We hear stories all the time about women catching their partners talking to other women online. We’re not being sexist, we’re relaying real stories and unfortunately, the majority of these ones come from women we meet or who read our blog. They want to know what online flirting means for the future of their relationship: if it’s harmless – it doesn’t feel that way – or if it signals much deeper issues that need to be dealt with. As matchmakers who speak with men and women daily about their needs and motivations, in situations like this we always err on the side of caution. If it’s happening then it’s relevant, it’s important and it’s unlikely to be harmless.
With any action that people take part in, you have to get to the real root cause of the behaviour and work out what their intention behind it is. People don’t suddenly wake up one day and decide to begin talking to others online about their day or their sexual fantasies. Even if it hasn’t gone that far and your partner claims simply to be curious about what’s happening on all these different apps, think about why they may have kept it a secret and why it wasn’t something they felt they could be honest with you about. You, their life partner.
The content of the messages, if it has got to the stage of regularly communicating with particular people, will tell you a lot about how innocent the exchange is. Ultimately, yes it’s online, but the person on the other end is a very real human being with needs and emotions. If you would be upset about the same topics or level of intimacy taking place at a bar or with a co-worker, then you have cause for concern that it’s happening online.
Be aware, this isn’t about blame in any sense, but you will both have to be honest about what is missing from your relationship to the extent that another person has been invited into it. A lot of people would automatically assume that the motive is sexual for a man and emotional for a woman, but this truly isn’t the case. Men need to be heard just as much as women, they want to feel as though they can express themselves without judgment, mockery or needing to hide aspects of their personality.
If you find out your partner is cheating, try your hardest to not immediately set up camp in the attack or defensive zones. Once the initial shock subsides, try to figure out together what it is they’re getting from flirting online that is missing from your relationship. The may say it’s nothing – not true – or you may disagree with another answer they give. Whatever you do, remember you cannot negate someone else’s feeling or perspective, simply because you don’t see it the same way.
This is one hundred per cent something that a couple can bounce back from and together build a stronger relationship. It is only possible however when you’ve had the open and honest conversations about the points raised above. In our opinion, cheating or flirting in any form should be addressed and taken as seriously as you do the sanctity of your relationship.
We understand the dating age has changed dramatically over the years and the amount of choice and ways to spend your free time can be truly overwhelming. This isn’t an excuse for low-level infidelity however, so don’t fool yourself into thinking it’ll blow over smoothly without at least a chat.