How do you determine what does and does not count as infidelity? Once you’ve determined what counts as unfaithfulness in your marriage or relationship, how do you avoid it online?
I confess to not being especially concerned about cyber affairs even though my husband and I both spend significant portions of our waking hours online. So I was quite surprised when I read one woman’s guidelines for avoiding cheating online:
1. If you’re married and are following someone on Twitter don’t chat them up all the time.
4. If a guy I was never really friends with in high school or college wants to Facebook friend me I decline. Why go there? I didn’t go to his wedding, he didn’t come to mine.
6. Also, when in doubt, ask. Example: I always ask the hubby if he’s okay with a picture before posting it on Twitter.
I simply cannot grasp what being married has to do with the appropriateness of retweeting something or accepting friend requests. It would strike me as a sign of something “off” if I hesitated before responding to a tweet because I did not respond to a man too frequently.
Part of me agrees that it is good to ask for one’s spouse’s permission if one is concerned about appearing too sexy online. But I am inclined to think that if there is a question about the appropriateness of something one should simply skip it and not require one’s spouse to make the decision.
One of the reason’s that I cannot understand this sort of standard is that the internet is so very public and casual. I cannot remember the names of half of the people I responded to on Twitter today and I do not think that many of them know mine. Sometimes the lack of personal connection on the internet allows people to share very private details of their lives, but this happens when we do not see the people reading our tweets and status updates as real people with whom we have significant relationships.
People follow or friend others because they are bored and looking for more random bits of e-life to add to their day. Some people may use the internet to stalk a long lost love-interest, but they can be dealt with on a case by case basis rather than a general rule of avoiding everyone of the opposite sex online.
I may seem incredibly naïve in my lack of concern about casual interactions online, but I think that my confidence is justified for a few simple reasons. As soon as I read the post about avoiding cyber infidelity I ran to my husband in mock horror and announced that I have clearly been cheating on him online. Goodness knows how many direct messages I have sent to strange men!
He agreed with me that there is no need for such concern since we are both the boring sort. Instead of rules we can rely on general openness in our relationship, the sort of openness which has us constantly forwarding blog posts or asking the other to look at something someone said to us online.
- We have each other’s passwords. This happened naturally over time because I wanted to see one of his friend’s baby’s pictures or he needed information from my email account. At least in theory privacy is limited because we could always sign into the other’s accounts.
- We share our computers. I would never use a friend’s laptop without permission because I consider it a personal space. One never knows if someone is in the middle of a private blog post or has files they would rather not have seen. But Josh and I do not hesitate to use the other’s computer frequently for many reasons. It would be possible to keep some things hidden, but it would take a lot of work and constant vigilance.
- We talk about online interactions of interest. As online interactions with a certain person increase it becomes more interesting, and thus more of a topic for discussion offline. Yes, it is geeky, but we often talk about funny tweets, poignant emails, and annoying vloggers.
Do you have any rules to avoid cheating online? Do you think that it is something that couples should be more concerned about?
- A New Me
- I am thankful 8/22/2010