Cyber Infidelity: Real, Common, And Recoverable

Have you recently discovered that your significant other has been using the internet to have intimate conversations with others? Are you wondering if your feelings of betrayal are justified, why this is happening, and what you should do about it? If so, the following information is for you.

Is It Really Cheating?

There is much debate about whether text on a computer or phone screen can even be considered cheating at all. In fact, 60 percent of married people who use the Internet to connect with others on an intimate level believe that their behavior is by no means a sign of betrayal. Many of these people even go as far as to claim that their online relations help to dull their lust so that they can continue to remain faithful to their partners.

What's wrong with this thinking? Sexual encounters produce a few different kinds of energy. The first kind of energy is sexual energy. This is the result of two bodies making physical contact with each other in an intimate way.

The second type of energy is emotional energy. Physical contact is not needed for emotional energy; it's produced by a rush of neurotransmitters making their way to the brain and activating pleasure and reward centers in it.

While the physical contact is not present in online relationships, the emotional aspects of intimacy are alive and well. Two people sharing an online intimacy will have many of the same physiological responses that they would if they were to meet up offline. 

Why Is Your Spouse Turning To The Internet For Intimacy?

Finding out that your spouse has been having an online affair is devastating and can feel like a personal attack. You aren't alone. In fact, 81 percent of divorce lawyers claim that social networking has been an increasingly relevant factor in the cases they've handled over the past five years.

Why the sudden influx in cyber-infidelity? The act of online cheating boils down to two factors -- convenience and curiosity. With social media being such a prevalent part of today's culture, it's simply too easy to reach out to somebody you used to be involved with or to strike up a conversation with somebody who shares the same interests as you. 

When your spouse first started communicating with the person they're now having an emotional affair with, it was likely an innocent act. But as they continued to chat or message, those physiological effects felt good, and things got carried away.

How Do You Move Forward From Here?

Whether or not your marriage can be salvaged is dependent on the actions of both you and your spouse. Your first step is to set boundaries. You need to spell out the fact that you are not okay with your partner having intimate relationships with other people online.

Once you're sure your partner understands this, then the ball is in their court. If they don't feel they can comply with your requests, then it's time to move on. If they understand your concern and have a genuine interest in continuing your relationship together, then they must regain your trust.

How can you ever trust your partner again? Forgiveness is important in this situation, but it can also be very difficult to achieve. At this point, it's a good idea to involve a marriage counselor for tips on how your spouse can regain your trust, and how you can get past your feelings of vulnerability and the fear of being emotionally hurt again. 

Once you've regained trust, your counselor can then demonstrate relationship-strengthening exercises that are designed to help you and your partner understand and communicate with each other better. 

If you've recently discovered that your partner has been chatting intimately with another person online, don't chalk it up to "it's no big deal". Likewise, don't automatically assume that your relationship is over. Your feelings of betrayal are justified; but with a little work, some dedication, and the help of couples counseling, you can, in time, have a happy, healthy marriage.