Is My Online Flirting Addiction Immoral?

Reader:  Hi Athol, Long time reader and fan. I’m in my mid-30s, married, very happy and very committed. I’m a strong alpha with my wife, and she loves it.

I have a secret addiction: flirting with girls online. I do it all the time. It makes me feel good and strong, and helps me keep up my game, at least verbally. I have many girls online with whom I flirt constantly, and even engage in explicit sex chats with sometimes. None of these girls know my real name, and I’ve never met any in person – and I don’t think I would. To me, it’s something akin to Interactive Porn. So it’s not physical cheating (I’ve never met any) and it’s not emotional cheating (I don’t actually have a real emotional relationship with any of them).

My wife and I don’t have sex too often. But I get seriously turned on by the excitement I get from flirting with these other girls.

I’m not worried about getting “caught” because I’m good with the privacy and technology and boundaries. But I feel like I’m doing something wrong, and I feel like I should stop; but I can’t help myself. The problem is not practical but moral, in my mind. And it’s not obvious to me if I’m doing something severely wrong and I should stop, or if I’m not causing any harm to anyone so it’s okay to continue.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I’d love to hear your suggestion; I value your opinion a lot, Athol. Thank you.

Athol:  Ironically you’re writing to me unworried by the practicalities and worried about the moral issues. I pretty much approach things from the other direction. People get themselves all sorts of tripped up trying to create and maintain a moral framework that often simply isn’t workable in reality. It’s often far easier to find out what works in practical reality as the greater good, and then say it’s the moral thing to do.

Most things that are really fun are potentially addictive or in some way damaging if done to excess. Rather than being the all purpose Fun Police and stamping out all enjoyment except for 1950’s chaperoned formal dances, my general rule of thumb is that “It’s not a problem until it’s a problem.” Flirting itself isn’t a problem, I mean I flirt quite a lot in real life and generally run the “Goofy” part of my “Goofy and Groping” game on everyone. But you’re basically emailing me to tell me there’s a problem with your flirting routines… so whether you want to say it’s a moral issue or not… you know there’s a problem of some sort here.

So rather than getting mired into this activity as a moral issue at the start of the process, let’s look at things from a purely practical point of view and ask the key question…

Is this activity helping you get what you really want from your marriage?

My hunch is that all the excitement (dopamine) you get from this activity means you don’t actually really engage with your wife all that much. Which means she isn’t really responding to you sexually because you’re basically not tripping her wires all that much. Thus not that much sex. Which is probably what you really want and is the need you’re trying to meet by going online and doing this activity in the first place.

Which makes the whole thing a vicious cycle of wasted effort getting you what you don’t want. Bingo! We found the problem.

I suppose you’re going to want a solution now…

My basic solution would be for you to stop this activity that isn’t working to get you what you want, and start trying to engage with your wife, the same way you engage with these women. It’s not going to be an instant fix and will take a solid month of stopping the old behavior and starting the new one to rewrite your way of thinking.


It could also be helpful to have a discussion with your wife about you feeling under-stimulated and needing to do something more fun and engaging. I wouldn’t blurt out exactly what you’ve been doing up until now, but it’s certainly not a bad idea to state what you actually need from her.


  1. Playtrip says:

    Athol is right. I had the same problem, as did the wife. Once we stopped the online flirting, and re-directed it, things got much better. And they keep getting better.

  2. Crystal says:

    I flirt online too, its so much fun and less guilty feeling than real life flirting.

    To the OP, like Athol said it’s not a problem until it’s a problem.

    Everything in moderation…

  3. Online flirting, chatting and cyber-sexing is a Waste of Time. It’s a waste because the guy isn’t getting anything out of it, besides the occasional orgasm. (The women get more out of it than he does, because they get attention, which is the reason they chat online to begin with.) To determine if it’s a waste of time, he should add up all the hours that he’s spent doing this, and also divide by the number of orgasms. I’m guessing it’s many hundreds (or thousands) of hours, and probably multiple hours per orgasm. That kind of investment might be fine if it’s actual skin-on-skin sex, but this is just masturbation and most guys can rub one out on PornHub in five minutes.

    So here’s a three-stop program for the guy:
    1. When he feels the urge to flirt online, redirect to jacking off to regular (non-interactive) porn and be done in under 15 minutes.
    2. Take half of the remaining time and focus more sexually on his wife, just like Athol says.
    3. Take the other half of the remaining time, and pour it into self-improvement – a new or existing creative hobby (not TV or video games), working out, reading (not fiction), gardening, whatever. Something that provides actual benefits and return on investment of time beyond just a cheap orgasm.

