The term ‘e-infidelity’ may be a new one for some of us, but there are no prizes for guessing its meaning! Infidelity through social networking has become alarmingly widespread in this hyper-computerised age. What Happens To The Relationship? But, you may ask, can cybersex or sex-chatting really be classified as ‘infidelity’? After all, there was no ‘skin-to-skin’ activity.... Whatever our perspective, we cannot ignore that e-infidelity is a violation of certain unspoken marital/partnership agreements. For example, it is a betrayal of trust and, as such, it presents a real threat to the marital bond. It violates exclusivity, which is one of the pillars of many, if not most, partnerships. Also, it typically takes place in secrecy, deliberately hidden from the other – a sure sign that the partner is aware of breaking unspoken rules – and this makes the betrayal even more painful for the partner. Whatever way we classify the issue of e-infidelity, it’s the result that matters: e-infidelity causes the injured party to feel just as betrayed, angry and hurt as they would by ‘real’ adultery. Whether you are the ‘exposed perpetrator’ or the ‘shocked victim’ of online infidelity, you are probably going through a very rocky time in your relationship. The atmosphere at home is charged with an ever increasing sense of suspicion and anxiety, and your mental health may begin to suffer, especially if you are the injured partner. Depression and heightened anxiety are a common consequence. Reasons For E-Infidelity There are many factors to be considered. For example, e-infidelity may be due to pre-existing underlying problems, prior to the infidelity, such as poor communication, sexual dissatisfaction or just plain boredom with the relationship. Ironically, e-infidelity can occur even without such pre-existing conditions, among ‘happily married’ couples! In fact, some couples are able to ‘kiss and make up’, putting the past behind them. But, for others, this is not always a lasting solution, and many couples find themselves slipping back into old, mutually hurtful patterns. Moving Forward Whatever the source of the issue, when you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to understand and resolve the underlying factors that are making you drift apart. Overcoming the feelings of guilt, betrayal and anger is not always easy. Both sides need to be willing to acknowledge the pain, work on their relationship issues and commit to do things differently for the benefit of both. Therapy can also be a powerful and effective way to heal your relationship and move forward.