Falling prey to the lure of online flirting is easy to do. It’s like an escape. You get online and go to your favorite chat room or social networking site, maybe even trolling the pages of sites that are designed to set you up for an affair. You flirt with and are adored by men there and you get a confidence boost, a way to bring fantasy into your life and an escape from daily drudgeries. It’s all innocent, right?
It’s not like you’re meeting these people in real life, so it can’t be cheating and it can’t be harmful to your marriage. Think again. These online relationships may never go face-to-face, but they are real and they are damaging your marriage.
Internet Affair vs. Traditional Affair
Some people refuse to recognize online cheating as infidelity because it happens only in the virtual world. The truth is that you don’t have to have physical contact with someone to be cheating. As soon as you develop that emotional attachment to someone online and you have steamy, descriptive chats with him while your spouse is none the wiser, you are cheating. Perhaps it will hurt less when your husband finds out about your online activities than if you were meeting a man in person to have sex, but don’t kid yourself. This is going to hurt him.
Traditionally, affairs were relationships that began at work and ended up in motel rooms or at home while a spouse was out. Men were the primary cheaters. Now with the rise of the Internet, women are catching up and starting to cheat through the virtual world. The Internet has brought the possibility and the availability of cheating into each and every home.
Damage Of The Online Affair
Research has confirmed what most people with common sense suspect: Internet cheating is just as damaging as physical cheating. It can lead to feelings of jealousy, anger and insecurity, and it causes distrust and a sense of betrayal — just like with traditional affairs. There are gender differences in how people are impacted by these very real affairs. Men are more upset about sexual activities while women are more disturbed by their partners’ emotional betrayals.
The rise in cheating in the virtual world is having a tangible and measurable impact on relationships. Studies show that online hanky-panky is the fastest-growing reason for relationships to fail. Researchers predict that online cheating will become an even bigger problem as it grows into the No. 1 method for infidelity among couples worldwide.
What may be even more troubling are the statistics that demonstrate just how serious these online interactions can become. Although they often start out as casual interactions, a quick fix for boredom and a stagnant sex life, many develop into more serious and sexual relationships. About one-quarter of these online cheaters end up meeting their secret partners in real life. Most importantly, online cheating is leading to divorce in many instances.
Virtual affairs may be the wave of the future, but it doesn’t have to be for your marriage. If you are being tempted by the prospect of an online relationship, it’s time to have a frank discussion with your partner. If you work together to make sure you are both satisfied, you can save your relationship and avoid the pitfalls of online infidelity.
Not sure your partner can stick to their promises not to cheat online? Read our article about porn blocker software that can help you or your partner avoid temptation.