Cybersex means a virtual encounter in which two or more people are connected via a computer to send and receive sexually explicit messages or images. Masturbation by one or more participants may, or may not, be part of a cyber sex experience. Encounters can range from text-only exchanges to the use of webcams to provide audio/visual elements, or computer-generated figures called avatars. Cybersex is arguably safer than real sex because there is no chance of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases or of being physically hurt by another person.
Whether cybersex constitutes “cheating” depends on how one defines “cheating.” If the cybersex is done with the knowledge and permission of a partner—or even with a partner—then, clearly, it’s not “cheating.” Some people may not consider masturbating (or flirting) via the internet as “cheating” but, if done without a partner’s knowledge, it could certainly be considered as “emotional cheating.”
There are few clear lines in all of this. For example, it’s normal for people in relationships to masturbate while fantasizing about somebody else. It’s not such a big leap from that to masturbating in the virtual company of another person with whom you have no emotional attachment. But it’s a slippery slope—if emotions do get involved, then you could easily find yourself involved to a degree that distracts or distances you from your “real” partner. As in many things, the Golden Rule may apply to cyber sex: don’t do what you would not want your partner to do.