CYBER AFFAIR: IS IT A BIG DEAL?
Your husband tells you once again to go to bed by yourself because he needs to work on a huge new client account. So, you go to bed alone thinking that he has been working too much lately… Days go by, weeks go by, and you begin to wonder if he’s really working because he’s acting strange, disconnected… something tells you to look at his computer activity and emails... You find out the truth... and your world turns upside down!
In this era of social media, dating sites that do not verify relationship status, online porn sites, and pro-infidelity sites like ashleymadison, create instant communication and gratification, which has given rise to a new concern among couples… I’m talking about “cyber affairs.”
There’s no doubt that the internet has changed our lives in so many positive ways –and I am so grateful for that. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that it has also proven to be a dangerous tool, especially with the increased number of ways to secretly engage with people outside of a committed relationship.
In my practice, at any given time, half of my caseload—sometimes more, is with couples that are seeking to recover their relationship after an affair or infidelity. More than 40% of couples experience a betrayal (any type of affair) in their relationships in America, and I see those that choose to save their marriage when this problem arises. Throughout the years, I have witnessed how the use of the internet has become a major factor of infidelities, because nowadays, not all betrayals happen “in-person”, for instance, with a co-worker. Betrayals and affairs can also start through online dating websites, chat rooms, and apps. Today, “in person” affairs are also supported by technology by using online platforms to arrange encounters discretely, and have private conversations in between meet-ups.
SO IS A CYBER AFFAIR CONSIDERED CHEATING?
The answer is Yes. Let’s dig into that concept.
Even though there might not be physical or sexual contact with someone online, the nature of the communication is sexual, and sometimes emotional too. Having said that, an affair can have different natures, and all of them can be devastating for the marriage or the relationship. By this I mean, a betrayal can be emotional, physical, or both. Each one of these scenarios may be considered a violation of trust, which is one of the foundations of a relationship.
Now, traditionally men used to have a higher opportunity to be unfaithful than women, but nowadays this tendency is changing—and almost starting to even out, due to equal opportunities offered to both genders in these online dating sites and cybersex websites. As you may understand, stats about the topic of cyber affairs are hard to find because it is a very private topic to many. What we can say is that with age men’s interest in online sex decreases, while women’s interest increases slightly… Interesting, huh?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HEAL FROM A CYBER AFFAIR?
How to get over a betrayal and trusting again is a multi-layered process, so trying to save a relationship after an infidelity is a possibility when both partners think that trying could be worth it.
The next step is for the unfaithful partner to accept responsibility for his/her cyber affair and recognize that it is considered an infidelity. Accountability is a huge factor for healing in relationships with trust issues.
The good news is that healing from a betrayal is possible and here are some tips to start right away:
Have an honest and open conversation with your spouse to find out if you two are willing to work on the relationship. If yes, then:
Talk about boundaries in your relationship—what is allowed and not allowed.
You can move your home computers and laptops to a common area of the house.
Some couples opt to install a computer software to disable the connection to chat rooms, pornography or anything else that may hinder the development of trust.
It may be helpful to look for a couples therapist or counselor to help you rebuild trust and work together on the emotional recovery of the couple.
WILL THERE BE TRUST IN THE RELATIONSHIP EVER AGAIN?
This is a question I get very often when it comes to Infidelity Recovery. Trust can be regained for couples that understand the cause of the cyber affair, create new boundaries, and work at having a satisfying marriage.
Is it easy? No, but is your relationship worth it? That’s a much better question, right? Most of my couples that have worked at healing and saving their marriage after an affair, whether it is a cyber or in person affair, describe that their relationship is better after they complete the process than it was before the affair. While I don’t recommend anyone to go through an affair in order to achieve this, for that, it is better to know the 11 Warning Signs Your Marriage is Failing and solve any red flags ahead of time, it can also be a reason to consider.
To the success of your relationship!
Your therapy friend, Sofia
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