Affairs are nothing new in the world of relationships but since the invention of the internet, do you think the ability to be online from anywhere and at any time has increased the chances of you, your spouse, or your significant other having an affair? In other words, has cyber-space made it easier than ever to cheat within a marriage or a relationship? Overwhelmingly, the answer is “yes”.
In 1998, prior to the Internet, the University of California conducted a study on infidelity and found that 14 percent of women and 24 percent of men had been unfaithful to their spouse. In 2014, the Associated Press’ Journal of Marital and Family Therapy reported that in 41% of marriages, one or both spouses have admitted to infidelity (either physical or emotional). So, what is it about the internet that has raised those statistics?
What Has Changed Since the Internet?
- Many people don’t feel that an online affair is a “real” affair
- Social media sites make it easy for people to contact each other and engage in flirting through online chatting, emailing, and messaging
- Social media sites give people a way to get back in touch with exes, prior flings, and The One The Got Away
- There are thousands of online dating sites, including those that are set up specifically for people who are looking to cheat
- The Internet offers both anonymity and a way to reinvent yourself, making it easy for people to live a secret life
- The internet offers ready access to pornography
What Counts as Cheating?
Cheating means different things to different people: some people don’t feel they are cheating if they engage in any form of sexual behavior as long as they don’t have intercourse, while others feel that something as simple as flirting is a form of cheating. Basically, cheating happens when your partner goes beyond your feelings and beliefs about what type of contact is appropriate with another person. If their behavior is unacceptable to you and you feel betrayed, then they have violated your trust.
The best thing to do is to have a frank discussion with your spouse or significant other about what each of you considers to be cheating (online or otherwise) before a problem comes up. Set rules down for each other so you both know where the boundaries are and will know if your behavior is crossing the line.
- Your significant other spends a lot of time online and they close out the screen when you walk into the room (or consistently keep the monitor turned away from you)
- They spend excessive amounts of time chatting with online friends or are up all night on the computer
- They are secretive about who they are communicating with online
- They won’t connect with you online (for example: you aren’t their Facebook friend or they won’t let you follow them on Twitter)
- They password-protect their computers and their phones and won’t give you those passwords
- Checking their Favorites tab or looking at their browser history shows they are visiting chat sites or dating sites. Or, if their browser history is always cleared, it could be a sign of an online affair
Have Questions? Need Help?
First, don’t accuse them unless you have proof! Talk to them to try to get some of your questions answered. Then, if you still think your spouse or significant other is cheating, see a professional therapist to uncover the reasons behind the problem and to determine if the relationship is worth salvaging.
To get more information and help for infidelity and online affairs, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.