Online emotional affairs are at an all time high as a new era of social media has been ushered in by networking sites like Myspace, Twitter, and especially Facebook. The entire social experience truly has been brought to the internet.

And your relationships could very well suffer for it…

One troubling sign which indicates the rise of emotional infidelity online is the fact web monitoring and cell phone spy software programs have gained popularity in recent years as a way for people to catch a cheater. To make matters worse, the advent of technology like smart phones has taken the entire social experience to completely new heights.

And why is all of this so important when it comes to emotional cheating? It’s simple really. Access!

Technology Creates Access And Opportunity For An Emotional Affair

Take Facebook apps for example. Being social online is now a 24/7 experience. You can connect with your “friends” any time, any place, even if you’re half way around the world. You don’t have to meet up for coffee to develop attraction and intimacy. It can happen overnight.

Now more than ever, we find ourselves right in the middle of our friend’s lives…even if we don’t always want to be there. I mean did you really need to know Stacy’s cat puked up a big hairball in the middle of the living room? Or see a picture of it?

Probably not.

My point is this: since we now have extreme access into the lives of everyone we know, it’s now easier than ever to get wrapped up in an emotional affair online.

Survive the AffairSuddenly exes you haven’t seen or spoken to for years send you requests to ‘friend’ them on Facebook. Nostalgia sets in and you start thinking about the past. You see into the lives of people you didn’t know that well before and start to develop friendships. Strictly professional relationships at work are brought home and cross the line to become social interactions and flirtations online.

By now, you can probably see where this is heading.

Are Social Networking Sites Like Facebook To Blame For Internet Infidelity?

In a recent news story titled “How Facebook Leads To Infidelity”, sex therapist and Ph.D., Ian Kerner, states, “When two people strike up an online friendship, it’s easy to idealize each other and blur the line between fantasy and reality. An intense sense of intimacy is quickly fostered, particularly if intimacy was once shared in the past.”

Relationships that were once left in the past are now springing up quite rapidly on Facebook, and they can easily lead to an emotional affair. It’s become extremely easy to reconnect with an ex. It could be an old high school sweetheart, someone you had a crush on back in the day, an old college lover, someone you once had a one night stand or other sexual encounter with, or it could simply be a good friend whom you never dated because the timing just wasn’t right.

When these types of situations spring up online, it’s natural for people to start thinking about the past. Usually the good things are remembered, and the bad things forgotten. The problem is these seemingly innocent re-connections often turn into emotional cheating because as the relationship develops, old feelings are renewed and you start to confide in your “new” friend more than you do your partner.

Online affairs tend to “just happen”. Most people who find themselves in the middle of an internet affair were happy in their current relationship when it all started. However, an innocent friendship often snowballs into something more as the intimacy grows, and the risk of emotional affairs turning intimate in a sexual way goes up.

This is often because it’s easy to let your brain imagine that the person on the other end is the perfect person you could have the perfect relationship with. And you start to feel a connection with your friend as though they know the real you better than your partner does.

When this happens, you will start hiding aspects of your new relationship. For example, you might share text messages, phone calls, or emails with your ex that you don’t want your current partner to know about. And if your current partner does ask about it, you’ll probably get defensive. As Kerner points out, “Once you have something to hide, that’s where the trouble begins.

” It’s the secrecy and betrayal that leads to emotional infidelity.

How To Keep Online Relationships From Turning Into Emotional Cheating

So how you can you help ensure internet infidelity doesn’t get the best of your own relationship?

When it comes to Facebook and other social networking sites, here are some things to keep in mind so you won’t find yourself wrapped up in an unintentional emotional affair with one of your exes or a new found online friend.

  • Just because someone asks to be your friend on Facebook doesn’t mean you have to add them. Often times it’s better to leave the past in the past, especially when it comes to exes.
  • If you do decide to add an old flame as a friend, then offer up complete transparency to your current partner. Let them read and know about everything. Don’t hide any conversations. If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn’t have anything to hide.
  • Focus on the “here and now” rather than the past.
  • If you find yourself crossing that line, don’t be afraid to remove your Facebook account or remove someone as a friend. Your present relationship isn’t worth the risk and staying off Facebook can give you more time to create a closer connection with your partner offline.

An emotional affair, just like a physical one, starts with attraction. But attraction is a natural part of being human and it’s not something you should blame yourself or your partner over. Throughout your life, you will be attracted to other people and so will your partner. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But Kerner sums it up, when he says, “However, while feeling attraction is unavoidable, acting on it crosses the line. Attraction is one ingredient of an emotional affair. In order for attraction to launch into an emotional affair, a person has to also develop intimacy and, eventually, a feeling of connection with that person that supersedes their current relationship. In other words, attraction + effort + intimacy = emotional infidelity. Take away one, and all you’re left with is a natural instinct or a harmless Facebook friendship. Put all three together, and with friends like that… your relationship has a new enemy.”

Online emotional affairs will continue to be a problem in today’s society. If you’ve already experienced one or are experiencing one right now, Dr. Frank Gunzburg’s affair survival report can be a good place to start on the path of emotional affair recovery. As a marriage counselor for over 30 years, he has vast knowledge of exactly what you’ll need to do to recover from any type of emotional or physical affair.

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