“Now that [my wife] has met people on [the Internet] and started to flirt, I am starting to feel deeply hurt. An unbearable feeling of jealously is gripping my heart and distracting me from my own daily life. Work, friends and household are all affected. She laughs it off by saying nothing will come of it–it’s only innocent conversation. I can’t help but question, ‘If it is so innocent, why are my feelings so deep?'”

“I have fallen for an unsung hero online. It started one day when I was at my wits’ end after an argument with my husband. I went online to vent, and a man was there with a sensitive ear and big heart. As time went by we would run into each other here and there online. Pretty soon we were looking for each other. Next, I was calling him to hear his voice. I have confided in this man the very intimacies of my marriage. I have given a stranger the capability of blowing my marriage apart with a phone call.”

These laments are not fictional. They are actual postings found on online message boards. And they testify to a new, and growing, threat to the stability of marriages: the Internet.

According to Indianapolis-based marriage and family counselor Tim Gardner, Internet infidelity is far more widespread than people realize. “From what I see coming through my office,” he says, “I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

The Big Attraction

Why are Internet relationships so alluring–even to people who would not otherwise pursue an extramarital affair? While the answer varies from person to person, author and counselor Willard Harley says part of the attraction is that Internet communication meets two universal needs of men and women. According to Harley’s research, conversation–especially conversation with a male–ranks among the top two emotional needs for most women and the Internet readily fills this need. Men, on the other hand, with their strong need for sex, are prone to surf the Net in search of women who will exchange sexual messages.

According to Gardner, mid-life crises also account for some men’s predisposition to Internet relationships. “Feelings of inadequacy–the same reason men get hair transplants or buy fancy sports cars–also can open the door to an Internet affair,” he says. “When a man finds a woman who tells him he is desirable, an emotional connection is inevitable.”

Source: Christianity Today | Kyria.com – Randy Frame

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