Valentine’s Day is a day to proclaim one’s affections. But what if one partner’s affections lie elsewhere?
With the advent of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, many couples are taking a different perspective on Valentine’s Day. As sales of their Stealth iBot Computer Monitor skyrocketed leading up to the holiday, BrickHouse Security realized something was afoot. Seeking to discover whether Facebook and Twitter were contributing to this spike in sales, BrickHouse Security rounded up a team of social networking experts, relationship advisers, and psychologists to uncover the truth about online infidelity.
Cheating on social networking sites, often referred to as “Social Cheatworking,” is a bigger problem than most people think. In December of 2009, the Telegraph published a story on Facebook’s increased role in divorces. Speaking with a major law firm specializing in divorce, the paper reported that the firm found nearly one in five petitions cited Facebook as a driving force behind the divorce. According to ABC News, the company actually studied 5,000 divorce papers filed in the U.S. and in 20 percent of the filings, the word “Facebook” was mentioned among the reasons for the separation request.
Also according to the Telegraph, Mark Keenan, the Managing Director of the firm Divorce-Online, said: “I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was. I was really surprised to see 20% of all the petitions containing references to Facebook…. The most common reason seemed to be people having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to.”
But the question comes back to whether Facebook and other social networking sites are causing more people to cheat on their partner? What are the signs to look out for when it comes to a spouse who you suspect of being a social networking philanderer? In a situation where someone is suspicious about a partner’s online activity, when is it appropriate to use a device that monitors computer use like the Stealth iBot? We turned to Dr. Lisa Boesky, Ph.D., to talk about the rise of social cheatworking and how it is transforming the dynamics of modern day relationships.
A clinical psychologist, Dr. Boesky is the author of numerous books and DVDs, in addition to being a nationally renowned speaker. A popular TV guest, she has appeared on 20/20, the O’Reilly Factor, CNN, Fox News Live, the Early Show, and many other programs. Lisa described to us how social networking has changed the dynamics for couples in relationships. She explained that there are two kinds of cheaters on social networking sites: those that are actively looking for ways to cheat, for whom these social networking sites are simply another outlet for cheating; and those who were originally not inclined to cheat, but may be tempted by these social networking opportunities. These sites are not necessary going to suddenly compel a person to cheat, but for someone who is inclined to cheat, it’s going to give them a lot more opportunity.
Said Dr. Boesky, “I think Facebook gives people who would cheat or who would maybe be on the fence about cheating, more opportunities for cheating… It’s an avenue to meet more people. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are aiding people who would have that inclination by making it easier for them.”
Dr. Boesky is not the only professional talking who is talking about the dangers of social networking for relationships. In May 2009, KOCO 5 News did a story on Facebook cheating, where they spoke to licensed marriage and family therapist Tara Fritsch. Said Ms. Fritsch, “We see about 40 percent of the couples coming in, there is a link to Facebook or to MySpace that has caused a breach in their marriage… Emotional affairs, research shows us, can be just as damaging as sexual affairs.”
Many Couples Are Bored in Their Relationships
According to Dr. Boesky, another type of online cheater is someone who wouldn’t normally be inclined to cheat, but through Facebook ends up connecting to people he or she wouldn’t normally interact with, ultimately end up cheating. A study compiled throughout 2009 and released by iStrategyLabs in January 2010 shows that the number of married Facebook users aged 35-54 has grown 190.2% while the number of 55+ users has grown an astounding 513.7%. This largely married demographic is using Facebook to reconnect with old flames or scout out new friends or lover. This activity, when combined with proximity and opportunity are driving this cheating and flirting epidemic.
Ultimately, the relationships that people develop through Facebook produce a false sense of intimacy for those involved. Believing that they really know the person on the other side of that Facebook wall, most people really don’t, mostly because Facebook is all about sharing public information; putting your best face forward to share tidbits of your life with your group of friends, rather than a real life portrayal of who you really are. Furthermore, the majority of the time, the relationships developed on Facebook never last because the foundation of the relationship was built on cheating to begin with.
Relationships Destroyed by Facebook
Dr. Boesky has already seen many relationships destroyed by social networking sites. Very often, it’s because a partner reconnects with an old flame online. But more often than not, the relationship was already on shaky ground first before this happened. So instead of putting in the energy to work out their issues, one of them gets distracted and infatuated with a person they picked up online. She has also seen many couples where one member of the couple is leading a totally different second life online, presenting themselves off as being single.
Classic Signs of Online Cheating
Boesky vehemently believes that couples should each have their own privacy, but if one member of the couple doesn’t want to share their Facebook log-in formation, even though they share personal information such as bank accounts, then that is potentially a red flag for a much bigger problem.
There are several ways to identify a possible Facebook philandering spouse or partner, including a spouse repeatedly staying up late at night on the computer. Furthermore, if a partner prefers time spent online to time spent with the other partner doing previously favorite activities such as watching TV, it could be a sign that something is awry. Also, if a spouse spends a lot of time talking about an online buddy, to the point where it seems borderline obsessive, that too can be an indication of online cheating.
When to Use Technology to Combat Social Cheatworking
As online users are getting more savvy at covering their tracks, technology is getting more savvy at uncovering exactly what’s going on. Products like the Stealth iBot let users record all computer activity, and don’t even require hardware to capture detailed computer reports. For example, the Stealth iBot requires only plugging the small into a computer’s USB port and walking away. To uncover computer activity, the user then plugs the device back in to capture all screenshots, emails, IMs, and browsed websites. But how are people using such a device and when is it OK to use a product such as the Stealth iBot?
According to one unsolicited testimonial from a BrickHouse Security customer, “I used the Stealth iBot Computer spy to confirm my suspicions that my wife was involved in extra curricular activities on Facebook. My wife had a secret email and I was able to see her emails she was sending out and also view screenshots of what she was doing online. When she tried to refute my claims all I did was show her the print outs from the computer and she was speechless.”
Bohesky is adamant that the Stealth iBot is not meant for someone that has always been paranoid about his or her relationship. Someone who suffers from constant insecurities about their relationship should seek therapy, and not use a tool like the Stealth iBot. According to Dr. Boesky, it has been proven that your gut feeling is often probably true. If you observe some of these signs, and they’re accompanied by a gut feeling that something is wrong, then it’s time to use a tool like the Stealth iBot to find out what is really going on. In that way a person will be prepared to make an informed decision about the future of the relationship.