Social media allows us to have contact with people whom we never actually contact, and to share personal things with people without ever communicating with them directly. Most people these days have a significant online presence between their Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, Instagram albums, LinkedIn profiles and more.
One possible result of all of this online availability is that it can take us one step closer to committing infidelity before we fully realize what is happening. Social media makes it incredibly easy to scroll though the pictures and personal lives of anyone we find interesting and to indulge in our little crushes with a bit (or a lot) of seemingly harmless Facebook stalking.
Easy, Informal Communication Can Have Its Downsides
This can leave us feeling intimately connected with someone we may not have actually spoken with in months or years. Or, it can allow us to develop a more intimate connection with someone we may see frequently but with whom we do not interact intimately in real life.
Perusing someone’s social media accounts can also easily develop into more direct forms of online interaction, from commenting on people’s posts to instant messaging or emailing. Social media has informalized communication to the extent that relationships can be initiated or reignited with almost no effort and with very little expectation or awkwardness as a result.
None of which is necessarily bad; in fact, it is often wonderful. But it does mean that people in committed relationships sometimes have to be careful and exercise the self-control that social media can make all too easy to abandon.
If we spend too much time browsing the options outside our relationship, it may become more and more tempting to do more than browse. We may also find that the pleasure we get from checking in with certain people online begins to take on a disproportionate importance in our lives, to the detriment of our primary relationship.
Social Media Provides Endless Fuel For Fantasies
Social media has removed the accessibility barrier when it comes to kick-starting an affair. Before social media, it was certainly possible to fantasize about people other than our partners. But they weren’t at our fingertips, as it were, with thoughts and photographs there for the viewing any time we choose.
Now we are able to fuel our fantasies in such a way that a one-time event can easily become a habit. What starts as a daydream can turn into repeatedly checking up on someone online, and perhaps develop into regular exchanges that keep these fantasies in the forefront of our minds.
Once we begin down this tricky road, social media and online communication make it extremely easy to conceal the fact. We can visit people’s social media accounts as many times as we choose without leaving a trace (at least, no trace that is apparent to most people), and social media also offers many methods of keeping communication secret, even from a partner or spouse.
Challenge Of Recognizing Emotional Infidelity
Social media may be particularly conducive to emotional infidelity. While the online world has blurred the definition of sexual infidelity a bit, emotional infidelity can be even more difficult to recognize. When relationships develop almost entirely online, it can become even harder to recognize emotional infidelity.
Social media relationships, no matter how flirtatious or intimate they become, are easily dismissed because this behavior is not happening in the “real” world. When the line is too hard to see, it becomes much more difficult to keep yourself from crossing it.
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