Recovering from an Internet addiction is just like recovering from any other addiction. In addition to committing to Internet “rehab”, you’ll need to address the underlying problems that led to your becoming susceptible to it in the first place, such as boredom, anxiety and depression.
Tip #1: Build up your “real life” social network. Quality real life relationships can lessen your need for online relationships. Set aside time daily to spend totally UNPLUGGED with friends and family.
Tip #2: Set use goals and stick to them. Limit the amount of time you spend online with the help of a timer. Commit to turning off your computer, tablet or smartphone after a certain hour in the evenings and spend that time with your family instead.
Tip #3: Treat the Internet as a tool, not as a best friend. Technology has become an indispensible pipeline of information and interaction and thus, is hard, if not impossible to give it up entirely. Be mindful of the exact reason you’re getting online and stick to that reason. Don’t let a check of the weekend weather turn into a two-hour stint following threads on Facebook.
Tip #4: Alter your routine, break your usage patterns. Take note of the times of day you’re most vulnerable to mindlessly surfing the Internet and then take action to disrupt those habits with alternative behavior: take a walk, call a friend, play with your kids or pets, or run an errand.
Just like any other addiction, there will be withdrawal symptoms when you take away the drug of choice—in this case, the dopamine hit you get from Internet use. You’ll look for ways to justify going back to it, and you’ll have slip ups every now and then. The key is to not let small setbacks lead to a major failure. Be compassionate with yourself and ask for help when you need it. Take it one day at a time. Eventually, you’ll find yourself able to enjoy the Internet and social media for what it was intended to be—a tool that adds fun and interest to everyday life—and not something that it was never intended to be—an escape from everyday life.
Do you have any advice for overcoming addiction?
When does being constantly connected and forming cyber relationships cross the line between one of life’s little pleasures into a full-blown and dangerous cyber- addiction? Take this quiz to find out…
Ah…the allure of the Internet and social media. Nowadays, our computers, smart phones, gaming devices and tablets have become the virtual gateway and convenient one-stop wonderland for many of our personal, social, professional and recreational needs. Logging on can bring instant relief to feelings of loneliness, stress and boredom, supplying an unlimited source of entertainment and stimulation anytime, anyplace 24/7.
With every notification, tweet, comment or “like”, you get a little thrill in the form of a shot of dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical that is released during pleasurable experiences, such as falling in love or riding a roller coaster. That cocktail of brain chemistry can easily lead to a dangerous addiction, hazardous to your relationship as any substance abuse. Part stimulant, part emotional tranquilizer, it’s easy to get hooked.
GOING ONLINE IS LIKE GETTING HIGH ON A DRUG
You find yourself spending time more and more time online, triggering the click that will get that you that next “hit.” The time you spend online seems to fly. You tell yourself (and your family) that you’re just going to check your status, do some research, get some work done and hours later, you realize you’ve spent the entire evening online—AGAIN.
Meanwhile, you find yourself zoning out with your kids or spouse, thinking about the last thing you posted and whether anyone has read it. You can’t seem to tolerate boredom, and lately, your days feel more and more boring when you’re not online.
ARE YOU ADDICTED?
Take the Quiz and Find Out…
Answer one of three ways: Always Sometimes Never
1. How often do you check your e-mail, send a text, or make a post before doing something else that you really need to do?
2. How often do you choose the stimulation of the Internet to intimacy with your partner or spending quality time with your kids?
3. How often do you put aside other work, chores and responsibilities to spend more time online?
5. How often do you get angry or annoyed when a family member talks to you while you’re online?
6. How often do you feel anxious, unhappy, restless or moody when you are off-line, which disappears once you are back on-line?
7. How often do you turn to the Internet for soothing or distraction when you are upset, bored or lonely?
8. How often do you lose sleep or feel exhausted the next day because of late night log-ins or texting?
9. How often does your real life seem dull in comparison with how you feel when you are online?
10. How often do you stay online longer than you planned and keep telling yourself “just a few more minutes”?
11. How often have you promised to cut back on the time you spend online, texting, or emailing and failed?
12. How often do you minimize or deny the amount of time you spend online when asked by your partner, family or friends?
Tally up how many times you answered “always”, “sometimes” and “never.”
If you answered “never”, CONGRATULATIONS, you are NOT addicted to the Internet.
If you answered “always” to 2 or more OR “sometimes” to 4 or more of the above questions, it’s time to consider some Internet Rehab. Click HERE to read my recommendations to help you break your addiction and get your life back on track.
Imagine for a moment that someone you met on Facebook sent you a message saying they thought you were incredibly sexy and attractive.
If you were in a committed, monogamous relationship and responded with your own flirtatious, suggestive comment, would that be chatting or cheating?
