32-year-old Prapti Sinha (name changed) moved to UK with her husband last year. She had to quit her flourishing job and stay at home in the new country because of visa issues. One day her colleague from India messaged her on Facebook and they exchanged numbers. She started to find comfort in talking to him and it helped her beat her loneliness. She doesn’t feel it qualifies to be called an extra-marital affair as the two are not involved sexually. But she is quite clear that she doesn’t want her husband to find out because ‘he won’t understand’.
That’s the case with most online infidelity cases. The partners involved don’t see it as infidelity because of the absence of a physical relationship. And this mindset actually makes everything even more complex.
The reason behind less guilt is because online affairs are easier to conceal. There is no risk of being spotted in public together, stress of finding the right place to meet (and cheat), hiding calls or having to worry about unprotected sex. But that doesn’t make their nature less grave.
Let’s explore what makes such relationships illegitimate:
– The fact that two people involved in online infidelity engage in online liaisons when the legit partner is away. Rashi Ahuja, Relationship psychologist, IWill, powered by EPsyclinic explains, “Online infidelity involves two people being in a relationship with someone outside their core relationship, over the Internet or phone. It may be an elongated affair over the Internet or a series of multiple erotic chartroom encounters with multiple people. However, irrespective of the nature of affair, these relationships are considered as proper relationships since they mostly involve emotional/ romantic/sexual conversations and are often hidden from the primary partner.”
– The extend of disclosure increases with time. The two start sharing more intimate details with each other – most of the times having sexual undertones to a conversation.
– A lot of times a person who has either been in an extra-marital affair or has sometime in the past unearthed his partner’s illicit affair will be desensitized towards the intensity and nature of an online affair. Their perception of online infidelity is different from real affairs.
Also, the way men and women both respond to emotional online affairs is said to be different. According to a study conducted by Buss, Larsen, Westen and Semmelroth 1992, gender plays an important role in the responses online infidelity triggers in both. Men are more likely to feel jealous with sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity. While women, who are more worried about commitment get more jealous with the risk of an emotional bond their partner would form with another woman.
Why are such affairs on the rise? Rashi clarifies, “The ease of interacting with another person/ people outside marriage without exposing your real identity, lesser chances of getting caught, increasing loneliness, busy work life as well as poor communication between partners are leading to an increase of such kinds of affairs.”
Such relationships can be dangerous. Due to the hidden nature of these affairs, there is a high likelihood that these affairs continue for lengthy periods leading the bond between two people to become even stronger and in turn making the primary relationship more distant. Lastly, since this is a virtual affair, in a number of cases the identity of the person may be completely hidden or changed which can add to the dangers of such an interaction.
In short, there is no truth about deception. It’s the perfect mix for heart ache and pain.