Eight per cent of Brits admit they have ‘sexted*’ a person who is not their partner in the last year, with over a third (35 per cent) not considering it as cheating, new research has revealed.
The research showed that the lines of adultery are becoming increasingly blurred with just over 1 in 10 thinking sexting* was ‘just a bit of fun’, as more and more communication opportunities are popping up every day.
Recent media coverage around Vernon Kay’s alleged sexting exploits with model, Rhian Sugden, have resurfaced after it appears he began messaging her again. This has sparked the debate, what constitutes cheating?
Naughty photos were considered by the majority to be less acceptable than flirty texts with 62 per cent saying that they would feel very guilty about sending a naked or nearly naked picture.
Over a third of people who admitted sexting* someone other than their partner within the last year said it led on to more compromising suggestions like meeting up, having sex and spending time together behind their partners backs.
But the research also showed a disparity between men and women with men less likely to consider ‘sexting’ to be cheating than women (34 per cent vs. 49 per cent)
Slater and Gordon commissioned the study after finding that clients were increasingly trying to cite adultery in divorce proceedings even though the law wouldn’t allow for it.
While adultery is responsible for just under 40 per cent of divorces in the UK, the grounds for divorce citing adultery dictates that extra-marital sex has to have taken place with a person of the opposite sex during the course of the marriage.
Rupi Rai, family lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “With more people having access to social media and advances in technology, we have seen a rise in number of clients coming to us who think their partner has crossed the line and committed adultery, but not in the traditional sense.
“What some might consider a harmless bit of fun – like sending flirty messages or explicit pictures, others consider to be detrimental to their relationship and cause as much hurt and upset as physically cheating. The research is real warning to couples about being careful not to cross that line.”
According to the new research, men and women find it difficult to pin down what does and doesn’t constitute cheating with a massive difference between genders and within people of different age groups.
57 per cent of people 35 and over think having dinner with someone for whom you have feelings for is crossing the line, while 24 per cent of 16-24 year olds think it’s absolutely above board.
45 per cent of people aged 35 to 44 think that regularly texting someone you have an emotional connection with is cheating.
Rupi Rai, said: “Emotional affairs can be as harmful to a relationship as physical ones – clients often state that their partners have been spending more time, talking to or turning to someone else than them, which has eventually led to the breakdown or their marriage and they consider this to be adultery.
“Our advice would always be to seek professional advice as soon as possible, even if you are not considering divorce proceedings, to find out where you stand and the options available to you.”
Men and women agreed on very few areas – including whether they would consider it adultery and leave their partner if they have sex with someone else, sext or kiss someone else.
It would seem that all physical and cyber relations show that moral guidelines are as individual as fingerprints and it is difficult to be prescriptive in drawing a line.
Only 26% of men think meeting up with an ex is cheating compared to 35% of women.
6 per cent of men would consider leaving their partner if they found out that they had sent naughty pictures to another person, 13 per cent have done it themselves.
9 in 10 women would probably not forgive a partner who was active on dating websites and apps, but 8% of them admitted to still have profiles on dating sites themselves.
*defined as flirty messaging and/or sending a naked/ nearly naked message