Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Does the Internet Promote or Damage Marriage?

Does Facebook lead to infidelity? Some statistics say so. I will be participating in a webinar on April 4 at 5 p.m. hosted by PBS/This Emotional Life that explores this topic. To prepare, and to get your feedback, I recently posted a blog on Psych Central about marriage and the internet. I have excerpted a few paragraphs here. You can read the whole post here.


Here’s my honest opinion, after reading hundreds of comments and emails from people who have been involved in online relationships or emotional affairs as well as the responses on the discussion boards of the Emotional Affairs support group on Beliefnet’s community site:

Although the internet and social media can foster intimacy in a marriage, it seems to do more harm than good. Of all the comments I’ve read, 90 percent of the opposite-sex relationships that were damaging to the marriage happened online.

Now I am no relationship expert. If I were I’d be able to sustain a dozen or so friendships with men online. But the only male friendships that I’ve been able to continue through the years–ones that are actually strengthened by our online dialogue–are those where there is at least 30 years difference between us. Their average age is 75. One is a priest, one an ex-priest, and one a deacon. See a pattern?


In the 15 years that I have been married, I have met a handful of men that I liked and admired, with whom I shared interests and a sense of humor. Had one or two been women, I’m sure they would have become my best friends. However, on some level, I knew that a closer bond was somehow inappropriate, or disrespectful to my marriage. It’s a source of frustration for me. Because the correspondence gave me great joy, like it does with my female friends.

But there is no getting around the opposite-sex thing … the “When Harry Met Sally” problem.

I can say that having read more than 500 descriptions of emotional affairs, both on the comboxes of my posts and on the discussion boards of the Emotional Affair support group. Most of the these relationships start out benign: an email from a guy you knew in college, friending an ex-boyfriend on Facebook (as suggested by Facebook: “people you might know!”), getting to know a co-worker better online. But the relationship can take a dangerous turn very quickly if you’re not careful, and even more easily if you are doing most of the talking behind a computer. Because you don’t have any non-verbals with which to interpret statements. What a person could very easily say over coffee comes off way wrong in an email. And what she would never say over coffee, she does in an email because she gets to hide behind her computer.


I’m not saying it’s impossible to talk to someone of the opposite sex online. I have many male acquaintances and co-workers. But I think only a minority of folks can handle an intense, intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex without it getting in the way of marriage. And maybe the failure rate is so high among my readers because most of them suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or addictions. For those guys, it’s even harder.


Because, as a bipolar friend recently explained to me, attention from the opposite sex becomes a type of anesthesia from pain and angst to a depressive or recovering addict. She becomes needy, clingy … trying to recapture that bliss over and over. For someone stressed out, with little time for anything recreational or fun in her life, the playful bantering online is a reprieve from her pressured days—a moment of fantasy where the hard stuff is temporarily removed. And the manic depressive? That’s the most dangerous. Because while a person in a manic cycle, she lacks perspective … her frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex have said “see ya!” to the reptilian part of the brain, and so she forfeits the reins, unable to gain control.

Moreover, what you can get away with in a same-sex friendship you can’t in an opposite-sex one. The rules are different.

To read the full story, click here.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment JenB

    I agree. It’s far too easy to slip into a relationship with someone of the opposite sex that’s too comfortable. I once felt myself talking to a guy online more than to my husband. I stopped communicating with him right then and there. That’s a pretty good gauge for me. Sure, my husband doesn’t communicate – at all – but when I was sharing pretty personal things, I suddenly realized it had gone too far.

    Another way the internet can destroy marriages is from pornography. It’s become much too accessible, and with the issue of privacy taken away, there isn’t the embarassment someone would get from, say, going to a strip club or an adult store, or buying magazines.

    My husband has a sexual addiction with pornography. This has led to enormous trust issues and has been a huge issue in our marriage. Being bipolar I know that I’m not the easiest person to live with, but when he began to resort to porn, the gap in communication, as well as trust, became the size of the Grand Canyon.

    If we’re not mindful, the internet is a dangerous place. It’s vital for parents to be aware of what their kids are doing!

  • 1000 questions for couples

    Can internet promote or damage marriage? I think the answer is: Both. Because if you see, internet intensify our qualities an faults. Once I read a quote: “Internet make the smart people smarter, and the stupid people more stupid” and beyond our intelligence level, we need to see that internet just intensify what we really are. And if we find ourselves talking with anybody more than with our partner and telling him/her personal stuff that we haven’t told anybody before, or waiting for the time to talk to that person, then we need to analize ourselves in order to find out what’s missing in our relationship, it depends on us to say it and say it in the right way, and depends on our partner to take it in a good or bad way.

    So, again, can internet promote or damage marriage? (far beyond other advantages and risks it brings) the answer is: It depends on us.

    What do you think?

    – Laura

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.