Ricki Lake recently invited me to appear on her show as an expert marriage and family therapist to advise a couple who were struggling through a similar situation.
The couple had been married for eleven years with three children. Gary, the husband, was spending a lot of time on Facebook, and his wife Janet noticed a flirtatious message he had sent to a single friend on the social media site.
Janet wanted to know, was Gary merely innocently chatting with his single friend or was the fact that he was flirting with her mean that he’d crossed the line into cheating?
In these sorts of situations, what I suggest is to apply the rule of the 3 S’s of emotional sex chemistry:
Secrecy: Is your partner keeping their actions and conversations with their “friend” secret from you?
Shared Intimacy: Are they talking about their innermost thoughts and feelings with this other person?
Sexual Energy: Is there sexual tension, flirting and arousal?
Unfortunately, Gary’s situation was applicable to all 3 S’s and that meant that he had crossed the line into cheating.
If you or your partner spend a lot of time on social media sites like Facebook, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re cheating. However, if you’re giving any one person a lot of attention, whether it’s through message boards, text messaging, or on Facebook and Twitter, it’s attention you’re taking away from the closeness you should be nurturing at home.
Every relationship needs a healthy investment of the 3 A’s: Affection, Appreciation and Attention. Simply living in the same house and sharing household responsibilities doesn’t automatically create a healthy relationship. When life gets dull, predictable or stressful, the desire to escape and seek excitement or distraction elsewhere can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are easy things you can do to put the spark back into your relationship that will demonstrate to your partner that you still love them, appreciate them and want to stay close:
1. Show your love in unexpected ways. Write a love note or draw a cute picture on a sticky note and place it on their car’s dashboard. Text them to tell them you miss them. Bring home a special treat you know they’ll love.
2. Shake things up. Do something new together. Take a salsa dancing class, rent a canoe, attend a concert, go for a full moon hike…be create with your time together. It’s amazing how busting out of the routine can spice up your love life.
3. Touch and embrace without an agenda. So many couples hold back kissing, touching, or holding each other until they have time or the desire to have sex, because they think that affection is just a prelude to sex. But hugging and cuddling is not only good for your relationship, it reduces stress and increases your wellbeing. Find ways to be affectionate throughout the day, every day.
In my book, “Chatting or Cheating” I explain the 6 top relationship problems that lead to infidelity and may be making you or your partner vulnerable to crossing the line from chatting to cheating online. I also go into depth about cyberchatting and virtual affairs on page 29, where you’ll learn the bio-chemical reasons why flirting with strangers online is so addictive and can very quickly lead to a real-life physical affair.
You get out of your relationship what you put into it. Make love a priority in your life and you’ll reap the sweet rewards in more ways than one.
This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers Psy.D., America’s leading love and intimacy expert.
Recently, I appeared as a guest on the CBS New York talk show, “The Couch”, during which we discussed the red flags of infidelity with the three co-hosts. We had a great time playing a little game that I call “Chatting or Cheating?”
Here’s how it went: I presented a scenario, then the three co-hosts held up a sign to vote whether they thought the person discussed in the scenario was guilty of cheating or were just innocently chatting. They were right about half the time! It just goes to show you that there’s a fine line between a platonic friendship and a secretive affair. To a casual observer, it’s hard to tell what’s really going on.
Watch the video to see if you could tell.
Would YOU be able to tell if your partner was cheating? What would tip you off? What are the signs?
Want to give it a try for yourself?
Here are several other scenarios for you to consider. Read each one and ask yourself, is this cheating, or is it just chatting? Why or why not? Then scroll down to compare your answer with mine.
Ready? Here we go…
Scenario 1: Parent “Play Dates”
You strike up a conversation with another parent at your child’s baseball practice. You make plans to carpool to the games together. You begin to dress differently (more attractively) when you know you’re going to see this parent and think about ways to stretch the time you spend together. You often suggest taking the kids out after the games, or hanging out together during the kids’ extended play dates. You think about this parent often and wonder what life would be like if you were together.
Are you just chatting or crossing the line into cheating?
My Analysis: Scenario 1: Parent Play Dates
This is definitely a slippery slope for emotional sex and more!
You are finding yourself thinking more and more about this other parent, and you are going out of your way to figure out how to see more of them. You are trying to look more attractive, dressing better, perhaps wearing make-up at times you normally would not (if you’re a woman). It’s important to ask yourself why do you want to look so attractive to this person?
Plus, the more time you spend alone together, the better chance there is that you will cross the line from emotional sex to actual physical sex. When you begin to make excuses to yourself as to WHY you should spend more time with this person, while keeping your interactions secret from your primary partner, that’s when you know you’re headed down a slippery slope. (In Chapter 7 of my book, “Chatting or Cheating?” I discuss ways to stop obsessing and end the infatuation so that you don’t end up doing something you’ll regret later.)
