“Facebook Caused My Spouse to Cheat and Leave Me”

facebookdivorceI have seen this, or statements similar to this,  many times on message boards, blogs and such.   And in some emails I’ve received, there is direct (or implied) blame of social media why someone’s spouse cheated on them and left them.  So are social media the reason why people cheat and get divorced?  Not really.  They are just the most current, modern mechanism to facilitate it.  But not the causes.

Facebook (or Twitter or Myspace or Skype, Tango, etc) is a tool available to all of us to keep in touch and share things with others. We alone are responsible for what we post and who we communicate with.  To say Facebook causes marriage break ups is crazy.

It’s like people and guns: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.  Guns are just an instrument.    Spoons and forks don’t make you fat.  Putting them full of food into your mouth does.  People cause marriage break ups, not social media sites.

I don’t think the problem is with Twitter. Or Facebook. Or the Internet. Really I don’t. I certainly can see that when people are frustrated in their marriages, disconnected, certain critical needs are not being met, they will turn to other outlets to get those needs met — Twitter  or Facebook might be one of them for some people.  It’s the symptom, however, of a problem within the marriage and/or the person, not the cause of it.

I have seen, at times, people say that “healthy couples” shouldn’t be on things like Facebook. Or that if you want to keep your mates, you need to control their access to Facebook at such. I think it’s, frankly, absurd.

Using-Facebook-To-Find-An-AffairDoes the Internet (including social media) make cheating easier? Yes, but if someone is really unhappy and is bent on cheating or wanting to leave their spouse, they will do it anyway. Divorce and cheating didn’t get invented in the Internet age (in fact, statistics say that, for men, the % who cheat has not changed really for decades). The divorce rate is actually NOT 50%, and it peaked in 1981 nevertheless, and has been falling every since. The Internet did not really get going in a serious way until 1998. If twitter or facebook were to blame, then those percentages should be SOARING, not falling. (although women cheat at a much higher rate than they did 30 years ago).

Is there SOME correlation? I suppose. A recent survey of U.S. divorce lawyers shows that interaction on Facebook is an underlying cause of the break up of the marriage in 20 percent of American divorce cases.  And yes, while Facebook itself is obviously not capable of breaking up a marriage, problems can occur when spouses reconnect with former schoolmates or past love interests. W hat may start as an innocent exchange of life updates and family snapshots can quickly turn into an emotional affair, with the offending spouse betraying the trust of his or her mate.

But again, I think we are looking at “symptom” not cause of divorce.  Happy and content people rarely have affairs.  If someone is emotionally available to reconnecting with an old flame (or finding a new flame), there are already serious issues in the marriage and/or within the cheater’s personality and character (which should be manifesting themselves in the marriage negatively already).  Facebook isn’t the reason they are cheating –it just may be the instrument of a person who is already open to the idea of infidelity.

If the only way you can keep a spouse is by controlling all their interactions with the world, you don’t have a marriage.   You are more like a Warden and they the prisoner.  Acting more like a parent by forbidding a spouse to use Twitter or Facebook is, to me, counter-productive and could actually drive a spouse out the door.

THAT BEING SAID:  I think it’s ok to monitor what your spouse is posting, and if there are things that are definitely questionable, you should discuss it with them.  “It sounds like you are flirting with that person.” Or “Why is your ex-girlfriend on your friends list?”  Legitimate questions that mature adults can and should discuss calmly, like any other behavior that seems disrespectful to the marriage.

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Unfounded paranoia however is very unattractive and counter-productive.  Avoid it.

This is what I suggest:  Don’t come from a place of extreme insecurity by using Facebook or Twitter as the reason to make wild accusations or make demands about non-use.  I don’t think it will be convincing, and will often backfire drastically.  Trust is the basis for a sound marriage. If you need to forbid your spouse interactions with the opposite sex, or wildly overreact when they do, your marriage is already in trouble.

I don’t monitor my wife’s social media activities. I trust her.  She does look at my postings (understandable given what occurred 3-4 years), but no longer flings silly, unfounded accusations at me because of them. I know the boundaries. I know what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate and I wouldn’t humiliate my wife on Facebook. We’ve worked it out without damaging our marriage.

Does Facebook really cause divorce? Does Twitter cause divorce? No they don’t but the stuff that’s been posted on these sites has made the job of savvy divorce lawyers a heck of a lot easier to win divorce cases with the amount of evidence available to them.  Its a new myth perpetuated both by people who have something to gain from it, and also by some betrayed spouses who need a handy excuse for why they are something less than a perfect spouse.  I get that. It’s easier to blame someone or something for your divorce because it allows one to not look in the mirror. Understandable. Human nature. Expected.

