Fast forward a little more than a decade, replace that e-mail in your AOL inbox with a red Facebook notification, and you’ve for yourself a modern day “You’ve Got Mail” scenario.
It’s no secret that that Facebook has its advantages. Why else would so many people use it if didn’t have so many perks? It’s the convenient, go-to medium when you need to communicate with anybody. Why call when there’s Facebook chat? Not only does it enable you to hide behind your computer screen, but it also provides the opportunity to reconnect with those that you wouldn’t under any other circumstance.
Facebook enables users to track down old flames, high school or college classmates, or even complete strangers that you may not know but feel some sort of attraction to. While there’s no doubt that it’s a great way to reconnect with friends you may have lost touch with years ago, it also poses serious danger to marriages.
A recent study revealed that one in five divorce filings state that Facebook or other social networking sites caused problems. One might think that unhealthy couples would be in danger with or without the social media site but in Rochester, marriage counselors are saying healthy couples aren’t even immune from the negative effects of Facebook affairs.
What’s the problem?
Well, It seems next to impossible to form a close, strictly platonic relationship over Facebook with the opposite sex without crossing the line. Sure, there are instances where it has been done but for the most part, exchanging open dialogue over Facebook opens the door for an emotional affair. It seems far more harmless than having a face-to-face affair because there’s a lack of non-verbal cues including touching or a seductive stare, but even so, a virtual affair has just as much potential to inflict damage on a relationship as a face-to-face affair.
The initial intention may be harmless but as time progresses, intentions may begin to shift and enter dangerous territory. What started out as just getting to know a coworker can easily escalate to sending lengthy, detailed messages. Some people may seek from Facebook the components that are missing in their marriage. It’s easy to thrive off of the attention that your co-worker or old classmate may be giving you, but careful, substituting someone else’s attention to soften the blow of your partner’s lack of attention can cause a rift in your marriage.
The internet acts as a shield for many of us. It reduces social anxiety for many as it allows people to express themselves in whatever way they wish to, share excitement over common interests with strangers without ever having to leave the comfort of their own home, and fulfill their personal needs that may be neglected by their current partner. There is a definite appeal that’s undeniably strong, but not being able to resist that appeal results in severe, sometimes irreversible consequences for marriages.
The internet is a world filled with endless opportunities, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Try This Instead
Instead, try using the internet to foster intimacy between you and your current partner rather than seek out other men. Send the occasional “just because” e-mail with a smiley face image or an electronic “I love you” greeting card. He’ll love your thoughtfulness and start being more attentive to the small (but important!) things in your relationship.