Help! My partner is cheating on Facebook!
Based on the extensive results when searching “Social Media and your relationship” or “Facebook and your marriage” online, it is clear that many partners are using Facebook and various other forms of social media and “chat sites” as a means to communicate emotionally and/or sexually outside of their relationship.
The Facts about Facebook Infidelity
Doing some reading about this topic online, will clearly point out the following:
- Heightened amounts of Facebook use have been shown to lead to general marriage instability and dissatisfaction.
- Facebook can provide an environment that encourages destructive behaviors such as flirting, sharing intimate details, establishing emotional intimacy, and engaging in sexual affairs.
- Excessive time on social media can lead to social isolation, relationship distrust, lack of social cohesion, ‘Facebook addiction’ and infidelity.
- ‘Facebook affairs’ occur in both satisfied as well as dissatisfied marriages.
- Instigating partners of ‘Facebook affairs’ are often ignorant of the impact and implications of their actions while participating in them.
- Regardless if a face-to-face sexual affair transpires following emotional or sexual Facebook messaging, emotional, relational, and mental detachment often unintentionally occurs on the side of the instigating spouse.
- Alarming divorce court statistics indicate a large portion of Americans filing for divorce today, cite Facebook communication with the opposite sex as supporting evidence for their spouse’s marital infidelity.
It is an unfortunate reality that infidelity and Facebook can potentially and unintentionally join hands – if partners are ignorant and complacent.
It seems that many partners, whether simply initially looking for a digital shoulder to cry on or to create an online sexual fantasy, or even to simply have an innocent private message conversation with someone, can potentially and unknowingly start a relationship that poses serious threats to their current relationship or marriage.
Consistency in research and growing divorce cases centered around Facebook are key reasons for why our marriages and relationships need spoken guidelines (not control, rules, regulations, or oppression), but rather protection against human nature’s inclination to give into temptation.
Establishing Facebook Safeguards
It’s crucial to the success and survival of your relationship in this digital age, to have a casual sit down with your partner to establish firm and clear guidelines that can be agreed upon regarding social media. A safeguard discussion should be ongoing and updated accordingly.
Some Facebook communication guidelines for you and your partner could include:
- Refrain from accepting “friend” requests on Facebook from individuals that you know are emotionally and/or sexually interested in either you or your partner.
- Refrain from “friending” former significant others on Facebook that you or your spouse was/is emotionally/sexually interested in.
- The content of your communication on Facebook or other forms of social media should be respecting your partner’s needs, social image and your relationship.
- Retain a continuous one-on-one dialogue between you and your partner concerning appropriate Facebook communication.
- Ensure complete transparency in your communication on social media.
- Partners should regularly assess the state of their relationship and the emotional closeness/distance in their relationship. Ensure that you have invested enough time and energy through face-to-face, intimate interaction with your partner. If you communicate more regularly and intimately with others on Facebook than with your partner, it will most certainly pose a threat to your relationship.
If you are upset because your partner’s activity on social media poses a threat to your relationship, and you are struggling to address it effectively, please make an appointment to come and see me for counselling.
Author: Willem van den Berg, B SocSci (Psychology & Criminology), B SocSci (Hons) (Psych), MSc Clinical Psychology.
Willem van den Berg is a Psychologist from South Africa, with more than 12 years of experience in providing psychotherapy to a diverse group of clients with a wide range of life challenges. With a compassionate, positive and non-judgmental approach, he enjoys getting his clients actively engaged in gaining insight into the challenges they experience, as well as finding practical and workable interventions towards an enriched life.
Using a client-centered approach in providing interventions, Willem tailors the intervention to suit the client’s individual style, preferences and circumstances. From within this approach he further draws from a range of evidence-based therapies including:
- Clinical Hypnotherapy (Medical Hypno-Analysis);
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT);
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT);
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT);
- Couples, Marital and Relationship Therapy;
- Sex Therapy.
Willem attends to individuals (from adolescence to old age), couples and families, with a range of challenges, and is sensitive to the cultural and religious backgrounds of his clients. He is mindful of the role their cultural and religious beliefs could play in the challenges they experience, as well as in the treatment of these challenges.
Willem is fluent in English and Afrikaans.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Willem van den Berg, you can try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology (Mt Gravatt) on (07) 3088 7 5422.