Dealing With a Cyberaffair

Find out how online affairs are leading to more divorces and hurting left-behind partners.

Has the Internet turned your relationship inside-out? Does it seem that your partner's entire personality has changed since discovering the Internet? Does your Internet-obsessed partner suddenly demand privacy when using the Internet, ignore once routinely performed household chores, come late to bed every night and never has time for sex? Is your partner less interested in your relationship? Then Internet addiction has hit your relationship and a possible cyber-affair may be brewing.

When a husband or wife turns to the computer for intimacy and sex - sometimes even ending a long marriage to run off with their Internet lover - the cyberwidow left behind must confront rejection, abandonment, anger, and confusion about what happened and why.

Online Affairs Leading to More Divorces

Online affairs account for a growing number of divorce cases and it is the most frequently treated problem at the Center for Online Addiction. Partners engaged in an online affair go through several personality changes and often rationalize that an online affair isn't really cheating. They believe it is a harmless flirtation because it doesn't involve any "physical touching". However, the emotional pain and devastation to a once warm and loving relationship is just the same.

Partners in Crisis

Partners who learn of an online affair feel betrayed, hurt, jealous, and angry at the discovery. They have long suspected that something is wrong because of the computer. Their loved one suddenly demands privacy at the computer, moving it to a private den or secluded basement, and ignores the relationship while spending hours in front of the computer. They show a declining interest in their relationship and suddenly seem preoccupied with new online activities. If confronted, their partners react with defensiveness or anger, and a once loving and sensitive wife becomes cold and withdrawn, and a formerly jovial husband turns quiet and serious.

A Growing Trend

In the last decade, Dr. Kimberly Young has counseled hundreds of couples devastated by the long-term affects of an online affair. Online affairs can impact stable marriages as the partner engaged in the affair often idealizes these new online relationships. They imagine a better life, they picture running off with a new online lover, and they romanticize this person who seems to understand them in a way no one else has, leaving a devastated spouse struggling to understand how their husband or wife could fall in love with someone that they have never met.

Caught in the Net, the first and only recovery book on Internet addiction to help rebuild your relationshipYou can order our exclusive booklet: Infidelity Online: An Effective Guide for Rebuilding your Relationship after a Cyberaffair. Click on the link for details.


Caught in the NET addresses those feelings and illustrates how the quick and easy connections made through the safety of the computer screen undermine intimate relationships at home. Readers learn the basic warning signs that may indicate their spouse has engaged in a cyberaffair, and a step-by-step- plan outlines how to approach the spouse who has strayed.

Please contact our Virtual Clinic if you already know that your partner has an addiction problem or is engaged in a cyberaffair. Click here to order Caught in the Net

If you are a family therapist, please refer to our Seminars to arrange a full-day training workshop on the evaluation and treatment of compulsive Internet use and how it impacts marriages and families.

next: Kids and Computers - Internet Addiction and Media Violence
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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 22). Dealing With a Cyberaffair, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: June 24, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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