I started watching Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal on OWN just out of curiosity and then out of fascination and finally just trying to understand. The show details couples that have faced infidelity in their marriages and how they came to terms with it. I've seen so much infidelity in my life, from so many angles - it was interesting to unearth some of the clinical "explanations" when you unwrap the layers.
One particular episode about a woman who was sexting with an ex-boyfriend caught my attention. She spent months engaged in sexually suggestive conversations via text with her ex and they began to send more and more explicit photos back and forth. She justified it by saying it was not cheating because no physical intercourse took place. There was some discussion in the room about whether sexting is cheating or not? So I asked Dr. Jayme - here are her thoughts:
The simple answer is that yes - sexting is cheating. Let me share why. In the category of emotional intimacy, a marriage requires a commitment of all of your romantic and physical capital to your spouse.When one is engaged in sending sexually explicit words or pictures, they are sharing that capital with someone else. And while it's true that the actions may never consummate the promises; the fact is that by sending the words or pictures - your thoughts are already in bed with the other person.
Emotional infidelity is actually quite a bit harder to reconcile than the more overt act of sleeping with someone outside of the relationship. It can be compartmentalized as "just sex" - there's an end game there that is final. When the act is done, it's done. An emotional attachment is harder to break than a physical one. There are people that we never see or touch that hold a special place in our hearts for years.
As for the situation in this show - the woman was spending time flirting and sexting with someone other than her husband everyday. In my mind, it moved beyond a light flirtation into an obsession. I firmly believe that if she and her ex had lived in the same geographic region, it would have turned into a physical affair as well. She got high off of the attention and need she received from the other man and did not want to give it up. In fact, the show revealed that she became protective and defensive - going to great lengths to keep her cell phone by her side at all times, carving out time during the day to keep the outside communication going - it was quite an investment.
Once you make an investment in someone outside the relationship, the foundation is in jeopardy. It's like a house. You pour a foundation to hold a certain size house. You would not want a 2000 square foot house sitting on a 1500 square foot foundation... the whole thing could crumble. A house built for two that now has three or four is crowded and uncomfortable for everyone inside.
Unfortunately, in this case, when her infidelity was discovered by her husband he handled the situation completely incorrectly. Instead of handling what they were feeling and trying to understand why she was doing what she did - he decided that one good turn deserved another and went out and had an affair himself. Part of the anger fueling him was that he was haunted by the "what might have beens" of the situation. If she went this far with her ex, what was keeping her from taking the next step or doing this again with someone else?
There is always a cause and effect in infidelity. There is a trigger that sets in motion a chain reaction that ultimately switches that red light to green. It's not always sexual, in fact; in most cases it is emotional. This is why when you had the posts on flirting and people were heatedly swearing that there's nothing wrong it - I vehemently disagreed. An innocent flirtation is a seedling. Given the right amount of time and attention, it will settle in and grow. Why plant the seed?
Hope this answered the question.BougieLand, what say you? Do you consider sexting an act of infidelity? Harder or easier to forgive and forget than the physical act? Do share your thoughts...