Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Social Media, Emotional Affairs & Infidelity

I’m older than dirt. I recently received a notice for my 40th high school reunion. I never imagined I would be 40, much less attend my 40th high school reunion. While the John H. Reagan class of ’72 is arguably the best class ever, it’s apparent that times have changed. Now instead of snail mail post cards reminding us of upcoming events, my class is hooking up via Facebook. I’ll admit- it’s a better way to communicate, but in my line of work I just hope things stay safe. High scho…
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Age gap

I was so excited to read this article, then was really let down as I realized it was geared toward an older generation's Facebook experience. I expected to see how Facebook's instant access to people's actions and lives plays into the affair. Oh well - maybe later?

facebook and affairs

wow....this subject is hard to read...I almost deleted it....brings up a lot....for a long time my husband accused me of connecting with ex's...talking to guys on facebook...chatting.....then he hid his friends list....then he would tell me he was going to unfriend me if I put up pictures of us together....then he did unfriend me....I couldn't figure things out.  HE said he didn't like reading my posts.  Months and months went by..his attitude had changed -- but there were other factors....cancer scare, job loss, financial loss -- I made excuses.  Then I found out he met up with his ex (who he was very serious about for years) at a party....then I found out they were facebook friends....as it turns out....last september (2010) he sent her a message after hearing about her dad's death.  From there they began to "catch up".  From what I understand, it started through facebook, conversations, reflecting on their past - what they did wrong - they were so young --  he said they weren't a typical couple...just the best of friends....but their "affair" lasted over a year...and I had no idea until the end.  I hate facebook with a passion for this reason now - though I'm on it -- but I know I'm not searching out boyfriends.  I hate to see him in front of a computer screen -- it makes me ill.  I know that after he was first discovered being her friend on facebook, I asked him to remove her.  he didn't.  he claimed he could be friends with whoever he wanted.  After the affiar was discovered, he created a different identity on Facebook to connect with her.  I think it is so very easy for people to hide, and sneak around --and their spouses will never know.  You can delete messages, conversations, create a different identity.  I'm not sure how long it will take to get over, or if I will ever truly trust him -- not as long as there is internet, and cell phones -- so many ways to hide an affair.   

Social Media

This post is 100% true. It made my stomach turn just to read it and know that I fell into this trap. I am now unfortunately aware too late and live with my husband's bitterness & unwillingness to forgive or heal- & refusal to get help. I never thought I would ever have an affair. He has never liked Facebook & yet feels it is OK to go to his 25th HS Reunion without me- his wife. He feels like I did- that he would never do anything wrong. I see the danger in all of that now and he does not.

High School Reunions

I received a phone call from a woman that my husband had attended school with. She was locating people for their High School reunion. After talking with her at length, I saw no reason not to give her my husbands phone number. After all, I had no reason not to trust him. Stupid me! The phone calls were not the primary problem though, they were few and far between until she convinced him get on Facebook. Once that happened, she directed him on how to hide their conversations. These quickly became more frequent and sexual in nature. The meetings began almost immediately after that. This was not all her fault by any means. My husband was fully aware of what he was doing. I was not very tech savvy at that point and did not know he had joined Facebook. I have since learned everything I can about the Internet, Facebook,I-Pads and I-phones. I can search out and track just about anything. As for the reunion girls, I can see how they were reminiscing about the past, how cute he was and how they fought over him. This had to make him feel good about himself and his self esteem. The winner back then tried her hardest to be the winner now. Maybe she was for a brief moment, but I was not about to let her win this time. My husband also chose me again. While this was a very devestating event in our lives, we are choosing to stay together and do the hard work that is involved in that. My husband no longer has a social media website or a high reunion page. Thank you for getting this message out to all of us. I feel the social websites contribute tremendously to emotional and sexual affairs, which in turn contribute to broken relationships, marriages, homes and hearts. One of the biggest things I have learned from this tragedy is the depth of hurt and self degradation my husband has for himself. These affairs do not just hurt and destroy the person who was cheated on, but bring great pain and shame for the person who had the affair. Thanks for letting me talk!

Old flames are not the only

Old flames are not the only problem with social media or with online discussion groups. The opportunity for those who aren't transparent to hide their messages and contacts from the unsuspecting spouse are numerous. And the temptation for addicts to completely immerse themselves in fantasy is also there. My husband joined a "Christian online book club" as part of an anonymous(intitially anyway) group that discussed several book series. He was part of that group for SEVEN  years before I found out that they shared private email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses. The bulk of the discussions were very, very personal and most of the other people in this group are divorced women. I found out about his online/phone affair with one of them because I was checking for cell phone use percentage and forgot to change which phone number first. I found thousands of texts( most of the time while he was working or I was working/sleeping) going back several months; only then did I check his email account. I discovered another account had been opened a year earlier and had only one contact, you guessed same woman. The dialog was very explicit, there were numerous references to the awesome phone sex-one specificly mentioned him being in bed- and promises to marry. There were also suggestions from her of how he could "hide" "HIS" assests to help "them" "later". We have been married for 35 years and when I brought up, in couseling, that I was concerned her motives might be financial my husband accused me of being crasy.

Now keep in mind they have NEVER actually met. That he tells this group he is sober. Of course that is what  he says to me WHILE (and the next day when he speaks of the night before) he is too drunk to stand up!! But how are any of this group supposed to know that when he can still write fairly well when he is too drunk to stand or talk. The only way his paramour could NOT know he was drinking heavily during late, middle of the night, talks is if she was also drunk. He is an addict and this group believes ( what emails I have seen support this) that when he does drink I must be driving him to it.     This group is supposedly believers, yet not one of them said anything when they flirted in this group.

