By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
Signs internet usage may destroy your relationship.
The internet has changed how we all live our lives for good and bad. It can help you find information, directions, and possibilities. Singles can use online dating sites to find dates or even long-term partners. It can create a lot of happiness.
Internet usage can also destroy relationships. Here are five ways your or your partner’s internet usage could be jeopardizing your relationship. These are not discreet problems. A particular person or couple may be affected by one or several of these problems and sometimes one problem can morph into another.
1. Cyber-flirting and emotional affairs.
Talking inside games or chat rooms can start off innocently enough. In the relatively anonymous environment, it is easy to flirt, make sexual comments that would never be allowed in real life. You think you are getting to really know the other person at a very rapid pace.
In the online world, you do not have to see the person when they are tired or cranky. You can put only your best, often fictitious, self forward.
People will disclose to an anonymous avatar, feelings that they have been unable to express to their life partner. The feeling of being understood and cared for can be created quickly and look more real than it is.
More than one person has fallen in love with someone on the internet only to find out that this person never existed or was very different from the way they represented themselves.
Emotional affairs involve a giving of feelings and self to a stranger that should have been saved for the partner. People will tell their secrets and their partner’s confidences to a comparative stranger often with disastrous results.
Some partners of people having emotional cyber affairs describe them as even more painful and damaging than a real-life one night stand. You can alibi the one time sex, alcohol, being out-of-town, overcome by a momentary weakness. But the time spent in romancing a cyber affair partner and the keeping of the secrets this entails is a more severe breach of the trust that a relationship partner can excuse.
Cyber-flirting can easily expand to cyber sex. IM allows a conversation that can quickly escalate in emotional intensity. People can live out their sexual fantasies; describe desired sex acts that they feel uncomfortable describing to a real live partner.
People become their alter egos; the unemployed man becomes a jet-setting playboy. The middle-aged mother of 6 becomes a hot twenty-something model and this fictional couple describes all the emotional and sexual acts they wish they could do. People may fanaticize about behaviors that given the chance to act out in real life they would decline.
This cyber flirting or cyber sex can involve masturbation and become a substitute for real-life sexual activities.
These cybersex activities may include sexting and incurring time spent thinking about and participating in fantasy sexual activities.
3. Internet created sexual affairs.
Cyber-flirting and cybersex may move into the real world. Online infidelity often begins with looking for an affair.
Adult dating sites and the relative anonymity of chat rooms have made it easier than ever before for people to find other people for sexual relationships. The relative anonymity of the internet encourages people to talk more openly and that feeling of intimacy can develop much more rapidly.
These internet arraigned sexual liaisons may go on for years, one partner after another.
Often these internet facilitated affairs are discovered accidentally. When they are discovered there can be an explosive reaction from the relationship partner. This sudden disclosure of the infidelity can result in separations and divorce.
Even when the affair goes undiscovered or if the couple decides to stay together after the disclosure of the affair, this event can permanently damage or alter the relationship.
Developing the online relationship requires dishonesty and keeping secrets. To facilitate this behavior the partner having the affair needs to become more secretive and dishonest. The relationship couple moves farther apart emotionally. A distance between the couple may be created that can never be bridged.
4. Internet pornography.
The internet provides a ready access to pornography. There are graphic images of all manner of sexual activity. Some of these activities may be illegal, child porn for example.
Porn can also be computer generated with no real people involved in the activities the viewer sees. This material can quickly create a distorted view of sexual reality. Not many people have near perfect bodies. Even the most sexually adventurous person can’t engage in all the activities that are portrayed on the porn site.
A real live partner pales in comparison to the images on the web.
Viewing graphic sexual materials is very emotionally exciting and the occasional view can quickly escalate to an addiction. The magnitude and destructive properties of porn addiction have only recently been recognized and the harm porn can cause has been underestimated.
This should not be taken to mean that we should return to the Victorian era when no bare skin showed and sex was a taboo subject. Some sexual behavior and arousal are normal and healthy. Researchers have made the case that some viewing of sexual materials can inspire a couple to be more adventuress.
What is a problem is when this becomes a habit that races out of control. Sexual arousal is a very powerful force and can quickly lead to some form of sexual addiction.
5. Internet addiction.
In this internet activity, the sexual component is absent or minor. One member of a relationship becomes more and more involved in their online activities to the point of failing to meet relationship responsibilities.
They can play online games and forget to go to bed with their partner. They may stay up later and later to play online games or other activities.
Eventual this online need overtakes their real responsibilities. People with an internet addiction may miss work or come in late from being up all night gaming.
They may experience real emotional withdrawal reactions, anger, and anxiety when they are unable to participate in their customary on-line activity.
If you or your partner has developed any of these internet issues your relationship does not have to end. Marriage or relationship counseling can help. A relationship may become stronger and better as a result of the steps you take to repair these problems.
In future posts, I plan to explore internet addictions, affairs and other relationship issues in more detail. Hope you all stay tuned and follow counselorssoapbox.com
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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. 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.