Networking is a lot of fun. You can catch up with long lost friends, make new friends and even find business contacts. Blackberries, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Bebo, Friends Reunited, Hi5, emails and social networks all make it so much easier to re-connect with people.
It’s also an easy way to start an online affair.
Social networks are a great avenue for meeting ex-boyfriends/girlfriends. You can meet people that you fancied at school or college but never had the courage to admit your feelings. Or people, that you may not have known that well at University, but according to their profiles, you can see that now they are extremely successful and attractive.
Usually, when people leave college, they part ways and end up in different professions. Some people move to different parts of the world and end up in different professions. The likelihood of bumping into an old flame on the bus on your way to work becomes incredibly slim. However, a quick Facebook friend search helps you to locate old lovers and with a click of a button, old relationships can be quickly re-established.
So, how easy is it?
According to a recent survey, 80% of divorce lawyers cited Facebook or other social networking sites as a reason behind the breakdown of the marriage.
Friends Reunites was launched in the late 90’s. At that time, more than 16million people subscribed. It became very easy for anyone who was ‘bored’ in their marriage or just ‘curious’ about what their friends were up to, to strike up the carefree romances of their youth.
It doesn’t take much to start up an affair. It can start with a add request, a poke, a message on their profiles or even a private message. People constantly find each other on these social networking sites and can strike up a communication behind their partner’s backs. After all, how is your wife to know that the woman that you may have added on Linkedin from University, was someone that you had a three month sexual affair with when you were 18 before you settled down? Or how will your husband find out that the guy you innocently added on Facebook from school was someone that you had a major crush on throughout school but didn’t have the confidence to say anything?
What's so wrong about it?
Adding an old flame on a social network site is the modern day equivalent of bumping into an ex on your way to work. Getting their number, calling them regularly and finding out what they have been doing for the last 5-10 years. Finding out where they have been working, what their relationship status is and how they’re feeling etc. This is no different to adding them on a social network. Stalking their profiles, using Linkedin to find where they are currently working and what they have been doing since they left University. Using Facebook to find out their relationship history/current status and pouring over albums to see how they look and where they have been travelling over the years.
Most people will unanimously agree that it is wrong to be friends with a crush or an ex lover. So, why is it OK to be cyber friends?
Affairs have not changed. All that has changed is the nature of starting them.
How does it work?
Technology has made it easier than ever before to embark upon an affair. Even in strict societies such as the Gulf, where men and women are strictly segregated. A society where unrelated men and women caught talking to each other, driving in the same car or sharing a meal risk being detained by the religious police.
However, people get around these rules by using technology. One discreet way is by using the Bluetooth option on their phone. All users have to do is activate the Bluetooth function in their phone and then press the search button to see who else has the feature within a 30-foot range. Without even having to talk to anyone, they can get a list of ID names in the area and can choose based on names and profile pictures establish communication with that person.
What happens when you get caught?
Interestingly enough, whilst it may be easier today that ever before to start an affair. It’s also just as easy to get caught. Affairs are getting shorter. Currently, the most common duration of an affair is less than six months (68 per cent of them). Twenty years ago, it was three years.
While technology has made it easier to meet and communicate with people, it makes the secrecy needed to conduct an affair almost impossible. There are just too many ways to get caught, and the technology-savvy realise this. Back when maintaining a double life involved simply a call from a phone box and a secret rendezvous point, there were very few tracks to cover. Today, it's almost impossible to do anything in secret.
It's easy to check a mobile phone to see what text messages or emails have been sent and received and what numbers have been called. A quick look at someone's Facebook profile tells you what company they've been keeping, what they've been up to and even how they are feeling. An internet history search shows you what profiles your partner has been lingering on and whose name is being searched in search engines. And a completely clean internet history speaks volumes.
Snooping has never been easier.
A friend of mine created a fake online persona and joined a social network that her partner was part of, because she suspected he was being unfaithful. A few overly enthusiastic replies from him confirmed to her, that her partner had been unfaithful with many other women that he met online. The relationship didn’t last for much longer after that.
In an reported incident, Stuart Slann, 39 from Sheffield drove 400 miles to begin an affair with a girl he had met on Facebook, only to discover it had been a hoax by his friends. To add to his humiliation, the conversations were recorded and put it onto Facebook, and YouTube, along with an embarrassing photograph. It was then that Mr Slann's wife Louise, 32, discovered the "affair". Their marriage is now over.
Wronged partners use the internet to their advantage to take their cyber-revenge. Love rats have been humiliated on websites such as myexwifesabitch.com and www.cheated-on.com, which was set up four years ago by Susan Hughes from Devon after she discovered her RAF pilot boyfriend was married.
The latest revenge site, www.liarscheatsandbastards.co.uk, has a section titled Lying Cheating Bastard of the Month. The reality of the global information age is such that, even in a country such as China, where internet access is controlled, web browsers can log on to Liars Cheats and Bastards and discover that John Humphreys from Margate, aka Johnny Boy, has a mark on his chest that resembles a third nipple, and that he allegedly cheated on his now ex-wife with one of her friends. According to the site, he is now in Melbourne, Australia, working on computer games. He probably fled there to escape the humiliation.
What happens when eveyone finds out?
It’s quick and easy to ruin your reputation on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook, if a wronged lover takes to the internet to expose your affairs. And if your profiles are followed by hundreds of friends, family and colleagues, then it doesn’t take long for everyone to know about your philandering ways.
Undoubtedly, there are many advantages to being part of a social network – that is, providing that you use it in a correct way. In the ‘The Social Network’, it was suggested that Facebook was created to facilitate the pursuit of women. Unless you want your colleagues, friends and family to know that about you - don’t use it for that reason.
Steps To Avoid online Pre-marital/Extra-Marital Affairs:
Have honest, trusting and transparent communication with your spouse. Do you “edit” information out about how you really know the person you’re adding on a social network? Do you exclude information about how you added someone that you was/may be attracted to? If you find yourself engaging in such secrecy, ask yourself why and put an end to it. When in doubt, discuss the situation with your spouse. Commit to honest and transparent relations with your spouse, and schedule private times for yourself and him/her so that you can reconnect emotionally.
Stay commited to your marriage. Strengthen your commitment to your marriage. Studies show that couples who commit to one another think less often about being with someone else. Keeping your marriage strong needs investment and commitment.
Stifle fantasies about old flames. Monitor and control your thoughts. Don’t search, add or stalk the profiles of old flames/crushes. Don’t entertain fantasies/thoughts about an extra-marital relation.
Keep intimate/personal information for your spouse. If you share more of your personal information with your connections on social networking sites than with your spouse and spend more time with him/her than in your marriage, this is a big warning sign, that there is something seriously wrong with your relationship.
Online affairs are just as toxic as an actual extra-marital affair because they desensitize you, and act as a precursor to one. Prevent online affairs by placing the computer in a common room such as a family room or kitchen where you cannot hide the computer screen from your spouse. Stay away from chat rooms and never bring up or discuss sensitive topics and personal or marital issues with anybody over the Internet.
Do not let you eyes stray. Avoid spending time looking at profile pictures and albums of men/women who are not dressed decently.
Remember, whilst it only takes a click of a button to begin an affair, it also takes a click of a button to end a relationship and ruin your reputation.