Internet Intimacy - A Form of Infidelity - Infidelity Counseling NYC, New York

Internet Intimacy: A Form of Infidelity?

It is not easy to distinguish when one’s internet communication becomes a threat to an existing relationship, partnership or marriage, when playfulness and entertainment transforms into personal attachment. Similar to off -line relationships, internet based relatedness comes in all shapes and sizes covering a broad spectrum of needs. They may range from interest based commonalities to emotional support with some or no allusions to sexual attraction to cybersex involving sexual fantasy with or without mutual stimulation and various combinations of above. Communication can be one on one or within group venues and chat rooms that can eventually focus on one on one interaction.

The one thread that intimate internet bonding introduces, however, is a “third” element to the existing couple; a burgeoning triangle or series of triangles as mutual consent does not enter the picture. Triangulation is always challenging to a couple’s sense of shared loyalty. It can pose violations to the commitment made between partners as the internet communication is usually conducted in secret and has the potential of evolving into a life of its own. Demanding more and more time and emotional investment, the on-line relationship(s) can represent a pseudo-solution to unexpressed feelings, unmet longings or struggles with intimacy within the original relationship which may become placed on the back burner. Internet anonymity may provide a safe haven for expression of deep desire without commitment and a method of preserving the off-line relationship. Alternatively, an in- person encounter may occur, representing the traversing of the threshold of fantasy and real life, introducing more complexity and difficulty in developing a resolution of issues with the original partner, who may or may not have any significant contributions to the betrayal.

The discovery of a cyber-partner, and in many cases, chronic viewing of internet pornography by the original partner is often traumatic, taking over much of the thinking and affective processes, becoming a permeating pre-occupation. It usually is the result of a long held suspicion and involves on-line activity on the partner’s computer searching for historical evidence. This violation of privacy is often felt to be a shameful and a “not like me” experience by the original partner but the desperateness to break the clandestine nature of avoidant and possible distancing behavior predominates. The discovery process often does not result in the termination of the internet relationships and a corrosive atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust with constant checking behavior may ensue. This can be devastating to building and sustaining trust and can greatly impede all aspects of the couple’s relationship including sexuality. Often, the original partner, mostly women, feel sexual inadequate as compared to the internet “professionals” whose sexual feats feel uncomfortable and often degrading.

Chronic viewing of internet pornography as well as cyber affairs can be seriously damaging to a couple’s life. Couple therapy can help to understand the motivation for the longing for internet attachment and ways to expand communication and mutual avenues toward meeting of needs. Pathways toward healing from the effects of betrayal can be mapped including acknowledgement of his emotional pain that has been caused. If internet usage is of a compulsive nature, individual and couple therapy is usually required to understand and master the compulsion as alternate channels for stress management and relational alienation can be achieved. Internet intimacy, like all affairs, contains the markers for potentially imposing lasting injuries to a relationship.

Internet Infidelity