Putting an End to Cyber-cheating

Dear Dr. Patti:

My husband is having cybersex with several women. I recently found some trashed email from him to one woman. He had arranged a week away for "job training;" she was planning to join him. Her husband found out and sent a letter threatening to kill my husband if he didn't stay away from his wife.

Two months later I caught him on the phone with a different woman. He says I'm making a big deal out of nothing and everyone does this on the computer. I feel his two potential affairs didn't end out of love for me, but because he got caught. He claims that since nothing physical happened, it doesn't count as cheating. What should I do?



Dear M:

I never give direct advice to couples, but I'll make an exception in your case: Negotiate an end to this cyber-bordello -- or move out of it. This is a complex and loaded situation, one we talk about in my weekly chats here at iVillage. The prevailing theory among our chatters: If he's taking time and attention away from your relationship, it's cheating. Any man having cybersex with several women a night and setting up real-life dates sounds like a cheater to me. The intensity of his behaviors, the denial and the general tone of what you describe troubles me. I'd have to agree that he's stopping himself only out of fear of getting caught.

You have the right to demand that certain conditions be met. Trust and commitment are necessary ingredients for successful couples. His current dependence on surfing and dating online are challenging your ability to continue to love and accept him as your mate. Tell him you love and care about him and your marriage (if you do), but these acts hurt you and your covenant. Be straight and gentle but firm. This issue can erode your sense of self, kill off long-term potential and hurt everyone involved. Find courage to speak out, and hopefully he'll forgo his forays at the keyboard to save your love.

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