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The Internet has opened up a world of opportunities for us all. With a simple click of the mouse, people can get instant gratification, whether they are doing research, shopping for merchandise, or looking for a news item. Unfortunately, the Internet has also made it easier for partners to seek out attention and comfort from others on the web.
Before the Internet, unfaithfulness consisted of phone calls and late night rendezvous’. Now, partners can simply log and find someone to flirt with or pour their heart out to. Sometimes these “cyber affairs” remain restricted to online activity. At other times, they can lead to physical cheating.
Here are some characteristics of cyber affairs and why they are so hurtful to relationships.
Online cheating, or a cyber affair as it’s commonly called, happens when two people who have never met in real life take part in online communication that crosses the line of appropriate behavior.
Generally flirting of any type is a bad idea and can eventually hurt the bond you share with someone else. Divulging private information about your partner or your relationship crosses the line of what’s appropriate. In general, anything that you would normally be discussing with your partner (sex, feelings, worries, etc.) should never be brought up in email, message boards, or chat rooms with someone else.
Cyber Affairs Hurt Relationships
Online cheating is very similar to emotional affairs. Even if you don’t physically act on feelings you may have for someone else, continuing to engage in flirting or sharing of feelings or emotions via the Internet takes intimacy away from your current relationship.
Cyber Affairs vs. Porn
Online cheating is different than viewing or downloading porn. Make no mistake, neither is a good thing in a relationship. Porn is hurtful because it takes a piece of intimacy from a relationship and replaces it with an unrealistic object or photo. With Porn, the “affair” is one-sided. Cyber affairs, on the other hand, take moments of intimacy that should exist in a marriage or partnership, and replace them with a real (albeit unknown) individual. The person on the other end of a cyber affair responds to real feelings from your partner and even encourages them. Your mate and their cyber partner develop a form of intimacy on their own.
How do you know if your partner is engaged in a cyber affair? Some of the same indications that your spouse is having a traditional affair also exist for cyber affairs. Additionally, your mate might be distracted and unable to focus on you or your relationship. Instead of talking or hanging out with you, for example, he or she will begin spending large amounts of time on the computer. They’ll log on at odd times, perhaps late at night or early in the morning so you can’t see what they are doing. They’ll shut the door or otherwise try and hide their screen if you walk into the room. They may go in early or stay late at work for the purpose of chatting with their cyber mate.
Talk about your concerns with your partner. If you have evidence that they have been engaging in a cyber affair, confront them with it. Ask your partner why they felt their cyber affair was proper behavior. Your partner may say they didn’t realized what they were doing was wrong. But make it clear that in order for your relationship to work, affairs of any type are unacceptable. Just because they haven’t done anything physically doesn’t mean they still haven’t been hurting you and your relationship. If you need to, seek counseling to further help you sort out your issues so you can move on.
Sometimes cyber affairs begin when one partner simply wants to share a frustration or feeling they think is being unheard in their current relationship. Communicate your expectations for the relationship and what’s accepted behavior, so both of you know where the boundaries are. Affairs can exist in any relationship, but to help avoid falling into the pitfall of a cyber affair, engage in activities that strengthen your relationship. Be kind to each other, and treat your partnership as a thing of great value. It is.