Is It Really Cheating?

Jennifer P. Schneider, Robert Weiss, Charles Samenow. (2012) Is It Really Cheating? Understanding the Emotional Reactions and Clinical Treatment of Spouses and Partners Affected by Cybersex Infidelity. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 19:1-2, pages 123-139.


Study type: Qualitative analysis of an online survey

Sample size: 34

Demographics: 29 female / 5 male; mean age 44.3 (age range of 21–71); 48.5% married, 24.2% in committed relationship, 12.1% separated, 12.1% divorced and 1 in casual relationship.

Key findings & quotes:
  • Study examined the meaning of spousal infidelity in the age of portable electronic communication devices and specifically the emotional reactions of those affected by social media-related infidelity.
  • “Results show that even when sexual behaviors are limited to online, partners can lose trust in their loved ones, feel the need to seek assistance, and identify themselves as victims of trauma.”
  • “Qualitative data offer support for the concept that partners’ feelings and actions that were formerly considered indicative of codependency can be normative behaviors of trauma victims seeking to regain control of their lives. Recommendations for clinicians working with partners are presented.”
  • 2% said the cybersex activities have significantly worsened their relationship and 35.3% said that this was a primary contributor to the demise of their relationship.
  • Only 29.4% felt they knew the full truth about their spouse’s online sexual behaviors.
  • 71% have lost trust in their mate.
  • 5% reported feeling like a trauma victim or survivor as a result of the user’s online sexual activities.
  • Two thirds of the partners sought out counseling or help because of this issue.
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