Phonewatch: What should you do if you catch him sexting?
The ubiquity of smartphones have blurred the lines when it comes to cheating. What's the difference between innocent fun and something more serious?
Published 02/04/2016 | 02:30
Once a sexter, always a sexter? That's what Tess Daly is sure to be wondering this week after husband Vernon Kay was once more busted having 'textual relations' with glamour model Rhian Sugden.
Six years after the sexting scandal that almost cost him his marriage, the British television presenter admitted he's back in touch with the buxom blonde, but insisted it's completely innocent - and that his famous missus knew all about it.
After being outed by The Sun on Tuesday, the dad of two, who's been married to Strictly Come Dancing host Tess since 2003, claimed: "I was contacted by Rhian out of the blue back in December regarding the story in 2010 claiming she had information she wanted to pass on.
"I recognise how it may look when messages are pulled out of context but there was never any inappropriate intent to our communication, I was merely trying to find answers to questions that I've had since 2010. Tess is aware of everything that has been discussed with Rhian."
But on Wednesday night, the 29-year-old at the heart of the headlines appeared to refute these claims, tweeting a picture of Disney character Pinocchio with the message: "A liar should have a good memory. #TwoSides".
So could the curse of Strictly - the BBC dance show infamous for sending relationships into meltdown - strike again? And what should you do if you're suspicious that your partner is contacting someone else?
It depends, according to David Kavanagh of Avalon Relationship Consultants.
"Obviously it's not ideal for someone to start texting someone they've been caught sexting [in the past]," he said. "For someone with a history of sexting though, it's quite easy to fall back into that habit because of the access we have to smartphones.
"It's a bit like Facebook. You might say you're going to quit Facebook, but within a few hours, you're back scrolling away out of boredom. So I think it depends on the intention.
"There's a big difference between a guy texting a girl in his office because he's bored and texting her because he's unhappy in his marriage."
The Love Rewired author added: "In the last 10 years, the boundaries of what's allowed and what's not allowed in a relationship have stretched hugely. Certainly sexting has become an issue among some Irish couples.
"Warning signs of somebody sexting would be things like not letting their phone out of their sight, constantly messaging even while you're watching a movie together or laughing or smiling at a message, then saying 'It's nothing'.
"Generally if you start noticing warning signs though, you probably already have a sense that something is amiss."
Ashley Cole, Tea Loni and Tiger Woods are just some of the celebrities who could offer Vernon some words of wisdom this week, after previously being caught texting people they really shouldn't have.
Likely to be on 'Team Tess', meanwhile, are Reese Witherspoon and Eva Longoria, both of whom bounced back from being virtually cheated on in the past.
Scooping Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side in 2010, Sandra Bullock was cheered on by her teary-eyed husband Jesse James.
But it was the actress who was blind-sided when In Touch Magazine revealed the steamy messages he had been sending to tattoo model Michelle McGee while she was promoting the film.
Shattered by their subsequent divorce, the adoptive mum of two later told: "I've been on the floor and I've been heartbroken. I didn't know how I was going to stand up. But I just gave it time.
"You don't think it will pass when you're in the middle of it, but it does."
Technology may be making it easier than ever to cheat on your spouse, but as Ronan Keating - whose affair with dancer Francine Cornell was reportedly rumbled after his ex-wife Yvonne Connolly discovered a secret mobile phone at home in 2010 - can attest, it's making it easier to get caught too.
After discovering that his wife was sleeping with a work colleague in 2008, architect Andrew from Dublin agreed to work through it with a marriage counsellor for the sake of their eight year-old son.
When that niggling suspicion returned three years later however, he surreptitiously installed a key logger [which records keystrokes typed on a keyboard] on her laptop - and found out she was being unfaithful again.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he revealed: "I discovered she was using a secret Gmail account and was still seeing him and had been for months.
"In our last counselling session, I asked her if anything was going on. When she swore there wasn't, I produced the emails I had printed out. Both she and the therapist were in complete shock."
Defending his own violation of digital trust, the DIY spy continued: "I have no regrets. If I hadn't used the key logger, I would have continued to believe that the affair was somehow my fault.
"Cheating spouses will always lie to protect themselves - but betrayed spouses deserve to know the truth."
Six years after being caught practising unsafe text, Boyzone star Ronan - who wed TV producer Storm Uechtritz last August - recently told The Telegraph he was "sorry".
The father of three confessed: "Nobody should have an affair. If you're man enough to have the balls to go home and say, 'Sorry, this isn't working any more', that's the ideal situation, isn't it?
"But we're weak. We don't do that. So yes, I hurt people and I am sorry for that hurt, but the outcome is I found Storm and I'm very grateful. But I'm saying I'm sorry."'
In a follow-up interview with the Sunday People however, he refused to shoulder all the blame: "I do not regret the end of my marriage, it's what I wanted. There is a lot more to it than an affair and obviously it was broken well before then.
"There are always two people in a relationship and if it's not working there's more than one good reason."
Amid rumoured crunch talks with his wife this week meanwhile, Vernon was back on Radio X filling in for regular breakfast show host Chris Moyles, but didn't mention the sexting storm.
Nonetheless, in what's been dubbed 'The Vern Ultimatum' by tabloids across the pond, it's believed that "humiliated" Tess is set to give her hubby another go - so long as he never texts former Page 3 model Rhian again.
Pre-marriage counsellor David Kavanagh warned: "I read a quote by Vernon Kay [given to Woman magazine] this week where he said he likes to "keep up with the 20 year-olds". At 41, texting [a younger woman] may be a way to boost his flagging ego, the question you have to ask is 'Why?'
"Sexting is open to different interpretations," he explained. "As far as you might be concerned, sexting is just harmless flirtation or a way to feel good about yourself, whereas your partner might see it as you clearly wanting to sleep without someone else.
"If you suspect your partner is sexting someone else, my advice is to avoid issuing an ultimatum as they never work. Instead, sit down and ask the questions, 'Do you understand how it makes me feel?' and 'How would you like if it was done to you?'
"But the most important question of all is: 'Do you still want to be in this relationship?'"
Mobile mischief: Could you spot the warning signs?
With almost six out of 10 Irish adults now suffering from 'nomophobia' - the crippling fear of being without their smartphone - being app-dicted isn't necessarily suspicious. If you other half goes from technophobe to gadget geek overnight however, alarm bells shouldn't just be ringing on the phone.
The average Irish person already checks their phone 40 times a day, according to research. For those juggling a sextual relationship with their regular messaging and social media commitments however, that figure's likely to skyrocket, meaning that calculator app could come in handy, after all.
With hundreds of ringtones to choose from, you could be forgiven for being paranoid if your partner's phone suddenly stops doing a Morse code impression. Changing the sound settings so that text messages no longer beep is one thing, but if they also leave the room while sending them, it could be time to start getting seriously i-Worried.