A French Court Has Declared Online Flirting Grounds for Divorce. Do You Agree?

by Gena Kaufman

Getty Images
Getty Images

What "counts" as cheating isn't a black-and-white issue. Everyone draws different lines that can't be crossed.

But in France, a court has gone ahead and declared a questionable gray area to be grounds for divorce. In a marriage of 20 years, a woman was found to have violated her marital obligations by chatting with men online, although she didn't ever meet up with any of them physically. She communicated with them through a singles site and sent intimate photos to some of the men she spoke with. Her husband argued that the wife did not respect her spouse and ruled that the divorce was the sole fault of the wife. (Side note: I find it incredibly interesting that this case comes out of France, where we're often told that attitudes about sex and monogamy are much more liberal than in the U.S.)

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Now, I don't think any human would be delighted to find that their spouse had been flirting online and sending sexy photos to other people. But is it really cheating if nothing ever comes of it? Would online relationships be considered "emotional cheating"? Or is it less about emotion and more about a sexy fantasy? And, more important, could you get past it or is it definitely grounds for an automatic breakup?

While I don't always think a little flirting is detrimental to a relationship--it can be confidence boosting and sexually recharging--I would definitely be concerned if I were with a guy and he was deliberately seeking out such encounters, pretending to be single on a dating site, no less, rather than just exchanging looks with a cute barista one afternoon. And sexy photos? Not only would I be offended by the disloyalty of it, I'd be enraged at the stupidity. How many sexting scandals do we need to have before everyone realizes this is a foolproof way to get caught and humiliated? Come on, people.

Would you consider it cheating if your guy used an online dating site just to browse or chat? If not, where would you draw the line?

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