  4. Married Lady says:

    Why not have his wife flirt with him online? From her phone, another computer, etc. She could set up a few accounts and play with various personalities (allowing her to emphasize some of her existing personality traits over others for her different personas). Use your imagination, invest in some wigs and a few different style outfits – he gets the online flirting (with bonus pics and video – sanctioned interactive porn from his wife) and she gets more attention. Oh and they can actually “meet” and have sex. Win/Win

  5. The problem comes when the flirting substitutes for sex activities with the OP’s wife.

    I was the wife in a similar situation. My husband spent his sexual energy elsewhere, and was batshit enough to accuse me of frigidity when I didn’t want to jump his bones every night. He had no sexual energy left to seduce me, but got pissy because I wasn’t all over his body. I’m a typical female, I don’t seduce, I want to be seduced.

    To me, there’s nothing wrong with online flirting as long as your wife comes first, and second place is way, way back.

  6. Married Lady, that’s an excellent suggestion. But there’s more going on here. The key is the guy’s statement “My wife and I don’t have sex too often.” Unfortunately we don’t know why this is. Given the guy’s (over?)active sexual imagination, I think it’s safe to assume that it’s the wife who has the lower interest in sex. Which means it’s unlikely that the wife would accept or be willing to try your suggestion. It would come across to her as pressure for more sex and/or as negotiating desire, which is always doomed to fail. I suspect the OP doesn’t have as strong of an alpha frame with his wife as he claims, at least in the sexual realm.

  7. This is the kind of activity on my part that contributed to my own marriage falling apart. It’s kind of hard to conclude whether the relative sexlessness between us led to the online outlet, or whether my increasing attention to cyber-sexing (because, let’s face it: the guy is doing more than flirting here) led to decreased attention to my wife. Probably there was some vicious cycle that I was unwilling to break back in my own “Nice Guy”/Beta days.

    No one has brought up the fact that the wife apparently knows nothing about the online engagements. I am not saying that the wife is guiltless in the lack-of-sex department (my own ex is BPD), but the guy is just seeking an outlet for his own needs without addressing the problem at home head-on.

  8. I have become convinced that with a BPD (or NPD) spouse there is only a 1 in 100 chance of improvement, and it requires th PD person to accept what they are, get diagnosed, want to change and get treatment. Therefore nothing the Non-PD can do will make any difference. This is reality,

    I know much more now about dealing with others and have looked inside myself. My “red pill” relationship skills and developed confidence with women, would have changed nothing in the failed marriage with my BPD ex-wife.

    Also Athol’s approach to deal with the desire behind the behavior rather than repress it based on morality is sound. People rarely change due to the imposition of a moral reason. Yet once their desire is directed and fulfilled within the marriage, the morality aspect may solve itself.

  9. FeralFelis says:

    Is there a dictionary on the site somewhere?
    What is BPD? What is PD? NPD? (presumably Non-PD is the same as NPD?)

    My man does not know that I know he is sexting like crazy with several women at WordFeud. I LOVE sex. We have sex nearly daily and I initiate most of the time. I also love attention, and would love for him to lavish the attention and sexting on ME instead of THEM. I give GREAT sext and awesome repartee. He spends about a week with each one, then moves to the next one from a never-exhausted pool. This is rapidly becoming a trunk-slammer issue for me.

    Am I the only one who noticed the qualifier: “I’ve never met any of them in person and I don’t *THINK* I would. I’m seeing a slippery slope here!

    Bottom line is what someone else said: if your behavior is not ADDING to the quality of your primary relationship (presumably that would be with your wife), it is TAKING AWAY from it. Math 101.

    BPD = Borderline Personality Disorder NPD = Narcissistic personality disorder

  10. My Opinion says:

    We always tell my son, if you feel you have to hide what you are doing, then it’s wrong. Also, think about how you would feel if your wife was doing the same thing, hiding her flirtatious ways from you. How would that make you feel if she was chatting with men the way you chat with those women Social Networking can be a devil’s playground if you allow it. I read an article on how divorce rates have drastically increased and spouses are using message/chat print outs they find as evidence. Sad to say, I’m going through this issue with my husband. I’m trying to find info on flirting addiction and ran across this post. This is my opinion, from a wife’s point of view.

