Are Anthony Weiner's Online Trysts Adultery?

Psychologists say congressman betrayed his wife.

ByABC News
June 6, 2011, 5:25 PM

June 7, 2011— -- Although there may not have been any physical contact between Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and the women with whom he confessed to having inappropriate online relationships, some psychologists consider the married congressman's conduct as nothing short of adultery.

"Nonphysical sexting relationships are similar to emotional affairs that are highly sexualized," said Nadine Kaslow, a psychology professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

"Technology has opened up whole new avenues for cheating," said psychotherapist Bethany Marshall. "The motivation is the same, but the pathway is different."

Weiner attributed his behavior to "terrible judgment and actions," and he apologized to his wife.

"I should not have done this, and I should not have done this particularly when I was married," Weiner said at a press conference.

Philadelphia psychologist Marion Rudin Frank calls online relationships "betrayal[s] of the partner" and says people who engage in them often belive there is no risk involved if there is no sex.

Weiner and others who get involved in online relationships often do so because of a need for quick and casual sex, experts say. People often carry on multiple affairs and engage in compulsive sexting because that desire for sexual satisfaction becomes like an addiction.

"It can be and usually is addictive and actually out chemistry," said Frank. "Like any addiction, it is self-defeating. [A person] cannont do just a little, and it makes people act in ways they regret."

"Online porn addictions and compulsive sexting are quite linked, as they often relate to sex that is objectifying and not very personal," said Kaslow.

"Social media often makes us less mindful of our actions because we think that if it is in cyberspace it doesn't count as much or we are less likely to be found out or held accountable for our actions," said Kaslow.

Sites like Facebook and other social networking sites make relationships seem less daunting, since they eliminate the need for physical and emotional intimacy, Kaslow said. Texting and other types of online contact often lead to what she calls "faux intimacy."

"We are more prone to lie to ourselves [and say] 'It's not really action,'" said Frank.

In the end, though, experts say relationships carried out on social media sites are very likely to be uncovered.

"I am deeply sorry that I lied about this, but at the end of the day, I lied because I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of what I had done and I didn't want to get caught," Weiner admitted.

ABC News' Jane Kurtzman and Dan Childs contributed to this story.

To Many, Social Media Seems Safer

\"Social media often makes us less mindful of our actions because we think that if it is in cyberspace it doesn't count as much or we are less likely to be found out or held accountable for our actions,\" said Kaslow.

Sites like Facebook and other social networking sites make relationships seem less daunting, since they eliminate the need for physical and emotional intimacy, Kaslow said. Texting and other types of online contact often lead to what she calls \"faux intimacy.\"

\"We are more prone to lie to ourselves [and say] 'It's not really action,'\" said Frank.

In the end, though, experts say relationships carried out on social media sites are very likely to be uncovered.

\"I am deeply sorry that I lied about this, but at the end of the day, I lied because I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of what I had done and I didn't want to get caught,\" Weiner admitted.

