Older adults sometimes find it difficult to decide where certain online activities fit on the continuum of infidelity.
However, people in the millennial generation—the generation that largely grew up with the Internet—seem to have much clearer ideas about varying forms of cyber affairs. And a new survey of 1,000 millennials found that the vast majority of them believe online flirting is cheating.
Older Adults vs. Millennials When It Comes To Views Of Online Flirting
While there is no definitive age range for millennials, the generation is typically considered to include people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s.
Older adults may still feel that the Internet is not quite the “real world” and that flirting or other sexual/romantic things that happen online cannot be judged as harshly as similar behaviors in person.
But people of the millennial generation and younger conduct so much of their lives on the Internet that this point of view seems to hold less weight with them.
The Internet not only plays a crucial role in the social lives of many people in this generation, but it has also become a place to conduct important business. If you can interview for a job online, file your taxes online and complete your banking online, it becomes harder to deny the “reality” of interactions that take place via the Internet.
The survey, conducted through telephone interviews by Fusion.net, found that 82 percent of the 1,000 millennials who participated believed that online flirting counts as cheating. Of the women interviewed, 88 percent believed that online flirting was cheating, compared to 77 percent of the men interviewed. Just over 15 percent of the participants said that online flirting did not count as cheating, with the small remainder saying they were unsure.
Online Flirting Is Easy To Hide
Part of the reason so many younger adults label online flirting as cheating may be an awareness of how easy and tempting online flirting can be. Conducting a dalliance online is easier to do and easier to hide from your significant other than conducting an in-person affair. Instead of having to find time to meet in secret and then lie about where you were and whom you were with, you can flirt with an online friend while sitting next to your partner on the sofa watching television.
An online affair also leaves less of a trace than a full blown in-person affair. There are no receipts to hide or physical traces to explain away, and as long as people keep their Internet passwords to themselves, it can be hard for a partner to gather evidence of what they are up to.
This no-fuss, low-risk nature of cyber cheating may be just what puts millennials’ guards up. Given that online flirting is so easy to do and so difficult to detect, members of this generation may want to make it absolutely clear that they consider any kind of online flirtation or relationship to be true infidelity and therefore a serious problem in any relationship. Excuse online flirting and you give your partner an uncomfortable amount of online room to play with.
Another argument that supports viewing online flirting as cheating is simply an understanding that intent remains the same, no matter the format under which the flirting takes place. If someone flirts with the intent to pursue a sexual or romantic encounter, it doesn’t matter whether they are flirting online or in person.
See How To Prevent Cyber Cheating