There is no way to discover how many individuals are conducting online affairs, because many people who become involved in an online affair don’t realize they have become involved in an affair until they are enmeshed in it, notes Mark Teich with “Psychology Today.” A husband can carry on an Internet affair from his living room or home office with the kids and wife underfoot and none the wiser.
Accusing your husband of having an online affair if he isn't could cause trouble. Ask him what he’s doing when he tries to hide his computer activities. Secrecy, changed passwords on his computer and email accounts, frequent deleted browser history and information from his social media page can indicate an online affair. Other signs include extended time spent on the computer, changing the browser page when you enter the room, new email accounts, texts and phone calls he doesn’t want to explain, passwording his phone and behavior changes, such as time away from home, unexpected trips, sending his phone and credit card bills to the office and encouraging you to spend time outside the home. Don't hack into his accounts because it violates federal law and prevents your attorney from using the information legally.
When confronting your husband, have proof in hand, advises licensed social worker Jay Robert Reiss. Don’t give him your gut feelings, assumptions or a list of things that might indicate an affair. Show credit card receipts, instant messaging chat logs, posts on his social media pages or texts on his phone -- or catch him on the computer chatting with her. He might not admit to the cheating even with proof, but you'll know for certain something is going on. If you confront him without proof, be prepared that he could explain away everything you put together and make you feel like the one at fault.
At the confrontation, be honest about how the online affair affects you, suggests Peggy Vaughan, author of "The Monogamy Myth." You can say that it undermines your trust in him, makes you feel unwanted and unloved, angers you or makes you want a divorce. He needs to see that his flirting isn’t harmless and that it is still cheating, even if they have never met or had sex. Point to concrete changes, such as not having sex as often, avoidance of conversation and family activities or treating you with anger.
His emotional affair should have consequences such as losing his privacy until he regains your trust or signing an infidelity clause with a financial penalty such as cash or property. Demand that he end the affair and all contact with her or keep communication on the screen where you can see what he’s saying if he wants to maintain the marriage. Monitor his Internet habits until he regains your trust.
Doing Your Part
You can also help the situation. Ask what needs she met that you aren't and commit to meeting his needs so he has fewer excuses to cheat. Flirt online with him, boost his ego and bring fun back into the marriage, recommends Aaron Ben-Zeév, Ph.D., author of “Love Online: Emotions on the Internet.” If you don't want a divorce, commit to working on your marriage, perhaps with a marriage counselor. It will take time, but recovery is possible and your marriage could become stronger than ever.
- Psychology Today: Love but Don’t Touch
- Dennis M. Slate: Signs Your Spouse Is Having an Affair
- Psychology Today: After Infidelity: The Road Back
- Psychology Today: Online Affairs as Flirting: "Nibbling on the Forbidden Fruit"
- Surviving Infidelity: Dealing with Infidelity -- Preparing to Confront Your Partner
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.
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