Signs of Online Affairs

Signs of Online Affairs

With the development of the Internet, the definition of infidelity now includes a romantic and/or sexual relationship with someone other than the spouse, which begins with an online contact and is maintained mainly through electronic conversations that occur through e-mail, chat rooms, social media, and texting.

Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner, 48, resigned in disgrace from Congress in 2011 for exposing himself to women on Twitter.  This week, two years later, a gossip website revealed texts he allegedly shared with a 22-year-old woman after he had left Congress. Weiner’s repeated behaviors might be a sign of a sexual addiction, which might be why his wife is staying by his side.

Is sexting cheating?

Is sexting cheating? Anthony Weiner’s latest scandal begs the question. In a digital era that makes explicit flirting easy, the nature of cheating might need to be redefined.

Weiner’s behavior has made him this issue’s unwitting poster boy. He left Congress in disgrace after being pressured to step down due to a sexting scandal in 2011. When he announced a similar transgression on Tuesday in the middle of his New York City mayoral bid, many came to question Weiner’s impulse control.

Whether or not ‘sexting’ is cheating is a really tricky one to call. Of course, it depends on so many things – the relationship you are in, how long you have been together, how open your relationship is, how often your partner was ‘sexting’ behind your back, and to whom, and so on. But if it did happen to you, how on earth would you deal with it?

How Can You Tell?

Because these are virtual relationships, it is hard to tell if you dealing with an online affair or your very own sexting scandal. Online affairs are easily hidden. It may take a suspecting months to find the proof. In my e-book, Infidelity Online Workbook I describe seven signs of online affairs that partners should look for.

1. Change in sleep patterns – Chat rooms and online meeting places heat up late at night, so the cheating partner tends to stay up later and later to be part of the action. Often, the partner suddenly begins coming to bed in the early-morning hours, may leap out of bed earlier and bolt to his smartphone for a pre-work text or email.

2. A demand for privacy – If someone begins cheating on their spouse, whether online or in real life, they will often go to great lengths to hide the truth from their wife or husband. With an online affair, this attempt usually leads to the search for greater privacy and secrecy surrounding their mobile or computer usage. The spouse may use the tablet only in a secluded corner of a locked study, the spouse may change the password, or cloak all his or her online activities in secrecy. If disturbed or interrupted, the cheating spouse may react with anger or defensiveness.

3. Household chores ignored – When anyone increases his time online, household chores often go undone. That’s not automatically a sign of an online affair, but in a marriage those dirty dishes, piles of laundry, and un-mowed lawns might indicate that someone else is competing for the suspected person’s attention. In an intimate relationship, sharing chores often is regarded as an integral part of a basic commitment. So when a spouse begins to invest more time and energy online and fails to keep up his or her end of the household bargain, it could signal a lesser commitment to the relationship itself – because another relationship has come between your marriage.

4. Evidence of lying – Like in a real-life affair, the cheating spouse may hide credit-card bills for adult sites, dating sites, or have secret Facebook or Twitter accounts, or lie about the reason for such extensive online use.

5. Personality changes – A spouse is often surprised and confused to see how much their partner’s moods and behaviors changed since the Internet engulfed them. A once warm and sensitive wife becomes cold and withdrawn. A formerly jovial husband turns quiet and serious. If questioned about these changes in connection with their Internet habit, the spouse having an online affair responds with heated denials, blaming, and rationalization. For a partner once willing to communicate about contentious matters, this could be a smokescreen for an online affair.

6. Loss of interest in sex – Some online affairs evolve into sexting, phone sex, or an actual rendezvous, but cybersex alone often includes mutual masturbation from the confines of each person’s computer room. When a spouse suddenly shows a lesser interest in sex, it may be an indicator that he or she has found another sexual outlet. If sexual relations continue in the relationship at all, the cheating partner may be less enthusiastic, energetic, and responsive to you and your lovemaking.

7. Declining investment in your relationship – Those engaged in online affairs no longer want to participate in the marital relationship. They shun those familiar rituals like talking over the dishes after dinner or renting a video on Saturday night. They don’t get as excited about taking vacations together and they avoid talk about long-range plans in the family or relationship. Often, they are having their fun with someone else, and their thoughts of the future revolve around fantasies of running off with their online partner – not building intimacy with a spouse.