The Kernel guide to digital infidelity

By Greg Stevens on August 26th, 2013

There is no point in writing a point-by-point how-to guide for going behind your spouse’s back on the internet. If you don’t already know about things like Kik and Snapchat and, then it takes very little effort to find all that on your own.

However, the more difficult task for most people seems to be how to do engage in salacious digital behaviour and get away with it – that is, keep your relationship intact. That is what this tutorial is for.

Lesson 1: The controlled explosion

The first thing you need to learn is that “getting away with it” does not mean that your partner will never find out. That’s not possible; at least, it’s so improbable that it’s not a future worth aiming for. One of the biggest mistakes people make is living under the illusion that they will never be caught, their partners will never suspect a thing, and nothing will ever go wrong. That kind of delusion is just arrogance and stupidity.

Instead, “getting away with it” means that when your spouse or partner does inevitably find out about the terrible, dirty, scandalous things that you’ve been doing on the internet, the relationship that you have will still be salvageable.

There is an old saying among airline pilots: “A good landing is one where everyone survives. A great landing is one where you can reuse the plane.” The same principle applies to internet dalliances.

Of course, this assumes that you really are happy in your long-term committed romantic relationship, and don’t want it to end. It is a basic fact of the human condition that it is possible to be utterly devoted to your partner, and still want to have a little dirty spank-talk with a hot out-of-town friend-of-a-friend or business acquaintance. That’s the type of scenario we are addressing here.

On the other hand, if you are looking for an “out” online because you are not actually interested in your existing relationship, and you simply don’t have the strength to actually break things off, then you are an asshole. If that’s the case, then stop reading this article now and go have a conversation with your other half.

But, if you really truly love your partner, but you are just too overpowered by the temptation to talk dirty with your latest hot follower on Twitter, then this tutorial is what you are looking for. In this situation, “getting away with it” has less to do with preventing your partner from finding things out, and more to do with setting the stage so that when things blow up, the damage is minimal.

Lesson 2: You are dating the NSA

You may not realise it, but your romantic partner is a master hacker. He or she has tapped your phones, has installed a key-logger on your computer, and knows all of your passwords. You partner already knows that you have sent those sexy pictures to the young hot thing who lives on the other side of the country, and already knows that you have DM’ed “hello” your favourite porn star on Twitter.

And you know that “secret” profile on Instagram where you post sexy pictures of yourself, but you think that it’s somehow anonymous just because you don’t use your real name and your partner doesn’t use Instagram? Yeah, your partner knows about that, too.

The only reason that your partner has not confronted you yet is because he or she is waiting to see what you do next.

Some people might say: “If you honestly believed this, why would you do any of these things at all?”

That’s a valid question. But we’ll breeze past that bit of logic for the moment, because let’s face it: most human beings just aren’t built to work that way. The temptation to hit “reply” when some hot friend-of-a-friend on Facebook messages you a “Heeyyyyyy!” is simply too great for mortal man to resist. (At least, that’s what empirical data seems to suggest.)

So instead of asking “Why do it at all?” let’s move on to how to behave when you know you are being watched, and could be confronted at any moment.

The first thing is simply to be prepared for the confrontation. At some point, your spouse will ask you, “When did you create this account?” or, “Why did you send this email?” or, “What do you know about a person named such-and-such?”

The first 30 seconds of your reaction are the most critical 30 seconds of your entire life. If you spend that time spluttering with dead eyes and a blank, guilty look on your face, you may as well pack your bags and move into a hotel room tonight.

So have a speech ready. It will be The Speech: the most important speech of your life. Make sure it is prepared. Practice it in the mirror, if necessary. You will need it.

Lesson 3: The Speech

When designing The Speech, the best strategy is to simply own up, tell the truth, and take the blame. I know you think that will be the end of the world; however, the end of the world is better than the end of the universe.

What would cause the end of the universe? Telling a lie to try to cover your tracks, and then finding out that your partner already knows it’s a lie. Blaming it on alcoholism, psychological dysfunction, or voices in your head. Acting offended that your partner didn’t “trust you” or somehow found out your secret.

Of course, the two things that you must never ever do under any circumstances are say, “I’m sorry that you are upset by this” or, “You have to trust me”. If you don’t understand why you have to avoid these two phrases, then you are probably too stupid to be in a relationship.

There is one final note about The Speech. Since it is absolutely imperative that you tell the truth, and the whole truth, it is also important the the truth not be that bad.

