Dr. Shirley Glass

Infidelity Q&A:
Internet Affairs

Met Mr. Wonderful Online

Dear Dr. Glass,

I met a very interesting man online a couple of weeks ago, and have talked to him on the phone several times as well. He is enchanting, charming, and everything I could possibly want. The trouble is that I'm already married and all the way across the country from Mr. Wonderful. I really think I love this new man, but what can I do?

Dear Confused and Charmed,

Your "Mr. Wonderful" may be somebody else's philandering husband. Internet relationships create a romantic mystique because you can create exciting fantasies about the other person. Add a little dose of secrecy, emotional intimacy, and sexual innuendos, and you've got a full-fledged emotional affair. It is easy to be charming when you are not dealing with the every day irritations of leaking roofs and noisy kids. The love that you feel for this man is based on romantic idealization, whereas your marriage is based on reality. Furthermore, stable long-term relationships are seldom as exciting as Stage I relationships. What does your online search for companionship and romance indicate about your marriage? Perhaps you and your husband could begin to Email each other as a way of reviving your communication process. Talk to your husband about your wants and needs and try to put some energy back into your marriage.

Reflectively Yours,

Dr. Shirley Glass
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Wife views his online chatting as cheating

Dear Dr. Glass,

My wife feels that when I chat online that I'm cheating on her. I tell her that she has me in reality. What can I do? This is my way of unwinding after a long day. Can you help?

Dear Unwinding in Chat Rooms,

Your online chats may be offering you a way to wind down after a long day of work, but your wife is getting wound up about your activities. There are many ways to define "cheating." You may feel that you are not cheating because you are not committing technical adultery because you are not involved in a physical relationship. Your wife may feel that you are cheating her of your company and your conversation while you are communicating with other persons. During this time, she is definitely an outsider and your online friends are the insiders.

Assuming these chats are perfectly innocent, one way around this issue is for you to invite your wife to join you in your online chats -- that is, to sit by your side while you chat. If you are engaged in Email correspondence, you can share with her the messages that you have received and sent. Recent research indicated that people who spent just a few hours chatting online each week became more isolated from their family. If the thought of cutting down or giving up your online activity makes you upset or anxious, then you might be more hooked than you are admitting to yourself. Give your wife an understanding, intimate relationship so your real time life will be as fulfilling as your virtual reality.

Reflectively Yours,

Dr. Shirley Glass
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