Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Those boundaries differ with each relationship, of course. What would be considered a violation in one marriage might be perfectly acceptable for another couple.
Differences of opinions even occur within a marriage. For example, I know a woman who recently asked her husband to either give her his Facebook password or close out his account after she found an email that he had sent to a former classmate that she found to be rather suggestive.
He disagreed and thought it was perfectly appropriate. Social media sites and online interaction are pushing this issue to dinner tables across the country -- much more so than in the past. Katherine Hertlein, a licensed marriage and family therapist interviewed by Discovery News, explains , "You don't actually recognize that you're growing closer to someone on the Internet because it just looks like you're having a conversation, and that's why I think it could be really seductive in some ways.
However, many polls indicate that seemingly harmless online friendships often develop into intense emotional and physical affairs that can devastate marriages. Recent research has indicated that online cheating usually leads to physical encounters.
So, when does flirting cross that invisible line from innocent bantering to dangerous dialogue? After researching the topic and talking to a few family therapists, I pulled together the following nine red flags. If you are deleting your emails -- either to her or from her -- that's a red flag.
Because by deleting them, you are guessing that your spouse would be upset if she read them, and that you are covering up something. Moreover, ask yourself this question: If It Has a Sexual Agenda. This isn't always obvious, of course. But if you notice that your correspondence with this person feeds your sexual fantasies because an affair is often about sexual fantasy then you are probably in dangerous waters. If the communications consist of subtle sexual overtones, watch out.
If it feels like foreplay in any way, that's not good. According to marriage therapist Allyson P. For example, if you are emailing a "friend" 15 times a day, that's a tad extreme, even if the content is about SpongeBob SquarePants.
A friend of mine confessed to me that she would spend two hours every night on Facebook chatting with an online buddy until she realized that was more time than she was spending with her husband. If You Are Rationalizing. Do you feel the need to justify a very safe friendship?
It's obvious to you and to your mate that the companionship is completely appropriate. However, you may very well be investing in an unsafe friendship if you are constantly wrestling with guilt or feel the need to rationalize. If you are getting your intimacy needs met in an online relationship, or with a co-worker with whom you playfully banter, you might stop to ask yourself why.
Be especially careful if you're sharing intimate sentiments with that person that you don't share with your husband, or if you feel like your online companion understands you in a way that your spouse doesn't.
Be on guard if you are getting fed in any way by him or her that you don't at home. Better to address the holes in your life and fill them in safe ways, even if you can't within your marriage. Keep in mind, a good sex life isn't just about chemistry. It's disrespectful to share intimate details about your marriage or your spouse, and especially in a discourteous manner or with a flip attitude.
Imagine that your wife was overhearing your entire conversation. Would you still say it? You have just won a red flag if a husband or wife has expressed disapproval of your communications with X, because it usually means that either the content of the correspondence or the amount of it is off balance -- that the interaction isn't totally appropriate, or the time spent talking online or offline with the person is distracting from family life.
If Your Friend Voices Concern. Pay attention if a good friend asks you why you are talking about this person so much, or if she says something like, "Wake up. You need to focus on what you have and stop obsessing about what you don't. If Your Intentions Are Wrong. Let's say your wife is constantly knocking you down, nagging at you, telling you to lose 20 pounds because she didn't intend to marry a beached whale.
The natural, or at least easy, thing to do is to find an attractive woman who will feed your ego and tell you that you're sexy, funny, smart and so on. Some folks may unconsciously seek out an admirer to get their spouse to take notice of them. It can be effective, but it's also manipulative. There are healthier ways to increase your self-esteem and regain the power that you have lost in your own home.