When Is Texting Cheating? 11 Different Scenarios And How To Deal

Infidelity | | , Writer & Editor
Updated On: February 8, 2024
Is Texting Cheating?

Picture this: you’re out, enjoying a movie with your partner or spouse. But they keep looking at their phone screens or text continuously, even when they have taken the day off. You get back home, and they still seem glued to their phone! And guess what, they even carry their phone to the bathroom! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on. Could your significant other be cheating on you through texts?

In this age of digital overload, how can you be sure that your partner isn’t cheating over texts? You’re not paranoid if you keep asking yourself these questions: Is your partner texting another woman? Is hiding messages cheating? Is texting another girl while in a relationship cheating? If not, when is it considered cheating?

You would be surprised to know that research has indicated online infidelity, which includes sexting or cybersex, is as harmful to a relationship as actual infidelity. In fact, in many cases, it leads to emotional infidelity, which is extremely toxic to relationships. Through this article, we’ll help you navigate through the complicated scenarios of texting affairs. We will examine texting patterns, look at cases when texting can be considered cheating in a relationship, and enable you to deal with such situations.

When Is Texting Cheating? 11 Different Scenarios When It Is

So, when does texting ruin a relationship or become a texting affair? When is texting considered cheating or even micro-cheating? Can texting lead to a full-blown physical relationship or an extramarital affair, or is it just something that a suspecting spouse should ignore and shove beneath the carpet to save the relationship? Is sending a flirtatious text cheating? The answers to these questions and more lie in the various ways of cheating via texts. Here are 11 different scenarios when texting is considered cheating in a relationship:

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1. Flirting with someone one is attracted to

When your partner starts to randomly flirt with someone they find attractive, over text messages, you know it’s time to be on your guard. This ‘other person’ could be your best friend or someone as random as that insurance sales girl who called your partner to close a deal. Keep your eyes and ears open, because such ‘casual’ and ‘healthy’ flirting can turn into texting affairs and can be considered cheating. Yes, cheating involves and begins with flirting, and your partner may be going down a slippery slope.

2. Sharing intimate information

If your partner has been texting intimate details of your relationship, such as your sex lives or even concerns about your physical features, with a person of the opposite sex (or the sex they’re romantically or sexually oriented to), it’s not a good sign. Moreover, your partner may be more emotionally involved with them than with you, even without any sexual contact. This may be an early sign of emotional infidelity and should be checked at the right time. Ask yourself: “Why would someone be interested in texting others while in a relationship?”

Related Reading: 15 Signs Your Husband Is Cheating On You With A Coworker

3. Sexting or intimate texting

Sexting is a broad category and may cover:

  • Sending nudes
  • Sending sexually explicit messages
  • Having simulated sex through texts

Nobody needs to be told that sexting a person outside a relationship or intimate texting someone apart from your spouse is considered cheating. Yes, your spouse or partner may not be engaging in physical cheating, or may just be unknowingly sexting with an AI-generated avatar, but this is cheating without any sexual contact.

4. Texting an ex

Is texting cheating when your partner is talking to an ex? Some of us deal with the ghosts of our past relationships better than others. While it’s fine to have a former partner of your spouse in your present circle of friends, texting to rekindle an old flame, or to emotionally manipulate an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, while in a new relationship, is considered cheating.

Related Reading: Dangers Of Reconnecting With An Ex While Married

5. Texting a coworker for personal reasons

Yes, ‘work spouse’ is a valid term these days, when we spend most of the day at work. However, what happens when your partner spends most of his time away from work in their work spouse’s message inbox? Texting a coworker of the opposite sex (or the sex/gender one is attracted to) at odd hours, or sharing inappropriate text messages with them, is considered cheating in a relationship.

6. Random DMs and micro-cheating

Gone are the days when social media was meant for some much-needed distraction from work. These days, social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, have become a hotbed for extramarital affairs. Is your partner a part of a private social media group, such as a travel group or a shopping group, which you aren’t a member of? Can texting random strangers from social media be considered cheating? Is texting cheating in a relationship when the other person is a random stranger online? What are some micro-cheating texting examples?

