home
RSS
E-motional affairs: How Facebook leads to infidelity
March 3rd, 2011
08:17 AM ET

E-motional affairs: How Facebook leads to infidelity

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

While the movie "The Social Network" may be Oscar history, Facebook is creating real-life dramas that lead to anything but Hollywood happy endings. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen scores of relationships destroyed by what I call "Facebook bombs" - blasts from the past that leave a relationship shattered to pieces.

If you or your mate are spending too much time strolling down a digital Memory Lane, an emotional affair could be in the works. Here's how to Facebook-proof your relationship:

Don’t romanticize the past at the expense of the present.

I’m hearing this real-life story more often: A tale of high school sweethearts trying to go “back to the future,” only to realize they should have been content to leave those memories in that old shoebox in storage.

How to reconnect and not be awkward or creepy

In the end, we’re only human. We all romanticize the past, men and women alike. And no memories are more potent than those first youthful fumblings. We tend to remember the good parts and forget the bad.

Until the advent of Facebook, though, most of us were compelled to leave the past in the past and move on. But now exes of all stripes - high school sweethearts, college lovers, former hookups - are popping up on Facebook. When two people strike up an online friendship, it’s easy to idealize each other and blur the line between fantasy and reality. An intense sense of intimacy is quickly fostered, particularly if intimacy was once shared in the past.

But when one partner starts sharing himself or herself with another person, it chips away at the foundation of their core relationship - and starts building a foundation for a new relationship.

Don't keep secrets.

Here’s where friendship and attraction cross the line into emotional cheating. Each person stops sharing certain aspects of the friendship with his or her partner, and starts confiding more in the “friend” and less in his or her partner.

In the past few years, I’ve heard from at least three exes who wanted to be my Facebook friend or found my website and e-mailed me out of the blue. And while it's tempting to accept these friend requests, or to fire back a quick “of course I remember you” e-mail, I haven’t done so. That was then; this is now.

And in those rare instances where I have accepted an ex as a Facebook friend, or written back, I’ve informed my wife and let her read every correspondence. Not because she doesn’t trust me, but because we have nothing to hide. Once you have something to hide, that’s where the trouble begins.

 So if an old flame is on your case, just say, “I’m in a relationship now. I wish you all the best.”

With Facebook friends like these, who needs enemies?

The instant gratification of Facebook and other social networks stimulates reward centers in the brain - and it's easy to find oneself craving the quick hit of a connection or lamenting its absence. Even without the senses driving attraction, the mind goes into overdrive and imagines that this is the perfect person and the perfect relationship.

Soon, a person may feel like an online friend “knows” him or her better than a partner does. People may feel freer to explore other parts of themselves, while real life (and a real relationship) feels stifling. This artificial sense of intimacy can begin to consume a person’s thoughts, which becomes all the more exciting because it’s a secret. Most people don’t set out to have “e-motional” affairs, and that’s one of the dangers of social networks like Facebook.

It often just happens, usually as a friendly relationship snowballs into something more meaningful. A common myth is that only people in unhappy relationships have emotional affairs. In fact, many men and women who commit emotional infidelity report that they were happy when they became involved with their affair partners. Rather than seeking out love (or sex), unfaithful partners gradually blur the boundaries between friendship and intimacy over an extended period of time.

Facebook friends: More powerful than Internet porn
.

As a sex therapist, I tend to hear a lot about people’s sexual habits, both when they’re with their partner and when they’re on their own. Now, it's no secret that when men self-pleasure they often choose Internet pornography over their own erotic imagination. Think of it as the lazy man's way; the difference between reading and watching TV.

However, men who are Facebooking with their exes and falling in love all over again often skip the computer and go back to those potent formative memories to get themselves off. That’s how strong the past is - even stronger than Internet porn!

An online affair is fueled by feelings of attraction between two people. You start to idealize the other person and fantasize about what sex would be like. This only adds fuel to the fire. Just like primary relationships, affairs that start out slowly and build a connection before progressing to sex are often the most difficult to break off - and the most damaging to the other relationship.

