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FRISKY FRIDAY FORUM: As On-Line Affairs Increase, Cheat-Proof Your Relationship. Here’s How.

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Two psychologists warn that online affairs are increasing, thanks to the effects of pandemic.  They say the daily stress of it, plus the significantly increased time with your partner (which makes him or her seem less special…  and there’s no “chase”…) is driving some people to apps – where they will meet candidates for “hookups.”

What’s more:  There is less actual interaction with co-workers or business trips, less likelihood of running into an “old flame,” these days.  So, the seeking-something-sexy-for-a-minute has moved more online.

But there are ways to prevent this from happening in your home.  First, know the risks.  Specifically, there are eight which psychologists point to, at YourTango.

  1.  Naivete.  When you don’t know how risky situations pop up, or become prolonged,  you don’t know how to safeguard against them.  Good thing you’re reading this!  “When sexualized feelings begin emerging, you think ‘I can handle this,’ but the feelings become increasingly intense,” according to Susan Heitler.  She says it begins weakening your ability for willpower or good judgment to hold sway.
  2.  Private Situations.  When attracted people spend time away from all others, trouble becomes much more likely.  Secrecy blossoms here, whether talk or action or both.  One leads to the next.
  3.  Intimate Discussions.  Private subject matter really isn’t appropriate for potentially attracted people.  It can lead to impulses for intimacy.  “It can feel flattering when someone of the opposite sex wants to talk with you about his or her personal problems.  Beware.  Suddenly, sexual actions don’t feel like infidelity, in this case.  They just feel like a logical and appropriate next step in an already too-emotionally-intimate relationship,” says Heitler.
  4.  Old Flame or Business Associate.  Flirtation may look harmless and those titillating feelings may feel delightful.  The difficulty is that the distance between delight (and then dismay) at having dishonored your marital vows can be far shorter than you think, and there’s no clear ‘Danger Ahead‘ sign when you are going too far.”
  5.  Alcohol.  “The likelihood of an affair skyrockets,” if two at-risk individuals put themselves in a situation which includes it.That’s according to Forbes. Alcohol clouds judgment and increases sexual impulses.
  6.  Distance at Home.  The former strength of your connection will become fragile, if you don’t sleep in the same room, or say “good morning,” “good night,” or stay interested in each others days, problems, triumphs, etc.  “The distance may come from not sharing enough positive and private time together, from having too little fun shared activities, insufficient sexual connecting, old resentments or even too much commute or travel time by one partner.”
  7.  Personality Type.  “Narcissists tend to be prime victims of the cheating impulse. They are easily drawn to partners who flatter them by showering with them affection or addressing seductive attention their way. They also may enjoy showing their prowess at chasing and conquering their prey,” Heitler writes.  She adds that “they may be more prone to focus on what feels good to them ‘in the moment,‘ rather than think about the impact their affair would have on their partner.”  If someone tends to live and behave without much of a “moral code” (religious or other spiritual or intellectual principals), that person is much more likely to cheat – because “the rules don’t apply to me” is their mantra, according to Heitler.
  8.  Parent Models.  “The son of a man who cheated on his wife has a higher risk of doing the same, than the son of a man who remained faithful.”  Heitler explains, “If a cheating dad cheated repeatedly, normalizing that behavior, the risks rise yet again for the adult son. The same is likely to be true for women, though the data on this phenomenon has been less available.”

Heitler and her fellow experts recommend THESE 3 PROTECTIONS:  

**Be savvy, not naive.  Stay clear of situations with any of the above risk factors.  Exit early from situations that trigger initial sexual feelings.  If you must continue to interact with a high-risk individual or in a high-risk situation, protect yourself.

**Limit the time you spend with the at-risk other, and maybe bring a friend or colleague along to keep the dialogue less personal.  Meet in public places.  Stay clear of talk about personal issues and save the alcohol for enjoying with a same-sex set of friends or at home with your spouse.

**Discuss your concerns with the one you love to bolster your resistance.  Listen appreciatively if your loved one shares concerns about a potential affair with you. Honesty really is generally the best policy.  Working as a team to keep your love safe benefits you both.

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