By David Joel Miller.
Are internet affairs real affairs?
The internet has changed the way we interact with others forever. Social Media, Blogs, and member sites have opened up new possibilities for connecting with others. It has also resulted in a whole new set of conflicts for couples. Internet created or maintained affairs are one such problem.
The way in which one partner in a relationship uses the internet has serious implications for a couple’s relationship. The mental health profession is still sorting out the effects of internet issues on relationships. One area that is particularly troublesome is how far is too far when it comes to interacting with members of the opposite sex.
Some of the internet affair questions being asked are:
When does talking to others online slide over into a virtual affair?
Is it really an affair if they never get together and exchange bodily fluids?
Does it matter if the person you are talking to is real?
Can you fall in love with an avatar or someone who never exists outside the internet?
The internet has altered the affair landscape and has created a whole new set of problems for couples and families.
In the past affairs required two people to meet in real-time and space.
The major places were affairs originated was between two people who were working together, people who met out at a bar or things that might happen when a person was away from home for an extended time. So in the past either there was a high chance that the non-affair party would find out or might know the affair partner. Otherwise, the affair would be a brief occurrence while one party to a relationship was away from home.
The internet has made it easier for people to meet, and to continue interacting with each other. It has opened up the possibilities for affairs for those who were predisposed.
The internet has also blurred the line between what constitutes flirting and when has it crossed over into an affair.
In person, people are often deceived every day. The deceptions are different in kind and in magnitude from, the deceptions that are occurring online.
While someone in the bar may represent themselves as single and really be married, the online deceiver can misrepresent their gender, age, appearance and life story. People can and do fall “in love” with fictional characters that turn out to not be real people.
If you or your partner has had an internet affair, that does not need to spell an end to your relationship. What you need to do is to talk this out and find ways to be sure it has come to an end and that it is unlikely to happen again.
Marriage counseling can help mend a damaged relationship before it becomes permanently broken. Sometimes individual counseling is also useful in helping the affair partner to understand why they did what they did. It can also be useful to help the injured party cope with all that anger and hurt.
The virtual, internet affair and the on-line hook up that results in a real-world meet-up are not the only ways in which one person’s internet usage may damage their relationship. Last week we looked briefly at 5 ways in which internet usage might be damaging your relationship. You may want to check out that post also.
Has internet usage affected you and your relationship? Would you care to share that experience?
If you think that you could use some help with internet usage issues or affair behavior issues please contact me and we can talk about how counseling might help you get through this situation.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.