Paging Anthony Weiner: Some manage to have Internet flings without the lies -- and with their partner's permission
“John” is monogamous, except for when it comes to “tech-based stuff,” he says. The same goes for “Samantha,” his girlfriend of nearly four years. Call it whatever you want — cyber swinging, polyIMorous or — wait for it, wait for it! — monogam-IT. What it means is they have agreed to only have sex with each other in real life — but online is another story.
It’s an especially refreshing example of consent and honest communication, given recent news of Anthony Weiner’s secretive extramarital sexting. According to a survey by MSNBC.com/iVillage, 57 percent of men and 77 percent of women find flirtatious online chats and webcamming to be cheating. In the minority are people who either don’t count online flirting as infidelity or who, like John and Samantha, explicitly allow for it as the “-ish” in “monogam-ish.”
“We are both allowed by mutual consent to be sexual with people other than each other,” he tells me in, what else, an email. “But that interaction is limited to online/phone/Skype-based interactions rather than ‘real life.’” There are other ground rules — for example, “the person we’re playing with must specifically be made aware of our relationship status and what is and is not permitted,” he said, and mutual friends are avoided. He adds, “There’s no romance involved, just a way to build tension and flirt and have fun.”
I asked whether he felt that these online relationships put him at greater risk of a physical infidelity. He allowed that his partner is “more comfortable when the people that I flirt with are not geographically available,” but said that their chief priority as a couple is to have a relationship that “balances adventure and security,” “intimacy and autonomy.” And it’s not just sexy fun all the time: They’ve gone to a couples therapist to help them figure out this new terrain.