For some marriages, infidelity can be classified many different ways. In the past, infidelity in marriage would be classified as having a physical, sexual relationship with someone else behind your spouses back.
But times have changed and relationships are not what they used to be when our moms and dads walked down the aisle and said “I do” in the family church.
Terms like “love” and “relationship” are defined differently to everyone these days.
And maybe, because of the increasing societal changes our world continues to go through, that is why the values of commitment and monogamy are not really seen as much and not really as important to people as they used to be.
Maybe to some, infidelity is simply flirting too much with a coworker during the week and not respecting your partners wishes to stop.
Maybe you and your spouse have an agreement where you can have other partners outside of the marriage, as long as your spouse knows about them.
The “open marriage” concept with rules, if you will.
When you don’t tell your spouse about one of those partners, and they find out, that is then classified as infidelity to them.
To others, infidelity is simple – it’s the hidden act of sexual and physical contact with another person.
But, infidelity can occur in many other forms.
Internet infidelity can cause just as much harm as actually stepping outside of the marriage and involving yourself in a physical, sexual relationship with another person.
It’s no secret that the internet has everything to offer a person when it comes to sex, desire, intrigue, and secrecy. (And, lets be honest, the massive growth in the technology of cell phones and their capabilities to keep us connected 24/7 has only made this easier).
There are literally special areas set up in our social media accounts to create private rooms or private conversations (labeled “secret conversations” on Facebook for example) that you don’t want anyone to catch you having.
There are ways to pay for virtual, sexual encounters without your payments being traced (hello Ashley Madison!).
The internet is the mother ship for anyone who is looking to have some fun or get a little excitement, but know they need to lie, hide, or cheat.
So what exactly is internet infidelity?
There are men and women out there every day, piloting that mothership of the internet right through marriages, families, and homes without even a second thought of the consequences or affects they have on anyone else.
Sexting, photos, special numbers to dial before a call for dirty conversations.
Maybe these acts never go anywhere and your partner bounces from one person to another, looking for different ways to fulfill their need for excitement.
It could involve daily conversation through texting, email, or phone calls.
Some people take a smarter approach, creating fake profiles, or names, or even opening fake email accounts to have these exchanges through. (Can’t get caught by your spouse if she doesn’t know something is even there, right?).
You talk about how you “want” them. What you want to do to them. How they look or how they make you feel when you look at them. You exchange photos.
And then you go through the nightly routine of having to clean out your phone so you don’t get caught.
Internet infidelity may never actually lead to any physical contact with another person.
You may never even have a real sexual experience with another person because of this behavior.
But in my opinion – and unfortunate experiences – this is still very much considered infidelity.
Because any one of these behaviors and “habits” can lead to emotional connections with someone else’s husband, or wife, or partner. And then from there, it’s just one long bumpy roller coaster ride that no party involved can ever really get off of, and one of them never even asked for a ticket!
In my world, internet infidelity is no different than a man who steps out on his wife and kids and has a complete affair, with another woman, in person.
The connection is still there even if it is through a phone or a computer. The hiding is still there. The sexual content is still THERE.
And sometimes, the emotional connection that can develop between two people through this context can be even worse than the act of sex itself.
I know this because I have lived through internet infidelity not just once, but now twice.
My first husband was able to keep his first round of “hobbies” under wraps for four years before I caught onto anything.
She was a woman from a chat room (Yes, we had chat rooms. I’m old, I know). I stayed and dealt with it because everyone, including his own mother, had me convinced that it wasn’t really cheating.
He wasn’t wrong for “looking at other women” and that it was “just the internet”. So I convinced myself too.
I had a 4 year old and a newborn and nowhere to go. I decided it was better to chalk it up to nonsense on the internet, and move on with our lives.
It took me six years before I found the strength to say no more.
Unfortunately, this was not the last of the nonsense and this behavior between my husband and other women on the internet.
I had no desire to make anything about our marriage work at this point.
