The average person who uses social media spends more than two hours a day on it, which is a lot of time to be connecting with people. After all, that is the purpose, and when you share information about your life—schools you went to, cities you lived in, jobs you had—social media’s algorithm will make it easy for you to find your old secret crush. You may not even be looking when lo! Your ex’s face appears on your screen.

How Easy Is It To Cheat On Social Media? Nancy'S Counseling Corner

Back Burners Can Set Your Relationship on Fire


“Back burners” are people you keep in the back of your mind in case they might have potential to become people with whom you could have a relationship. You can flirt and explore from the comfort of your sofa without skulking in the shadows. The risk seems minimal.


Social Media Displays a Distorted Reality


The trouble is, everything is pretty in social media land. People share their accomplishments, their beautiful flower arrangements, and their perfectly executed desserts. You get a view into people’s lives, but it’s a false view. It’s actually more attractive than the real thing. When you’re online you could be excused for thinking that everyone else has it together better than you do. Everyone’s life seems so enticing, including that back burner person you’ve been thinking about.


Connections are Easy to Make


It’s easy to contact people by dipping your toe in the water. You can just react to a photo or post an emoji. You don’t need to make a real commitment, so it doesn’t feel like cheating. You’re not signaling that you’re going to get involved, you’re just showing a little friendly interest.


Digital Infidelity Is Fairly Common


Both men and women have back burners, even when they’re in happy and committed relationships. They still want to know who else is out there and reassure themselves that their existing relationship is good. They don’t set out to cross the line into an affair, but an astonishing amount of people have sexual conversations outside of their partner.


Social media makes it easy to put your best foot forward. You can think about your response and compose a witty rejoinder when you’re ready. Even an innocent “How ya doing?” can turn into, “I’ve had a pretty bumpy marriage.” And then you share, developing a connection and pretty soon it becomes an emotional bond. Especially if there was any flicker of interest in a previous life.


Once you start having sexual conversations, your own relationship at home is bound to suffer. It’s all in varying degrees, of course. The key is to be aware that what may start out as innocent could end up being trouble.



Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: