Although they weren’t invented for this reason, the Internet, social media, and apps have ended up making it insanely easy for people in committed relationships to cheat. Constant tech advances have also introduced so many new ways to stray that it’s almost impossible to have any sort of standard code for what is and isn’t infidelity anymore.
“There are all sorts of definitions now,” says New York-based Bryony Cole, Founder and host of the Future Of Sex podcast. “This is the first time in history that you can be lying in bed next to your partner, and cheating!” (May we add here: according to a recent survey, Indians spend more than 17 hours per week on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—the highest in the world!) Also, coming soon: ‘sexy’ tech like virtual reality and robotics that will blur the lines of faithfulness even more. Here’s your road map.
5 NEW WAYS PEOPLE STRAY
1. Incognito sexting
Forget deleting sexty iMessage threads. Any sneaky guy with a smartphone can now download a free app like Viber to cover their tracks. Largely used to help people reach friends and family overseas, Viber’s newer features like Secret Chat (which lets you schedule text convos to self-destruct after a certain amount of time) and Hidden Chats (it requires a special PIN to access specific threads) make covering suspicious tracks all too easy. Other apps offer similar features.
2. Hookup hotels
Walking into a hotel lobby in a hat and sunglasses, asking for a room from 1pm to 3pm? Intimidating! (And maybe not gonna fly with the front desk.) But even the most timid cheaters won’t be too shy to pull up the numerous get-a-room options from the comfort of their own couches, via smartphones. There are a number of sites and apps that do the needful for you. These booking services let users snag a space for a few hours to nap, take a shower, or, you know, have a mid-day illicit bone sesh, at a less expensive rate.
3. Long-distance everything
While sex toys that can be controlled via a smartphone have been on the block for a while, long-distance sex is only getting more advanced. Think: 3D-printed replicas of your lover’s body parts, enabled with software that makes them act how you want them to; or full-body haptic suits that let you ‘feel’ a person’s touch remotely while you video-chat. Yes, they’ll be legit options for sex-deprived couples in LDRs, but they’ll also be gateways for online cross-country flirtations to turn into something more.
4. Virtual-reality XXX videos
You might not consider it rule breaking to watch porn, but what if one of you could simulate touching the actors you’re watching? That’s what companies like US-based PrimaVR have been working on since 2015—and by next year, it’s predicted to be a regular and fully immersive experience, according to one report. Depending on the platform, users who have access to it can see their own bodies on-screen as they hook up with a porn star’s holographic or motion-capture image, feel vibrations on their hot spots via teledildonic sex toys, or see the actor’s body react to ‘touch’. And in true ‘WTF?’ fashion, accessories, like US-based CamSoda Labs’ OhRoma Sensory Mask, can emit ‘sensual scents’, so that VR porn users can also be surrounded by the smells of sex.
5. So-real-they’re-freaky avatars
Those who have access to online platforms like 3DXChat also have the option to use their own 3D avatars to interact with other users in the X-rated online worlds. The graphics already look pretty realistic, but they’re predicted to get far more lifelike in as few as five years, according to Canadian sex-tech expert Jenna Owsianik. As the visuals improve, more people may prefer hooking up in an alternate reality to the real world.
HOW TO CHEAT PROOF YOUR FUTURE
Before you try to convince boo to run away with you to a tropical island with zero WiFi or sex robots (although...maybe?), remember: the sheer access we have to tech doesn’t make faithful, doting partners suddenly want to cheat, explains James McNulty, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, USA, and co-author of a 2018 study on the psychological predictors of infidelity. Tech simply gives people with wandering eyes (who are already predisposed to cheat) the means to do it faster and more conveniently. For some, sure, that ease of entry may be the difference between straying and not. But if your partner isn’t likely to step out on you anyway, new apps and holographics won’t change that. Most people in happy, healthy relationships aren’t going to be using new tech to look at who (or what) else is out there, agrees Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at UMass, Amherst, USA. “It’s dissatisfaction that drives the searching” she says.
So, the answer to staying faithful to each other isn’t side-eyeing your partner for being glued to a phone or laptop. It’s making sure you two have a solid connection IRL—which means talking often about how you’re both feeling and working to resolve any issues.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
Stealthy, sure—but tech can also help you play detective when you need to. Enjoy these satisfying stories of women -exposing the truth.
“I went away for the weekend and had been gone for only six hours when my boyfriend stopped answering my texts. I used Find My Friends to see where he was and found that he was with one of my best friends. Turns out, they were having sex at her house.”
—Pallavi S., 25
“My ex would try to hide his phone from me and turn it off completely when he went out so I couldn’t reach him, which was already suspect. Then, one day, while I was using his iPad, a text popped up from his ex-girlfriend. I read their convo, and he had been asking her for nudes! I dodged a bullet by dumping him.”
—Larissa K., 31
“A guy sent me a Facebook message saying my boyfriend was texting his girlfriend—he had seen their convo in iMessage while using her computer. At first, I didn’t believe him because it was just so out of character for my BF...but then I thought I should meet this guy and read the messages for myself. When I saw that it was, in fact, true, I called my boyfriend and ended things immediately.”
—Sunaiyna R., 28
SHADY SOCIAL MEDIA MOVES RANKED
We polled you, Cosmo readers, on which micro-cheating (aka nonphysical infidelity) moves are the absolute worst.
11%- Looking at or Liking a particular hot model’s Instagram posts
13%- DM’ing a celebrity crush
17%- Watching an ex’s or a crush’s Insta Stories
18%- Posting thirst traps/lots of sexy selfies
73%- Liking or commenting on an ex’s posts (if the ex isn’t a platonic friend)
84%- Snapchatting cute pics to a hot co-worker
86%- Complaining about your current relationship to a potential romantic prospect via texts