Professor's House

Are Online Affairs as Bad and Hurtful as Physical Affairs

The short answer is yes.

However, there are a lot of factors that go into determining whether this is actually the case or not. Anytime a spouse gives away a part of him or herself to someone else, whether emotionally, physically, or otherwise, it’s wrong. Plain and simple. But certain logistics of the affair can twist the knife more than others. Let’s explore…

Who
This is a big one. If the person who your spouse is having an affair with is an acquaintance, friend, or family member of yours, it can be all the more painful because you’re being betrayed by not one, but two important people in your life. Finding out that your cousin has been contacting and meeting up with your mate behind your back can be more devastating than if it was some stranger he or she met at a bar. This goes for both an online or a physical affair, because once again, you’ve been betrayed twice.

What
What exactly is your spouse and the other person engaging in? Expressing their complete devotion to each other? Whispering sweet nothings? Texting inappropriate pictures of themselves in various stages of undress? Is it love or just lust? Which bothers you more? Are they scheduling secret rendezvous? Pretending to have to travel for business when it’s really for pleasure? Are there plans to run away and elope? Have they had no physical contact whatsoever and that’s enough for both of them to carry on their affair? What actually happens, or doesn’t happen, between your spouse and someone else can have such an emotional impact on you. Some things can be forgiven and others possibly can not.

When
When did the affair start? Did it start under your nose or was it flaunted in front of you in the form of flirtation and innuendo? Perhaps your husband started to cheat on you shortly after you had a baby. Or maybe your wife sparked a relationship with another man when you were in a state of deep depression after a job loss. When the affair started is very important. If your spouse seemed to spend a lot of time online late at night and passed it off as “research” or “gaming”, but you later found out they were actually online shopping for a new love interest, this can be devastating. Conversely, if a neighbor saw an opportune time to seduce your spouse while you were at work, this can also be heartbreaking. There’s no good time for adultery to affect your life.

Where
Where was the affair taking place? Once again, online with someone on the other side of the world can be just as painful as if it was the guy from the PTA. Someone having their way with your husband in your own bed can be simply unforgivable. Running around town on dates as if they’re already a married couple is not only humiliating on your part, but downright cocky and arrogant on theirs.

Why
This one’s the real kicker. WHY? Why would your husband or wife start cheating on you to begin with? What went wrong? Maybe you thought everything was fine. Maybe everything WAS fine but the opportunity presented itself to your spouse and he or she simply couldn’t resist the excitement of a potential romance. Maybe your mate thought having a non-sexual online affair wasn’t really cheating. Maybe you feel that way too. Perhaps your spouse was simply bored. Maybe you were too. No sparks. No fire. No nothing anymore. Maybe you tried counseling and it didn’t work. Maybe there’s no reason why whatsoever. And maybe that makes it hurt all the more.

How
How did you find out about the affair? Do you even want to know? Sometimes people find it impossible to cover their tracks. Others are careless and leave a chat window up or forget that they shared their email password with you. And how do you deal with the situation once you do discover it? Do you confront your spouse? What about the “other person”? It’s crucial to think this one through before acting and potentially doing more even more harm to your relationship. Getting an impartial third party, such as a therapist or lawyer, involved may be wise.

If your spouse cheated on you, whether online or physically with another person, can you get past it? Is there any hope for your marriage? Can you forgive and forget? Or at least forgive? Perhaps you don’t even want to make it work. If that’s the case, consider your children’s feelings in the matter. Divorce is one long, sticky process that can do permanent damage to a child’s psyche. If your spouse is truly repentant and asks for your pardon, consider it.

There are so many questions involved in adultery. Sometimes people are chronic cheaters. You may not know it until after you’ve already fallen in love and gotten married. Others are simply at a low point in their life and they’re looking for a way out. Even others are having a midlife crisis where they face the fear of aging. Growing old with the same person can be terrifying to some.

Regardless of why your husband or wife chooses to cheat, it’s never okay. Whether it’s online, physically, emotionally, or for any other reason. It’s never okay. Marriage vows are sacred and “for better or worse” and “‘til death do you part” mean something! Sadly, one spouse often takes  vows far more seriously than the other. It hurts to be betrayed. It hurts to be cheated on. It hurts to be forced to stand at a fork in the road where you have to make a decision that could impact the rest of your life along with that of your kids. Affairs are bad and hurtful regardless. Hopefully it’s not something you’ll ever encounter in your own marriage, whether via your spouse, or a temptation of your own. And hopefully if you do, you can move past it amicably with your husband or wife for the sake of all of those involved.

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