Infidelity is popularly considered as the leading cause of divorce across the globe. But what exactly is infidelity?
Most people would associate infidelity with sex. But is that all? In a world where living without Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, and WhatsApp is unthinkable; there is another type of infidelity that is challenging marriages everywhere. Digital Infidelity- Read on to find out more.
Before I share a more formal definition, here are some questions that you can consider. Have you ever felt like hiding a chat from your better half? Or maybe you used the God-sent ‘Delete for Everyone’ option on WhatsApp so your partner wouldn’t read private messages if they ever went snooping around your phone? Have you ever felt the need to turn your phone upside down when sitting with your spouse so they couldn’t see your notifications?
Maybe you have observed your partner display all the aforementioned behaviour. Unless one of you is planning a huge birthday or anniversary surprise for the other, these are classic signs of someone who is engaging in some form of digital infidelity.
Digital Infidelity means the use of social media or electronic communication to stay connected to a person in a way that you wouldn’t want your partner to witness. Think of flirtatious texts, suggestive chatting, sexting, picture messaging, or even creating an emotional bond with someone other than your spouse.
While one may never come in ‘physical’ contact with the other person, the damage that this secretive relationship can do to a marriage is very, very real.
One of the foremost reasons that trigger digital infidelity, according to family counselor Sanjay Kapoor, is the lop-sided portrayal of people’s lives on social media. Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook or Instagram feed and felt like your life, especially married life, is not as phenomenal as others?
You may see other couples traveling together, dining together, sharing cozy moments at home and wonder why you are missing out on that intimacy in your own life. And voila! Suddenly, against the filtered version of people’s marriages on social media, your marriage seems pale, intensifying the dissatisfaction further. While some people may seek to repair that intimacy in their marriage, many may simply start looking outside their marriage for validation and excitement.
What’s startling is that social media platforms allow for easy accessibility to connect with old friends and ex-flames. We are most likely to share friends, former cities, schools or employers with an ex or someone we once used to like or someone we wanted to marry — which is just sufficient for the algorithm of social media to put an ex’s photo right at the center of your computer or mobile screen.
How many stories have we heard of people connecting on Facebook with their school friends or college classmates after decades of zero social contact! It may not start with the intention of getting emotionally involved but something as innocuous as ‘Hey! Long time… How are you?’ And if the response from the other person is encouraging, it could soon turn to frequent chatting (which one tends to hide from their spouse), late-night texting and so much more!
Another shocking reason that has made digital infidelity so common is the presence of extramarital dating apps. The French extramarital dating app, Gleeden, is run exclusively by women for women. It’s an app that promotes ‘adultery’ and ‘discreet affairs with lovers’ normalizing infidelity altogether. Indians got onto this app in 2017, and now it has more than 4.5 lakh users in the country, among which Mumbaikars top the list. A survey says women constitute 30 % percent of its total user base of 40 lakh members.
Another example of an extramarital dating app is Ashley Madison of Canadian origin. This site has over 37 million users, and about 2.5 lakh registered accounts from India, with Delhi registering the highest number of users.
We are living in times where people are creating their own rules for marriage. Open marriages have never been as common as they are now. The boundaries of what constitutes infidelity have become increasingly blurry.
For some couples, dating other people as long as there is no physical intimacy is just fine. While some couples may believe in the traditional and conventional rules of marriage, some may consider sexting as a great offense while other couples may view it as a healthy indulgence.
Our two cents are very simple: Whatever the rules of your marriage, if you’re doing anything which you feel the need to hide from your partner, then it’s probably something that is going to dent the trust in your marriage.
Before we take any real actions on the thoughts we have, all of us are aware of the doors we have opened and the path we are about to embark on in our minds. And deep within our hearts, we are aware of the implications those choices may have on our marriage.
So while Digital Infidelity may seem completely harmless and innocent, it will be naive to pretend that marriage can come out unscathed from its impact. So next time you see a photo of your ex-flame or close friend on your feed, you may have many thoughts, but be careful of the actions you take.
Feelings can be gray, but our decisions- they are always black or white!