Flirting is often a gray area in relationships, and flirting on social media makes the question even more confusing. If nothing is happening physically, why does it feel so icky when you see your significant other flirting online? Is flirting online considered cheating?
Online Flirting: Maybe Not TECHNICALLY Cheating...
...but still morally dubious. Online flirting falls into the same category as regular in-person flirting. With so much of our lives taking place online these days, it's no wonder flirting takes place on social media, too. If you're asking yourself whether flirting is cheating in general, you're going to want to extrapolate your answer to your SO's online behavior.
So is flirting cheating? Well, it depends. Many would say flirting online isn't technically cheating — nothing is happening physically, after all. But if you have that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach at just the thought of your partner getting flirty via text or sliding into someone else's DMs, you're not alone.
When Does Flirting Cross the Line?
A lot comes down to intention. Some people are naturally friendly and outgoing but have no desire to do anything further. Other folks might be feeling out how far they can go with someone else — and how much they can get away with — by testing the flirting waters online.
Sometimes, a partner doesn't intend to flirt, but it still bothers their significant other. Each partner should share how they feel about the whole situation and then work together to discuss what a mutually agreeable solution would look like. Everyone's different! Though online flirting might not technically be cheating, it can still be very hurtful if a partner feels a breach of trust.
Why Relationship Rules Are Important — and How to Set Them
Just like with any other type of flirting, flirting on social media falls into a gray area best defined by each individual relationship's rules. As with most things in relationships, communication is key.
Some couples truly find that flirting adds excitement to their relationship. Some couples don't consider flirting to be cheating because it doesn't threaten the infrastructure of the relationship or break any rules in the relationship. This assessment is totally valid.
Other couples will consider any type of flirting offensive and equal to cheating. They might think of flirting as disrespectful and problematic in all its forms. Guess what? That's also totally valid.
The key is openly discussing the topic and agreeing on clear, consistent boundaries — then ensuring all parties follow the agreed-upon rules. Couples should have conversations about how they perceive and define flirting so they can develop relationship rules together.
Overall, partners need to be aware of behaviors that break their partner's trust and respect those boundaries. So, even if flirting isn't technically cheating, if it breaks someone's trust, it's a no-no. Significant others need to be willing to talk about their needs. If you need help finding strategies to start the conversation with your partner, an intuitive Psychic Advisor can help.
When Does Flirting Have Cheating Vibes?
Unless a couple has specifically agreed that flirting is fine, flirting often has the same dynamics as actual physical cheating. That goes for classic in-person flirting as well as flirting on social media.
If you're flirting with someone who isn't your SO, ask yourself what you're getting out of the interaction and if you're missing that from your partner. For example, maybe flirting on social media gets you admiration or attention. Maybe you feel like you don't get enough of that from your partner.
Then, think about how you might ask your SO to help you meet those needs (or, on the flip side, how you might meet your partner's needs if they're the one doing the online flirting). Asking deeper questions can help avert relationship disaster down the road, as harmless flirting can sometimes lead to cheating if the behavior comes from unmet needs in a relationship.
Maybe your partner will argue that flirting on social media isn't "officially" cheating. Again, it all depends on your relationship. Basically, if it's something you wouldn't do in front of your partner (or vice versa), you shouldn't be doing it when they're not around. Cheating doesn't need to be physical to be cheating. It can be emotional or just flirting, and "not-officially-cheating" can easily turn into an opportunity for physically cheating.
Oh, and if you don't want your partner flirting with others — you shouldn't do it either! It all comes down to boundaries and respect.
Is My SO Flirting on SM?
If flirting online does mess with the boundaries of your relationship, you'll want to be on the lookout for signs that your significant other is engaging in dubious behavior on social media. Social media flirting signs are similar to signs of other types of flirting or cheating. Your SO may seem distant, or you may have noticed their behavior change over time. Maybe they're defensive or secretive.
A partner trying to conceal online flirting that goes against your relationship rules might:
- Change passwords or take away access to shared social media accounts.
- Move the computer or only use tablets or phones in isolated locations at home.
- Closely guard their device, even refusing to let you use it.
- Shut down any attempts to talk about their usage of computers or online accounts.
- Clear their internet history repeatedly.
- Shut off their device abruptly or conceal the screen when you approach.
All in all, though the word "cheating" usually gets linked to explicit physical behavior, most partners naturally feel threatened by their SO flirting. Flirting may be a different degree of cheating than a physical affair, but if it causes a partner distress, it needs to be taken off the table. Relationships just don't work if one partner feels they aren't first in the eyes of their significant other.
If you have suspicions your SO is flirting on social media, a Psychic can help illuminate the situation. Get a Psychic Reading from PathForward today so you can discover the next steps you should take in your relationship.