Social media creates sticky situation for relationships and cheating

(Photo: CNN)
(Photo: CNN)

(CNN) - Social networking is changing the rules of relationships and causing new, complex issues, such as where to draw the line between harmless conversation and cheating on your partner online.

The scandal that forced Anthony Weiner's resignation has raised interesting questions about whether texts and Tweets are considered cheating.

Smartphones and social networking have brought us all closer together, a chance to connect more with our inner circle and those we've lost touch with, or have never ever met.

But with the number of people using social networking sites growing so fast, the rules for relationships in the digital age have been difficult to pin down, and the freedom and east can prove to be detrimental to some.

"It's the sense that they're in their own little world, that no one can really hear them or see them. Cyber-relation is like that, and you're not really having to deal with anyone on a face-to-face basis," licensed psychotherapist Toni Coleman said.

And that's why those in a relationship might rationalize that cyber-cheating with someone they've never met, or who lives across the country, isn't so bad.

But one relationship therapist warns it could point to a deeper problem.

"What it points to is somebody who has a compulsive behavior, or he's almost like an exhibitionist, who is putting himself out there for people he doesn't even know," Coleman said.

If you're uncomfortable with a racy message you've received, or not sure about a friend request from an old flame, Coleman said not to hide it, but address it with your current partner.

"Talk immediately to your significant other about it, because if someone else mentions it to them - you have all these people in your network - someone else mentions it to them they see it, then there's this sense that they're withholding," she said.

With so many ways to connect, the most important is still face-to-face communication.

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