The toll that social media has taken on our well-being is especially prominent in our romantic lives. While unfaithful behavior used to be more clear-cut in years past, online communication has begun to rewrite the rules of infidelity, making them far more ambiguous. With so many relationships teetering on an unsteady foundation nowadays, many couples are left to wonder: should I be worried about my partner’s behavior?
If you’re wondering where your relationship stands in these confusing times, we have the answers you’re looking for. Here’s how the link between social media and infidelity is becoming stronger and what you can do about it.
The Pull of Constant Connectivity
In the pre-internet days, contact between couples was relatively limited. When they weren’t seeing each other in person, couples would only have the option of talking to each other on the phone. Now, however, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to communicating with your significant other. Between texting, exchanging pictures on Snapchat and messaging them on Facebook, you have a wealth of opportunities to stay in touch with your partner.
This rise in connectivity has come with various benefits, such as a deeper sense of communication and stronger long-distance relationships. However, constantly being plugged in doesn’t come without its own set of risks, too. The ease with which you can message someone new and forge a connection with them makes the pull of social media stronger than ever.
On the other hand, what starts out as an innocent message could quickly evolve into a full-fledged affair, even if neither party is aware of it. This is where the lines begin to blur.
A False Sense of Security Encourages Infidelity
Because infidelity is less concrete in the world of social media, those who engage in it have a false sense of security. This encourages more people to wander outside the lines of what’s considered acceptable within their relationship.
For example, nothing is black and white. Most of the issues that couples encounter lie squarely in the gray area of unfaithful behavior. While lovers in the pre-internet era would have to sneak off to a secret place to have an affair, present-day lovers only need to exchange racy photos or texts to satisfy their desires.
Additionally, one of the biggest problem with modern infidelity is that it takes place within the confines of a screen. Unlike the physical act of driving over to your lover’s house and having sex, sending messages via social media is an act of unfaithfulness that doesn’t leave the online world. This makes the affair feel as if it isn’t as real as a physical act of betrayal.
Infidelity might occur due to a perceived lack of consequences
The apparent safety net of online infidelity also creates the illusion that there are no real consequences of unfaithful behavior. Because online cheating only takes the form of words on a screen, it doesn’t feel as real as a physical act of unfaithfulness. This misguides disloyal partners into thinking that there won’t be any real-life repercussions for their actions.
Moreover, cheating that only exists online is less likely to be detected by the person’s significant other. A physical affair typically leaves a trail of sensory signals that alert the other person of the illicit event. An affair via social media, on the other hand, is completely absent from the real, physical world. If an unfaithful partner succeeds in keeping their phone and laptop hidden from view, there’s no way for their S.O. to know about their secret relationship.
Ultimately, this perceived lack of consequences absolves people of their guilt when having an online affair. As a result, it becomes easier and more tempting to cross the line and engage in unfaithful behavior with another person.
Communicating With Your Partner
Before we delve into examples of cheating on social media, it’s important to note that cheating isn’t the same for everyone. Not only does everyone have different definitions of the word, but each person also experiences it in a unique way. That said, it’s crucial to practice open communication with your partner to ensure that you’re both on the same page.
Talking openly to your S.O. is the first step towards clearing up any misunderstanding that may exist between the two of you. Once you’ve both agreed on a clear set of rules and principles, you’ll have a much stronger foundation for your entire relationship.
What Is Considered Cheating on Social Media?
There’s no doubt that social media has warped the definition of cheating and infidelity in modern society. While unfaithfulness used to be as simple as secretly sharing a passionate kiss with your ex or sneaking off to a hotel room with your colleague, the internet has introduced a slew of new ways to engage in unfaithful actions. But what exactly is considered cheating in a world of DMs and sexting, and how do you know if you or your partner is guilty of it?
Social media and infidelity isn’t the same experience for everyone, so it’s important to keep this in mind. However, these are some of the most common signs of social media infidelity that are worth keeping an eye out for.
Sending Intimate Photos
In the world of social media, sending flirty or intimate photos is the digital equivalent of foreplay. When you send these types of pictures to a potential partner that you have your eye on, you’re tempting them to take the next step, whether or not this is intentional. Be aware of this the next time you send out a racy photo or receive it from someone else.
Setting Up Fake Accounts
It’s become easier than ever to fake your identity in the age of social media. Creating fake profiles allows people to do just that. With their identity successfully concealed, people may feel more empowered to have an affair with someone. If someone you’ve recently begun to know has a fake Facebook profile, be aware that this may be a major red flag and that they probably don’t have the best intentions.
Commenting on Someone Else’s Photos
While it may seem harmless in the moment, leaving a comment on your crush’s photo on Instagram can be interpreted as an act of infidelity. Even a seemingly innocent comment can send the wrong kind of message to your significant other. While there’s nothing wrong with posting a quick “congrats” under a graduation or wedding pic, you should probably think twice about commenting on your ex’s abs in a shirtless shot of him at the beach.
Frequently Erasing Your Search History
At the core of every healthy relationship is openness and honesty. You should feel completely comfortable with opening up to your partner about anything that’s been on your mind and going on in your life. If you find yourself frequently heading to your browser and deleting all of your search history, this suggests to your partner that you don’t feel secure in your relationship. It also makes your S.O. more likely to pick up on the fact that you’re hiding something.
The same goes for being on the receiving end of suspicious behavior. If you’ve noticed that your partner has taken extra care in deleting their browser history and otherwise hiding information from you, it might be time to have a talk with them.
Social Media and Infidelity: How To Cope
It’s one thing to understand the relationship between infidelity and social media, and quite another to experience it in your own life. Whether you’re guilty of engaging in unfaithful behavior online or have been the victim of it, it’s helpful to have the right tools to cope with it in a healthy and productive way.
First, if you have suspicions about your significant other cheating, it’s important to talk to them about your feelings and concerns. This is crucial to establishing a sense of openness in your relationship. If your partner makes a point of evading your questions, this is a major red flag that something is going on.
If you’re the one engaging in unfaithful actions on social media, it’s important to be honest with your partner about your behavior. Your S.O. deserves to know about what you’ve been doing online. Even if you didn’t intend to get intimate online with another person, speaking up in a candid way about your actions will help keep further toxicity at bay in your relationship.
Understanding the New Rules of Infidelity
Everyone is still learning the new rules of affairs in the strange world of social media. Now that you’re better acquainted with the connection between social media and infidelity, you can try to avoid these actions and make an effort to establish honesty and loyalty in your relationship.
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