I’m far from an authority on the subject, but, since it is something that impacts around 25% of relationships, I have counseled a number of clients whose lives were turned upside down by infidelity. In today’s blog post, I want to refer you to check out this first-person article in Time magazine by a divorce lawyer who says Facebook is basically an incubator for dissatisfied couples who are looking for an excuse to cheat.
Facebook is basically an incubator for dissatisfied couples who are looking for an excuse to cheat.
Ten years ago, I actually wrote about Facebook as the primary source of infidelity and, not to toot my own horn, but it sounds remarkably prescient.
“In the past, you had a thing for someone, they disappeared from your life forever. You might have a “what if” lingering in your mind, but it was impractical to act on it. These days, every “what if” can be answered with a “let’s see”. If I want to find my sixth-grade girlfriend in Florida, I can do just that — and know a lot more about her than I know about some stranger on JDate.
The second problem is the falseness of the medium. We make two faulty assumptions on Facebook: that other people are happier than we are, and that if we only connected with those idealized people, we would be happy, too. Of course, reality tells us a different tale, but to someone who is dissatisfied in life and love, it seems like a dreamy goal.”
Now, here’s what the divorce lawyer just wrote:
“Facebook is foreplay. Facebook facilitates adultery and infidelity generally. Facebook gives you the means, the excuse and the cover to communicate with people you have no reason, no business, to talk to. Their day-to-day life has nothing to do with yours – not anymore, anyway. In many cases, perhaps the majority of cases, you follow and chat with this individual because you remember him or her fondly, as he or she might remember you; the memories are from a simpler time in your lives, when you were in college, or high school, when maybe you had a lot more sex, and when nervous possibility was in the air.”
If you have a solid relationship, Facebook is merely a search engine to look up people you dated once upon a time. I just got a friend request from my prom date from 28 years ago – who, from her photos, appears to be happily married with 3 children. That’s benign.
The answer is to break up with that partner, not to engage in a long-distance affair with a blast from the past.
But if you’re in a shaky relationship, Facebook just invites too much temptation. Like an alcoholic who is forced to live in a bar, you step away from your toxic partnership and imagine a better life with a glorified version of a person you knew many years ago. So while you may, in fact, be happier without your current partner, the answer is to break up with that partner, not to engage in a long-distance affair with a blast from the past.
Your thoughts on Facebook, temptation and infidelity, are greatly appreciated, below.