Online Flirting – Are You Cheating without Realizing It?

online flirting - is it cheating?

It may seem like an innocent good time, but can your online flirting habits be crossing the line when it comes to your real love life?

We’ve all done it. And by “it” I mean we’ve all fallen into the trap of flirting with people via the internet. And for those of us with a significant other sitting next to us on the couch munching on Cheetos and flipping through every sports channel there is, online flirting can become a bit of a problem if you take it from innocent to something more.

It can happen to everyone. Whether you’re just replying to a silly comment on Facebook and adding that little wink emoji, or if you’re actually in the online dating community *Tinder?* just for the fun of it, online flirting can cause many problems in your real relationship.

One little comment taken too far can be the end of something real. Who would want that? I know I didn’t when a simple wink face turned into a full-blown argument and eventually the demise of one of my relationships… yikes! [Read: Emotional cheating and 10 bad things it can do for you]

Is online flirting really cheating – How do you know if you’ve crossed the line?

I’ve been in a relationship or two that have gone south because of too much online flirting. Not only have I been the victim, but I’ve also been one to flirt quite a bit as well. Had I known the warning signs about what is considered too far and what’s not, maybe I could have saved the relationships.

Take it from someone who has been on both ends of this controversial subject and read all the tips I’ve shared about online flirting and how to know if you’ve made the mistake of taking it too far.

12 steps to determine whether or not your online flirting is actually cheating

There a number of ways to know for sure whether or not you flirting online is actually a form of cheating. But most of all, you need to remember that cheating doesn’t have to mean that you’re engaging in physical intimacy with someone other than your committed partner. It can even just be purely emotional – and that’s where cheating via the internet can be applied. [Read: 10 annoying partner habits that can drive anyone to cheat]

#1 You are continuously flirting with the same person. When you’re flirting with the same person day in and day out when you’re already in a committed relationship, then I would say it’s a form of cheating. You shouldn’t be flirting with the same person over and over again if you’re happily hooked to someone already. It may not be the worst form of cheating, but it definitely should be considered as one.

#2 You feel the need to hide it from your significant other. Nothing spells out “cheating” more than feeling guilty for interacting with someone. Now don’t get me wrong, you can occasionally get away with sending a flirty comment here and there, but if it gets to the point that you’re stuffing your phone in your pocket the second your partner gets in the room, then you’ve got a problem.

Not to mention if you’re lying about it as well! When your partner asks who you’re talking to and you lock your phone and say, “Oh, umm… just no one? Er – I mean my sister,” then you’re cheating on them whether you want to accept it or not. [Read: How to stop lying to yourself and your partner]

#3 When you would rather communicate this way with other people than you would your lover. If you’re flirting more with other people – specifically the same person frequently – and you would rather do that than actually flirt with your own partner, then it’s cheating.

#4 If your flirting leads to meetings *or the discussion of meeting in person*. This is really obvious cheating. If you’re flirting and chatting enough with someone else to warrant an actual meeting, then you’re cheating. Especially if your significant other is unaware of what’s going on. You don’t have to be getting intimate with that other person for it to be considered unfaithful.

Cue the guilt and lies, you cheater! *Disclaimer: you can be friends with people and spend time with them just fine. But when flirting is the #1 way you communicate with them, then there’s more than just friendliness going on.* [Read: 15 really obvious signs of flirting between a guy and a girl]

#5 If you develop feelings for the people you flirt with. Or rather, just a person you’re flirting with. When innocent flirting turns into real feelings for them, you are cheating on your current partner. You are not being fully faithful and committed to them in the way you should be.

#6 If the flirting leads to a loss of feelings for your partner. You may say, “So what? I’ve never even met them. It’s just online.” But if you’re losing feelings for your current special someone because of all of the flirting you’re doing online, you’re inadvertently cheating on them! [Read: When is flirting cheating when you’re in a relationship]

Okay, okay, I get what cheating is, but when does my flirting actually cross that line?

Flirting is probably harmless most of the time, but there is a line that can be crossed and sometimes you can’t get back over it. If your flirting is accompanied with any of the following, you may be crossing that fine line.

#1 It’s very frequent. Occasional flirting is fine. You can make a comment or like someone’s half-naked picture every now and then, and it’s completely okay. But when you’re flirting with everybody that’s out there on the internet all the time, you may be crossing a line that your partner won’t be too comfortable with.

#2 When you get excited to get back to your phone or computer so you can flirt. You may not notice it right away, but if you’re crossing the line then you are probably always excited to hit up Facebook or Tinder. I’m sure your significant other would NOT be happy with your super excitement over flirting with other people.