But don’t fall for the excuse and the nonsense.  I am always suspicious of acts that scream of insecurity, control and paranoia, instead of love, communication, and trust.   You should be too. Always deal with root causes of infidelity and divorce, not symptoms and instruments. You’ll get further ahead that way.

 

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16 thoughts on ““Facebook Caused My Spouse to Cheat and Leave Me”

  1. I can relate to this article all too well. My husband’s affair was with a woman he briefly dated in high school who reconnected with him through facebook. As a past girlfriend, she was of so little consequence to him that he had never mentioned her once in our 30 years together, and we had discussed every significant past relationship we had both had at one time or another. When she popped up on his friends list, I really didn’t give it much thought. He told me who she was, and he was 17 years old the last time he saw her (he was 56 when the affair began), and it seemed no big deal – I’m fb friends with my first boyfriend of 40 years ago & we never chat. She lived across the country, by some twist of fate, in a city that his work sent him to for a training class. I realized later, through reading their facebook chats, that she had aggressively pursued renewing their old friendship & keeping in steady contact with him for a year or more prior to this. When he mentioned he would be in her city, she insisted on picking him up at the airport & taking him to dinner so they could “catch up”. Of course, I knew none of this; I’m sure he knew I’d flip out if he mentioned it. So that was just the first betrayal. The betrayals to come sort of defy belief.

    This long-distance affair lasted for a year. They were physically together on only four separate occasions of about 3-5 days duration, and the rest was over 600 pages of facebook chats, a handful of emails, a couple dozen x-rated Skype sessions, and countless phone calls and texts. If I hadn’t snooped & caught them, God only knows how far it would have gone. I know they made promises of a lifetime commitment to each other, but there were so many lies interspersed among the promises that it’s hard to know what he was thinking, and if I forced him to explain every thing he ever said, we would have probably split up by now. I think he just finds it too embarrassing. He knows he was lying and saying ridiculous things, and it shames him to know I’ve seen them.

    Facebook definitely facilitated the affair, but it didn’t cause it. I think she was open to an affair when she contacted him, felt that titillation & curiosity, and I think he was flattered by the attention, and started feeling it too. Our marriage was not that good, there was love, but we had gotten pretty distant, and I wasn’t treating him like the most important person in my life, and facebook just facilitated what probably would have happened if she had lived close by and they had run into each other at the local drug store. This wouldn’t have happened without it, but he could have, at any time, run into someone who behaved in the same ways toward him, whether he knew them previously or not. Just the same as I could have. Neither of us were having our needs met, and we both resented the other for it. THAT is how we ended up here, facebook was just there at the opportune moment. Do I think couples should monitor each other’s facebook friends & activities, and ask questions? Yes. You should always know each other’s friends & be aware of the type of friendships you each have. Just don’t blame an affair on facebook, skype, or cell phones. Humans have cheated since long before any of these things existed – they just make it easier, which means you should be aware of how your spouse is using them. And also, be aware that if you two are spending most of your free time together, doing things as a couple, etc, it would be a lot more difficult for them to spend long hours reconnecting with old flames through facebook.

    • Sound, level-headed input, as per your usual.

      It is human nature to not take responsibility for ourselves, and to blame others (or other things) for everything. I’m always stunned when people tell me how Facebook caused their spouses affair, or that the Other Woman or Other Man did, as if they held a gun to the cheating spouses’ foreheads and made them do it.

      Symptom is not cause. Instrument for cheating is not cause. The divorce is actually going DOWN not up. But it’s pretty clear that some people need an excuse that won’t require them to look in the mirror. Human nature.

      Also the logic of some, we need to ban cars since they allow people to drive to motels to have affairs. Actually we would need to ban jet travel and hotels/motels too, because these are also means to facilitate an affair. Phones too!!

      By that logic, I guess everyone WILL cheat unless they are tightly controlled and monitored 24/7, and of course are forbidden all interactions with the opposite sex. That’s a very sad and jaundiced view of marriage. I wouldn’t be in one if I felt that way, or felt the need to snoop on my spouse to verify their infidelity. I’d rather be divorced, frankly. I feel sorry for people who seem to think that they basically need to lock up their spouses, and control and observe their every interaction in the world, and snoop on them in order to have a marriage. It’s just plain silly, self-defeating and sad.

      Thanks for sharing.

