Are you struggling with surviving online infidelity?
Has the person you loved strayed from your relationship by corresponding with another person online?
Are you wrestling with your feelings and not really sure if what you are feeling is okay? Are you wondering if maybe you shouldn’t be as upset as you are because it’s just an online relationship? It’s not like they had sex or anything.
Let me help you! Surviving online infidelity is possible but first there are some things that you should know.
#1 – Affairs aren’t all about sex.
For many people, the definition of an affair is when one person has sex with another person outside of the relationship.
The reality, however, is quite different.
Experts say that an affair begins when someone starts sharing things that they aren’t sharing with someone else.
One of my clients remembers the time when she told the person she eventually had an affair with that she was depressed. She had never said those words out loud before. That started it all.
Why does this sharing mark the beginning of an affair? Because it creates an intimacy between the two people, one that might be more than that of the original relationship.
Online affairs are all about intimacy. All about sharing feelings and thoughts and hopes and dreams. It can often lead to a deep love, one that is not about sex. And that can be scarier, in many ways.
#2 – Online affairs can be more intense.
Online relationships can, in many ways, be more intense.
Because there is no face-to-face contact, but only words shared, there is a tension that builds between the two people. When people have a physical affair, tension can be released after sex. When people have no physical release, the tension just continues to grow.
And with the increase in tension, there is an increase in intensity and which makes the affair more dangerous because the feelings intensify.
Many people who leave their partners for someone they have never met face to face do so because the intensity is so compelling that it drives them to make big, stupid, life changes.
So, don’t kid yourself that, because these two are far away from each other, the relationship can’t be that strong. It actually might be stronger than you realize.
#3 – Any kind affair kills trust.
One of the most important parts of any healthy relationship is trust. When affairs happen, trust is violated, perhaps forever.
Since you discovered your partner’s infidelity do you check your their phone and email regularly? Do you question where they are going when they leave the house? Do you obsess about whether he is lying to you about what is happening?
All of these things are evidence that trust has been broken in your relationship. The first step towards surviving online infidelity is rebuilding trust.
#4 – How hurt are you?
When asking yourself whether online infidelity is any less harmful than a physical affair, it’s important to note how you are feeling.
Are you hurt? Are you sad? Are you indifferent?
For many, learning about an online affair can be devastating. Knowing that their partner has shared any intimacy with another person can be incredibly painful.
For others, however, their partner having an online affair doesn’t carry much significance. They have their person every day to come home to. They have sex with them. They share the finances. They are still a couple. The person on the other end of the internet line is just a person who gets nothing but words. And for many people, they are almost happy that their partner has another outlet – that they don’t have to responsible for holding their feelings constantly.
So, how do you feel about what you have discovered? If you are hurt, then, yes, the online affair is harmful. If not, then perhaps you can just not make a big deal of it and move on.
#5 – Infidelity can destroy your relationship.
Whether it’s online or physical, an affair can have the power to destroy your relationship.
The breakdown of trust, the displaced intimacy, the intenseness of the new relationship and the profound hurt that you might feel, all of these can result in the permanent destruction of your relationship.
If there can be a silver lining of an online affair it’s that distance can be a help in trying to end it. When affairs are face-to-face they can be harder to break off because of people might still be thrown together at work or in town or at a party. With an online affair, it might be as simple as blocking or unfriending someone and then it’s over.
But, don’t be naïve. Letting go of an affair is not something that happens easily. People who have affairs become addicted to them. They fall in love with the person they are in the relationship – a woman or man – not a husband or a father or an employee. And that is very hard to let go of!
Surviving an online affair is possible.
It is important, however, that you recognize an online affair for what it is – an affair that can be more intense than a sexual one, that causes the breakdown of trust, that hurts you deeply and that can end your relationship.
It is possible to find your way back to your original relationship, with therapy, communication and restoration of trust but it can and will be challenging.
Now that you understand what an online affair is all about, you can take the next steps and decide if you want to work with your partner to heal or if it’s time to move on.
Do you want to know surviving online infidelity?
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.