Unfortunately, figuring out what counts as “that bad” requires good judgment, which we already suspect you don’t have. But a lot of people allow themselves to do things that they would never do if they thought they would have to admit it out loud. So, in a way, coming up with The Speech ahead of time is also a great way to help decide what you really should or should not allow yourself to do.

Look in the mirror. Imagine you are talking to your spouse. Say this out loud: “Yes, I sent this hot stranger an email saying that I wanted to meet up and have sex.” Now imagine the look on your spouse’s face.

Can you imagine it? Does it make you feel sick to your stomach? If you can’t say it out loud, if admitting it makes you feel like a terrible human being, then that’s a good clue that you simply shouldn’t do it at all.

On the other hand, try saying this out loud: “Yes, I complimented her and said she was hot, but we never traded naked pictures and never talked about hooking up.”

For most people, it would still be an awkward conversation. But if you feel like that’s a conversation you can still have and not die of shame, then that’s your judgement call. Go forth and be merry, and have The Speech ready for when your spouse inevitably finds out.

Of course, there is a lot of yardage between saying “I think you’re hot” and saying “I want to meet for sex”, and it’s up to you to decide where to draw the line. Do you talk about specific fantasies, or specific sexual positions? Do you send naked pictures? Do you send pictures of body parts? There are a lot of decisions to make.

The way to answer any of these questions is to remember: whatever you do, it’s going to have to go in The Speech. So if you are thinking about taking the naked picture where you are posing doing something inexplicable with three pieces of fruit and a rubber band, just imagine sitting next to your spouse at the computer and both of you looking at it together, and discussing it.

If you can’t handle that, then don’t take, much less send, the picture.

Lesson 4: Keep it sexy… not romantic

The last, and in some ways most important, tip to keep in mind when you decide to be a colossal virtual slut is this: Decide from the beginning what you are really looking for from your online escapades.

Is it validation that people other than your long-term romantic partner still are able to find you attractive? Is it the thrill and excitement of talking to a sexy stranger and getting attention from a new person? Is it because there are sexual things that your partner is not interested in discussing or doing with you, so you are looking to satisfy a specific “urge” on the side?

Whatever it is that you want, make sure you know what it is and stick to it.

Some people think that it adds fuel to the excitement to say things like, “I feel such a connection with you” or, “I wish my girlfriend were more like you”. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Stick to talking about what objects you want inserted into what orifices and your relationship will be much more likely to survive the oncoming storm.

The first reason for this is fairly obvious, and goes back to The Speech. When your partner discovers everything you’ve done (which will happen), the hurt will be a lot less if this person knows that it was not a threat to your romantic relationship.

And if your partner discovers you saying “I feel so connected to you!” to another person, you can just bet that an explanation of, “Oh, I didn’t really feel that way I just said it to play along with the sexy talk!” will go over brilliantly.

There is another reason, too, to avoid “romantic talk” with your online trysts: strangers are crazy. In most cases, the person that you’re doing this discrete sexy-talk with is not someone whom you know well. That means the person is unpredictable.

What happens when he or she declares undying love for you? What happens when he or she demands that you break up with your spouse? What happens when he or she decides to contact your spouse as “revenge” against your cold, mean, neglectful behaviour?

It is much safer to just make sure that both you and your online plaything know that the relationship is no more than what it is: sexual comments between people who are attracted to one another.

When the other person says, “Don’t you just wish your spouse weren’t in the picture?” the correct response is, “I’m sorry, I love my partner very much. I could never imagine being without him/her.”

When the other person says, “So when are we going to actually meet up to do this stuff?”, the correct response is, “I’m sorry, I’m just having fun chatting with you. I’m not planning on cheating on my spouse.”

I know that in the heat of the moment, you won’t want to say these things. Let’s face it: it’s a buzzkill, and there’s a chance that your little dirty-talking, picture-exchanging partner will leave in a huff and never want to Snapchat with you again.

But that’s OK. There are plenty of pixellated fish in the Snapchat sea. And just think about how much it will make your NSA-trained spouse smile when he or she spies on your digital conversation logs and sees how loyal you were. Well, sort of.


This guide is presented in a light-hearted way, but in reality it addresses an issue that is deadly serious. The best recommendation is to constantly have conversations with your partner about what is allowable and what is not, about what is considered “cheating” and what is considered only “flirting”.

The best thing to do is to actually have the conversation about boundaries and online chatting ahead of time.

But since we are all human, and don’t always do the right thing, this tutorial will help you to at least do the next best thing, and avoid screwing up your entire relationship over a few hot pictures and emails.