Infidelity: Has it Increased Since the Internet?

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.

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2 Comments
  1. Reply
    Jeremy

    Having an affair is wrong when you both agreed on an exclusive relationship or marriage. Unless it is an open relationship or marriage. I would rather end the relationship or marriage if i promised to be loyal, than have an affair with someone else. It is a huge betrayal, and it is heart breaking when the other partner finds out.

    I have a friend who was on the verge of cheating on her partner, her reasons were that, he doesn’t tell her she is beautiful anymore, he never compliments her, does not buy her gifts, he doesn’t even know her proper shoe size. Then she met a man at the airport who told her she was gorgeous, then she forgets about her 12 years marriage and three children. And wanted to actually go on a date with the man. She said, he understands her the way her husband does not, he makes her smile and brings some sparks in her life. He finds her attractive, her husband doesn’t .

    I advised her, do not go on any date with this man, it might start out like an innocent conversation, the gradually it begins to get personal and then you begin to think of this person in a way you should not. You made a vow to stay faithful in your marriage, instead i rather you talk to your husband about how you feel. He may not be doing it on purpose. If you do this, it doesn’t end in one date, before you know it, you become physically or romantically attached to this person while you are bound to another. Affairs causes more damage in ways one doesn’t realize.

    If you don’t find fulfillment in your relationship, discuss it with your partner, unless it is an open relationship then you will not be betraying your partner. People who have affairs claim it just happened. i do not agree with that, affairs do not just happen. An affair is a choice , there is a threshold line in monogamous relationships and you choose to cross it. It is a bad idea to have an affair in an exclusive relationship because there is betrayal of the primary relationship, there is lying, covering your tracks and there is also worry (Will she/he find out?)What will people think when i am caught? when you have an affair, you are choosing to be out of integrity with yourself. If you think its a good thing, why do it in secrecy? If your relationship is awful, you either work to change it or leave it, you don’t have to hurt the other person by having an affair.

    • Reply
      Kate

      What a complete breath of fresh air to hear a man post these words. I envy any woman who has a man like you. They relate my feelings exactly. I even spoke similar words to my husband many times, stressing the point that you can’t promise to love someone forever but you can promise to be honourable. Talk if there are problems, be brave enough to say. Don’t be unfaithful, finish the relationship you are in with integrity and care and then you are free, guilt free, to persue the next relationship. Surely the next relationship will then too have more trust. I have been married 40 years next week and thought I had such a husband. I found out 18 months ago I was wrong and it is a devastating feeling. My latter teenage years and whole adult life has been spent with this person, and now I find he was a lying cheat. My husband says he is mine now and he desperately wanted to stay together. We have tried for almost 2 years to sort this out but I will never trust him again. It has been a horrible and miserable two years for the both of us. Luckily our children are in their twenties and thirties but we have just found out we are going to be grandparents and it seems that sadly, we will be enjoying them separately. I dont know if he is telling the truth when he says he wished he had talked more and sorted us out or if he just wanted to do the things he did and felt it was his choice and his secret. If you love your wife or partner, please do the right thing by them for their sakes as much as yours. Human beings can cope with the truth and will deal with it. Having been lied to when you thought everything was okay is a tough burden to bear. Think before you cheat, way up the quick thrill with the massive hurt and remember you may lose someone who was your rock and thought the world of you.

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