Are you using a social networking site? Is your significant other? Call your divorce lawyer now! According to an alarmist recent article from an Oklahoma news station:
Nearly half of all Americans use social networking site, but some counselors suggest that going online could be hazardous to marriages.
“We see about 40 percent of the couples coming in, there is a link to Facebook or to MySpace that has caused a breach in their marriage,” said licensed marriage and family therapist Tara Fritsch.
Apparently all those social networking sites facilitate your being in touch–or getting back in touch–with too many people–and therefore might lead to cheating hearts. Or wandering eyes. Or roaming vaginas.
The Edmond therapist said most connections start off innocently enough.
“An ex-love, an old flame — there’s a nostalgia there. There’s memory of the simple days or maybe excitement of new romance,” she said.
She’s not the only one who believes this. One of my girlfriends once kind of blew my mind last year by fuming over the fact that her (middle-aged, completely decent and faithful) boyfriend had a Facebook page. Many of his Facebook friends were women he went to college with, and she actually told me that looking at his friends list upset her because “if he’s in touch with them he’ll maybe see that they’re still attractive and maybe eventually he’ll decide he’d rather be with them.” Uh, maybe. Or maybe he’ll realize that he’s dating the kind of jealous control freak who feel threatened by his Facebook page. But maybe this therapist from Oklahoma would agree with her. Is having your significant other out there on the internet dangerous to your relationship?
Chris Rock once famously said of cheating: “A man is only as faithful as his options.” Which is simplistic and sexist and smacks of dudely privilege, but there’s a grain of truth there that applies to both sexes. Having choices does make it easier to choose a different situation, or partner. But cheating doesn’t occur–or very rarely occurs–completely spontaneously.
If your relationship is on the rocks, or emotionally estranged or just plain unfulfilling, you’re much more likely to cheat. No surprise there. But if you’re discontented and you have a wide circle of friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends…you’re a lot more likely to find someone to stray with.
The therapist in this article suggests keeping a tight watch on your spouse’s on-line networking:
Her recommendation is that couples set guidelines for using social networking sites.
“If it’s not something you want your spouse to know about, don’t do it. Have open communication with your spouse. Share your Facebook or MySpace sites. Have one another’s passwords. Talk regularly about who you are chatting with,” Fritsch said.
I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. It’s appropriate to monitor your child’s on-line use. Not your partner’s. Adults in a relationship have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
In the past I’ve been friended with my boyfriends on Facebook, but I would never dream of asking for the password to their accounts, any more than I would expect to have access to their e-mail or text messages. And if they’d asked for access to my Facebook account, there would have been trouble. Sure, they might be using social networking–or e-mail or phone or text or fax or whatever–to facilitate cheating. But you can’t wall off your partner’s exposure to other people, or monitor their communications, and expect that your relationship will automatically be infidelity-proof. Blaming social networking is just an easy distraction from addressing the real causes of cheating.