Cyber-Relationship Addiction: Signs & Symptoms


Learn how to spot the signs of this condition and identify whether or not you're addicted.

There are different types of addictions, some more serious than others. Hard core addictions to things like drugs and alcohol are clearly the most severe and warrant cause for concern.

On the flip side, there are people that consider themselves addicts to things like coffee, eating and shopping. While not as serious, these do qualify as addictions all the same to a certain extent. There is even such a thing as being addicted to the Internet. That should be no surprise, as the numbers of online users continues to grow each year.

Social media, online poker sites and other interactive Internet activities, have undoubtedly added to the long list of reasons why so many willingly spend hours each day in a virtual setting. Cyber-relationship addiction is a term that you might not be familiar with but it is recognized as an addiction and could be one you may not even be aware of suffering from.

What is Cyber-Relationship Addiction?

This condition is considered a sub-category of what is more widely recognized as Internet Addiction Disorder, also known as IAD. By definition, cyber-relationship addiction or "CRA" describes a person who engages in online behavior, such as online chatting, messaging and social networking to a point where the user begins to place more value on fostering and maintaining their online relationships than on their real-world interactions with friends, family and other loved ones.

In a nutshell, a person suffering from CRA would rather spend their time with virtual friends and relationships than with those same individuals or others offline.

What Are the Signs of Cyber-Relationship Addiction?

Because engaging in online activities is so commonplace in today's society, it can be difficult to tell the difference between what is considered "healthy" and "unhealthy" Internet use. However, there are some key signs that could point to CRA:

  • Spending countless hours online without realizing it
  • Allowing your Internet use to interrupt your daily routine
  • Failing to complete tasks or other priorities because you'd rather be on the Internet
  • Finding more satisfaction by being online than other activities or hobbies that used to produce those same feelings of satisfaction
  • Feelings of anxiety or suffering from panic attacks when not online
  • Having trouble interacting or relating to friends and family in real life
  • Changing your lifestyle/routine in order to allow for more time online

Based on those signs, it's easy to see how disruptive cyber-relationship addiction can be to a person's life.

What to Do About It?

You don't have to be a full-on cyber-relationship addict to realize that spending too much time on the Internet could be harmful. If one or more of the signs above describe you, it's time to step away from the computer. Confide in a friend or family member that you trust and begin working on ways to feel okay with being offline. Are there people you regularly connect with on the Internet that happen to be local? Arrange to get together in person and learn how to develop those relationships in an offline setting.

Start lessening the number of hours you spend on the computer. For example, if you normally spend 4-5 hours a day online, decrease it to 3 hours a day. Set a timer if you have to and be diligent about forcing yourself to turn off the computer. Get back into your regular routine. List the activities and/or tasks that used to be put on the back burner and place them as priorities.

Creating checklists is an effective method of making sure you stay on track. Additionally, it helps to replace those hours that used to be spent online with hobbies, interests and in-person interactions--whatever it takes to keep you from jumping back onto the Internet.