After an Internet affair, couples often need to move the home computer to a public space, such as the living room, and install tracking or blocking software, Ducharme says.But to build lasting trust, couples must dig deeper in therapy.
Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV — about 13 hours a week.While TV viewing has remained fairly constant, time spent surfing the Web has increased more than 120 percent over the last five years.“It’s really difficult to track what your partner is doing,” Hertlein says.“There aren’t receipts for hotels or dinners or excursions.” With the faceless nature of the Internet, anonymity also is easy to come by.If there is no physical contact or actual sex, is it still an affair?
“It’s not just that you’re communicating with someone online but that there is a sexual or emotional nature,” says Katherine Hertlein, Ph D, an associate professor at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas who studies online affairs.
I didn’t go out and see anybody or catch any diseases,’” she says. 4) by Hertlein and a colleague reviewed eight studies of Internet affairs and documented many negative effects from online romances, including less interest in sex in the committed relationship and neglect of work and time with children.
“But the other partner often feels such an emotional betrayal that they are going through the same feelings as if their partner was having a real affair.” Online affairs can contribute to divorce and child custody fights as the involved partner becomes more enmeshed in the online relationship. Almost two-thirds of the participants in one study reported they had met and had sex with their Internet partners; only 44 percent of them reported using condoms.
Women usually feel more threatened by the emotional betrayal of a partner’s online affair, while men are more concerned about physical encounters, Hertlein says, but the gender differences are lessening.
“That is starting to even out in part because of the equality of opportunity that the Internet brings to everybody,” she says.
“Your primary partner will never be able to compare with the fantasy partner,” Hertlein says.