  2. As always, you are welcome. I share my experiences and insights as someone who wants to learn and build a stronger marriage from them, and also as someone who wants to help others with them. If you go into marital counseling (something I hope & pray all couples surviving infidelity will do), with any illusions about what brought you to this place and how this terrible thing happened, your chances of saving and strengthening your marriage will drastically decrease. You have to understand what went wrong, and understand your mate. NOT that you have to agree with them and their choices. Just that you need to understand how this happened, and what you can do to prevent it from happening – to either of you – ever again.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I wish there were people like you out there blogging. Unfortunately, it’s the mean and irrational ones who are the loudest and give a bad name to the rest. I’ve always sought to provide what I think is helpful – to both sides. I don’t require people to agree with me, but I’m not going to give them a forum for debate either. I don’t require anyone to read my blog, for that matter. It’s strictly voluntary. The feedback I get in my email – mostly from Betrayeds, curiously, is more than 90% positive. So I tend to think that I’m on the right track here.

      You’re ahead of the game. Most of the nasty types will end up divorced anyway, and of course, never take one shred of responsibility for any of it. That’s modern society. Nobody has shame. Nobody accepts blame. It’s a sort of Jerry Springer mentality replicated. The most ignorant tend to be the loudest. Hardly anyone matures any longer. People pretty much stay jack-asses their whole lives. LOL

      Carry on…

      • I’ve read through a few of the angry BS blogs you’ve mentioned here – one of them by a lady you seem to frequently have to censor. Definitely an angry & emotional person, which would accurately describe me as well sometimes, even if it doesn’t come through in my writing. The thing about trying, in all things you do post-discovery, to achieve some sort of constructive, marriage-improving outcome, is that you have to reign in your emotional impulses a bit. It’s like not punching a wall in a fit of anger, because you are bright enough to know you’ll make a hole & possibly break your knuckles, but also it’s about exercising self-control. The irony being that most affairs are a classic example of poor impulse control, but you, as a betrayed spouse, have to rise to the occasion and do just a little bit better than your cheating spouse. Forgiveness, by its very nature, requires this as well. I don’t know what breaks down for these people, but I do tend to think that some of their needs through the process of affair recovery are not being met.

        They may simply have spouses who are incapable of meeting them. Or it could just be that they have more anger & resentment in them than any human being, no matter how greatly they may have failed them, can help them with. I would suggest divorce over spending that much of my time and energy on expressing negative emotions & verbally abusing others, whether that was on my own blog or someone else’s. It can be healthy to vent your negative feelings, as long as you don’t let them overrule good judgment, and you aren’t allowing it nurture resentment – thus keeping you from healing and moving on with your life. I suspect they want to be heard, and have their perspectives taken into account, but the reality is that even if you allowed their comments to be posted here, anyone they may be hoping to reach would be so turned off by their negativity, they wouldn’t take anything they said to heart anyway.

      • I agree. Some of them are their own worst enemies and will inevitably drive their spouses out the door, unless those spouses have no other option. They are pursuing their version of “justice” which cannot be pursued the same time as “reconciliation and forgiveness.” It doesn’t work.

        I don’t have to trash too many comments, but there are some that I must. they will tend to just turn people off and encourage people to NOT post here. It’s probably why I get 5x more private emails than comments — people are worried about being trashed by people like her.

    • And as if on queue, I just had to dispose of the inane, uncivil, and illogical comments of one of your sisterhood. But it’s par for the course with this one. Straight into my spam folder as usual. Why does she bother even coming here??? Some psychological issues I guess. Some axe to grind with me as if I was the one who cheated on her. Not me. Do some of these people really think I’m going to print their over-emotional, silly-ass, uncivil prattle on my blog? Seriously?? I can be disagreed with, but you have to be civil and fair when you are doing it. Debating however I will not do here. It often derails the message or at least detracts from it. They can do it on their own blog if they wish. But this one is mine. I get to control the content.

  3. I’ve read your blogs for so long but never commented before, yet I simply had to on this one. You have eloquented so succinctly what I have failed to do to a degree on my own blog.

    Can I ask you a question? Do you, as a former WS, blame your former OW for your affair? (the old ‘gun to the head’ analogy works for me!)

    I genuinely ask that because having read lots of BS blogs, there seems to be an overwhelming train of thought that trundles along the tracks of the blog-o-sphere at high speed, gathering pace, whereby the WS are discovered and then lay all the blame (or the vast majority of it) at the feet of the OW/OM.. ie/ they were manipulated, the OP now makes them feel sick etc..

    I realise in some cases the OP goes cock-a-doodle-doo once the affair is discovered and therefore I can understand the ‘hate’ towards them, but for those that lay low and out of the way I struggle to see why the MM/MW would then declare revulsion and hate towards them..

    Or is that just what is said to appease the BS?

    Hope that makes sense. X

    • My OW told me a lot of lies. Did some horrible things to manipulate me and the situation to her advantage. Left out some pretty important details about herself and her life. And did AWFUL things to me when I ended it.

      but nope, I never blamed her for my actions. I am 100% responsible for my own decisions and actions.

