WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR PARTNER MAY BE A CYBER CHEATER
Some of the warning signs that cyber cheating may be at work in your couple:
1. You have little or no sex. Partner is always too busy or tired.
2. You have petty arguments.
3. You feel like you don’t have anything in common any more.
4. One of you is no longer attracted to the other.
5. Partner spends unusually long periods of time on cell phone or computer.
6. Partner suddenly becomes hypercritical about your appearance.
7. Partner becomes secretive or defensive when questioned about their behavior.
8. Partner loses interest in relationship or family activities.
9. Partner stays on computer very late at night after you have retired.
10. Partner secures their computer in a locked area or with passwords you don’t have access to.
WARNING SIGNS THAT YOU MAY BE A CYBER CHEATER
Use this as a checklist to see if your online relationship with someone of the opposite sex has drifted from friendship to cyber cheating:
1. You are withdrawing from your spouse.
2. You are preoccupied and daydream about your online friend more and more.
3. You are not interested in being intimate with your spouse, either emotionally or sexually.
4. The amount of time you and your spouse spend together is less, while the time you spend with your online friend increases.
5. When confronted about the apparent emotional affair, you get defensive and respond, "We're just friends."
6. You find yourself anticipating when you can communicate or be with your online friend again.
7. You are sharing your thoughts, feelings, and problems with your online friend instead of your spouse.
8. You find crazy excuses to send your online friend personal notes, photos, or other "gifts".
9. You think your online friend understands you better than your spouse does.
10. You are keeping your friendship a secret from your spouse.
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES
The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not specifically mention emotional infidelity. "Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations - even transient ones - they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire. The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely." (CIC 2380).
The cyber cheater may even justify their behavior by saying that they don't feel desire or lust for their online friend, that they are just looking for a confidante. However, the Church disapproves of cyber cheating and other forms of emotional infidelity because they violate the essence of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony which is that a couple "give themselves definitively and totally to one another." (CIC 2364). When a person reserves their innermost thoughts and dreams for an online friend rather than sharing them with their spouse, they are no longer giving themselves totally to their partner.
Cyber cheating and emotional infidelity can also become near occasions of sin in that they have the potential to lead to actual physical adultery. The Church instructs us that we are to avoid near occasions for sin and so those who see themselves in the warning lists above might want to take the following steps:
1. Examine the nature of your communication with online friends of the opposite sex. Is it appropriate and necessary or does it go overboard? If necessary, try to curtail your communication with your online friend. Ask yourself on each transaction: "Would I send this e-mail or post this message or comment if my spouse were looking over my shoulder?" If the answer is "no", don't do it. You should not be doing anything online that you can't tell your spouse about.
2. This post is not about Internet pornography -- a different sin against marriage and chastity and one explicitely prohibited by the Church (CIC 2354) -- but obviously you should not be engaged in that either and, if you are and can't control that aspect of your online activity, if it's an addiction, you should seek professional help. You can try using site blocking software to help but serious Internet porn addicts are usually not deterred and become accustomed to bypassing any blocking software that has been installed.
3. Are you engaged in excessive non work-related computer use that takes you away from your spouse and family? Try limiting how much time you spend on the computer after hours, especially at home. Set a "curfew" for your journeys into cyberspace.
While the Catechism doesn't address this sort of behavior specifically, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' For Your Marriage Web site does:
...There are some infidelities, however, that are not of a sexual nature. While these may appear to be less severe than sexual infidelity, they can also cause harm to a marriage, especially if left unchecked.If you find you can't control your cyber cheating behavior, especially if it is damaging your relationship with your spouse, or if you have doubts about whether or not what you are doing is infidelity, seek the help of a priest or a pastoral counselor. Don't let an Internet "friendship" ruin your marriage.
For example, one partner may have a relationship that mimics an affair in that a third party or entity takes an inordinate amount of one’s time, energy and emotional investment to the detriment of the primary marital relationship. This “third party” may be the custom of sharing daily coffee, or a similar get-together, with a co-worker without the marriage partner’s knowledge...
...Similarly, internet chatting can be either sexual or non-sexual and has the potential to be a dangerous form of unfaithfulness within the marriage. This particular problem can also become an addiction and needs to be addressed, often through the use of an intervention...