Online Infidelity – A Serious Threat To Your Relationship
The statistics about online infidelity should give anyone who thinks their mate is cheating via the Internet pause for thought. Menstuff® says that 57% of people have accessed the Internet to flirt, 38% have had explicit online sexual conversations and 50% later make telephone connections with someone they met online.
So is the Internet just harmless fun when it comes to exploring sexuality and sexual opportunities? Not if you’re in a relationship. The numbers show that there’s a definite link between online infidelity and actual affairs. Notes Menstuff®, “Thirty-one percent of people have had an online conversation that has led to real-time sex.”
Why do people turn to the Internet for sexual gratification? Suggests the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), “Online chatting or e-mailing can begin simply as a distraction from boredom or emotional distress. Behaviors that were once off limits in a face-to-face situation with strangers are suddenly available through the Internet...What started innocently can easily advance to a real life emotional and/or physical extramarital affair. However, even if the behavior never advances to meeting in person, many partners view cybersex chatting and/or pornography viewing as a form of infidelity, a threat to the marriage, and as emotionally distressing as a ‘live’ affair.”
In addition to emotional factors, sheer accessibility-mixed with a dose of temptation-is part of the problem. The Internet hosts over 40 million sexually explicit web sites, chat rooms and interactive games. Access is affordable and offers users a cloak of anonymity in which to pursue their fantasies about themselves or a potential sexual partner.
The damage of these behaviors to your relationship can be immense. Loss of trust and self-esteem can result for both of you. You’ll experience isolation from each other as the online cheater pursues his or her fascination. That partner may also withdraw from your sexual intimacy, or conversely, ask you to do things you aren’t interested in doing. All of these worries can negatively impact both partners’ day-to-day lives. Sleep disturbances and difficulty focusing at work and at home can result.
Worse still, online infidelitycan be addictive–up to 17% of people who use the Internet for sexual purposes become addicted, says AAMFT. And addiction usually means your partner will need outside intervention to stop.
Only you can decide how to approach the situation. But if you confront your partner, be aware he or she may not want to change, even if your relationship and family are at risk. You may run up against lies, excuses and secrecy, and your partner will acknowledge only what he or she thinks you already know.
If you’re both committed to changing behavior and re-establishing your emotional and physical intimacy, professional help may be necessary. You can also take some basic steps to reduce opportunities for online infidelity:
· Use Internet filtering software so sexual sites can’t be accessed from your computer. Some Internet service providers offer this as part of your service.
· Keep your computer in an open, accessible area of your home.
· Don’t use the Internet when you’re alone and only use it for specific tasks.
· For your screensaver, use a photo of the two of you or your family.
For more information, visit these pages:
Don’t Let Infidelity Warning Signs Ruin Your Self-Worth
Is Infidelity In Marriage Harming Your Relationship?
Healing Infidelity Takes Teamwork and Time
Emotional Infidelity: Is It Really Cheating?
Preventing Infidelity Means Understanding Why It Happens
Return to Relationship Advice Home