Cheating in the era of Internet
Does the Internet make it easier to cheat?
The Internet helps to cheat both virtually and physically, in my experience.
When there are conflicts and incomprehension in a couple, it is easy to escape in a virtual life. Most of the time we can find in a chat someone ready to understand; someone who will easily support us, unlike our partner does.
Some people arrive at sharing emotions and feelings via chat that they never shared with their partner. Chatting allows people to lose restraints and to free fantasies, sexual fantasies sometimes.
This creates a strong and easy intimacy between the two; a deep connection that leads to build a substitute relationship with entrenched feelings and therefore to virtually cheat the partner.
Most of the women with a telematic relationship tend to keep it as it is. Men, on contrary, tend to bring the virtual relationship into their real life and they may have more than one relationship at the same time.
Are men or women more likely to cheat nowadays?
For many years researches showed that men are more likely to cheat compared to women. Lately this is actually controversial and even if it seems that men still have the record, the number of women who cheat the partner is certainly growing.
Working as a therapist, I had the opportunity to treat high-powered women as well as successful men and my experience tells that they equally cheat. There is still a lot of stigma on this theme and therefore women tend not to reveal the cheating as easily as man (this is also why statistics may be misrepresented).
Nowadays women are very independent on many fronts, and being economically independent has especially contribute to make women feel confident and brash when cheating.
Are their reasons for cheating usually different?
Men are more capable than women to keep love and sex separate. Most of the time their reason for cheating is a strong sexual attraction to a woman who is different from the partner; they split love (the wife) and sex (the lover). Other reasons can be the bore of the relationship or the need to increase their Ego, according to The UK Adultery Survey 2012.
Women, on contrary, tend to cheat because they fall in love. This may be triggered by loneliness or by a distracted and careless husband.
And if men usually have more relationships in parallel, women find this very difficult and they tend to break the previous relationship to live the new one openly and freely.
Is a fear of your partner being unfaithful usually down to insecurity in the relationship - or is it a natural, human response?
Even though there are pathologic forms of jealousy, certainly noxious for the couple, a normal jealousy may actually be an appropriate emotion, sometime necessary to protect the relationship from external interferences. The popular American psychiatrist Frank Pittman wrote about this in his book "Private lies" (Norton, 1990).
If jealousy is expressed in the right way, it can help the couple to get closer; if it's expressed through anger, resentment and punishment then it could generate distance between the couple. Pittman explains that thanks to jealousy a person might notice the attraction of the partner for a third person; jealousy also helps to understand if the partner is lying or keeping a secret.
However, feeling a strong jealousy if there are no actual lies or cheating is sign of the presence of a weakness in the relationship or of issues in the personality of this jealous person, who might feel insecure.
Pittman also says that when people are unfaithful and feel guilty, they show a strong and unmotivated jealousy to the partner: they think that the partner is unfaithful as well and this is how they justify themselves.
So be careful if your partner is excessively jealous and don't get misled: it's not a sign of his/her boundless love for you!
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About Francesca Moresi
Psychologist and psychotherapist qualified in England and in Italy, with over 10 years of study, research and practice with clients from around the world. Specialising in Gestalt Therapy, I help individuals to develop self-awareness. My method aims to guide you towards reaching a unique perspective on life, by exploring your emotions and thoughts