Dear @nna: Is Sexting Cheating? 

Plus, the right and wrong way to approach someone as a fan on the internet.

Solve an argument between my boyfriend and me. I think sexting is cheating unequivocally, and he thinks because no physical contact occurs, it doesn't really count. Who is right?

Let's Talk About Sext

Well, LTAS, can't you both be right? Let's sexamine. I think that, generally speaking, if you're concealing something like that from your partner — something that you are fairly certain they would be upset about — then most would consider that cheating.

Where most people tend to run into trouble with not-exactly-agreed-upon textual flirtation/dirty talk, in my opinion, is that it's a breach of trust. Sexting doesn't have to lead to physical cheating — it can be a form of mild flirtation and go no further than that — but what makes it upsetting is the fact that a partner is hiding/concealing the sexts. Being deceived by one's partner is understandably upsetting, and it doesn't make the sexting partner look very favorably in anyone's eyes.

Everyone defines cheating a little differently, however — some think kissing is unforgivable; others think penetration is the dealbreaker. Some think if one partner is out of town, it doesn't count; some think viewing porn is an infidelity. Some think it doesn't count if one person is "experimenting" with a person of a different gender. It's all very confusing, and we should all do a little better about not assuming our partners feel the same way we do about cheating. When I first started dating my girlfriend, she and I had wildly different ideas of what cheating was, and it was actually very eye-opening to talk about it with her. So I applaud you and your boyfriend for hashing this out now, even though it's hypothetical and you might not totally come to an agreement.

On the other side of the sexting argument: Some say that sexting — with respectful boundaries and limits — can actually stoke the sexy fires of a monogamous relationship. As Dan Savage put it in a Savage Love a few years back: "If swapping sexually charged messages with his ex-hookup got him so horny that he came home and plowed all of that sexual energy into having sex with you — if he came home and plowed the shit out of you — and you never found about the texts, well, Yahtzee for you, right? His flirting with his ex-hookup resulted in you two having hot, horny, relationship-strengthening sex."

It boils down to intentions, I think. We all get bored in long-term relationships, though many of us are loath to admit it (and research shows that women actually lose desire for their long-term partners at much faster rates than men do. See "Sexual Desire and Relationship Duration in Young Men and Women" by University of Guelph researchers in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy). If your partner was sexting someone with the sole intention of using it as fodder for having hot sex with you, i.e. without actually intending to go outside of the relationship, then that's more forgivable and less damning than sexting as a precursor for infidelity.

So, in short, deceiving one's partner is always a garbage-person move, but everyone views cheating differently, and on the scale of horrible things one can do to another human person who regularly sees you naked, sexting doesn't have to be a relationship-ender. Unless perhaps you told your boyfriend that sexting ladies-who-are-not-you made you uncomfortable and he just went out and did it anyway. Then feel free to send him up shit creek without a selfie stick.

I have a huge crush on a famous author who lives in Oakland (I greatly respect her work, as well). I found her FB profile and wanted to write to her. Is it creepy to do so? Do you think she'd ever meet me?

Fan the Flame

Is it Mary Roach? Because DIBS.

It's totally normal to want to reach out to famous people (the internet and social media have made those folks a lot more accessible than they used to be). But just because you found someone's Facebook page doesn't make you any less of a stranger. Is it creepy to send a message of admiration to an author you respect? No. Is it creepy to ask a person out over the internet that you've never met? Uh huh. So don't send her virtual flowers, okay, FTF? It's fine to say, "Hey, I really admire your work ... " and see if she responds, but stop short of asking Mary if she wants to have a thousand of your babies. Because she's 56 (for one), and she's a Pisces-Aries cusp, so she's already quite popular and busy, obviously.

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