1. It must be a bad marriage/relationship.
While it is true that in some instances cyber infidelity is a result of a problem in a relationship or within an individual, it is often the case that it occurs in a good and fully functioning relationship. The intrusive and sometimes insidious nature of our technologies from the smart phone to social media can create a crisis in a relationship where otherwise none would exist.
2. It is impossible to overcome the trauma that results from cyber infidelity.
There is no doubt that cyber infidelity and overcoming it’s trauma can be a daunting task. There is also trauma, however, to ending a relationship or marriage. So much is on the line. Feelings, finances, family and friendships can be profoundly affected. Many people choose to take the challenge of working to save their relationship. With the right help, that is exactly what people are successfully doing. Incredibly, the process of recovery from cyber infidelity often becomes an unwanted opportunity that leads to an improved relationship.
3. Wounded partners fear that they would “feel like a fool” to take the chance of working on the relationship and risk being betrayed again.
Sometimes well-meaning friends and family discourage the wounded partner from taking a second chance. This can increase already established internal pressure that builds fear. This is where Dr. Kanaris’ model for the treatment of Cyber infidelity that emphasizes evidence-based trust building over blind faith is so helpful in slowly rebuilding a basis for trust and gradually moving forward with confidence. Recovery becomes a collaboration that includes the couple and the therapist.
4. “Once a cheater always a cheater.”
This is again a difference between traditional infidelity and cyber infidelity. Traditional infidelity has typically involved concerted effort on the part of the unfaithful individual to seek out places, opportunities, and individuals with whom to cheat. While it can happen passively, more commonly it is a result of intention and direct effort. With cyber infidelity advances usually come to the individual easily and insidiously through social media platforms. Similarly, the carrying out of the affair through text, sexting and other electronic means happens easily and secretively without having to leave the home and physically go to a hideaway or rendezvous. The spouse can be sitting a few feet away while the cyber affair is actively in progress. Without the technology many people that cheat otherwise would not.
5. The wounded partner can never recover and will always be “damaged goods.”
It is true that the wound from cyber infidelity can be deep. A person’s self-esteem, self image, body image, sense of well-being and personal worth can all be profoundly affected by the trauma of cyber infidelity. Commonly, the wounded partner believes deep down that somehow it is her inadequacy that led to the cyber infidelity. “If only I was good enough it wouldn’t have happened,” is a common refrain. Self blame, rage, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite and depression often result. Properly informed therapeutic support is essential in working through these feelings and coming to understand that cyber infidelity often occurs having little or nothing to do with any inadequacy of the wounded partner. In time and with the proper treatment people are able to recover their confidence and restore their self-esteem.
6. “It was only an emotional affair. It’s not infidelity.”
Because cyberaffairs may not involve skin to skin touch the offender will often use a self-serving rationalization that the emotional involvement with the cyberpartner does not constitute infidelity. It is common that there are efforts to minimize the behavior and make it “no big deal.“ This fails to realize and acknowledge the profound ethical violation that has been committed within the primary love relationship. The dishonesty and secrecy that typically accompanies the cyberaffair are clear signs of bad behavior. The intimacy that is established with the cyberpartner(s) is an understandable threat to the primary love partner or spouse. The proper treatment for cyber infidelity helps the offending spouse to take responsibility and for the hard truths to be addressed.
7. “Cyberaffairs are not cheating because there is no in person sex.”
This is another rationalization that attempts to minimize the offense and evade responsibility. The intimacy of a relationship is made up of more than sex. Closeness, sharing personal feelings and ideas and maintaining a clandestine or secret relationship does not have to involve sexual relations in order to violate the bond of trust that is now broken in the primary love relationship.