Remember, it is ‘cheating’ if:

  • They are ‘hitting on’ people and sending random DMs to those they find attractive in the group
  • They are striking up online conversations to exchange numbers or to text causally. Remember, exchanging numbers while in a relationship may not always hint at cheating and may be related to a work project or a hobby. However, problems arise when one oversteps boundaries

Some other less aggressive micro-cheating texting examples are:

  • Maintaining a dating profile and texting a stranger on a dating site casually
  • Continuously ‘liking’ someone’s social media display picture
  • Commenting flirtatiously on a person’s social media photos

Related Reading: 18 Complications Of Having An Affair With A Married Man

7. Not revealing the relationship to the texting partner

Is texting cheating when your partner doesn’t reveal his relationship with you at all? Can casually texting another person and getting close to them online without any intention of a serious relationship be considered cheating? Hell, yes! In that case, the texter is cheating on two people at the same time.

Cathy, a friend of mine, was once approached by a fellow traveler in a Facebook group. The man gradually slid into her DMs, got her number, and started texting her obsessively. Cathy, who had just had a break-up and liked this man, started imagining a future with him. Unfortunately, or fortunately for her, she soon came to know from a common friend that this random texter was married and had two kids. So, in a way, the man had cheated on both his spouse and Cathy, his texting partner, through nothing but texts.

8. Ignoring plans

Is texting cheating in a relationship when your partner starts ignoring you to text someone else or keeps canceling plans with you to spend more time with their phone? Imagine this: Your wife prefers to stay at home whenever you plan a weekend trip. Moreover, she would rather stare at her phone screen the entire weekend, and you have no clue why! How to tell if she is texting someone else?

Well, we have bad news: If your partner doesn’t give a second thought before changing plans at the last moment to stay at home fiddling with their phone instead, chances are, they are already in a ‘textationship’ with another person. So, is texting someone else cheating when it’s ruining your ‘couple time’? Well, yes. This isn’t healthy and is considered cheating.

9. Sending inappropriate text messages

No, ‘texting affairs’ or cheating through texting need not always involve sexting. Is your husband sending inappropriate text messages, such as dirty jokes, to a woman? It is cheating, if it is so. It is also ‘cheating’ when your wife shares sexual innuendo when she’s texting another man. Though the definition of ‘inappropriate’ is relative, if you feel uncomfortable with a text, that is enough for it to be tagged ‘inappropriate.’ Some examples of inappropriate text messages are:

  • “Wow, stunner! Does your husband have any idea how many guys must be fantasizing about you right now?”
  • “You look hot in that bikini! Wish I had my wife on one side and you on the other right now!”
  • “I feel terribly lonely whenever my husband is on work trips. I’m sure it’s the same with you when your wife’s not around!”
  • “Why would you hide that awesome figure beneath that loose gown?”

Related Reading: The Social Media Cheating Connection – Real Risk or Hype?

is my partner is chearing on me ?

10. Coveting while texting

Is texting cheating when your partner is not consciously flirting but is coveting someone? Is texting someone else cheating when your partner admires someone too much? Coveting is another name for a strong attraction to another person, such as someone else’s partner, which may turn into obsessive texting. So, can your spouse fall in love with someone else over texts? The texts, such as complimenting another girl on her looks, may seem harmless in the beginning but may lead to cheating in the long run. So, coveting while texting is considered cheating. Some hints that a person may be coveting someone while texting are:

  • They keep texting them about how lucky their partner is to have them
  • They don’t respect the other person’s boundaries when it comes to commenting on a photo online or texting
  • They text the other person at odd hours, in spite of knowing they are in a relationship or in spite of being ignored

11. Emotional cheating

So, your partner doesn’t sext or even flirt over texts. They aren’t even attracted to someone physically, but they share the minutest details of their lives through texts with another person of the opposite sex.

The third person, who is ‘just a friend,’ knows bland details, such as what your partner has had for breakfast and how stressful their job is. However, you have no clue about your partner’s life. So, is sending an emotional or even a regular text cheating? Yes, such regular texts may lead to emotional cheating or emotional infidelity, and such emotional affairs and texting go hand in hand. In fact, emotional cheating is, at times, worse than physical cheating. So, even if your partner claims they are ‘just friends,’ beware of a texting partner who appears to be more than a friend.

