Online relationships between real people, in my opinion, are real relationships. Even though there is no face to face interaction or touch. A relationship does not have to have physical interaction to be a relationship. If your spouse has to go away for six months for work, you still have an emotional relationship. This is slightly different since do you know what it is like to have a face to face interpersonal relationship with that person. However, the core emotional aspect of the relationship exists in both scenarios. “One study found that the text-only format of most online messages can bring people closer by minimizing the perception of differences due to gender, social class, race or ethnicity, and age. When you want people to on what you’re saying rather than your appearance, leaner communication can be advantageous.” (textbook 17-1b) Having an online relationship will allow you to only focus on the words and personality of the other individual leaving out all the other factors that tend to clog up real-life relationships like appearances and other superficial characteristics — having the only communication to connect one another can bring people very close. Therefore whether or not you are physically touching or having face to face interactions with another person if you spend your time talking and connecting with this individual, it is cheating if you are in a relationship.
If a person in a committed relationship spends more time connecting and talking with an individual over the internet then they do with the person they are in a relationship with in real life that action is neglecting the real relationship that already exists and therefore, cheating on that person. It seems that the internet can be a slippery slope when it comes to this type of relationship. It is so easily accessible to have a relationship of some sort with others on the internet. “In an online survey over a third of 19,000 married respondents said their marital relationship began online.” (textbook 17-2a) Of course, there can be a positive side of social media and online relationships. I know many happily married couples that met this way.
On the other hand, if a person is in a committed relationship and feels neglected or lonely, they may turn to the internet rather than attempting to reconcile their current relationship. “There is a correlation between loneliness and what social scientists call preference for online social interaction. The cause-effect relationship isn’t always clear, but research shows that lonely people prefer to interact with others online, which can lead to problematic internet use, which can create a great sense of loneliness.” (textbook 17-2b) It seems to me that nowadays many people flock to building relationships online instead of with the people around them, which can be unhealthy at times.