Anthony Weiner Scandal: Is Sexting Cheating?
ABC News' Felicia Patinkin reports:
Huma Abedin couldn't have been clearer in saying she has put the sexual scandals of her husband, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, behind her. But the rest of the country can't stop talking about it.
"She was way too nice … he needs to be married to Judge Judy," co-host Joy Behar joked on ABC's "The View."
Others are equally critical.
"I thought to myself, 'Seriously? How could she stand in front of all those people and try to make right of it," a New York City resident, one of the thousands who will decide Weiner's fate in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary election, told ABC News.
Much of the attention is focused on why Abedin, 36, a high-powered aide to Hillary Clinton and the mother of a 20-month-old son with Weiner, is standing by his side after not one but two online sex scandals.
The question then becomes, is sexting really cheating?
Yes, says Karen Ruskin, a Massachusetts-based family and marriage therapist.
"Whether it is with words, whether it's your body and whether it's with your sexuality, it's considered an affair when you are interacting with another human being in secrecy," she told ABC News.
Another relationship expert, New York City-based Donna Barnes, agreed that the secrecy aspect of Weiner's transgressions is the most critical.
"I think the secrecy part is the part that makes it cheating but there are many different kinds of intimacy," Barnes said today on " Good Morning America."
"There's emotional intimacy. There's sexual intimacy. There's physical intimacy. So he was doing the sexual intimacy with someone else but not the physical and probably not the emotional."
Weiner, 48, resigned in disgrace from Congress in 2011 for exposing himself to women on Twitter. This week, two years later, a gossip website revealed texts he allegedly shared with a 22-year-old woman after he had left Congress.
Barnes says that Weiner's repeated behaviors might be a sign of a sexual addiction, which might be why Abedin is staying by his side.
"As a person, she thinks he is a good human being and behavior can be changed," Barnes, the author of "Giving Up Junk Food Relationships," said on "GMA."
"Quite frankly, I think it's a sexual addiction. I think that's a process," she said. "It's like that alcoholic that sees that [drink] and he says he was having a hard time and that's probably the way he found comfort. Not appropriate, but he was looking for comfort."
Abedin made it clear at a New York news conference Tuesday that she knew of her husband's indiscretions and had decided to stay with him.
"I love him," she said. "We're moving forward."
As she continues to appear by Weiner's side while he campaigns for mayor, Abedin reiterated her commitment in a now awkwardly timed essay she penned for the upcoming September issue Harper's Bazaar before the most recent revelations.
"New Yorkers will have to decide for themselves whether or not to give him a second chance," Abedin wrote. "I had to make that same decision for myself, for my son, for our family. And I know in my heart that I made the right one."