Cheating In The Digital Age: We Asked, You Answered! Get Insights On What Defines ‘Cheating’ Among Millennials

Gone were the days that catching a cheating partner meant checking their shirt collar for lipstick stains or waiting around their workplace to catch them in the arms of another.

In 2020, cheating brings different definitions from different people. Especially throwing digital gadgets into the mix.  I know one girl who broke up with her boyfriend (luggage filled with his things thrown out the window kind of break up) after catching him watching porn one late night. While a happy couple sexts other people but doesn’t consider it as an act of disloyalty.

Whatever causes your blood to boil, it all boils down to subjective feelings. So, we at Woke conducted an investigation to find out what is cheating to us Malaysian millennials?

Love, Female, 30

1. Are you in a relationship?

Love: Yes.

2. Is sexting another person considered cheating?

Love: Not to me. 

3. Why not?

Love: Because relationships are more complicated than that and also based on past historical examples, I believe humans are not meant to be monogamous.

4. Would you end a relationship if you caught your partner sexting someone else?

Love: No. 

5. Why do you think people sext other people while in a relationship?

Love: A lot of reasons. But I think when someone starts looking somewhere else, it could mean the current relationship is either temporarily or permanently not what they want or need.  

6. What about watching porn?

Love: No. Porn is not cheating at all. In fact it’s good for couples to watch porn together and share their expectations/fantasy through porn to bring back excitement to the relationship.

Penelope, Female, 30.

1. Are you in a relationship?

Penelope: Yes.

2. Is sexting another person considered cheating?

Penelope: Yes.

3. Why?

Penelope: In a monogamous relationship, I expect any forms of sexual intimacy to strictly stay between my partner & I, ONLY. 

4. Would you end a relationship if you caught your partner sexting someone else?

Penelope: Absolutely.

5. Wouldn’t you want to talk it out first? 

Penelope: Of course, let’s talk about it but once the trust’s broken, there’s no use in staying.

6. Why do you think people sext other people while in a relationship?

Penelope: To seek excitement or maybe monogamy just isn’t for them. 

7. What about watching porn?

Penelope: Honestly, I’m not comfortable with that idea. I don’t consider it cheating but porn addiction is real and I’d prefer my partner not to be an addict.

Juliana, Female, 22.

1. Are you in a relationship?

Juliana: No.

2. Is sexting another person considered cheating?

Juliana: Kinda because there’s an emotional aspect involved. 

3. Why?

Juliana: You’re sharing that experience with someone else, intentionally. Unless it’s discussed beforehand that it’s okay. 

4. Would you end a relationship if you caught your partner sexting someone else?

Juliana: I would talk it out and see their reasons first. 

5. Why do you think people sext other people while in a relationship?

Juliana: Because they might want that momentarily rush of adrenaline.

6. What about watching porn?

Juliana: No. Because it’s more to get than the job done. 

Allif, Male, 35.

1. Are you in a relationship?

Allif: Yes. 

2. Is sexting another person considered cheating?

Allif: It depends on the relationship along with the context & intent.

3. Why?

Allif: Different people have different definitions on what cheating is.

4. Would you end your relationship if you caught your partner sexting someone else?

Allif: Not necessarily no.

5. Why not?

Allif: If my partner has legit reasons & let’s say, we’ve been together long, I wouldn’t mind rebuilding that trust again. Maybe it could even strengthen our communication. Not justifying lying to your partner and going behind their back though.

6. Why do you think people sext other people while in a relationship?

Allif: The usual reasons why most relationships end: Because things have gotten boring and repetitive.

7. So that makes it okay?

Allif: Talk to your partner first. You’d be surprised how open they could be about trying to spice things up again.

8. What about watching porn?

Allif: Definitely not wrong.

Ernie, Male, 20.

1. Are you in a relationship?

Ernie: No.

2. Is sexting another person considered cheating?

Ernie: Yes.

3. Why?

Ernie: Because it typically leads to physical cheating.

4. Would you end your relationship if you caught your partner sexting someone else?

Ernie: Yes.

5. Why do you think people sext other people while in a relationship?

Ernie: Because all of the sexual content on social media, it makes it normalized.

6. What about watching porn?

Ernie: I would be okay with that. 

Alvin, Male, 20.

1. Are you in a relationship?

Alvin: No.

2. Is sexting another person considered cheating?

Alvin: No.

3. Why not?

Alvin: If an open conversation was had beforehand about sexting and both parties come to an agreement, then I don’t see anything wrong. At least I don’t think so.

4. Would you end a relationship if you caught your partner sexting someone else?

Alvin: Yeah. When I was 17, in fact.

5. Why did you end it if your stance on sexting is not cheating?

Alvin: No communication was allowed before the sexting was provoked which was to me, a breach of trust. 

6. Why do you think people sext other people while in a relationship?

Alvin: It depends if the person can fulfil the other person’s expectations and when they can’t, alternatives will always be sought out. But I can’t stress enough how communication beforehand is needed. 

7. What about watching porn?

Alvin: No. I speak for a lot of Millenials when I say porn was their introduction to sex as a growing individual.

After the interviews, apart from one person, the majority of Millenials don’t view sexting as cheating, rather just a form of dishonesty that can be talked out. Funnily enough, watching porn was also considered okay and in fact, encouraged.

Funny because a few years ago, a partner watching porn was the topic debated by mostly every couple and relationship advice columns. So now when comparing it to the younger generation who don’t even blink an eye when asked for their opinion about it, it begs the questions: is it because of how desensitized we have become to sex? Or is it because of how normalized porn has become in this age?

Whatever the reason it’s going to be interesting to see how sexting or the topic of “digital cheating” will be viewed by the generations to come. 

Katricia Lum
Katricia Lum
Will write for iced blacks and Panadols. Also if I'm not hunched over my laptop trying to meet deadlines, I'm most definitely sleeping.

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