by Nancy Travers,LCSW
It used to be that cheating on your spouse meant engaging in physical activity with another person. But now cheating can be defined by engaging in emotionally-charged wall posts and instant messages with old flames or new interests via Facebook. These cyber endeavors can take you away from your spouse emotionally and they are just as dangerous to a marriage as a physical affair.
Does Facebook enable cheaters?
Yes, Facebook does give a potential cheater the opportunity to look up old boyfriends and girlfriends with the search tool. Friending people is so easy, low risk and doesn?t require a long message or a reason why (of course, you can add a personal message on your friend request, but most people don?t). Facebook also promotes intimacy, casual attitudes and flirtation. When the potential cheater and the ex are connected, they?ll probably peep at each other?s profile pages and photos, and then start chatting based on what they have learned about their new friend. At this point, they are doing what social networking is supposed to do: To facilitate connections with people who have common interests who want to create community.
However, the potential cheaters may take the networking and the sharing a little too far with sexually-charged private messages and chats. The potential cheater may now start feeling guilty when his or her spouse crosses into her computer space. When the spouse questions how much time she is spending online, she may tell him that she?s merely ?catching up? with old friends.
Who is vulnerable to Facebook cheating?
People who are in or who have
- marriages where communication is not at the forefront and they feel they are being taken for granted
- spouses who are bored at work or with each other
- stressful jobs so Facebook seems like a good stress reliever
- unrequited love from their youth
One of the features of Facebook that makes it so attractive for potential cheaters is that you can put your best foot forward and the other party never has to see you in your old socks and ratty bathrobe. They?ll only see the ?you? you want them to see and this is very attractive.
Not everyone out there is ready to cheat on their spouse or long-time partner, but Facebook does make it easier to do so and it does facilitate online affairs. By knowing this, we should be more wary about doing the appropriate thing and respecting our partners. If we feel that we are stepping out of line and telling an old friend on Facebook more about our life and problems than we would our spouse, we should catch ourselves early. If we don?t, the consequence is communication breakdowns, distance, distrust and perhaps divorce.
Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 1600 Dove Street, Suite 260, Newport Beach, CA 92660.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 orÂ contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.