Cheating online is easy and seductive
Unlike at home, work or the pub, the internet allows you instant access to a willing group of attractive (according to their photos) people who want to chat, flirt, or even have sex with you. Whatever your fantasies, you can find someone with the same tastes as you, at the click of a mouse.
The internet is vast: all knowing, all seeing and all present. It can make you feel in complete control, free from everyday reality. When we are online, real-life concerns and anxieties can be put aside, including the complexities of our real-life relationships. For more information see our ‘why is it easy to cheat online page’.
Despite the fantasies we might live out on the internet, people often get caught out. The real world comes crashing in when partners or children discover undeleted histories on computers, pop up messages, or email accounts left opened. With the discovery often comes promises to stop the activity, to delete accounts, and end online romances. But with such easy access to chat lines on mobile phones and laptops, and the ability to set up false email accounts, the seductive power of the internet can draw many back in. I typed ‘how to keep your web activity secret from your partner?’ into and it returned 2,150,000,000 results: the internet is telling you in over two billion ways that it can be done.
How to stop online cheating
There are several steps you can take to stop yourself reaching for the mouse and a chat room when you feel in need of a boost:
- Discuss strategies with your partner or therapist. Counselling can give support in looking at the underlying issues which might be fuelling your online addiction. For more information see the relationship help page.
- Seek technical advice on how to block chat rooms.
- Change certain patterns of behaviour and replace them with new habits. For example, if you always log on after your partner has gone to bed at night, you might have to start going to bed earlier.
- Think about what it is in the reality of your life that you’re trying to escape from and how you can you improve your situation. Flirting online might give you a break from feeling inadequate at work, misunderstood by your partner, or bullied by a workmate, but it won’t solve the problem. Is there someone else you can confide in about your issues? A friend? Your partner?
To see the full list of research references which have informed the content on this page, please see our research references section.
Page authored by Marian O’Connor (Tavistock Relationships)