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jsc3791's avatar

Do you think use of social media is causing infidelity to increase?

Asked by jsc3791 (1968 points ) April 13th, 2009

I am 27, but many of my friends are into their 40s and 50s. Lately, a couple of them have reconnected with old boyfriends via social media networks. In both cases, the ex was the one who “found” them and started the conversation.

In discussing what their conversations, interactions and even face-to-face meetings have involved, some in my group have questioned the intentions of the said exes. It has all started to make me wonder…

Do you think that as more and more people become active on social networks, the chance and occurrence of infidelity is bound to rise?

And not just any demographic: In the last 60 days, the number of US users of Facebook over the age of 35 has doubled. The majority of Facebook users are now over the age of 25, with 26–44 year olds comprising 41% of the market. The largest single growing demographic is women over the age of 55.

While neither of my friends has done anything wrong, it seems like social networks open doors into the past that otherwise would have remained closed. Will there be any correlation between rates of infidelity, divorce, etc. as these tools gain more users?

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36 Answers

Zen's avatar

As soon as I read the question, without reading the details, I gave it a “great question”. It is a serious issue, and I look forward to the flutherites comments on such an interesting question. Well done, js, imho. (I’m going to read all of your past questions now)

jsc3791's avatar

@Zen I hope I don’t disappoint! My list of past questions is quite a random list!

Facade's avatar

I don’t know that it’s the sole cause, but it certainly aids in a person’s efforts. It makes it so a person can cheat without even leaving their home.

Zen's avatar

@jsc3791 I love ‘em!

jsc3791's avatar

@Facade So do you think that even just having the conversation online constitutes cheating? I guess that’s a question for another thread. =)

qualitycontrol's avatar

People have been cheating since the telegraph…they would just ride a horse to their booty call…

Facade's avatar

@jsc3791 If it’s just a conversation, no. But conversations can turn into much more

Mr_M's avatar

The people who cheat as a result of the social websites are going to cheat ANYWAY. It just makes it easier to cheat with someone you used to know. That’s all.

Zen's avatar

I think that any, almost any, contact between two people – online or irl (in real life), constitutes as cheating – if – and this is a huge if – both want it to be cheating.

You know what I mean, right?!~

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think it makes it easier in the sense that long-ago friends and exes are a known quantity, but if they already had it in their minds to cheat, they’d find someone regardless of method.

westy81585's avatar

I remember when you HAD to have a valid college e-mail address to sign up. And it wasn’t bogged down with ad’s and stupid ass “applications” and all the other BS. Ohhh the good old days before it became Myspace 2…..

filmfann's avatar

I recently aquired a Facebook page. I had resisted for a long time. A friend of mine told me Facebook is like a neighborhood party, while MySpace is more like a nightclub. She said Facebook is a good way to share photos, and an easy way to keep in touch with people without sending out 100 emails. If you want to know about whats going on with someone, you can just check their page.
I am married, and I don’t stray. I have a couple ex’s on my page, but that is because I care about them, not because I want to hook up again.

filmfann's avatar

That all said, I have recently become a whore for lurve.

casheroo's avatar

I imagine it does. It enables people that usually would have no contact, to reconnect.

Funny story, my father looked up his old ex-girlfriend on facebook, from high school. Not to reconnect in the way you worry, and he began talking to her..then realized that this girl looked nothing like the girl he dated. It was some other girl he went to high school with. He didn’t remember this girl at all. haha.

I personally think Facebook for older people, like in their 40s, must be pretty cool. How else would they know what their old school mates are even doing? They never would have that ability.

But to answer your question, yes. I think it is affecting infidelity. I think people think that what they do on computers is completely private. People tend to forget that their spouses know their passwords or can easily log on to see all those messages. A friend of mine is going through a nasty divorce, and Myspace messages are a crucial part of her evidence :(

wundayatta's avatar

It’s certainly not a cause of infidelity; that comes from people being unhappy. But it does facilitate the ease of finding someone to commit the infidelity with.

bezdomnaya's avatar

I agree with @casheroo and @daloon. I think especially in the ‘older’ generation, there is an increased ability to find someone you used to be involved with. Right now, my mum is worried because 2 of my dad’s ex-girlfriends have found him on (the Russian equivalent of) facebook. Both are recently single. Clearly, their motives are to be questioned here.

Personally, I am friends with a lot of my ex-boyfriends on facebook, but that is because we were friends after we broke up. Although, sometimes a few of them will leave comments on photos or on my wall that I don’t find entirely appropriate if they’re with someone.