      Its why I wrote a blog entry about so many betrayed spouses over-blaming the OM/OW in an affair situation. It’s nonsensical. But I get it — its a way to deflect attention from yourself and your spouse and lay the blame on someone else. My wife certainly would LOVE to give my ex-OW a piece of her mind, but she never blamed her for my decisions. Nor should she. And a lot of cheaters go along with this big lie – as long as their enraged spouse is focusing attention on the OM/OW, they themselves get to dodge blame and get out from the firing line. So yes, there’s motivation for both parties to over-blame the OM/OW.

      Same reason I don’t buy this whole “Mate Poaching” thing. Nobody “steals” anyone. People leave. If the only way you can keep your spouse is by controlling all their interactions with the opposite sex, you don’t have much of a marriage. Either that or you must think your spouse is a weak-minded nitwit, which doesn’t make for much of a marriage either.

      But it’s part of the mantra for some — that they were the PERFECT spouse and their marriage was VERY VERY happy until HE or SHE came along and STOLE their spouse or convinced them to have an affair.

      Its absurd on the face of it. Happy and content people rarely have affairs. Its just a way for some betrayed spouses to not look at themselves in the mirror. I get that. but I think one misses out on an important learning opportunity and a chance to strengthen your marriage at the same time. The faster people accept responsibility for the state of their marriages, the quicker they will heal and move to a better place. The quicker someone moves from being the perpetual victim (which yes, has its allure!), to being a “marriage warrior” and really working to fix things, again, the chances for a better marriage and true forgiveness soar.

      • Thank you for replying. To hear those honest rational words from a former WS – from the horses mouth so to speak – gives me a lot of clarity.

      • You can take responsibility and still feel the hostility. But I’d never suggest unleashing it on your spouse or their AP, and certainly not on some stranger you know has cheated – as tempting and somehow just as that may feel in the moment. I have to will myself to remain calm, reach out to my husband & let him know I’m struggling, let him pull me close, relax and let that bond grow stronger. It makes me feel better, it really does, and I think it makes him feel better to know he can do that for me. It helps me remember why I’m doing this; why I chose to stay with him & try to forgive. Common sense says that it would be infinitely better to try to let go of the anger, turn that moment around, and bond with your spouse, than it would be to go off the deep end and rant about their AP. I agree, they may feel momentarily out of the firing line as long as it’s directed there, but I find it hard to believe it’s really going to help or make it go away – you have to know down deep inside it’s not “all her fault”.

        And as for “spouse-poaching”, don’t kid yourself that it’s not, in a lot of ways, a very competitive thing for a great many APs. I’m not talking about a WS who is a weak-minded nitwit being brainwashed to believe they married a monster, and their AP would be the perfect mate for them. But I know from experience that your spouse’s every mistake can be a golden opportunity for a crafty AP to manipulate you into believing they would do SO much better in their shoes. My husband’s OW did this incessantly. Was always asking not-so-subtle questions about me & what I was doing to annoy him throughout almost every conversation they had – I saw this firsthand & knew it for what it was. As repulsive as I found it, I had to appreciate her cleverness. I think she instinctively knew he cared a lot more for me than he indicated to her, and she felt like she needed to constantly point out what an inferior mate I was. My favorite OW line – “Don’t leave for me, leave because you’re unhappy.”. I think I could gleefully strangle her.

      • I don’t doubt that some APs are skillful. Deceitful.

        I’m just that in the end, your spouse isn’t a car that’s been hot-wired and stolen. They know what’s going on. They CHOOSE to leave. If your spouse can be turned by someone who is liar, and will go off with them, your marriage isn’t very strong. That’s my point. Or I guess your spouse is a weak-minded, narcissistic nit-wit, in which case I don’t know how you have a marriage with them except on paper.

        Nobody can “poach” anyone without their consent. Just because someone delivers a pound of crack to my door everyday (let’s say), I still wouldn’t smoke it. Ever.

        If all it takes is for someone else to offer your mate a better deal to get them to leave, well, as I said, not much of a marriage there to begin with is there?

  4. Lol. Oh, no doubt he knew what was going on. He was actually the one who called it out as something that you’d do when you are trying to “steal” someone’s spouse away from them. His words, not mine, although I do agree with the assessment. I think what I actually said to him about it was that relationships would be really easy if all you had to do was ask the right questions, and not make the same mistakes – at least not right away. I had 30 years to screw up with. She had a year, and they were actually under the same roof for less than 4 weeks of it. But I do agree that in the end, it’s all up to the WS and their judgment. If they are a a weak-minded, narcissistic nit-wit, you’re undoubtedly better off without them.

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