I spent years and years trying to look past the things I saw on his phone, or the fake accounts I would find for emails.
Sometimes he used a different name (John Smith was always my favorite. I mean, can you get any more generic than that? There wasn’t even any EFFORT there!).
And sometimes there were multiple things going on with multiple women at the same time.
Many times, which really was the kicker for me, the women knew he was married and didn’t have a care in the world about what they were doing.
I always wondered what kind of life they really led or how they slept at night knowing what kind of secret relationship they were carrying on with another woman’s husband.
I wondered about that for a long time after my divorce. But eventually, I moved on and stopped letting that garbage sit in my brain and run the show all the time.
The bitterness and anger over women I didn’t even know, and never even saw, was not worth it to me anymore.
I could do better and my life would go on.
And now, four years later, I sit here facing the same fate I thought I had buried.
My second husband has spent almost our entire relationship hiding women from the internet in his phone and having secret conversations with people he refers to as “old friends”.
Let me define “old friend” for you. In my current husband’s world, this is someone that he used to communicate with sexually, or meet off an internet dating site, and decided to keep in contact with because……well, why not?
His argument to plead his case, in the beginning, was amateur at best.
She’s just a friend. I’ve known her for years. And my personal favorite – we were never actually going to HAVE sex.
And I can’t figure out which is worse in this situation.
The fact that he actually believes these things are okay and normal, or the fact that I am even in this situation again.
Internet infidelity has once again ruined my marriage and broken my family.
And again this time, both women involved with my husband through this context knew all about me – before AND after our marriage – and proceeded to entice and encourage the sexual conversations between them.
Not that my husband is innocent by any means, but what kind of world are we living in where these women have lost all forms of self-respect for themselves where they have no qualms whatsoever with the risks of breaking up a marriage and hurting a family over some TEXTING or some PICTURES.
It pains me to think what their real like situations must be like or why this is all they can muster up for themselves.
Using the internet to meet men and women is never going to stop – it’s there and we know this.
But the enticing factor that leads these men and women to choose married individuals will never make sense to me.
I often wonder if the risk of getting caught is what makes this little charade more exciting for them and what keeps them going.
And even more so often, I wonder how many times other women out there, just like me, are sitting up at night trying to make sense of what was so much better about that woman from the internet as opposed to me, the woman at home.
What is it that could possibly make the pictures and the typed words from a stranger better than having what is right in front of you?
Why are these men so willing to risk losing their families over things that aren’t real?
Do I walk away from my entire marriage and break apart my family because of internet infidelity – again?
If you are one of these women, sitting out there terrified to look through your husband’s phone because of what you might find, or conflicted with the definitions of infidelity and what you are really feeling and going through, just know that you are not alone.
And something tells me there are hundreds of us out here going through the exact same thing.
Some wives are choosing to overlook it – maybe it’s just a bad habit, right? Some wives are choosing to babysit their husbands, going through their phones, sharing accounts with them, allowing them no privacy or freedom after being caught with internet secrets or hiding the women on their phone.
But for me, that is not a life I want for myself.
I have two children to take care of.
I don’t think I should have to spend the next 20 years babysitting the man I married because he can’t control his impulses or understand what being faithful means.
So for anyone out there who believes that these internet relationships don’t count because they aren’t “real” or because the behavior is just the equivalent of watching pornography, or whatever the reason may be, I have to disagree with you wholeheartedly.
And if you have a husband who has a recurring problem with internet infidelity, and you don’t know where to turn, there is a way to get help.
But that is only something that can happen if your spouse wants to change and if he is willing to admit there is a problem and is committed to fixing it.
Therapy comes in all forms. Psychiatry is something I have learned to be a great tool for this type on uncontrolled behavior.
Internet addictions are real, and there are people all over the world that deal with them every day. Men and women.
Counselors are now specializing in treating patients who have this type of problem and need this kind of behavior therapy.
It’s like I said – the internet is the mother ship. And she is a bitch.