In an age of expressive sexual freedom, who can really be sure what counts as cheating, and whether it's the same for every couple. A recent survey commissioned by law firm Slater and Gordon found that 35 percent of the 2,150 participants believed sending explicit or flirty messages didn't mean you were unfaithful, while only 62 percent of people said they would feel guilty about sending explicit photos to someone other than their partner. Unsurprisingly, there was a bit of a gender divide here: 49 percent of women consider sexting to be cheating, as opposed to 34 percent of men. Still, that means half of all women think it's fine for you to send an eggplant spaffing onto two peaches to Becky with the good hair.
This all sounds a bit hopeful. I once met a girl who smashed her boyfriend's phone face down on to a marble floor because he hadn't deleted old Instagrams of his ex. So we conducted our own investigation to find out whether people are really more chill about cheating.
MR. PIGEONS, 27, MUSIC PRODUCER
VICE: Hey, Mr. Pigeons. Are you currently in a relationship?
Mr. Pigeons: Kind of.
Is sexting cheating?
It depends on the dynamics. It's all about communication and rules. Once you understand each other, it's cool. I know people that think cheating is checking out half-naked girls on Instagram.
Why do people in relationships start to sext others?
Boredom. I think there's a temptation and desire with human beings. You naturally feel these urges, so it's difficult. When tempted, not thinking, you can just do it.
Have you ever snooped through your partner's phone for sexts?
All the fucking time. It's very hard to trust people nowadays. Culture like "Netflix and chill" is fucked up.
If you caught your partner sexting someone else, how would you feel?
I'd be pissed off, and I'd blame her! But I wouldn't necessarily end the relationship.
SAM COX, THE DOODLE MAN, 22, DOODLES FOR A LIVING
VICE: Is sexting cheating?
Sam: I don't think it's right, but I don't know if it's "cheating." I guess if you're not being honest, it's on the spectrum of cheating.
If you were in a relationship and found out your partner had been sexting, how would you feel?
I would not be comfortable with it. Imagine if your parents were doing that. So I think sexting is worse than meeting someone when out randomly.
Would you end the relationship in that situation?
We'd definitely talk about it, and it wouldn't be good. But it all depends on the circumstance, doesn't it?
SARAH, 24, DESIGNER
VICE: Does sexting count as cheating?
Sarah: Yes. It indicates you are not committed to one person.
So when does texting become sexting?
When it gets inappropriate. Sexual and personal.
What would you do if you caught your partner sexting?
I'd definitely just get rid of them. If there were evidence, it would be hard to brush it aside. It would take more to end a relationship in those circumstances, compared to if I caught them physically cheating.
Would you snoop through a partners phone to see if they were sexting?
Yes, for sexting and just general stuff, maybe just to see what they've been up to. It doesn't have to be looking for bad things.
Who does the blame lie with when someone is sexting in a relationship?
The people sexting. If you want to sext other people, you shouldn't be in a relationship. If your relationship is unfulfilling, that's not the way to handle it.
POLARIS, 27, WORKS IN RETAIL SALES
VICE: Is sexting outside of a relationship cheating?
Polaris: I don't think so, because it's just texting. It's not done in real life, so it's fine.
Even explicit photo sharing?
I don't like the idea of sharing explicit photos. But texting is fine.
Would you snoop through your partner's phone for sexts?
I wouldn't want to check because I wouldn't want to know. If you sext, your partner might sext as well, and in that case, I don't want to know.
Have you ever sext outside of a relationship?
Yes, but only through text. No pictures.
Why do you think people sext people other than their partner?
Sometimes when you're in a long-term relationship, you want something new and exciting.
BILLY, 21, STUDENT
VICE: Is sexting cheating?
Billy: I don't think it's cheating.
What makes people in a relationship sext other people?
They might just find it interesting to talk to other people. Or they could be looking for someone else. But if people don't pay attention to their partners, or compliment them enough, they will look elsewhere for recognition.
Have you ever sext?
Yes, because my partner wasn't giving me attention. I left my phone unlocked, and she found the images I had been sending.
What did she say?
She confronted me about it, and defended herself by saying she was busy. I told her that obviously I needed something. I'm a man.
If you found an image your other half had sent to someone else on her phone, how would you feel about it?
Firstly, I would question why she is doing it. Secondly, I question what I'm doing wrong because it insinuates I'm not giving her enough attention. I would blame myself in the situation.