Taking cheating to the internet: The signs of online infidelity

“If they turn off the screen or click off their phone, if at night they don’t leave the phone or screen on or around because they don’t want you checking, if they don’t want to give you their password, if they have multiple phones and email accounts and also if they’re excited to go on the computer, what’s so exciting about going on computer?”

The temptation of an online affair is one that many cannot resist, particularly with the prevalence of social media in today’s society.

Dr. Janis Abrahms Spring, a renowned clinical psychologist and author of the popular book, “After the Affair,” recently released a second edition of the self-help book for couples. The updated edition features a section based on what she calls the “new” infidelity, which refers to online affairs.

Dr. Spring believes that the number of affairs taking place in America is “enormous” and she predicts that the issue is only going to get worse due to the amount of time people are spending online.

“The landscape has changed dramatically, people are spending hours chatting with others,” Dr. Spring says, “Partners can feel very, very betrayed by these relationships, because affairs at their core are not necessarily about sex but about secrets and the violation of trust.”

Dr. Spring suggests that couples should talk about what they’re comfortable with in terms of how they can communicate with others online.

“They have got to be explicit about what constitutes an affair,” she says. “If your partner was in the room looking over your shoulder watching what you’re watching or reading what you’re writing and they’re feeling uncomfortable, you know you’re doing something wrong.”

But what is it exactly that makes people want to have an online affair?

“You can be anyone you dream of being,” Dr. Spring says. “This experience of transcending your ordinary self, its very powerful … it’s not complicated by reality.”

 She adds that many unfaithful partners are not necessarily attracted to the person they’re communicating with, but rather how the experience makes them feel.

“It’s a great rush for the person who’s corresponding that way because it allows them to go outside of their normal self.”

But is it okay for someone to check their partners Facebook or their emails in order to uncover the truth and put a stop to the issue?

“I understand why people check, it’s human nature to check,” she says. “People want the truth and they believe they can’t get the truth from their partner.”


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