To answer the question, I think it can increase your ability to find people you would otherwise not be able to find. This can lead to an increase in infidelity if there is already a predisposition to go that way. Like daloon said, infidelity comes from unhappiness.

tinyfaery's avatar

People cheated before the internet, and they will always do so.

theluckiest's avatar

Yeah I think cheaters are cheaters. It might be making it for cheaters to cheat more, but it’s not leading people that didn’t cheat to cheat.

ru2bz46's avatar

Funny thing, I just answered this question.

The most recent time my wife cheated, it was still in the planning stages. Her ex boyfriend found her MySpace page and contacted her. She was communicating via phone and email with the guy for eight months. She told him she needed two years to finish up some things before she could fully commit to him. If this was the first time, I could have worked with her. Unfortunately, she had physically cheated before, so I knew she would have gone through with it this time.

So, from experience, I think it does at least make it easier for someone to cheat.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I do think there’s more of a hooking up aspect to MySpace or some of the other sites than there is to Facebook.

jsc3791's avatar

@ru2bz46 I asked 1st so my question is kewler! =P

ru2bz46's avatar

@jsc3791 I wasn’t saying that it was a repeat question. It’s just that my answer involved the same affair in both cases.

hearkat's avatar

I am one of the 35+-year-olds to have become active on FB in the past couple months. Reconnecting with people I dated or had crushes on to see if there’s any chance of hooking up now was not my purpose. I did have one friend say that he liked me but was too shy to ask me out back then. I told him that was sweet, and it’s probably better that we hadn’t dated back then because I was so unstable! And that was the end of it. He is married and a father, and if he had expressed some interest, I’d have nixed it.

I think that people who are inclined to cheat will cheat… but the internet does make it easier. Nevermind the social networking sites—what about CraigsList or that AshleyMadison or whatever it’s called?

Zen's avatar

@ru2bz46 Just a side: I’d PM u, but we don’t know each other. And you did post it in the open, so… are you saying you are being cheated on? Not sure I understood correctly, because if you are… well, I’d like to help if I can (not cheat, listen!)

:-)

ru2bz46's avatar

@Zen I’m good, but thanks. Yeah, my wife cheated a few times, so we are now separated, and I gave her the freedom to date whomever she wants, now. The most recent, camel-back-breaking time was when her ex found her on MySpace.

I don’t mind talking about it in the open due to anonymity (I’d hate for her to come across this site and recognize me, though). I only hope that my story can help someone else in some small way.

bezdomnaya's avatar

@jsc3791 Hey, my question was different, I take serious offense to your purported ‘kewler-ness’... Ok, not really. ;)

@ru2bz46 I am very sorry that your relationship turned out the way it did. Your answer to both questions is very insightful and helpful. Hope everything works out for the best in your future!

Zen's avatar

@ru2bz46 Wow. @bezdomnaya x2 what the lady said.

jsc3791's avatar

@bezdomnaya I was only kidding =P

ru2bz46's avatar

@bezdomnaya It will work out for the best. Either we get back together (for some odd reason), or we split completely. Whichever one happens, we will both learn and grow from the experience.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I found an interesting article on Twitter and amorality that is on topic with this question.

catinthehat's avatar

I’ve ran into this myself & although I’ve never done anything more than “harmless” flirting….I wonder sometimes where the line is. W/out social media, I’d never even be in contact w/said persons…..

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Why don’t you come on over to my place and we can discuss this more, uh, how shall I say? “In depth.”

Neizvestnaya's avatar

No, not causing but definitely aiding people who are unhappy to find empathy, sympathy, solace, comfort and even face to face love elsewhere. When I was terribly unhappy in an unhealthy relationship I knew was doomed then the internet did put me in contact with friends and acquaintances who were able to support me from afar to be able to find independence again on my own. I did get a lot of hit ups but in the end it was up to me to act out on the offers or to stick to my plan of leaving as I had already planned.

sinscriven's avatar

I don’t think social websites like Facebook will increase the rates or likelihood of infidelity any more than people would have without it. If people get tempted by a network of possible partners, then they were already thinking of cheating anyway.

I’d be more interested in the social impact of sites like AshleyMadison.com , whose entire business model is based on helping married people cheat with other married people. And we’re not talking implicit helping either, like using a dating site; Their ad line is “Life is short, have an affair.”

liza462's avatar

I’m a firm believer that if you are going to cheat, you are going to cheat, whether it’s online or face-to-face. And I’ve just recently heard about the AshleyMadison site and it saddens me that this exists. One of the many reasons that I feel getting married has become unnecessary. If you feel that a long term relationship is possible, then just live with the person. That way if later your significant other cheats its easier to seperate than divorce.

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