Is Online Affair a Betrayal?
Q: I would never leave my wonderful husband, but last year I found myself having an emotional affair with a stranger online. As an insomniac, I was spending hours online late at night, and we struck up a friendship. Over some months, during a rough patch with my family, our friendship deepened. It's never turned sexual (although we have spoken by video call), but I've never told my husband about him. Am I betraying my marriage? I don't really want to give up this friendship.--Imani, 53
Dr. Susan: Let me put it simply: how would you feel if you discovered your husband having this kind of emotional affair? The problem with emotional affairs, IF they don't turn sexual, is that they take all the emotional intimacy out of your marriage and put it into the heart and mind of a stranger.
If it's "just" a friendship, not a form of betrayal, then why don't you invite this fellow over for dinner with you and your husband? Or if there's too much distance involved, simply let your wonderful husband know that you came across this neat person online and you'd like him to meet the fellow also. Do it by Skype. If the thought of your husband meeting this person curdles your blood, then there's your answer. Mr. Affair Guy is not a friend, he's a potential lover. Give him up now or continue to seriously risk your marriage.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.