Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emotional Affairs: Cyber-cheating?

Okay so it seems like I am thinking about a new career – psychologist. I love to watch people and try to understand their motivations. I guess lawyers do that because to understand the enemy means you have a chance to win. I think a lot of writers do the same thing. We have to understand our characters in order to give them depth and have our readers empathize with them. There is so much literature out there about psychological problems that it is mind-boggling (no pun intended).

One thing has caught my eye, in the wake of Tiger Woods (yes, he did text), Leann Rimes and Sandra Bullock – the emotional affair. Unlike the regular, run-of-the-mill physical affairs, it seems these types of emotional affairs are doing a heck of a lot more damage to the state of marriage. Emotional affairs are defined as an affair without sex. Okay, so you asked, isn’t that what an affair is? SEX? Well, no, it seems these affairs involve emotional investment which, according to the experts, is much more devastating for the betrayed spouse. The biggest problem seems to be that the betrayer does not realize he/she is involved with another female/male outside the marriage in an inappropriate manner until it is too late. They have become entangled in a mesh of deceit and subterfuge while thinking it was just innocent talking, texting, Facebooking or emailing.

I felt like writing about this because I think we should all sit up and take notice of what is going on around us. The main conduit of these affairs seems to be electronics - E-mail, texting, Facebook, cell phones and trac phones. It is too easy in this day of electronics to send off a text or an e-mail and thus it starts. Most of the experts say that the people involved in these affairs are looking for someone to talk to about their problems, maybe at work or maybe at home, through the internet or cell phones. They feel like they can’t talk to their spouses. Home life has become a place where everyone is hurrying to take the kids to some practice, meals are on the run, increased work-loads make every thing harder and no one talks. BUT there is this person who does listen, who does talk (albeit on the internet or the cell phone) and does seem to care about the disenfranchised spouse – the other woman/man. The Affair has begun in earnest. It’s been described as like passing notes in high school – puppy love. The affair partners move around in a fog with no responsibilities except perpetuating this affair. No real life problems to weigh them down. At some point, one will either get caught or find his/her way out of the fog, realizing that their real life is with their spouse and their family. But the damage is done – trust is destroyed, betrayal has occurred and vows have been broken. The strange thing about this is the betrayer says love wasn’t involved (they actually didn't really care about the other person). The affair was all about the excitement and flattery.

Can we prevent this from happening to us? Well yes, there is something that we can all do – TALK to your spouses. Set aside a time during the day when you really talk. Also, the experts on this new affair say that total transparency is necessary. That means that you should have a right to look at your spouses e-mails, phone, text and cell phone usages (on the bill). I know this sounds like violating trust but it really isn't according to the experts because you have a right to know who your spouse is talking to or texting. Most betrayed spouses say that they wouldn’t have violated their spouses’ privacy before the affair but wished they had because they could have prevented the affair by explaining such contact was inappropriate. On the other hand, the betraying spouses say that if they had known this was cheating, they would have immediately stopped before it got too involved (if you look at your spouse's electronic data you can easily head off an affair). It’s good to be vigilant in this day and age because there are a lot of crazies out there waiting to destroy your marriage. It doesn’t violate trust because all you’re asking for is honesty.

So, I’d like to know some things. Would you check your spouse’s cell phone, including the calls and the texts? What about his/her emails? Do you have a set time to sit down and talk to your spouse? I mean REALLY talk. Do you think this new trend of carrying on with another person via the internet/cell phone/ texts is cheating? Let us hear from you!


  1. This is a really hard topic for all of us, I believe. Marriage cannot survive without trust. And when that trust is violated, it takes a very long time to gain it back.

    That said, I do not check my hubby's e-mail, phone, texts, computer time. I'm not privy to his passwords, etc... (Which brings up another subject. What is something happens to him and I cannot access his stuff when I need to? Must talk with hubby about this scenario.)

    My marriage has survived nearly 30 years because I've given my trust again and again. Trust is a two-way street. Both partners must give and receive trust. But both must earn it!

  2. I think it is a 'slow fade,' as they say, in many of these cases. It may be difficult for some of the less tech-comfortable to imagine becoming to emotionally rely on someone who you might not see in person at all, but I can relate to it. Then again, I'm in the odd (but growing more 'normal') position of having met my husband online. And not in some intentional dating-website sort of way--we were just friends with similar interests, safely situated on opposite sides of the country.

    As it's easy for us to recognize the potential significance of our online relationships, the hubby and I have a Mutually Assured Honesty and Accountability Policy.(He likes to name things that sound overly technical and dramatic. I find it endearing.) He has all of my passwords, and I have his. Not that we often check up on each other, but the ease with which we can helps keep us both in better check--even in the small things. When one of us is feeling moody and deflecting conversation/inquiry, invoking 'The Policy' is about as good as dusting off the wedding vows...and mercifully abbreviated.