There's no shame in disconnecting your Facebook account.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you find you’re thinking more and more about the past, and getting to the point where you’re fantasizing about what it would be like to be with that person again, it’s time to unplug your computer, and get back to “face-timing” with your partner instead of Facebooking with the past. There's no shame in removing the one variable causing all the problems.

Look, in the end we’re all living, breathing sexual beings. Attraction doesn’t end once we’re in a relationship. Even the most happily coupled people are going to feel the familiar buzz of attraction when someone catches their eye or laughs at one of their jokes.

However, while feeling attraction is unavoidable, acting on it crosses the line. Attraction is one ingredient of an emotional affair. In order for attraction to launch into an emotional affair, a person has to also develop intimacy and, eventually, a feeling of connection with that person that supersedes their current relationship. In other words, attraction + effort + intimacy = emotional infidelity. Take away one, and all you’re left with is a natural instinct or a harmless Facebook friendship. Put all three together, and with friends like that... your relationship has a new enemy.


soundoff (401 Responses)
  1. Wilson Jenni

    My name is Wilson Jenni cannada, I am really pleased with this service. I am one of those people who said, “I’ll never call a psychic or a magician or whatever” to help me with my problems – least of all my love problems and court case, but I reached the point where I knew I needed some guidance, and I’m so glad I found this man called dr. Gregor. I never in a million years would have thought I’d be writing a letter like this, but when I nearly lost to Davis in one of our stupid court cases after he broke up with me, I thought I had lost everything.i cry all day and think that he will never come back to me again and i will loose the case. I read a testimony by a man called Taylor Borg about how dr. Gregor helped him to get a win in a court case concerning divorce settlement against his adulterous wife and how life have been very favourable to him through the help of dr. Gregor. Below is his website if you will like to know more.
    http://drgregorspiritualt.wixsite.com/mysite

    October 25, 2016 at 07:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. James Pedro

    Am James Pedro am from USA, there is this spell caster from africa his name is DR LAGI he help me get back my ex with in 24hrs I got his email online and I email him and he said if I trust him that my ex will come back so I told him that I trusted him so the next day I had a knock on my door to my greatest surprise it was Sonia my ex so all thanks to DR LAGI here are many other spell he can cast

    SPELL TO STOP YOUR EX FROM CHEATING
    SPELL TO GET BACK YOUR EX
    Spell for magic
    Spell for exam success
    Spell for kidney problem
    Spell for H.I.V and AIDS
    Spell for cancer
    Spell to keep your job secure
    Spell to get a job
    Spell to get a husband
    Spell to get your child from your ex
    Spell for stroke
    Spell for your ex to be submissive to you
    Spell for you to get back your ex
    Spell to stop your ex from drunkenness
    Spell for asthma
    Spell for weak ejaculation
    Spell for pile
    Spell for fibrous

    If you are interested email him urgently
    At(lagato893@gmail.com)

    November 17, 2016 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sue Ball

    My name is Sue Ball, and I am very happy for posting on this blog on how a great spell caster helped me in bringing back the love of my life. I know there are lots of women like me out there who have done so much to have back their Husband, I am here to tell you all to search no further because the answer is right here. I sincerely believe if there are up to five spell casters like Dr Trust this world would be a better place, I have seen people complaining on how fake spell castes promised to help them but couldn't but with Dr Trust I tell you your problem is solved already. My Husband and I had been apart for 3 YEARS and I couldn't bear without living without him, I have tried everything to have him back but nothing was working until I saw numerous testimonies about a spell caster called Dr Trust and how great his work is. I contacted him immediately and follow the step that he ask and in the next 48 hours my ex husband called me and was eager for my forgiveness and that he wished nothing more than to have me in his arms forever. I filled so much joy and happiness that I found Dr Trust, I hope you all here will find this testimony of mine and get your husband or love back in just 48 hours. E-mail address is Ultimatespellcast@gmail. com or Ultimatespellcast@yahoo. com ,You are the next to share your testimony to every one in the world.

