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No Digital Affairs This Holiday

By Barrington Brennen

While most of us will be having lots of wholesome fun during the holiday season, there will be some who will be causing damage to relationships and creating great emotional pain to others with the use of digital equipment, namely cell phones.

One of the fastest growing methods of causing strife in relationships is texting or text messaging. That is the use of cell phones or online messengers to transmit secret, sexual, romantic messages to someone you are not married to or not in a relationship with. When the smart phones were first introduced, there was a surge in the number of couples who accessed marital therapy in the Bahamas and in many other countries. Why? Because a spouse would have discovered, after probing his or her partner’s cell phone, intimate messages to or from a stranger. 

These messages often caused heated debates between spouses whether or not the partner was cheating of chatting.

A question often asked was: Why are you saying those things to that person and you have never said them to me?

Too many of today’s relationship are on a fast track to destruction. Relationship specialist, Dr Sheri Meyers, in her book “Chatting or Cheating: How to detect infidelity, rebuild love, and affair proof your marriage” states: “It used to take a long time for affairs to develop.

Not anymore. With the advent of social media and technology at our fingertips 24/7, the pathway to cheating is fast and practically unobstructed. It is easier than ever to meet others, stay constantly (and secretly) in contact, get intimate and cheat on our partners.” 

It is my observation that this phenomenon is occurring in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. 

As I have stated in many of my previous articles, most affairs do not start with deliberate, intentional acts. They move progressively slowly down to a precipice of pain and misery. The difference today is the slow journey has gotten faster, very fast. Traditionally affairs started face to face with “innocent friendship” until it mushroomed into a heated, passionate encounter. However, many individuals today, with the use of cell phones, online messaging, and emails are secretly diving quickly into intimate sharing. The practice of openness and honesty has lost its meaning in many relationships.

Some individuals try to keep their secret love affair hidden as long as possible thinking no one would ever find out.   It seems to be a real fantasy world that offers some form of satisfaction, although unreal, to the participants.  The defence phrase by many is “we are only friends.”

Avoid the Trap: When an emotional need goes unmet, the marriage is vulnerable to an affair.  Sadly, too many people are not even aware that their needs are not being met. Yes, that is true.  Others are aware and have been complaining for years, but the other partner would not listen. 

Therefore the romantically starved partner may innocently seek a listening ear or someone who seems caring and understanding. Unknowingly, the affair begins.  Here is my definition of an affair: “Whenever you say or do something to someone other than your spouse that you should first say or do to your spouse or only say or do to your spouse, you are either having an affair or you are at risk of having one.”  It is a slippery slope and cyber technology has made it easier and faster. Avoid this trap.

Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist.  Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com.

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