"I’d never cheat, but I find myself hiding the relationship from my mate."

By Gail Saltz, MD
Updated March 15, 2016
Credit: Getty Images

Q: I've been flirting on Facebook with an old crush. I'd never cheat, but I find myself hiding the relationship from my mate. Is that bad?

Yes, yes, yes. In the case of almost every couple I treat these days because of infidelity, the cheating started with flirting on Facebook or another social networking site. You’re betraying your partner already by hiding excited and sexual feelings you have for someone else, feelings you’re channeling into keeping up this flirtation and not giving to your spouse.

Your old flame is making you feel appreciated and aroused (which is easier to do online than in an ongoing day-in, day-out relationship). Often enough, what begins as emotional cheating turns sexual in due time. Get out while the getting is good, before you become another statistic and live to regret this.

Silencing your side chatter is a bit like ripping off a Band-Aid; it’s not too extreme to block or unfriend him. Beware of the little voice in your head that says, “Oh, I’ll just chat platonically.” Once you’ve developed a suggestive back-and-forth, it’s very difficult to backtrack.

Gail Saltz, MD, is a psychiatrist and television commentator in New York City who specializes in health, sex, and relationships.