ABC News' Jane Kurtzman and Dan Childs contributed to this story.","publishedDate":"2011-06-06T21:25:18Z","contributors":[{"name":"ABC News","url":"","role":"","logo":"","logoAlt":""}],"modifiedDate":"2013-02-19T17:57:52Z","section":"Health","wordCount":436,"relatedTags":{"heading":"Related Topics","tags":[]},"lead":{"ratio":"16x9","disableForMobile":false,"type":"xl","mediaType":"image","alignCaptionToBody":true},"ads":{"Sticky":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"RightRail":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"InlineBox":{},"InlineOutstream":{"disabled":false},"Taboola":{"position":"bottom","pageType":"article","config":{"network":"abcnews-abcnews","mode":"thumbnails-a","container":"taboola-below-article-thumbnails","type":"article","targetType":"mix","placement":"Below Article Thumbnails"}}},"featuredVideo":null,"dateline":"June 7, 2011—","seo":{},"LivePromotion":{}},"autoUpdate":{"enabled":false,"topics":["general-elections-2020-balance-of-power"]}},"upw":{"balanceOfPower":{"electoral":{"header":"Biden Projected to be President-Elect","candidates":{"democrats":{"id":1036,"displayName":"Joe Biden","shortDisplayName":"J. Biden","firstName":"Joe","lastName":"Biden","party":"democrats","major":true,"incumbent":false,"winner":true,"votes":306},"republicans":{"id":8639,"displayName":"Donald Trump","shortDisplayName":"D. Trump","firstName":"Donald","lastName":"Trump","party":"republicans","major":true,"incumbent":true,"winner":false,"votes":232},"other":{"displayName":"Other","votes":0}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans"},"type":"electoral","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{},"total":306,"difference":{},"popular":{"displayValue":"81,283,098","value":81283098}},"republicans":{"available":{},"total":232,"difference":{},"popular":{"displayValue":"74,222,958","value":74222958}},"other":{"available":{},"total":0,"popular":{}},"total":538},"needed":{"displayText":"270 to win","displayValue":"270","value":270},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-18T21:15:13.850Z","displayValue":"December 18, 4:15:13PM ET"},"reporting":"99% of Expected Vote Reporting"},"senate":{"header":"Senate Seat Results","candidates":{"democrats":{"displayName":"Democrats","icon":"party-democrats","votes":46,"winner":false},"republicans":{"displayName":"Republicans","icon":"party-republicans","votes":50,"winner":false},"other":{"displayName":"Other","votes":2}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans"},"type":"senate","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{"displayText":"12 Democrats up for election","shortDisplayText":"12 Dems. up for election","displayValue":"12","value":12},"total":46,"difference":{"displayText":"Gained 1 seat","displayValue":"1","value":1},"popular":{}},"republicans":{"available":{"displayText":"23 Republicans up for election","shortDisplayText":"23 Reps. up for election","displayValue":"23","value":23},"total":50,"difference":{"displayText":"Lost 1 seat","displayValue":"-1","value":-1},"popular":{}},"other":{"available":{"displayText":"0 Others up for election","shortDisplayText":"0 Others up for election","displayValue":"0","value":0},"total":2,"popular":{}},"total":100},"needed":{"displayText":"51 for control","displayValue":"51","value":51},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-17T18:22:05.390Z","displayValue":"December 17, 1:22:05PM ET"}},"house":{"header":"House Results: Dems Retain Control","candidates":{"democrats":{"displayName":"Democrats","icon":"party-democrats","votes":222,"winner":true},"republicans":{"displayName":"Republicans","icon":"party-republicans","votes":210,"winner":false},"other":{"displayName":"Other","votes":0}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans"},"type":"house","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{"displayText":"233 Democrats up for election","shortDisplayText":"233 Dems. up for election","displayValue":"233","value":233},"total":222,"difference":{"displayText":"Lost 10 seats","displayValue":"-10","value":-10},"popular":{}},"republicans":{"available":{"displayText":"201 Republicans up for election","shortDisplayText":"201 Reps. up for election","displayValue":"201","value":201},"total":210,"difference":{"displayText":"Gained 10 seats","displayValue":"10","value":10},"popular":{}},"other":{"available":{"displayText":"1 Others up for election","shortDisplayText":"1 Others up for election","displayValue":"1","value":1},"total":0,"popular":{}},"total":435},"needed":{"displayText":"218 for control","displayValue":"218","value":218},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-17T18:22:02.900Z","displayValue":"December 17, 1:22:02PM ET"}},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-18T21:15:13.850Z","displayValue":"December 18, 4:15:13PM ET"},"autoUpdate":{"enabled":false,"topics":["general-elections-2020-balance-of-power"]},"electionsConfig":{}},"types":["electoral","senate","house"]}},"analytics":{"accountID":"wdgnewabcnews,wdgasec,wdgnewabcnweb,wdgnewabcnewsrollup","ns":"abcnews","pageName":"abcn:health:story","pageType":"story","pageUrl":"abcnews.go.com/Health/anthony-weiners-online-relationships-considered-adultery/story?id=13776334&userab=shop_ui_series-231*variant_c_cta-top-868","globalSpecVersion":"v1.08","siteDifferentiator":"abcn:site","tagID":"apage_news01","userABCookie":"shop_ui_series-231*variant_c_cta-top-868","alertTag":"none","authors":"ABC News","authorsBureau":"none","authorsUnit":"none","dateline":"June 7, 2011—","id":"13776334","modDate":"2013-02-19","mediaOnPage":"none","modTime":"12:57","provider":"ABC News","pubDate":"2011-06-06","pubTime":"17:25","section":"Health","subBrand":"none","title":"Are Anthony Weiner's Online Trysts Adultery?","videoId":"none","videoName":"none","wordCount":436},"taboola":{"config":{"network":"abcnews-abcnews","mode":"thumbnails-a","type":"other","targetType":"mix","placement":null,"pageTypeOverrides":{"story":{"mode":"thumbnails-a","type":"article","targetType":"mix","placement":"Below Article Thumbnails"},"home":{"mode":"thumbnails-b","container":"taboola-homepage-thumbnails","type":"home","targetType":"mix","placement":"Homepage Thumbnails"},"section":{"mode":"thumbnails-b","type":"category","targetType":"mix","placement":"Section Front Thumbnails"},"liveBlog":{"mode":"thumbnails-d","type":"other","targetType":"mix","placement":"Blog"}}}}},"request":{"headers":{},"httpVersion":"1.1","method":"GET","url":"/Health/anthony-weiners-online-relationships-considered-adultery/story?id=13776334&userab=shop_ui_series-231*variant_c_cta-top-868","vary":{"host":"abcnews.go.com","cached":true,"path":"/Health/anthony-weiners-online-relationships-considered-adultery/story","forwarded-proto":"https","device":"desktop","country":"us","userab":"shop_ui_series-231*variant_c_cta-top-868","region":"gdpr"}},"viewport":{"width":1260,"height":0},"user":{}};