    November 22, 2016 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. HOW I GOT BACK MY MY HEALING

    My name is SANDRA and i have a wonderful testimony to share, I experienced an excruciating pain in my lower stomach in my bathroom that pushed me to call the hospital. I explained my symptoms, and they told me to go to the ER right away. Once I arrived and was examined, the doctor told me that they needed to do an endoscopy to make sure that I wasn’t bleeding internally because my blood level was lower than normal standard. Luckily, I didn’t need a blood transfusion. They needed to know the cause of my anemia and stomach pain. During that process, waves of emotions were overwhelming. I felt fear, frustration, and pain – physical and emotional. Everything inside of me fought to leave the ER immediately, and I asked if I could refuse treatment. The doctor recommended that I stay, and I ended up staying overnight for them to do some blood tests and eventually the last procedure—colonoscopy. The good news was I didn’t have a bleeding ulcer, and the only thing they could diagnose me with was HP-Pylori, which is a type of stomach bacteria. The cause of it was still unknown. They gave me medications and released me to go home.
    I was relieved, thinking I was ready to go back to my normal routine. I was so wrong. I lost weight, was very weak, and couldn’t drive. I was restricted from certain foods but received His full physical healing after several weeks through Dr Jason Miller,a great spell caster who caster a spell for my healing and was able to eat everything normally. Do you have a marital problem or you have anything you need in life, contact Dr Jason via email... Millersjason42@gmail.com. God bless you all......

    November 24, 2016 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. sterlynn244

    I never believed that i could finally get back the happiness and the love that was gone after my husband left me totally. I couldn't just believe that spells could turn my thoughts and my dreams into reality in getting back with my husband after he served me with divorce papers.. my ex husband after the divorce never showed up to me and the kids anymore, he finally made up his mind on me and said it was over. 2 years after our divorce, i was still out trying to get him back and i did all that i knew best could make him happy, and my mum and everybody around just advised i should forget about him and move on with my life, because they felt he was gone forever and was never gonna return. But i never gave up on trying to get him back, because i so much loved him beyond what anybody could ever imagine. I met a spell caster, and what drew my attention most was the reviews people was writting about this spell caster when i contacted him. And that so much gave me the assurance because i have heard much more on how he has helped alot of people... and with the help that this spell caster rendered to me, he saved my marriage and reunited me and my ex husband back together again with his powerful spells. Thank you so much Dr Tamara for your help in reuniting me and my husband again, if not for you, my life would have permanently turned out to be a mess.Love spell came out tremendously, I highly recommending LORD TAMARA,(lordtamaraspelltemple@gmail.com) for whatever problems you are experiencing in your relationship. He is the real deal. his love spell is absolutely wonderful. His WEBSITE: http://ancienttamaratemple.webs.com/.. Email (lordtamaraspelltemple@gmail.com)
    he typically replies with 1hour. and if you can get a hold of him, just know your problem is end, i bet my life on that.
    thanks, koker sara hernadez.

    November 28, 2016 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Elena

    My husband has abandon me and the kids for the the past 8 months now, and refuse to come back because he was hold on by a woman whom he just met, for that, my self and the kids has been suffering and it has been heel of a struggle, but I decide to do all means to make sure that my family come together as it use to, then I went online there I saw so many good talk about this Great Prophect Success whose email is PROPHECTSUCCESS@YAHOO.COM so I had to contact her and in just 3days as she has promised, my husband came home and his behavior was back to the man I got married to. I can't thank the Great Prophect Success enough of what she did for me, I am so grateful. I even spoke to the Great Prophect over the phone, to confirm her existence. Her email again is: PROPHECTSUCCESS@YAHOO.COM

    November 30, 2016 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.