Virtual Morality Questions

The era of electronic entertainment has given rise to all sorts of interesting moral questions, questions that bring shades of gray to hitherto black-and-white issues of right or wrong.  Here’s one:

I was going to file this silly thing under INSIGNIFICA when I decided it wasn’t that silly, after all.

We might think that this is a modern morality question, but of course it isn’t.  People have been sending “love letters” to each other pretty much as soon as we discovered writing, only now the communication is electronic over the Internet rather than on paper and by messenger / through the mail.  In days gone by, therefore, a husband discovering racy love letters from another man in his wife’s possession would justifiably, in my opinion, be suspicious of his wife’s fidelity — and certainly so if the other man was a mutual acquaintance, or someone living close by.

Of course, the further the distance between writers, the less likely would actual adultery take place — but, to address the above question, is virtual adultery any different from actual adultery?

Note that I’m not talking about flirty communication here;  there’s an enormous difference, in my opinion, between “I’d love to take a walk on the beach with you someday”  to “I want to suck your penis”, although some might argue that the difference is only in degree.

The arrival of the telephone added sound to the situation — and one has only to see how many “phone sex” lines there are to see the effect of that.  Still, I suppose that one might argue that such activity is purely impersonal — I’m reminded of a scene in some movie of a young woman having phone sex on one of these lines while doing her ironing and watching her baby play on the kitchen floor — and it’s all just fantasy, not adultery.

What has changed, of course, is that communication nowadays can include video, where love letters never did.  Now we are talking about a whole different ball game, aren’t we?  Or are we?

Does adultery have to require actual physical contact to be classified as adultery?

I have to say “yes” to the above — although that said, I understand that virtual adultery has all sorts of “moth and candle” implications, especially if it’s between people who know each other.  As one woman of my acquaintance once put it:  “Virtual sex has replaced foreplay when it comes to fooling around”, and she’s absolutely right — if, that is, the couple are not just strangers getting a cheap thrill out of the thing.

And there, I think, is the crux of it.  It’s not the virtual aspect of it;  it’s who you’re talking to.  Which is more dangerous to a marriage:  talking sex to a complete stranger in a chat room, on a phone sex line or on a video call, or talking sex with a neighbor, a guy from the office or a friend’s husband?

I think we all know the answer to that.


    1. Ravenwood is right. They’ve already made the decision to cheat. The only thing they need is opportunity. Why wait until it goes that far?


  1. In Catholicism, that is adultery. Your mind and heart are not where they should be, and it’s a start down a dangerous path.

    G. Gordon Liddy had a bit on his show about fooling around, and why he never did. Basically it’s the path analogy. Once you head down that path, it becomes easier and easier to cheat.

    I agree with Stencil above – Forsake all others doesn’t mean just physical.

  2. If you’re piece of shit, you’re a piece of shit….how you go about it is irrelevant.

    That kinda logic is how fags in drag suddenly become “women”.

  3. Kim, let me throw some more logs onto that fire.

    >>Things have fundamentally changed.<<

    IIRC, you're a late Boomer, and I'm an early Gen-X. Your kids were late Gen-X or early Millenials, and my kids are solidly Gen-Z.

    Gen-Z sexuality ripened alongside a mature Internet, social media, and a Wired world. Their experience of the unfolding of human sexuality is fundamentally different. Whereas we awaked first with ourselves, and shortly after in furtive direct gropings with others, perhaps with a round of phone sex added on as an afterthought, Gen-Z and later for the most part start with cybersex.

    For real. Look it up. Most Gen-Z assignations make initial contact mediated through technology, and their first sexual experiences other than with themselves pretty much involves two way video streams. Only much later will they get to what we would consider to be "actual", as opposed to complicated masturbatory sexual encounters.

    Another side effect of this technologically moderated sex life is that their encounters tend to be both transient, and transactional.

    Their psyches are a mess.

    1. “…their encounters tend to be both transient, and transactional. ”

      So what’s changed?


    This is a website dedicated to helping people recover from infidelity. Infidelity is infidelity, whether it’s physical or emotional, telephone sex or one night stand or years-long affair, or a double life with a second family.

    A partner who expects (and was promised) fidelity is devastated by the loss of trust and debasement of the foundation of their relationship. It doesn’t require actual physical sex to achieve that.

    It is traumatic. If you’re a person who made and kept your vows, and expected to remain married for life, the death of your marriage caused by your partner’s straying is like getting stabbed in the back.

    In my case, and I’m not alone, it caused dramatic weight loss, hospitalization heart issues, psychological trauma, and required anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and sleep aids, along with counseling.

    I got through it. I know people who didn’t. I know people who were damaged beyond recovery, and they will never trust again.

    1. Amen. My dad had been an accountant, and was fond of citing a stat he’d read in the Wall Street Journal: CPAs have the lowest incidence of divorce among working professionals because, it was asserted, they had a clear understanding of the economic consequences.

  5. Hypothetically…
    If ‘somebody I know’ writes an occasional comment on a popular blog — hoping for a response from the dashingly handsome masculinely studly forum-owner and really smart dude — is this an attempt to e-involve said MSF-OARSD into an e-affair?
    I just don’t know what to believe anymore…

  6. Ever notice that the person writing in to ask “Is it cheating if…” is the one half of the couple doing it, but never the half of the couple who is not doing it?

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