7 Tell-Tale Signs Of A Texting Affair

Is texting cheating in a relationship?
Watch out for behavioral signals of texting affairs

So, now that you know when texting is considered cheating, are you worried about your relationship? Are you one of those guys who constantly thinks: “My girlfriend texts other guys. I have no clue if she’s cheating…”? Do you suspect your partner of emotional infidelity? If thoughts such as “How to find out if my wife is texting another man?” or “Is talking to another guy cheating?” cross your mind, do give the next section a read. Here are 7 tell-tale signs and texting patterns of a texting affair:

1. Odd behavior around their phone

Watch out for changes in your partner’s behavior when they are around their phone. So, is hiding messages cheating? Well, it could be. How cheaters hide texts to cover their tracks is surely shocking! It is likely they are having a texting affair if they are:

  • Fidgeting with their device or hiding messages while texting by covering their phone
  • Checking for new messages constantly
  • Carrying their phone around with them or taking extra care, such as sleeping with the phone under their pillow
  • Leaving the room while texting
  • Smiling or laughing while texting, but not telling you the joke

2. Changing privacy settings or setting a new password

If your partner has suddenly turned cautious about their privacy settings or locks their phone when you’re around, they might already be in a texting affair. They could also be cheating if they once shared a phone password with you and suddenly set a new password without informing you.

Related Reading: The 7 Stages Of Emotional Affairs: Reasons And Tips To Recover

3. Texting on a vacation

Does your partner forget your existence and stay glued to his phone while the two of you are on vacation? Do your dinner dates too end up in silent sessions while your partner continues to text a coworker or a close friend who’s ‘just a friend’? Chances are, they are cheating through texts.

4. Texting in codes and deleting messages

If you can still go through your partner’s phone, especially texting apps such as WhatsApp, beware of signs that they hide things from you. Here’s what you can look out for:

  • Deleted messages: Yes, deleting texts is cheating, even if those texts may seem ‘harmless flirting’ to the texter
  • Messages with code words or probable innuendo: Innuendo or secret code words in a text, such as “That C at X2 was so good!,” can mean your partner is cheating
  • Blurred messages: Too many blurred messages that you can’t read or see? Chances are, they contain explicit material from someone your partner is texting

Such unclear messages may be clear signs of a texting affair.

5. Lack of emotional and physical connection

Has your partner grown distant lately? Is your physical or emotional bond crumbling? Would they rather text someone in the middle of the night instead of getting intimate with you. Do they continue texting even after the two of you have had sex? If your answers to most of these questions is ‘yes,’ you may be having a cheating spouse.

Related Reading: 13 Cheating Guilt Signs You Need To Watch Out For

6. Defensive reaction

As author Mitch Albom once said, “The more you defend a lie, the angrier you become.” If your cheating partner gets angry or gives you defensive answers when you ask them who they’ve been texting, it’s a huge red flag. They may also counter-attack you with accusations for your behavior.

7. Laughing off concerns

Another way a cheating spouse could react when confronted is by making you sound possessive for showing your concern. So, you ask your wife who she’s texting, and she laughs off any remarks about cheating, refers to her texts as ‘casual’ flirting, or dismisses your questions instead of addressing them. Chances are, she’s texting a potential lover or is already in a full-fledged texting affair.

How To Deal With Texting Cheating In A Relationship

Is texting cheating in a relationship?
Always opt for open and honest communication to resolve conflicts

What if all the signs prove that your partner is, in fact, texting cheating? What if you clearly see signs of emotional infidelity and miss an emotional connection with your partner? What to do if you see your partner texting another woman? Why is your wife sexting another man? Some of us would rather avoid confronting such issues or would prefer walking away than resolving them. However, open and honest communication always helps resolve issues such as cheating. So, here are some ways of dealing with texting cheating in a relationship:

1. Reflect before you react

Try and reflect for a day or two, before reacting or confronting your partner. Think of ways you can go forward and all that is at stake. Build a plan for a structured conversation and, if needed, jot down points that need to be addressed.

