UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 18, 2024

Online infidelity difficult to define

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All the hours I spent watching the show “Cheaters” taught me that tapping a phone can confirm any suspicion, but nowadays online infidelity is more common and harder to spot than ever. 

According to a Fusion.com poll, 82 percent of 1,000 participants between the ages of 18 to 34 answered “Yes” to the question: “Do online flirtations or relationships count as cheating?”

We all know that being unfaithful to a significant other online is wrong, but how recognizable is online cheating and flirting?

I decided to ask Dixie State University students if they could judge whether a screenshot of a text message was flirtatious or not.  But first things first: What does flirtatious mean?

“It involves giving too much attention to and making [someone besides your significant other] an object of your emotions,” said Aaron Hall, a junior communication major from St. George.

Hall also said being nervous or fearful to disclose text or online messages to a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife might signify that some degree of cheating is afoot.  

“If you’re in a relationship, your job is to make the other person your teammate,” Hall said.  “And spilling your emotions and problems onto another person is a way of cheating on your significant other.”

Regarding the screenshot, Hall said, “I think the first person is flirting with the emoji, but the other person seems more [faithful] because of their response.” 

Katie Stevenson, a senior English major from LaVerkin, also agreed that the emoji signified flirtatious behavior.

“The smirking emoticon gives the impression that he or she wants to be more than just acquaintances, but I wouldn’t consider it [completely] cheating because the second person gives a vague response [like they’re not interested],” Stevenson said.

Some people responded that if the second person had ended his or her response with “…,” it would be flirting.  Apparently, flirting is a matter of punctuation. 

And people think grammar class is a waste of time.

On the other hand, Rebekah Wainwright, a senior music major from St. George, said that cheating really “depends on the person you’re in a relationship with. Do they care?  Because if they do, then it is cheating.”

Wainwright then simply said open relationships are open and exclusive relationships are exclusive. 

“Every relationship is different [and] unless it’s stated beforehand [that your relationship is exclusive], it’s pretty hard to hold anybody to [any standard],” Wainwright said.

Healthy relationships should establish whether they are open or closed.  If not, then technically there is no level of commitment, no level of betrayal and, therefore, no such thing as cheating.