The Internet age has presented a whole new generation of temptations to those in a committed relationship. Twenty years ago, a discreet affair may have been carried on through discreet letters, phony late-night work meetings, or at the expense of a spouse who traveled often. Today, a smartphone and a Facebook account may be all that is necessary to disrupt a marriage.
Researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne recently conducted a study which looked at the way individuals in relationships may use social media technology to keep in touch with ‘back burners. The study defined a back burner as ‘a desired potential or continuing romantic/sexual partner with whom one communicates but to whom one is not exclusively committed. Put another way, the research observed how Facebook and text messaging can be used to create a romantic back-up plan.
What survey found was that men maintain back burners nearly twice as much as women, but on average, respondents reported ‘romantic or sexual conversations with two people’ other than their spouse or partner. Many may be quick to shrug off the findings as mainly harmless chatting that does not rise to the level of actual cheating. However, emotional infidelity can be just a damaging to a relationship and is now being included in sex research studies. ”If you’re rushing away from the dinner table with your family to check your email, it’s affecting your relationship,’ says Helen Fisher, biological anthropology professor at Rutgers University.
There is, obviously, a great deal of concern that access and exposure to what appear to be more exciting options may lead to physical infidelity or eventually to the end of the current relationship. Dr. Fisher is not ready to claim that digital infidelity has increased cheating overall, but definitely realizes that ‘remote infidelity is the kind of cheating that is increasing. ‘Experts warn, however, that, many users of social media outlets utilize those platforms to create exaggerated personas and glamorized versions of who they truly are. The same may be true, to an extent, of a relationship carried on via social media. It can be easy to get caught up the thrill of Facebook flirting, only to realize later the damage it caused to the current relationship.
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made keeping in touch with virtually anyone easier than it has ever been. Anyone, of course, can include old flames or high school crushes with whom rekindling relationships may come at the expense of your marriage. If you live in Illinois, and your marriage is suffering due to digital infidelity, it may be time to consider divorce. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney for a consultation today.