Related Reading: When My Wife Cheated On Me, I Decided To Show More Love

2. Ask them why

Now that you have a plan to confront your partner, it’s time for some honest communication. Instead of going straight to the ‘cheating’ bit, go slow and ask them what is bothering them and why they aren’t involved in the relationship anymore. Why does your wife need to hide things? Why is texting another girl while in a relationship so important to your husband? Find out the reason for their behavior. Here are some probable reasons:

  • They could be bored of the relationship or may need more attention, and texting others while in a relationship probably gives them a ‘kick’
  • Their sexual needs may have evolved, and they may want more than the usual in bed
  • They may be facing a work burnout, and text cheating probably offers them a casual distraction
  • They may have emotional needs or may be facing mental health issues, such as post-partum depression, low self-esteem, and PTSD. Texting, which offers little or no physical contact, is often a sign of an emotional affair that helps them cope
  • They may need to fill a vacuum in life. For instance, they may be missing a hobby or a profession that the other person reminds them of, or they could simply miss being younger

Related Reading: 10 Questions To Ask Your Unfaithful Spouse


3. Avoid an accusatory tone

It’s natural for a person who has been cheated on to be rude or accusatory when communicating with their cheating spouse. However, one needs to be calm and judgment-free. Listen to your cheating partner’s concerns and let them speak openly about their issues, without making them feel guilty.

4. Decide to stay or move on

While listening to your partner’s side of the story, reflect on them. Come to a joint conclusion, and make sure both of you want to work on your relationship. No forcing, no coaxing.

Related Reading: 10 Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes To Avoid After Infidelity

5. Set boundaries and rebuild trust

It’s important to set texting boundaries in relationships, among other regulations. Once you and your partner are on the same page and are sure of moving ahead with your relationship, set boundaries to rebuild trust. Clear and healthy boundaries may look like:

  • Setting texting boundaries or relationship texting rules, such as making it clear that you don’t wish your partner to text someone
  • Keeping phones away from the bedroom. The bedroom should be a place for intimacy, sexual exploration, and deep reflection
  • Starting a digital-detox routine, such as going for a vacation to somewhere off the grid, without a stable phone or internet connection, once a month
  • Sharing your sexual fantasies with each other and even telling each other when and why you fancy someone else. Experiment with these fantasies without involving a third person. This may help you both bring out your hidden sexual energy
  • Investing in a healthy relationship with your partner, without letting other distractions take over. Take a break from work and try something new: paint together or start a vlog together, but rely only on each other

It is important to note, that in these days of fluid and open relationships, there can be different boundaries for different people. It is up to the two of you to decide which boundaries work for your relationship.

6. Seek professional help from counselors

Finally, there is no alternative to professional therapy and counseling sessions. Once you decide to move forward together, make sure you book a session with a professional couples’ therapist and are honest about your situation. Remember, you may not be responsible for your partner’s actions, but you can help them fix them. If you’d like to explore this option to navigate the complexities of this unconventional form of cheating, skilled and licensed therapists on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.

Key Pointers

  • Texting can be cheating in various scenarios, such as texting an ex, exchanging flirtatious texts with random people, ignoring your needs, and engaging in full-blown sexting
  • Emotional infidelity through texts is also cheating, and so is micro-cheating through social media
  • There are several tell-tale signs of texting cheating, such as hiding the phone or messages, deleting messages, messaging constantly while with a partner, or making dismissive or defensive excuses when confronted
  • It’s important to address the issue of texting cheating by asking your partner where your relationship is lacking and then carefully fixing the cracks together
  • It’s also important that the two of you are equally interested in fixing your relationship
  • Psychological counseling is the best bet, in case you are unable to deal with the issue

To conclude, even a healthy relationship gets boring over time. Cheating through texting could just be the tip of the iceberg. To prevent your relationship from turning into a texting nightmare, try resolving minor relationship conflicts from time to time. Don’t let a thing as simple as texting ruin your bond. Hope this article helped you resolve the burning query “Is texting cheating?” and find out when texting is cheating and how to address it.

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