    Some might think this invasive or indicative of a lack of trust. But for us, it's purely practical. I'm not perfect, and don't believe I ought to be 100% trusted. I'd rather my greatest and most terminally invested ally be the one to catch me if I happen to be slipping, before I screw up too badly in any fiscal, moral, or ethical area.

    As you said, Cheryl, I think the REALLY talking is the key to prevention. There's no substitution for vulnerability.

    ~Angela Blount

  3. I understand Kathy. Trust is very important. What the experts are saying, though, is that in a marriage, there should be total transparency. No secrets. I understand that this is a touchy subject. I am just trying to explain that if there is total honesty then there shouldn't be a problem with looking at the other spouse's emails or texts. Kind of hard, isn't it? You trust them but maybe then, if you look, you don't. Such a quandary!

  4. Right Angela! I like the idea of "The Policy." It's there if you need it, but most of the time you don't. I agree. I would rather my most trusted friend be there to keep me from falling down, if ever. Sometimes, like these people say, they don't even realize what they are doing until it is too late. There are multitudes of blogs out there that speak to this very issue and every one of them say they wish they had talked to their spouses about what they were doing. Talking is so very important! Not just about the kids, the house and the bills but about feelings, hopes and, yes, sometimes even problems.

    You are right: vulnerability is the main ingredient of trust. You make yourself vulnerable and open to the other person. Trust develops from that. I do so love your insights!

  5. I think it's cheating if it's a secret. Both The Guy and I have friends of the opposite sex who we talk to, have lunch with, etc. But we all tend to be friends with each other.

    I don't check his phone or computer. He doesn't text. I could if I wanted. The phone is always around and the computer is right there. I've just never thought about it. As far as I know, he doesn't check mine but I don't care if he does--unless it's Christmastime or his birthday. I might have ordered something for him.

    We do talk.

    Very thought provoking.

  6. I read a great line in a book called "Infidelity Sleuth" -- People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

    And that's about all I can say under the terms of my divorce settlement.

    I think if someone is concerned their behavior might be construed as cheating, then they probably have something to be worried about. I never engaged in any behavior I'd have been ashamed for my former spouse to know about.

    Yes, very thought provoking.


  7. Jean, secrecy is a main component in this - they say it heightens the thrill. I saw one statement by a cheater who had been caught that seems to have learned his lesson. He said, "If you can't do it in front of your spouse then you are doing something that is wrong." It's good that you and the Guy have the ability to have friends of the opposite sex and that you both share this with each other. I think you and the Guy are on the right path! Honesty and trust are very solid foundations!

  8. PM I like that quote! It is so very true. You are also right that if they are worried about their actions then they know they are doing something wrong.

    BTW, what is Infidelity Sleuth? I found a great website called "Cheaterville" where people go to post the names and, sometimes, pictures of cheaters. It's hilarious.

  9. Yes, I think the secrecy is key. If you must hide it from your spouse, you are in trouble! And if you feel them looking at your email, facebook pages, etc., ON OCCASSION, is intrusive, then there is probably a problem there too.

    On the other hand, if you check your spouse's phone, email, etc., excessively, then you too have a trust problem (unless that person has given you a good reason not to trust them, then they should be kept on a very short leash). Its kind of like the policy I have with my children -- if there is anything you need to do online where I can't have the password, then you don't need to be doing it. (And in their cases, I would take away their internet privileges.)

    After 15 years of marriage, I found that my hubby and I got into a very well-worn rut. Then our lives changed quite a bit with 2 new jobs and a whole host of issues. My husband started coming home and telling me about his day (previously, all I could get out of him was how much he hated his day, because he did). Now I get a rundown of all his daily interactions, funny stories about customers (he has a great sense of humor), and his take on problems during the day. I tell him about work, what the kids did that afternoon, writing, anything that's on my mind. We hadn't done this in so long, and at first it was a little weird, but now we do it every night. I learn so much about him, and feel so much more connected. Though we didn't do it to intentionally become closer, its been one of the best things we could have done to keep our marriage strong. :)

  10. I don't have a spouse but you all have some very interesting comments for me to consider when I do.

  11. Angel, you are doing the talking. It is so important to share the day with your husband. I know that it does make your marriage stronger to discuss the day and what you did. I also agree with your comment that if you have to excessively check the emails etc. you have a problem too. I guess it all comes down to whether you have a reason to do it. You are so right!

    Stephanie, I don't know which view is right - to check or not to check that is the question. I think if you have doubts then you should check. I also think that total transparency doesn't mean always checking but just having the right to do it. Gee, what a quandary!