It seems that the amount of people and the ease with which they are able to get connected with persons with another with similar feelings has skyrocketed. Many people are unclear about what exactly defines online infidelity. The authors of Infidelity On The Internet: Virtual Relationships and Real Betrayal defines cybersex as "when two people use computerized content (text, sound or images from software or the Internet) for sexual stimulation." Cyber infidelity is defined as "when a partner in a committed relationship uses the computer or the internet to violate promises, vows, or agreements concerning his or her exclusivity." This can be primarily sexual or include an emotional component. Marital issues are often shared with the cyber lover which has the effect of making them feel closer to one another.
Internet infidelity is the ultimate in extramarital involvement because of what Dr. Alvin Cooper calls the "triple A engine." These aspects are accessibility, affordability and anonymity. If you look at these aspects, it appears extra-marital cyber affairs are truly "infidelity on the cheap." There is little to no expense involved, immediate connection and/or disconnection (at any hour of the day or night), you attach quickly and your inhibitions are loosened. It is believed that if cyber infidelity weren't so anonymous there wouldn't be so many people doing it. People are able to act in unusual ways online, flirt, reject easily and generally be mysterious.
If you are suspicious of another's behavior, pay close attention to these questions. However, if you are worried that you are close to (or possibly already involved) an online affair, take this mini-quiz:
- Have you lied about who you are communicating with on-line?
- Have you exited a screen quickly so no one sees who you are chatting with?
- Does your spouse have access to your email and phone security codes?
- Do you have a "secret" friend on your email account?
- Have you been spending an excessive amount of time on the internet?
- Have you exchanged photos with any "secret" email friends?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, an online relationship (sexual, emotional or both) is most likely developing between you and another person. It is quite difficult to disentangle yourself from this situation. To gain support, strategies and tools to help, I would encourage you to seek help.