It was a shocking revelation to me ... to learn that I, according to some experts, have been carrying on not one - but numerous - extramarital affairs. Shocking, because in the moments that these have allegedly occurred, I saw myself as doing nothing of a kind. I saw myself as simply exploring a world of online entertainment.
The affairs, as certain experts point out, are not traditional in that anything "physical" has occurred, but rather fall into the newest category up for debate - emotional infidelity!
Yes, it seems that I have been carrying on in such a way that I must bear the Scarlet Letter.
Of course, the hiccup in the concept comes as one explores deeper the idea of an "affair." These experts, as noted in a recent prominent magazine article, suggest that anytime someone in a committed relationship allows a certain level of emotional vulnerability to occur online, then regardless of the "physical," the "infidelity" has occurred. But, that is to suggest that there is some secrecy involved, that relationships and erotic moments that may occur in this process are "hidden" from the spouse.
Thank God everything I did last night was purely physical!
But it made me ponder for a moment whether or not I fit the bill ... so I asked my husband as I confessed my many online sins.
Wait, that just removed the level of secrecy ... hmm ... maybe not my best move. Damn wedding hangovers.
But there are no secrets to speak of ... ours is a journey together, shared on many levels and openly acknowledging certain conditions must exist in order for that journey to progress. Hell, he spends many a night lying in bed beside me with the laptop open so he can proofread and help me with my blogging. And while I don’t dish the conversations I have on any chat service, he knows that I frequently engage in such tawdry nonsense.
Oh, how disappointed my mother must be in me …
The debate has almost "raged" in our house for over an entire Sunday morning coffee; so intense and complex was the subject at hand. And in those somewhat terse 15 minutes, we reached a conclusion without the need of marriage counselling. We got naked and did it, pausing only to ask: How many others would dare view the idea of conversation, occasional role-play and pander as "illicit emotional infidelity?"
Surely not I ...
The amusing side of how this came about runs through the article to an idea as to how many "keep" their involvement online to themselves. Is it a fantasy world, filled with dreams of lasting true love, or brief moments of desperate sexual release? What is the truth behind the cyber-reality ... ? It seems the majority of people living a secret online do not include their partners.
So just how can you tell? Here are some 'warnings' I found this morning ...
If you spend more than three hours a week chatting with and exchanging personal information with a member of the opposite sex you are having an online affair. (Oops ... I guess three hours a day might be an issue then)
Is your online friend a secret?
Have you shared the fact that you have an online friend with your spouse? Do you keep it to yourself because you know your spouse would react negatively? Maybe you don’t tell because the idea of having a friend your spouse doesn’t know about is exciting to you. (Another oops ... oh wait, damn he reads this!)
Do you share relationship issues with your online friend?
Is he/she someone you feel comfortable sharing marital problems? (Well I sure as hell wouldn't share that with his mother!)
Is your online friend a better listener than your spouse?
When you share person details and problems, does your online friend always respond in the way you need? (Husbands are supposed to listen? Did you read that one Mr. Man?)
Are you beginning to resent your spouse?
Are you making comparisons between your online friend and your spouse? (Why can't I just reboot my husband when he acts up? And don't get me started on that whole Defrag thing at Christmas, mister)
Do you have less interest in sex with your spouse?
To begin with, you may fantasize about your online friend during sex with your spouse. Then you may lose all sexual interest in your spouse and replace it with sexual fantasies and longings for your online friend. (Thank God my sex toys staged an intervention!)
Do you exchange photos with your online friend?
Have you sent your online friend a photo of yourself? Have the two of you sent each other erotic and sexually suggestive photos of yourself? If not, has the thought crossed your mind? (Hell no, you can visit my website like the millions of other guys!)
"Physical infidelity is overrated," one expert explains in the article. "It's easier for a couple to get over a one-night stand than an emotional affair." Really? “Allowing yourself to be clouded between the reality of life, and the escape of the Internet may be where the affair really begins, because that is when one makes the conscious decision to hide a part of themselves.”
Wow … how curious. My husband suggested we put on Brad Paisley’s “So Much Cooler Online” while I dish my thoughts to the keyboard.
For me these "affairs" of mine are neither ones of the heart nor mind, but rather of simplicity and self-discovery ... one that my partner willingly allows to occur.
Wonder what the experts have to say on that?
Happy Sunday … “Go (insert your favourite playoff football team here)!”