Ask The HANX Gang: Is Sexting Cheating?
Bo Burnham's lockdown banger 'Sexting' encapsulated the ludicrous nature of sending saucy hieroglyphics to the apple of our eye. But what if we're sending eggplant-water droplets-wink to someone other than our bae?
Relationships are full of grey areas. In monogamous situations, having actual, physical sex with someone other than your partner tends to be a no-no. However, where is the line when affection from another is digital, rather than physical?
Is sexting cheating?
*According to Vice, “49% of women consider sexting to be cheating, as opposed to 34% of men.” When we asked around our Whatsapp chats to try and break down what sexting really is, definitions varied from casual flirting, to sending explicit selfies, full-on nudes and the really rude stuff.
Some of our *anon* talking heads even considered their other half liking and actively following someone they fancied online as ‘sneaky’, ‘devious’ and ‘kinda heading into cheating’. Others aren’t as rigid, citing risky texts and suggestive snaps as totally fine, as long as there isn't intent for it to turn physical in the future.
Their verdict on sexting as cheating?
- “Actually this has happened to me and it really f****** sucked. I was working really long hours and my ex saw it as a form of neglect so was chatting to girls online. It’s over and I still find it hard to trust people I date.”
- “Weird. Really disrespectful. I wouldn’t check <redacted>’s phone but sometimes I do wonder what she does on it but that’s a line I don’t think she’d cross. I wouldn’t either.”
- "Admittedly, being on furlough and having nothing to do for months while my husband's been at work was pretty boring so I did respond to an ex's flirty texts. Phone sex didn't and I wouldn't have pursued it if it had. It was just a way to pass the time and I don't feel it's something I need to disclose to my husband."
- "I struggle with self-confidence anyway so if I saw my boyfriend sending flirty texts, I'd feel really bad about myself. I'd assume I wasn't hot enough or he didn't want to be with me. Sexting would be an absolute dealbreaker for me."
- "I'd be fuming. If someone sends my boyfriend a flirty text, I want him to show me and laugh about it with me."
- "I think it's mad to pretend that I don't fancy anyone other than my boyfriend! Flirting in texts is fine, I do it in real life with coffee shop staff and coworkers. I wouldn't ever take it beyond a cheeky comment though."
For those uncomfortable with their partner sexting others, within the boundaries of a standard monogamous relationship, it amounts to an emotional betrayal. It might not have progressed to physical touch, but it suggests a need to examine how fulfilled you're feeling, and how well you're connecting to your partner.
Is phone sex cheating?
When it came down to actually getting hot and breathy down the phone, it's a no-go:
“Hell to the no!! If my bf was having phone sex with other people I’d kick him to the kerb.”
“Texting is one thing but actually getting off over the phone is waaaay too personal. I’d feel so bad afterwards, I couldn’t do it to anyone!”
“An old flame tried to video call me a few months into a serious relationship and I FREAKED OUT. My partner and I were watching tv and and when I saw it flash up on my phone I just threw it down the side of the sofa cos I felt so weird. I can’t imagine doing that, even if my current thing wasn’t so hot. It’s just not cool."
Why do people sext?
Like any form of infidelity, there are many reasons why you or a partner might be tempted into a little side-sexting action, including:
Dissatisfaction with aspects of the relationship. Lack of physical or emotional connection, or feeling unappreciated or unattractive.
Boredom. Some may find themselves rudderless or seeking the thrill that was once present in their relationship, but has dimmed over time.
Situational factors: alcohol or drugs can impact decision making and self control.
Dissatisfaction with monogamous relationship expectations. Many may actually be happier in an open, or fluid situation, but feel unable to/are unaware of the other possibilities.
Desire to end the relationship but feeling unable/unwilling to instigate this.
What do you do if you find out your partner is sexting someone else?
Communication, as with most relationship situations, is everything. It's easy to jump to the worst conclusion but it's important to ask your partner openly how far the sexting has actually gone.
They might not realise a flirty text constitutes boundary crossing for you, or that the situation looks far more illicit than it truly is. Equally, you may hear home truths that are hard to swallow.
Catching a partner sexting doesn't necessarily have to mean the end of a relationship. An honest discussion may bring truths to light that you both have been missing. You may rediscover passion that has been lying dormant or decide to put more effort in to address the 'lacking' areas of your partnership. Know that you always have the right to assert your own comfort levels and that no one can possibly judge you for the choices you make in this situation.