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The Realness Of Cybercheating

Monica T. Whitty

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This article considers the deviant behavior of Internet infidelity. Although a plethora of research has been conducted on offline infidelity and jealousy, to date, there has been very little written about Internet infidelity and jealousy associated with cyber-relationships. Given the potential problems that online infidelity might bring to a relationship, this area of research warrants some attention. This study drew from Kitzinger and Powell's (1995) story completion method to explore men's and women's understandings of Internet infidelity. Two hundred thirty-four participants wrote a story to a cue relating to Internet infidelity. Although not all participants saw this as a real act of betrayal the majority did see this as not only real infidelity but as also having as serious an impact on the couple as a traditional offline affair. The most important finding here was that emotional infidelity was given as much attention as sexual infidelitywas. Moreover, similar gender differences found in studies on offline infidelity emerged in this research. These results present a way forward in our thinking about cyberaffairs.