#3 When you go out of your way to make it happen. Casual and innocent flirting is not something people go looking for. It just happens naturally and you reply flirtingly. But if you’re seeking out opportunities to flirt with someone online, you’re just about to cross that very fine line between innocence and potential cheating. [Read: 13 lusty signs you’re starting to get sexually attracted to someone else]

#4 If your partner notices a difference in your behavior towards them. This one is pretty big and basically means you’re standing ON the line. When your lover notices your behavior has changed – and you know it’s because of your fun flirting online – then you may as well just take a step further because you’re almost over that line.

#5 If you silently defend it. Does anyone else have mental conversations arguing with themselves? No? Just me? Okay… but honestly, if you are feeling the need to justify your flirting – even to yourself – then you recognize the line and that you may be crossing it. Innocent flirting doesn’t make you feel guilty. [Read: Love triangles and its confusing complications]

#6 If your flirting is leading to any other emotions. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Cue the red lights and loud sirens because you have officially crossed the line from innocent flirting to cheating. When casual flirting become frequent and you develop feelings for the other person, then you have definitely crossed that invisible, yet very prominent, line and are in for some trouble.

Casual and innocent flirting online is not only really fun, but it can be healthy for a relationship as well. But if you’re investing too much time into it and not enough into your special someone, then you’ve got a problem.

[Read: 18 emotional affair signs you probably never noticed]

As exciting as the idea of flirting online with someone else may seem, use these 12 signs and ask yourself if you’re really willing to jeopardize your real relationship for an imaginary online fling thing.

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Bella Pope
Bella Pope
Bella is a lifestyle writer, cheese enthusiast (Wisconsin native over here) and fantasy adventure author-in-progress who enjoys all things love, dog, p...

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2 thoughts on “Online Flirting – Are You Cheating without Realizing It?”

  1. Jalissa says:

    Online flirting can be a form of cheating in my opinion yes. I think the factors that make that so are becoming exclusive with one online partner to where everyone else is non existent. Also there is difference with your actual partner and you are hiding the online connection from them. Another great sign is flirting is leading to other emotions that are now coming into play like jealousy, more than a little liking, wanting to get together where online is just not enough anymore. I try and stay away from this distraction as much as possible especially when in a relationship.

  2. MY boyfriend cheated on me says:

    I am in a difficult situation, and I’m not really sure what to do. I don’t feel like I can really explain the situation to any of my friends or family (for reasons I’ll explain in a minute), beyond which I don’t currently have any close girlfriends I feel I could share this with. My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and 8 months, and we moved in together about a year ago. We are both closer to 30 than to 20. I just graduated from law school, and he is a graduate student. He is very introverted, with some social anxiety, and I am an extrovert, with my own anxiety issues. We have had an intense relationship, in part because someone he was very close to (hereafter referred to as X) died only a few months after we started dating, and it hit him really hard. I was very active in keeping him afloat through a year of depression, although I doubt he always appreciated my methods. I am a person who wants to talk things out, and he is someone who would rather never talk about anything. To this day we’ve never talked about his loss, or about any of the feelings he has about it. We have, unfortunately, had several talks about my desire to connect with him as a partner, and to be closer on a variety of levels (mentally, emotionally, sexually). Our sex life used to be great. We are both kinky people (one of the reasons I don’t feel comfortable discussing this with just anyone), and that shared interest made for some great sex in the beginning. Things definitely slowed down after X’s death, and then stopped almost entirely after we moved in together. I attribute a lot of that to depression, weight gain, and the passage of time in the relationship, but the kinkiness in our relationship totally vanished, and we were down to having sex about once a month. I made an effort to bring it back several times, tried to do the kinds of kinky things he was into, started making my advances comically obvious, but it mostly just ended up with emotional arguments and empty assurances that nothing was wrong. Last December, I found out he was posting personal ads on Craig’s List, soliciting sex with both men and women, including naked pictures of himself. I confronted him about it, and after asking to see his email history discovered that he’s been doing it nearly since we started going out. There were long email chains of him exchanging pictures and dirty talk with people, and several instances of him setting up dates and times to meet with people. He swore up and down that he’d never actually met up with any of these people, and that he’d only posted the ads to get and exchange dirty pictures with people on the internet. I told him that the secrecy is what hurt me the most, and that that kind of willingness to deceive the person you love is a huge red flag for me. That conversation lasted 3 days, mostly spent sobbing and trying to get him to drop the defensive bullsh*t and really apologize to me.

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