Gay Love Advice: Is Chatting Online Cheating?

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Reader’s Question: 
My boyfriend and I have been in a monogamous relationship together for three years. Recently, I visited a gay dating website and created a profile. I’ve chatted and exchanged pics with guys but have never hooked up with anyone. My profile says “In a relationship” and I specifically say I’m just looking for friends. Last week, my boyfriend went snooping on my laptop, even though it was well hidden, and read some of my conversations. Now he’s pissed and says being on dating sites is “cheating.” I say it’s just fantasy. Who’s right, and who’s wrong? Is chatting online cheating?
― Anthony S.L., 27, New York City

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Who’s right? Who’s wrong? You are. He is. It all depends. For some people in committed relationships, gay apps and dating websites are harmless fun. For others it indicates that the unwritten or explicit rules of their relationship need to be revisited. Secrets can damage relationships just as profoundly as actions. I don’t know why you felt the need to keep it hidden, but my guess is that it’s because you knew he wouldn’t approve.
Forget about questioning who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation. Instead, sit down with your man and have an authentic tête-à-tête about the real reason you’re chatting with total strangers. Maybe you feel that your love life has gotten a little stale after three years together, and it makes you feel desirable again. Maybe you’re a hopeless flirt. Maybe you really are just looking for friends. Whatever the reasons are, be open and honest about them, and work toward building his trust back. If he asks you to get off the dating site altogether, decide whether that’s something you’re willing to give up in order to keep him.
Then again, maybe he’s upset because you didn’t invite him to the party. Offer to help him create his own profile so that you can send your dirty dick pics to him rather than to that headless torsos. Better yet, create a profile for the both of you together. You know what they say: Two’s a party, and three’s just a hell of a lot more fun.

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