Reflection of evolving relationships?
For many of those in relationships, finding out about a romantic partner’s online fling, affair or relationship is the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster. However, as attitudes and trends related to dating and relationships continue to evolve, more people are approaching this situation with an open mind.
This is according to Dating.com, which found that 38% of people in relationships believe their partner or spouse’s online relationship is not an added stressor on their real-life relationship.
As the company behind over 30 online dating sites, with offices and dating experts in seven countries, conducted a survey to detail people’s experiences with discovering and dealing with their partner’s cyber affair, it found:
- Emotional dating: 78% of people in online relationships were most interested in social discovery and connecting with people over shared interests that don’t resonate with their real-life partner. The majority of these respondents indicated that geographical distance has no impact on their desire to continue these interest-based relationships virtually, and that they don’t plan to meet their online connection in real life.
- Chatting as coping: 82% of people discovered that their partner began a cyber affair after a major life stressor like changing jobs.
- Awkward conversations: 25% of those surveyed said asking their spouse about the motives behind their extramarital and/or virtual love life was among the most awkward conversations they’ve ever had. However, many respondents found the honesty enlightening – for example, some spouses who strayed admitted they felt unappreciated or undesired and looked to a cyber affair to get a self-esteem boost.
- Strengthened connections: 50% reported that their romantic partner was continuing another relationship online. Of those, just 6% of their partners went on to meet their new connections in real life. A majority of these respondents actually strengthened their bond after working through the implications of an external online relationship.
“A purely online relationship – one that never plays out in any face to face, in person scenarios – is a space and time to have fun without thinking of all the expectations, pressures and stressors that come with dating, serious relationships and marriage,” says Maria Sullivan, VP and dating expert of Dating.com. “Both singles and those in relationships may feel confidence return and grow in online relationships, and that can translate to other areas of their lives – including real-life relationships. Anyone who is open-minded when it comes to their romantic partner’s online relationship could be opening doors to a huge amount of benefits in their own life, and Dating.com’s insights show that external and online relationships shouldn’t always be considered a negative.”
Sullivan acknowledged that people might feel anxious when discussing their partner’s online relationship, with their partner and with other loved ones. Her tips to approach the situation include:
- Relax: it’s more common than you think. While the internet may historically be perceived as a negative setting for dating and relationships, that’s clearly not always the case. There are plenty of people – both single and those who are in committed real-life relationships – who choose to explore a virtual romantic connection. In many cases, some people even feel as though pursuing an online romance allows them to have a better time with their partner in real life.
- Don’t let others’ opinions get to you. If one is accepting of his or her partner’s online relationship, the last thing he or she wants to hear is “this relationship will never work” from their family and friends. If one is comfortable with the situation, then there should be no shame in allowing their partner to explore an online relationship. Don’t allow old-fashioned or traditional mindsets to get you down.
- Keeping a positive attitude is key. If you find that your partner’s online relationship consistently puts a damper on your mood or your real-life relationship with them, then you might want to accept that the situation is not for you.