Rep. Anthony Weiner's world has been upended over revelations that he exchanged lewd photos and messages online with several women behind his new wife's back. In his tearful, traumatized confession this week, Weiner emphasized that — apart from a couple of phone-sex sessions — he had only dallied with the women via Twitter, Facebook, and email. Weiner says he had no physical contact with his cyber crushes, prompting some commentators to call this a "sexless sex scandal." But can flirting over the internet still qualify as infidelity?
Absolutely. Filthy tweets are cheating: Flirting is one thing, says Belinda Luscombe at TIME, but Weiner, by his own admission, went way beyond that. "Sending pictures of your congressional member to women you don't know" is not the same as exchanging innuendo with a Starbucks barista. On the spectrum of infidelity, Weiner's "spectacle of ginormous cheesiness" was not as bad as pulling a "Full Arnold," but it was cheating nonetheless.
"The Weiner case: When is tweeting cheating?"
No, sexting and sex are not the same: "I don't believe that Weiner cheated on his wife," says University of Virginia religion professor John Portmann, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. There's a lot more of this "erotic chatting" going on these days than most people realize. And, for those involved and those who love them, cyber sex is not as big of a deal as the real thing.
"Is Anthony Weiner's sexting a no-sex sex scandal?"
Either way, this is a sign of a dangerous addiction: Weiner himself says that "twitpic-ing photos of his erection was 'a destructive thing to do,'" says Bonnie Fuller at Hollywood Life, but he did it anyway. That's a sign of "a serious feeling of inadequacy." You're dreaming if you think a spouse who is "addicted to emotionally cheating," as Weiner clearly is, can control it. It takes therapy to kick the habit.
"Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, you must demand that he goes into therapy fast or your marriage can't be saved!"
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