  11. flirting online and deeply intimate sexual discussions on line have totally ruined my life i recommend every man to stop doing this immediately i can guarantee that if she finds out she will end the marriage……come on you are immoral in your heart, your mind is so deep into the erotic sex it feels so real its the same as doing it in real so i dont understand the issue….it is immoral it is wrong to do this with another woman. And now i am alone and feeling suicidal to hear how my two young boys miss there father so bad…..where is papa they ask…….
    Dont even start and if u are ‘happily’ married stop then immediately!!!!! Get proffessional help
    Your life will be ruined!!!!

  12. By the way….to add to my comment…..i am really really sorry for doing what ive done i wish i could turn the clock back….but i cant so to my wife and to my two boys and to my whole family i want to tell u i am.sincerely sorry and my hart is broken……so guys DONT do it

  13. I am currently in a similar situation. I’ve been married to a man for nearly 5 years. In the first six months, we had sex pretty regularly. After marriage, I felt that as a married man, he should give up his other women and be with me. He took that as an assault on his sexuality. He continues to watch porn, flirt with other women, is on various websites under different names. I’ve seen some of the posts he’s made and they are quite vulgar. But, aside from all of that. As I said, in the beginning of our relationship we did have sex; although he has never taken the time to bring me to orgasm. He says that it too much responsibility. Basically he’s lazy. Now, we hardly ever have sex and if we do, its because I have initiated. I initiate, give him foreplay, do the deed, and he still has to finish by jerking off. This is a complete insult to me. Yet, he doesn’t want to end our relationship. People who know us say it is because he is comfortable with me. I do everything for him. I work, he stays home playing computer games. I clean the house and do the chores. He does help cook and grocery shop. He says he loves me, but I’ve seen the emails, posts, flirtations, and how he has actually asked women to come pick him since the wife if not home. When confronted, he lies and says that I’m the one invading HIS privacy and I’m the one in the wrong. I’ve had other men just about beg for me to let them take his place, but I refuse because I’m faithful. But for what? For a lazy man who would rather have fictitious play with a “cheap orgasm” instead of be with his perfectly willing wife at home? I just feel used and its causing me to become bitter, which will only make things worse. When I speak of leaving or splitting up, he gets very very angry. I’m not happy. I’ve told him as much and he says that I’m mentally unstable and have chipped away at his sexuality. My question is, if you don’t want to be with the woman you marry and forsake all others, WHY get married at all????

  14. Yes, on line flirting is bad, it damages relationships, taking away one’s attention from his/her partner and giving it to some screen fantasies, just another bunch of sad cheap people addicted to on line flirting…

    My ex boyfriend and I met 8 years ago when he had a few weeks job in my country. We had a few innocent dates, I found out that he was married, unhappy he said but I stopped any communication with him. Two years ago he found me on facebook, had been divorced for four years and for months kept writing and charmingly convinced me to have a relationship with him. It was a long distance relationship as we both live in different countries in W Europe, but he made me feel loved and special every single day. I sometimes wondered how could have anyone broken up with him in the past because he was simply wonderful and I was totally convinced that he must have met some very strange women in his life. We also met in person and everything was perfect.

    At the beginning of this year he started a new important job and his attention towards our relationship decreased, so I did my best to adapt, understand, be there when it was the right moment and in the right way. A few months later I discovered his public deviantart account and saw that a few women that were posting provoking pictures of themselves got his attention. I made an effort to ignore it. Then he opened an instagram account and little by little he got enganged in flirting. I must say that instagram is full of pathetic attention seekers, some single, some married and many suffering of some form of exhibitionsim. For a few months he apologized and said that it wouldn’t happen again, that he loved me more than he could say but everytime a woman was trying to flirt with him, he responded. And every time my heart broke a bit more. I finished our relationship in the end and I am now trying to forget him. It turns out that the woman he was flirting with when I decided not to put up with his behaviour anymore is a lesbian! It could have been underage or with a crazy husband or a total psychopat. Maybe he’ll meet one of those one day too!
    Now I am not surprised anymore that his previous relationships didn’t last and I am sadly aware of how addictive on line flirting can be for some people and how it can ruin nice real relationships!

    Don’t flirt on line! Flirt with your partner! Why bother with these sad women that can’t make their nails anymore witout posting about it, or let everyone know that they’re going to have a shower or that they’ve just had one, or when they buy a new pair of shoes or a dress, etc? I thought childhood was the age when we discovered our ‘amazing bodies’ and then we moved onto dicovering the world around us. Also when they look fabuluos and have their partner totally seduced, what’s this need of posting on line and trying to get some strangers’ attention, votes and comments? Isn’t one man’s love enough anymore? Life should be a bit more than one’s body parts if one has a bit of intelligence and common sense.

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