Skip to main content

Online Affairs

This section provides research-informed information and support for individuals, couples and those in relationships with information and support if you are having, or are worried about a partner having, an online affair.

Practitioner Resources

For information on clinical practice to do with online affairs see our articles and research references here.

About Online Affairs

This is part of the larger Online Affairs website which provides free articles for members of the public impacted by internet infidelity, as well as therapists working with those who have experienced, or are experiencing, online affairs.

Working in collaboration with The Open University, Tavistock Relationships presents a number of short articles on the subject of online affairs. Here we answer questions as to what consitutes an online affair and also suggest possible solutions to help if yourself in such a situation. It is broken down into the following questions:

Am I cheating online?

Is my partner cheating online?

How do I get help?

key on  keyboard with the word 'cheat'

What is cheating online?

What constitutes cheating online can be a grey area which comes down to personal agreements between a couple.

Cheating online – also referred to as an online affair or internet infidelity – is any behaviour conducted through any digital communication device (e.g. phone, tablet, laptop) that someone believes betrays their relationship.

View article

women in be next to partner but on phone in the dark

Why is it easy to cheat online?

Research suggests that there are some aspects of the internet that may make it easier to be unfaithful.

The fact that the online world is ‘virtual’ (as opposed to the ‘real’ world) can make it hard to judge online behaviours. In addition, researchers suggest that confusion around definitions can make it easier to justify cheating online.

View article

I-Spy: Internet Infidelity

The infidelity drama ‘I-SPY’ explores the issue of online affairs over five episodes. The fictitious couple - Rhianna and Oliver - struggle to hold their relationship together after engaging in online activities. These films illustrate how online affairs might start and can help those in relationships to have the conversation about what each partner feel is ok to do online, and what isn’t.

Watch the episodes and find discussion questions here

Online Affairs Credits

This website was developed and designed as part of the Kick-starting Impact Award Project ‘Internet infidelity: creating partnerships’. In this project academics from the Open University (OU) and from Oxford University worked together with Tavistock Relationships (TR) to develop a programme of knowledge exchange activities on the subject of internet infidelity, its impact on couples and families and the counselling and therapy techniques used with couples affected by it.

For more information on the project see here

The project was funded in 2016/2017 by the Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) awarded to University of Oxford by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

For more information on the Impact Acceleration Account see here