For obvious reasons, pretty much everywhere you look these days there are discussions about internet or electronic cheating. Between twitter, facebook, and text messages, it’s a whole new universe in relationships. The virtual world is working it’s way into real world relationships in ways that often aren’t healthy. There’s no question the internet has made it easier to be unfaithful. There is some question about what unfaithful means.
Current studies show that as many as 33 percent of people surveyed say that texting, sexting, and online relationships aren’t cheating if they don’t cross the barrier of the physical. However, my general rule is if you’re doing something you know would make your significant other uncomfortable, cheating or not, you shouldn’t be doing it. That kind of goes without saying. People know when they are crossing a line, no matter how they define the line.
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So, how do you protect your relationship from virtual threats without unplugging completely?
1. Have a talk with your significant other about the issue of electronic communications. Don’t assume you see eye to eye about what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Talk it over and set mutually agreed upon policies for your relationship where electronic communication is concerned.
2. Implement an open e-communication policy. This means all emails, chats, and texts are community property. He can look at yours at will and visa-versa. Usually when I suggest this to couples one or both gasp. When your email isn’t on lock down and password protected it’s hard to even think about crossing the line, let alone moving towards it.
3. Limit the amount of time you spend online and do it as a couple. Reinvest the time you might be spending online into the relationship. This probably requires a conversation with your honey that goes something like this, “We are both spending a lot of time online. I’d like to spend more time experiencing the real world in real time with you. How can we spend more time together?”
4. Engage in the real world with real friends as a couple. Sometimes the reason people start going deeper online is because they lack social connection in their lives. Many people have more virtual friends then friends they hang out with. Social connections as a couple are very valuable. Building those social connections with other people will make the two of you closer.
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5. Get seriously intimate in your relationship. Double up and then re-double your efforts to create and maintain an interesting relationship. There’s a reason people get lost online. They are bored or curious. You can take steps to eliminate boredom in your relationship. In fact you should. It’s easy to put a relationship on auto-pilot and hope for the best, but it rarely works for very long. The key to success here is simple, be more interesting then Facebook.
Lisa Hayes C.Ht. is the author of the book, How to Escape from Relationship Hell. She is also the host of The Relationship RX Show. For more information and resources about marriage and relationships visit www.escapefromrelationshiphell.com or subscribe to her FREE newsletter Relationship RX.