Online Affair: Is Facebook Threatening Your Marriage?

A lot of married people (about 80 percent) in the process of a divorce are using a social network such as Facebook to cheat, says a survey of divorce attorneys. We’re coming across it more and more. One spouse connects online with someone they knew from school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook.

A survey conducted by a UK divorce website shows Facebook figured prominently in one-third of divorce petitions in UK for the year 2011.

 

Facebook has become the primary method for communicating with friends for many people. People contact ex-partners and the messages start as innocent, but can lead to trouble. If someone wants to have an affair, or flirt with the opposite sex, then in today’s digital world, having on online fling can be very tempting.

Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are great tools when used to stay connected with friends and family. But now, divorce attorneys are saying that more and more of the divorce cases they work with involve a spouse’s misuse of these sites. Many family law attorneys have agreed that a majority of the divorce cases they handle are related to problems with a spouse’s inappropriate behavior on social networking sites.

One particular problem the attorneys point out is cheating. Users not only flock to sites like Facebook to stay connected with people close to them, but also have the ability to search for old classmates, best friends from long ago, and of course, lost loves. Attorneys cite such specific instances as those of people whose spouses have cheated with old flames they meet again through Facebook. They find each other again, hook up online, start communicating, and their relationship starts to grow bit by bit. Attorneys cite specific incidents of people whose spouses have cheated on them, meeting old flames through Facebook. Further, in most divorce cases, social networking sites are increasingly involved in one way or another, as one or both spouses use the networking tools to find incriminating evidence on the other.

On a quick side note, we frequently receive questions about what constitutes infidelity. We receive descriptions of lots of inappropriate friendships, “She’s just chatting with him nightly on Facebook, they don’t actually see each other,”  “He’s really close to his co-worker, but they just Tweet each other,” etc.

While we cover this in greater depth in our Affair-Proof Your Marriage series, I want to say this: when you are married, you should never be close friends with someone of the opposite sex who is not just as close to your spouse. The reason for this is simple: if you are close friends with someone of the opposite sex who is not also equally close to your spouse, you are getting your emotional needs met outside of your marriage. Further, you are most likely not fulfilling your spouse’s emotional needs either. So, to emphasize and repeat: if one partner is going to another person to get their emotional needs met, they are not getting those needs met by their spouse and that puts the marriage in extreme jeopardy. This can be the first step toward an emotional affair.

Dr. Dana has a very helpful video on the 7 steps to survive an affair.  If you or your spouse are in that situation, take a few minutes and watch this important video to start on the road to reconnecting and surviving the affair.

Some suggestions on how to avoid misusing Facebook: Share your username and password with your spouse so that everybody knows exactly what’s going on.

Do you or your spouse spend time on Facebook getting your emotional needs met? Please comment below.

Are you trying to save your marriage from an online affair? If so, register today for our Free webinar, “5 Secrets to Save Your Marriage”

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

Powerful Strategies For Taking Charge To Save My Marriage At StrongMarriageNow.com

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