When Does Facebook Flirting Become Cheating?
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When Does Facebook Flirting Become Cheating?

Imagine for a moment that someone you met on Facebook sent you a message saying they thought you were incredibly sexy and attractive.

If you were in a committed, monogamous relationship and responded with your own flirtatious, suggestive comment, would that be chatting or cheating?

Ricki Lake recently invited me to appear on her show as an expert marriage and family therapist to advise a couple who were struggling through a similar situation.

The couple had been married for eleven years with three children. Gary, the husband, was spending a lot of time on Facebook, and his wife Janet noticed a flirtatious message he had sent to a single friend on the social media site.

Janet wanted to know, was Gary merely innocently chatting with his single friend or was the fact that he was flirting with her mean that he’d crossed the line into cheating?

In these sorts of situations, what I suggest is to apply the rule of the 3 S’s of emotional sex chemistry:

Secrecy: Is your partner keeping their actions and conversations with their “friend” secret from you?

Shared Intimacy: Are they talking about their innermost thoughts and feelings with this other person?

Sexual Energy: Is there sexual tension, flirting and arousal?

Unfortunately, Gary’s situation was applicable to all 3 S’s and that meant that he had crossed the line into cheating.

In this day and age, the internet can be a highly inviting  and seductive source of distraction, unlimited possibilites, and temptations abound. 

When life gets dull, predictable or stressful, the desire to escape and seek excitement or distraction elsewhere can be overwhelming.

If you or your partner spend a lot of time on social media sites like Facebook, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re cheating. However, if you’re giving any one person a lot of attention, whether it’s through message boards, text messaging, or on Facebook and Twitter, it’s attention you’re taking away from the closeness you should be nurturing at home.

Every relationship needs a daily investment of the 3 A’s: Affection, Appreciation and Attention to keep it thrving and the spark betweeen you alive.

Fortunately, there are easy things you can do (that don’t take a lot of time, money, or work)  to put the spark back into your relationship that will demonstrate to your partner that you still love them, appreciate them and want to stay close:

1. Show your love in unexpected ways. Write a love note or draw a cute picture on a sticky note and place it on their car’s dashboard. Text them to tell them you miss them. Bring home a special treat you know they’ll love.

2. Shake things up. Do something new together. Take a salsa dancing class, rent a canoe, attend a concert, go for a full moon hike…be create with your time together. It’s amazing how busting out of the routine can spice up your love life.

3. Touch and embrace without an agenda. So many couples hold back kissing, touching, or holding each other until they have time or the desire to have sex, because they think that affection is just a prelude to sex. But hugging and cuddling is not only good for your relationship, it reduces stress and increases your wellbeing. Find ways to be affectionate throughout the day, every day.

In my book, “Chatting or Cheating” I explain the 6 top relationship problems that lead to infidelity and may be making you or your partner vulnerable to crossing the line from chatting to cheating online. I also go into depth about cyberchatting and virtual affairs on page 29, where you’ll learn the bio-chemical reasons why flirting with strangers online is so addictive and can very quickly lead to a real-life physical affair.

You get out of your relationship what you put into it. Make love a priority in your life and you’ll reap the sweet rewards in more ways than one.

This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers, America’s leading love and intimacy expert.


  1. This article just scream emotional affair! It’s feels like its so common nowadays. People are just going on facebook and finding old flings they new in high school and rekindling fires that have been dead for decades! i guarantee you that facebook has caused more divorces than lately than anything else

    • you can say that again! facebook is great for getting in touch with old friends but some people are taking that a way to literally if you ask me! these people have been married for decades and suddenly they’re all casanovas because they found some old flame they used to smooch behind the bleachers a century ago!

      • All of the sudden weird hours, stanrge phone calls at stanrge times, him spending too much time on the computer, or phone or out. But the best way is just to ask him. If you get really paranoid he’s going to feel hurt and it will dammage your relationship.

  2. I totally think it’s the power of the internet to blame here. It’s just too easy for men to find something that leads them away from their wives. If it’s not some dirty add popping up every thirty seconds its some old crush trying to hook up on facebook. Thanks for making it simple to see when my guy could be straying my flirting online into cheating online

  3. As a person who grew up without the internet this article is very helpful in understanding the dangers of the internet and what it can mean for a relationship. My husband and I have been married for an eternity or so now, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t vulnerable at times, especially with things we don’t fully understand.

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