This article “Online Attractions” is taken from Shirley Glass who is considered one of the leading experts on infidelity based on her many years of research.
“Barry was very anxious and worried because his wife Pamela was spending more and more time on the computer chatting with her online friends. She came to bed late at night after hours on the internet, and she was not interested in sex. At the beginning of her online experiences, she had excitedly shared with him her e-mails and invited him to sit next to her while she entered chat rooms. However, for the last month she had been acting like she didn’t want him around and switched screens rapidly when he entered the room. When he confronted her, she tried to reassure him that the friendships she had made were nothing for him to worry about. Barry continued to feel that something was wrong, so he logged on to Pamela’s computer and found emotionally and sexually intimate e-mail correspondence between her and a man she had met in a chat room. Barry insisted that she terminate all communication with this man, but Pamela tried to convince him that this was only a harmless diversion.
Barry’s concerns were realistic because internet relationships and online attractions can threaten the stability and intimacy of a committed relationship. Time spent online can be a harmless distraction or can be dangerously distracting. However, research has shown that even moderate internet usage interferes with family relationships, particularly when an individual spends more and more time online and begins ignoring work, friends, and loved ones. Furthermore, online relationships can shift from an intellectually stimulating friendship to a romantically charged relationship. Secrecy, emotional attachment, and sexual intimacy are the hallmarks of an online relationship that has crossed over the line of platonic friendship and drifted into an emotional affair.
The Slippery Slope
People in a committed relationship who unintentionally fall in love as a result of online attractions do so gradually and often don’t realize how far they have gone until they are hopelessly attached. The conversations usually begin with casual discussions about mutual interests. The public communication then moves to private messages and chats. As the messages become more personal, words of affection are expressed in greetings and sign-offs. When they start exchanging complaints about their primary relationships, they are expressing a vulnerability and neediness that the developing relationship feeds upon. After exchanging photographs and telephone numbers, the shift to real time signifies another line that has been crossed.
The signs of being hooked on the net by a dangerous attraction are:
1. Coming to bed at night later and later.
2. Secretiveness and requests for privacy while on the computer.
3. Work or household tasks slacking off.
4. Deception about activities.
5. Loss of interest in sex or an unusual increase in desire.
The Lure and Danger of Web Attractions
Online attractions are fuelled by fantasy. We are free to be whoever we want to be online because we are not inhibited by physical appearance or the realities of everyday life. Furthermore, we can idealize the other person and give them all of the traits that are missing in our chosen partners. We can focus on the here-and-now delight of exchanging intimacies when we have time to pick up our email.
People who actually rendezvous with their online lover often have sex within a few hours. Some relationships end because of the betrayal. Others end because online romances have become an addictive behavior. Occasionally, online lovers have abandoned their partners in order to pursue the online relationship. However, it is more common for disillusionment to follow the real life meeting. Online relationships don’t have to undergo the “toothpaste test”; that is, until you have shared the same tube of toothpaste with someone for at least a month, you don’t have the slightest idea about what it would be like to live with them.
Prevention and Recovery
1. Open the windows to the web and share your online interests with your mate.
2. Do not share sexual feelings that could be stimulating with online friends.
3. If your life online becomes more important than your friends and family, take immediate steps to stay off-line except for necessary business.
4. Use the seduction of online relationships as a warning sign. Figure out what is lacking in yourself, your life or your relationship.
5. Talk to your partner about ways to enhance your relationship. Bring back into your committed relationship the wishes, dreams, and sexual fantasies that were experienced on-line.”
If you’d like help in dealing with issues about online time, call us on (0421) 961 687 or contact me. You can book a Zoom session with me if you can’t personally come to our practice location.
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