to cross the line. Some people are cool with open marriages. Every couple makes its own rules. You learned that by asking your friends. They couldn't give you a straight answer.

I see interactive, Chatroulette-style sexy stuff as … interactive pornography. If the interactive part makes it a cheat to you, then it's a cheat. It's funny – I have a friend who once caught her ex-boyfriend doing something similar. She was upset, but not because she felt sexually betrayed. She was angry because her boyfriend didn't have anything better to do than to talk to some woman in Italy at 2 a.m. She was upset because he was so bored.

Be honest with yourself and make rules based on what gives you bad feelings in your gut. And don't jump to conclusions. If your next boyfriend is looking at a similar site, check it out with him. See what you think. Does it feel like simple eye candy? Does it feel like a real cheat? Research and set boundaries.

At the end of the day, you had other issues with Joe. If you had been in a supportive, trusting relationship, the video stuff might not have concerned you.

Readers? Where do you draw the line when it comes to cheating? Ever played with a Chatroulette-style site? Was this really about Joe's other issues? Anniversary thoughts? Discuss. And help add to our songs of the day. I'm loving the soundtrack.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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