Sexting has become a bit of an enigma to many of us.
“Sexting” itself isn’t the enigma here—it’s the question: “Is sexting cheating?” that raises some eyebrows.
The question is a bit complicated as it can’t be answered with a simple yes or no; if you’re in a similar situation, I’m sure you’ve noticed!
It also depends on the individual definitions of “right” and “wrong” and boundaries.
And if you’re suspecting your partner might be sexting (or recently confirmed your suspicions), there are a couple of things to consider next.
What is sexting, and is it considered cheating? What are some of the signs—how does sexting affect the relationship? Let’s talk all about it.
The definition of and what is considered sexting!
Sexting is, as you guessed it, texting a person sexually—it’s sexual behavior conducted when communicating via mobile phones.
It’s not exactly a new concept either; sexting has been around for a while and is now slowly rising to fame.
Research on sexting shows that around 88% of US adults have tried sending sexually-explicit messages at least once in their lifetime.
Sexting isn’t just about words, though, as it also includes:
- Lewd videos;
- Other sexual topics;
- Sharing sexual “jokes”, posts, and facts;
- “Innocent” sexual flirting, etc.
Anything sexual and inappropriate while texting goes, really—but again, it’s different for everybody.
Give or take, though, this is what “sexting” is all about.
Answering a – nearly – rhetorical question: Is sexting considered cheating if you are in a relationship?
Sexting is considered cheating in most exclusive relationships.
Everybody has their ideas and boundaries regarding cheating as a concept.
To make a long story short, “cheating” is being unfaithful to your partner—any action that crosses our partners’ boundaries can be considered unfaithful.
Meaning that if a person’s boundaries don’t include sexting other people, then they won’t think of it as cheating.
This idea only gets more complicated when we consider that sexting (in itself) doesn’t include physicality—people take comfort in that.
They may think that sexting is no big deal since they aren’t technically physically cheating on their partner.
Unfortunately for them, though, they won’t be able to get away due to a technicality.
Let me demonstrate what I mean with these 5 examples when sexting is considered infidelity, and when objectively not.
Sexting another person is infidelity when:
– It crosses a partner’s boundaries.
Anything involving an outsider is considered infidelity when it crosses a partner’s boundaries—sexting included.
Going by the most common definition of cheating: sexting is, in fact, seen as unfaithful.
And rightfully so—it involves a partner’s inappropriate, sexual behavior with another person.
A partner texting somebody else crosses our boundaries while also making us feel disrespected, hurt, and uncomfortable.
– It’s kept a secret from a partner.
Sexting is cheating when it’s kept a secret, undoubtedly.
It’s usually kept secret because people know what they’re doing is wrong; talking to somebody else inappropriately.
Cheaters usually keep sexting a secret and even attempt to justify it “It’s no big deal. I’m just talking to this other person and nothing bad will come out of it.”
This type of thinking is toxic and unfair to the partner; just because it’s not talked about, doesn’t mean it has no effect.
– Someone who’s in a relationship repeatedly lies about it.
Lying about actions that shouldn’t be done in the first place is cheating in every possible way.
And it makes sense: people lie about things they know they shouldn’t be doing.
Consistently partaking in unfaithful activities online, while also lying about them is infidelity at its finest—it destroys trust in a relationship.
If we’re sexting with a person (or have been caught doing so in the past) but lie to our partners about it, that’s most definitely seen as cheating.
– A partner has made their thoughts and feelings clear.
If a partner has been vocal about their hatred for sexting, yet we still do it, then we are cheating.
We are deliberately going out of our way to do something against our partner’s wish and that is not okay.
The second a person makes it clear something makes them feel negative, their partner should know better—no questions asked.
Even what is seen as “trivial” or “too much” might impact a person for the worse.
– It’s done out of spite: trust issues and/or unresolved relationship problems.
At times, we might feel the need to “get even” when feeling hurt, disrespected, and/or uncomfortable in a relationship.
It’s called “revenge-cheating”—when people get cheated on, they feel the urge to cheat right back.
That’s not what I’m talking about (nor will I comment on it)!
I’m talking about a partner cheating through text out of spite and for absolutely no reason or basis for their claims.
For example, a person who feels insecure and believes their partner is out of their league might feel the need to prove to themselves and others that they, too, can attract people.
They might even already be thinking that their partner is cheating, with no evidence.
All of those examples containing baseless paranoia which pushes people to act in an unfaithful way are considered cheating.
The only time sexting is acceptable is when the partner knows and is okay with it.
The one and only time when sexting isn’t—objectively—seen as cheating is when a partner is 100% aware and okay with it.
