An online affair involves the same kinds of emotions that traditional affairs do. There is secrecy, fantasy, and excitement in addition to the rationalization of what you're doing and denial of its effects. Don’t be fooled, though: An online affair is as potentially devastating as a physical affair. If you answer "yes" to at least five of the following questions, you may be involved in more than just chatting online.
How Much Time Do You Spend Online?
If you're spending hours a week chatting with and exchanging personal information with a member of the opposite sex, you may be having an online affair. Especially if the chat and information exchanged is of an intimate nature.
Do You Look Forward to Spending Time With Your Online Friend?
When you're not online, are you preoccupied with thoughts of your online friend? Do you think about them often and look forward to the next time you will be able to chat with them?
Is Your Online Friend a Secret?
Have you shared the fact you have an online friend with your spouse? Do you keep it to yourself because you know your spouse would react negatively? Maybe you don’t tell because the idea of having a friend your spouse doesn’t know about is exciting to you, which could be a red flag.
Do You Share Relationship Issues With Your Online Friend?
Is your online friend someone you feel comfortable sharing marital problems with? Do you tell them more about what you want out of life, what your disappointments are in your marriage, and feel they are more understanding than your spouse?
Is Your Online Friend a Better Listener Than Your Spouse?
When you share personal details and problems, does your online friend always respond in the way you need? Do you find yourself wishing your spouse cared as much as your online friend seems to?
Are You Beginning to Resent Your Spouse?
Are you making comparisons between your online friend and your spouse? Are you finding you feel more anger than usual toward your spouse? Becoming less tolerant of a spouse, feeling anger and resentment, and withdrawing emotionally is one of the most harmful aspects of any type of affair.
Do You Have Less Interest in Sex With Your Spouse?
To begin with, you may fantasize about your online friend during sex with your spouse. Then, you may lose all sexual interest in your spouse and replace it with sexual fantasies and longings for your online friend. Before you know it, you are thinking of ways to meet your online friend in person.
Do You Exchange Photos With Your Online Friend?
Have you sent your online friend a photo of yourself? Have the two of you sent each other erotic and sexually suggestive photos? If not, has the thought crossed your mind?
Have You Suggested a Real Life Meeting With Your Online Friend?
Meeting for lunch or coffee will soon become a topic of discussion. Online affairs almost always lead to a desire to meet each other in real life. That is when something you think is harmless becomes destructive.
Don’t be fooled by the denial and rationalizations you have made about your online friend. Keeping it online may be something you can live with. It may in your mind be OK since the two of you are not having sex. Whatever you are telling yourself about it, it will eventually turn into more than you went looking for in the first place.
Get rid of your denial. Be honest with yourself and what you are doing. Being honest about your behavior is the only way to determine if what you are doing is worth the pain it will cause your spouse and family.
If you decide to end the online affair, expect to be emotionally uncomfortable. You've formed a bond with another human being. Breaking that bond is going to take will-power. Spend less time online and more time doing things that will positively impact your life. Exchange your negative behavior for one that will enrich your marriage and family.
If you find it impossible to break off the affair, get help. You don't have to do it alone. See a therapist or talk to a trusted friend. Share what you are going through with someone willing to help you handle the emotions you are feeling.