As former U.S. Representative, former NYC mayoral candidate, former husband to Huma Abedin, who has been embroiled in sexting scandals for five years, there becomes one thing clear – Anthony Weiner isn’t a “former” penis scandal story. Weiner finds himself, once again, in the media spotlight. This time, Weiner is being investigated for sexting an underage girl and it makes me consider the morality behind sexting someone who isn’t your partner.
Let’s forget about the ancillary Clinton e-mails that have been found on his computer. And, let’s even give Weiner a small benefit of the doubt that he had no idea the girl he was sexting was underage. Instead, I want to take a moment to consider the topic of sexting (specifically) and pornography, in general, and how it relates to infidelity.
Whether it’s sending photos of your penis, or other body parts, or simply just expressing in words the sexy feelings you’re having, sexting is now a cultural thing. Between two consenting adults, sexting can add spice to a relationship. Imagine being at the office and receiving a sext from your partner about what they’re going to do to you the moment you get home… yeah, that might make you leave the office on time! When your partner travels a lot, sexting can help you fill the time while the two of you are physically apart.
All-in-all, I think sexting is a way for couples to be intimate, despite distance, thanks to technology. That’s a very good thing!
However, the challenge, for Weiner as well as many others, is this sexting isn’t happening with their official partner. Instead, Weiner has been caught (multiple times) sexting someone other than his former wife that he met either in person or online. None of these encounters, to our knowledge, resulted in any physical interactions – nor did there appear to be plans to take the relationship to the physical world… so, could this be seen as something more akin to personalized pornography? Is sexting with someone you never intend to actually have physical relations with really cheating? Is it any different than if Weiner had called a 1-900 phone sex line?
Now, here’s the really tricky question… Is that infidelity?
I think “cheating” isn’t a black or white concept. In the most open of relationships, even sleeping with another person isn’t being unfaithful. Infidelity is as unique as each and every relationship — and may even change as the relationship matures.
Traditionally, there are two facets of infidelity — physical and emotional. Sexting someone obviously doesn’t literally break the physical infidelity vow. However, it can, in some instances, be emotional infidelity.
I think the most important thing to determine if sexting is cheating (and also, by association whether the use of pornography is cheating) lies, mostly, in what your partner thinks about it. If your partner doesn’t have an issue with you sexting others, then it’s not infidelity. However, I think the important thing here is having the discussion with your primary partner.
If part of the attraction of sexting someone else is the thrill of sneaking around… chances are that’s going to be seen as cheating.
Just like the use of pornography or, say going to a strip club, sexting should never negatively affect your primary relationship. If instead of having sex with your partner, you’re getting off on topless photos some random girl you met online is sending you… well, again, chances are that’s going to be viewed as cheating. However, if it’s more used as interactive, personalized erotica, which leads to an enhanced sex life with your real partner, (and your partner is OK with it) well then maybe it’s not so bad.