As I mentioned, everybody has a set of boundaries, meaning that some people aren’t bothered by their partner sexting other people.
They think it’s no big deal as physicality isn’t involved; they can forgive it and move on.
Everything’s clear, and in terms of secrets, there are none—they either know or don’t, but either way, they don’t mind.
This is usually the case with open marriages or relationships where people are allowed (or even encouraged) to seek multiple partners.
And if that’s not the case, people who simply don’t think much of it won’t label their partner a “cheater”.
Sexting is certainly considered cheating—here’s why!
It’s fairly easy to say “Yes, sexting is cheating!”
But, why? What are the reasons that explain the phenomenon?
It all boils down to the emotional pain and disrespect that is inflicted on a partner and relationship.
Ultimately, if your partner is not okay with such behavior, that’s so for a very valid reason.
It does involve inappropriately intimate behavior that might lead to something much bigger, after all.
Let’s take a look at reasons why sexting is viewed as an unfaithful fact—what makes it such?
1. First and foremost, it hurts your significant other.
Any form of cheating hurts your partner, and sexting fits the criteria.
Sexting a person other than your spouse is plainly wrong: it hurts them and damages the relationship forever.
No person wants to see the love of their life behave sexually with an outsider—let alone exchange lewd content.
Physicality has nothing to do with it as there are types of cheating other than “physical”, so this isn’t an excuse.
Again, acting in such a way will hurt the other person and end up—potentially—negatively impacting their well-being.
2. Sexting is known to distract from the relationship.
Sexting while in a relationship pushes people to pay more attention to their phone, rather than their partner—that’s unhealthy for the connection.
It makes people spend less quality time together, all while leaving no space for healthy communication.
All in all, it makes a person neglect their partner/relationship and give that attention elsewhere.
And by “elsewhere” I mean other people; it actively makes people (in relationships) want more/different options.
3. It gives you a habit of comparing your partner and the other person.
Being compared to other people by a love interest has got to be one of the most gut-wrenching feelings.
However, when sexting with somebody else, we start doing it automatically—that’s where the problem lies.
In this situation, a person might start unconsciously comparing and de-evaluating the traits of a significant other.
They might even start remembering the people they talk to online at inappropriate times.
It builds an unrealistic idea of how intercourse should be, or how “variety” is essential.
Or it might just give a false idea of what they should and can be getting, other than their current partner.
4. Sexting other people harms relationships, no doubt.
One thing is for sure: sexting outside of the relationship will change the relationship once and for all—in negative ways.
Because of the nature of these actions, the relationship will take a toxic turn, filled with negative emotions, and will potentially be near its end.
A lot of people try to justify the behavior, not realizing that sexting is a form of cheating, and will have the same effects.
The other person could lose trust and slowly pull away while forming resentment towards you, for example.
That, and many factors will cause the relationship to change its course.
5. Things can escalate from 1 to 100—real quick.
The majority of people who start sexting each other don’t usually stop just there.
Chances are, they will want to meet up and allow things to go much, much deeper.
And this is another very crucial part of why sexting outside the relationship is wrong and unfaithful—it’s what comes after it.
And even for the portion of people who can forgive it due to physicality not being involved, this crosses the line.
Such behavior only paves the way for more disrespect to be created.
6. To make a long story short, sexting is inappropriate behavior.
I think this is a no-brainer.
Sexting someone other than your partner is inappropriate.
It involves sexual acts (e.g. sending nudes, lewd videos, and other content) with another person while being in a relationship.
Again, such acts are acceptable only when they don’t hurt your partner; if someone is single, then sexting won’t negatively impact a person’s life, hence, it’s okay.
It is a big deal, and it is cheating, no matter how we try to spin it.
How to tell if a partner is sexting someone else? 10 suggestive signs that help our case.
If you’re still in the process of finding out whether your spouse is sexting someone else, here are some signs to look out for:
- They’re hiding their phone from you at all costs,
- They’re online at very late night hours,
- They suddenly changed passwords to apps or devices you had access to,
- They never take calls in front of you,
- They’re hiding you from their social media (e.g. they don’t post you or interact with you on their social media),
- You found out they’re using dating apps (be it through Swindlerbuster or other methods),
- They avoid letting you alone with their unlocked phone.
What comes next? Forgiveness or ending the relationship?
That’s entirely up to you.
If you believe that your partner’s acts can and should be forgiven, then take the next necessary step toward that journey!
Consider couples therapy and setting healthy boundaries soon to prevent any similar events from happening again.
And if you decide that it’s best to part ways as you’ve been deeply hurt and disrespected, stick by that decision.
At the end of the day, do whatever resonates with you and your happiness.