He joined facebook and added most of this group to his "friends", including the affair partner's underage children and her cousin. After I discovered the affair, he still kept her and her boys as online friends for almost six months. I was shocked that the counseling intern we saw didn't see anything wrong with him staying "friends" with her boys at all and thought my desire for complete removal of this woman's family and very close friends(also online group particpants)was extreme.  Eighteen months post discovery he finally exited the online group. I don't know how useful that is since a moderator from the group(the paramour's very close friend) sent my husband a message offering to forward messages from his affair partner and other group members.

I want to know how I'm supposed to feel any safety what so ever?  He hides all his email activity, all of his facebook messages,and activity that isn't public. I know he successfully hid letters to and from at least three women, and he has access to a work phone almost 24/7 that the records. go to his works managers  only. 

Well I was not even thinking

Well I was not even thinking about my affair partner until I saw him on Facebook. As soon as I saw him I said wow I can't believe it. I wonder how he is. Facebook is just a portal for those who think they are strong, but will fail.

My experience

The first 'affair' my husband had was through facebook. It wasn't with someone he went to school with, or even someone he knew in person. He got into contact with her and they began an emotional affair. It really hurt when I found out about it. When he left me for three months last year, he got back in contact with her and took it a step further by getting in touch via skype. On top of finding out about his physical affair, hearing what they'd been doing on there was a lot to take in. Some days I wonder if I'm ever going to recover from it all.

For me, Facebook served as a

For me, Facebook served as a way for my affair to be exposed.

To all of you........recovering from an Affair is devastating. Your mind is your worst enemy. Stop fantasizing about what "could have been".

You are where you're supposed to be!

Rick, Excellent Essay

I really liked this quote at the end of your essay: "For those of you attending class reunions this year, a simple word to the wise (for what it’s worth)- don’t assume nothing will happen." Anytime I go to a reunion event (or any social group with a mixed crowd), I go there with the full armor of God...knowing that some unsuspecting vulnerable woman will be there ready for me to medicate her wound while she does the same for me. Living a guilt-free marriage is a daily ritual of knowing that the temptation is there for the taking.

I totally agree with you about Facebook

My stomach churned as I read the this about Facebook. It IS a trap and if you do not have a solid marriage you fall unfortunately for the kind words and attention. Especially the part about, "You never aged and you are just a beautiful as you were in school." I wish there was a cure for my stupidity, I wish I could go back and rewind things back to the day when I took the bait. I knew not to accept this guys friend request. He was such a bad boy in high school and truth be told I broke up with him because he was a hell raiser and a partier. However now he owns a thriving business and still is a partier but on a different level. I guess the lifestyle compared to my boring church lady life seemed exciting. That was until the reality of what I was doing hit me and I came face to face with this monster and the monster was me. I went against everything I believed in, stood for and if there was ever a person that deserved the scarlet letter "A" it would be me. Stupidly, I wrote about the affair in my journal and my husband picked it up one day and started reading. Do you know what he did? He didn't talk to me for weeks and of course I avoided him but he did the most amazing thing. He came to me one evening and he asked me to forgive him for ignoring me for 21 years and for putting his career and everything else before me and asked me to please not leave him. He said he wants to work it out and wants to be with me forever till the day he dies. I just don't understand this level of forgiveness. Quite frankly it is hard to watch him go on as though nothing happened. He calls me several times a day and asks to take me to lunch and wants to watch TV with me and spend time with me. Seeing the tender side of him is what I begged to see for years and in light of what I have done it is killing me actually. Please please please if you are thinking of accepting a friend request from someone that used to be an old flame, DO NOT ACCEPT IT. In fact delete your Facebook completely. We need to get from God what we need to get from God instead of looking outside our marriages or boundaries to fill up the loneliness, affirmations, and emptiness. I think I'm preaching to myself here because I am tempted almost everyday by this old flame with promises of this wonderful life. I happen to know his ex-wife and have come to find that when I dumped him in high school it was the best thing I could have done. He has not changed and creeps around Facebook looking for his next victim. Facebook should come with a warning or maybe we should see the big huge STOP sign and STOP Hester Prin

Facebook

My husband cheated with someone not from his past but from his present. His best friend and business partner had just gone through a break-up and was hanging out with a whole new crowd of girls. I'm not a jealous person and we have always had a very honest relationship, so I didn't think anything of him adding people on his FB page, he is a Karaoke DJ and has people send him friend request everyday. Anyway one of these new people in his life made him think that his life would be so much better hanging out with her and partying, and that she would never do, say, or act like me. So one night he decided he would tell a tiny lie and go to a party, well one thing led to another and he attempted to sleep with her that night but physically things were not working. His tiny lie then had to turn into a big lie because I was 8 months pregnant at the time. They kept up contact on FB and texting. He told me about the the infedelity just 12 hours after our son was born. She had even commented on the pictures he had posted that day. We decided after 3 months living separate, in which he claims having no contact with her, we would move back in together. I'm still not healed though. My trust is getting better, but occasionally anxiety takes over and I check up on everything phone records, email, and FB. This girl who has supposedly moved on to a new victim still tries to torment me by texting at 7am "Did you need something" also when we first started working things out she had one of her pregnant friend take a test and sent me a picture of it like she was pregnant. Since she is still young and immature, I found her dad on FB and let him in on the whole situation, I thought that would be the end of it but its all a big game to her that she hasn't won and no one else is playing. Give me some ideas on how to not let every little thing trigger a bad memory so I can focus on the positive.

Thanks for the article.

Thanks for the article.

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