Men cheat, women cheat. It’s a fact of life. People have cheated for centuries. It was outlawed in the Ten Commandments and has been explored extensively in literature, film, art and music throughout time. It’s a subject that incites passion and stokes visceral reaction. No matter how prevalent it has been over time, predictable questions remain. What exactly constitutes cheating and why do men and women alike do it? These questions are clearly open to debate. However, what remains clear is that, whatever may or may not be cheating, phone sex does not fall into the category.
The question of why men and women cheat has been the subject of fierce debate across academia and society at large. Biologists point to chemicals in the brain, such as an abundance of testosterone. Psychologists say it’s due to neuro-receptors and “flight/fight” responses. Sociologists claim society is somewhat “tolerant” of men’s deeds, especially in comparison to women. Men often argue that marital and relationship problems lead men elsewhere. Women counter that men are often aloof and disinterested, thus motivating women to seek attention from other people. The arguments vary but the conclusion does not – there is no consensus explanation for why men and women cheat.
When people think of cheating, they often think of adultery (and affairs), but the two are quite different. As defined by Merriam-Webster, adultery is, “the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband.” The defining characteristic of adultery is intercourse. And an affair is merely marriage-less adultery. Therefore, by definition, without intercourse, it is not adultery nor is it an affair. Cheating, of course, is not limited to adultery and affairs. Granted the definition of cheating varies widely across time and space, cultures and countries; but there happens to be one universal characteristic of cheating, and that characteristic is physical intimacy.
Intimacy isn’t necessarily the conventional candlelit dinner with a bottle of red wine. Plenty of dates start this way and end up disastrous. Intimacy is a certain type of physical and emotional connection. It’s romantic in tone but often purely sexual in nature. Cheating involves a level of physical intimacy. When a man kisses a woman other than the one he’s in relationship with, he’s cheating. When a wife sleeps with someone other than her spouse, she’s cheating (and having an affair, in this case). Without physical intimacy, it isn’t cheating.
Phone sex isn’t cheating because it lacks physical intimacy. Indeed the type of conversation that usually occurs is overtly sexual, but because it lacks a physical element, it is not cheating. In a similar way that flirting with someone you’ve just met isn’t (generally) physical and therefore isn’t considered cheating, neither is phone sex. Phone sex maintains a level of distance and anonymity. It lacks intimacy. There isn’t a physical connection whatsoever. It is impossible to consider phone sex cheating.
Ladies and gentlemen, pick up the phone, dial a raunchy number and phone sex away (and don’t worry, you’re not cheating).