Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What it Means to be Faithful Blurred in Modern World

By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY

We used to know what infidelity was: sex with someone other than your mate.
But the 21st century seems to have blurred those clear-cut lines. Is having lunch every day with an opposite-sex work friend a breach of marital trust? What about a flirtation online? If there's no sex, is it really cheating?

Such questions arise as societal and psychological pressures challenge deep-rooted ideas about the nature of infidelity. "We are as a society finally coming to grips with what it means to be faithful," says Douglas Snyder, a psychologist at Texas A&M University-College Station. "It doesn't just mean to have sex with someone else."

What counts as infidelity?
Many psychologists and family experts say that infidelity today is not just about sex but about trust, betrayal and marital disloyalty, even if adultery is not part of the picture. They add that marriages are more vulnerable than they were decades ago: In tough economic times, couples work harder to make ends meet, which often leaves little time or energy to nurture the relationship. Movies and TV seem to glamorize affairs and make marriage appear dull. And the Internet offers a new frontier, with the pseudo-intimacy of cyber-relationships, as well as greater access to pornography.