Isn’t all infidelity the same? While there are some aspects that are similar between cyber infidelity and infidelity, such as broken trust, there are some important differences. Infidelity commonly takes place outside of the home. The initial meeting and subsequent contacts are in person and face-to-face. The initial meeting might be in the workplace, a gym or a bar. Follow up contacts may be by phone culminating in face-to-face contact in person.
Cyber infidelity is different in that the initial meeting often occurs in the home. Through the use of the computer, laptop, tablet, or smart phone the person is often solicited via website e-mail or social media to begin a cyber affair. The spouse or significant other may be sitting just a few feet away while the cyber affair is initiated and maintained via texting, sexting or chat. The cyber affair is often maintained in this manner without the necessity of a face to face meeting or direct physical contact. Sometimes this contributes to the denial of the offending partner believing that a cyber affair is not actually an affair because in person sex never occurred. This self deception assuages guilt and may contribute to the ongoing participation in multiple cyber affairs.
A useful analogy is to that of bullying. Before the age of the internet, social media and the smart phone, a child would actually have to go to school in order to experience bullying in the schoolyard or the cafeteria. Today, children are terrorized in their own homes through these technological methods. Similarly, today an individual never has to leave the home in order to cheat on a partner. Cyber technology has benefited a great many people. Many wonderful relationships have begun and are maintained through the use of this technology. We must also recognize the drawbacks and liabilities. New models of treatment are needed to address the dark side that this technology poses to relationships.