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How does online infidelity affect relationships?

This news story was published on November 12, 2020.
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People will access a dating site for all sorts of reasons, but the primary one remains seeking a potential partner, whether that’s for friendship, a casual encounter, or long-term romance. More people are now accessing apps rather than desktop websites, outlets that integrate seamlessly with other aspects of their online presence. No real rules are governing how anyone behaves on a dating site – whether they choose to flirt with one person at a time or any number of other site users. Similarly, how members of social media platforms choose to interact is down to personal morality. There can be many grey areas. Does chatting to a former partner who has just sent you a Facebook friend request amount to infidelity? Perhaps this is down to whether you admit this activity to your current partner. So what constitutes cheating?

The fine line between friendship and friendship with benefits

You can foster all sorts of relationships on social media or via dating sites like askme4date, but the problem arises when the lines that exist between what constitutes friendship and the clear indications that there is more involved, are transgressed. Say you are in contended partnership, but an ex sends you a friend request via one of your social media platforms. You exchange messages, reminisce about happier times together. This could evolve into flirting. A suggestion to meet up for a drink. You are now heading into potentially dangerous waters, so you really need to make decisions about which person makes you most content, otherwise you risk hurting two people close to you, and losing both.

What degree of deception is involved?

Using the same scenario, there’s clearly nothing inherently wrong in touching base with an ‘old flame.’ Part of being a mature adult is being able to place relationships in context, and having the ability to deal with each individual accordingly. But if you should recognize the dubious aspects of regularly communicating with someone who isn’t your current partner, especially if you were once intimate with them. Do you find yourself using your social media furtively? Do you lie about who has been messaging you? Perhaps you change your usual passwords to prevent your partner from accessing your email history or messaging platforms? People don’t succumb to affairs by accident. A moment will arise when you realise you are being unfaithful, and must choose whether to remedy this situation or not.

Decrease in self-esteem

There might be a perception that maintaining contact with former partners is harmless. What about members of your social circle who you like to flirt with, and who you could envisage having sex with if the occasion arose? You really need to ask how would you feel if you were on the receiving end? Discovering that your partner has been phoning or texting someone they might be attracted to can be demeaning. This will have a negative effect on self-esteem, sometimes even leading to darker moods, or depression. Infidelity, whether this is a full-blooded affair or an unhealthy virtual fixation, is one of the factors that can prompt mental health issues.

Passion killing

Online infidelity can derail even the most contented relationships. Discovering or even merely suspecting your other half has been contacting a third party behind your back will knock confidence. When it comes to getting physical, the thought that your partner is imagining they are with someone else has surely got to be one of the ultimate passion killers. If they’ve been fantasizing about Lara Croft, that’s one thing. But sexting a Facebook friend would be taking things far too far.

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