Scenario 2: Flirting at Work
You started to work back at your old job and there is a co-worker there that you were seeing for a while before you met and (married or started dating) your partner. Although you feel like you are a faithful person and committed to your current partner and relationship, you are enjoying the sparks and chemistry you still feel between you. You go out to lunches together, laugh and mildly flirt but nothing MORE. You know in your heart that you’d never cheat but the feelings you have makes going to work a lot more fun.
When does the fun cross the line into cheating?
My Analysis: Scenario 2: Flirting at Work
It sounds like it’s just innocent mild flirting and probably nothing to worry about. Sometimes we can’t avoid being near people with whom we’ve had a former relationship, or whom we’ve dated in the past, especially if it’s someone we work with.
The red flag would be if you or your partner wasn’t being honest about the extent of the flirtation, or went on extended lunch dates so you could spend more time together, or you developing crush-like feelings and were being secretive about it.
Secrecy is a sign there’s something to hide and that you or your partner don’t want to stop doing what they’re doing with this other person because it feels good. That’s all part of the brain chemistry of cheating (the dopamine hit) and plays into why secrecy can actually INCREASE the likelihood that you or your partner will cheat. Keeping secrets can feel exciting! See Chapter 1 of my book, “Chatting or Cheating” for the full scoop on the brain chemicals that lead to the slippery slope of emotional sex.
Scenario 3: Sparking the Old Flame
You discover over 300+ private messages between your partner and their old flame from college (who is single) on Facebook. In addition, you now know that they also regularly call and text each other. You’ve hacked into your significant other’s e-mail account and read everything. Your partner tells this other person all about their problems (including your relationship problems) and goes on and on about how they wish they could be together. Your partner even proclaims that this other person is someone they’ve always dreamt of, but that they would never leave you.
Is this cheating, even though they haven’t had sex or even been physically together for years?
My Analysis: Scenario 3: Sparking the Old Flame
There are some big red flags that indicate the person is engaged in emotional sex. This scenario hits the 3 Big S’s of emotional sex– S#1-Secrecy, S#2- Shared Intimacy and S#3 -Sexual Chemistry. Let’s start with 300+ private messages that you didn’t know about. There is certainly a lot of S#1 going on. The husband or wife has been sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings with the other person, not you. Worse, they are discussing their problems about you and your relationship with this outside person and not you. Definitely S#2! This creates more emotional separation between you and more intimacy between them. They are looking to the other person to get their emotional needs met and there’s a lot of S#3 romantic fantasy and affection being exchanged. Even though there hasn’t been physical contact, there is an emotional bond and more being formed. It’s just a matter of time before the cyber relationship becomes a full-blown affair.
A huge breeding ground for infidelity is when we stop giving each other the 3 As: Affection, Attention and Appreciation at home and turn outside to get those needs met.
To learn more about the RED FLAGS and tell-tale signs that your partner is crossing the line into cheating, take a look at my book, “Chatting or Cheating” which can be found on Amazon & Barnes & Noble.
There are ways to protect your primary relationship from cheating that are fully in your control. You can stay alert for temptations and choose your friends wisely (in other words, if you know you’re vulnerable, stay away from attractive friends of the opposite sex, especially if they’re flirtatious!). You can keep your personal life personal when you’re chatting with a friend, and you can refrain from any kind of flirting. Flirting is how affairs start. It’s like a drug – once you get a hit, you keep wanting to come back for more and more. And if you find yourself attracted to someone, be honest about it to yourself and your primary partner. Getting these feelings out in the open can keep you from being tempted.
Put your energy and attention into making your primary relationship stronger by growing your emotional intimacy and friendship with your partner, not a stranger.
Wising you love and light,
This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers, America’s leading love and intimacy expert.
Facebook is a HUGE issue in relationships today. Every day I hear about people starting affairs or finding out about infidelity through Facebook.
Recently, I appeared on the “Steve Harvey” show, where I offered advice to a married couple that was dealing with the aftermath of the husband’s affair.
The husband had a sexual relationship with his mistress. His affair was discovered by his wife, who found out from looking at his Facebook page. Now he claims the affair is over.
But there’s only one problem: He’s still “friends” with her on Facebook.
Can this marriage be saved?
What should the wife do?
Find out by watching a clip from the show, where I give the couple my advice on the FIRST thing the husband needs to do in order to get their marriage back on track.
With the rampant use, ease and instant access that technology offers, meeting, getting intimate, cheating and staying connected to your lover has never been easier or more dangerous.
It’s dangerous because an innocent friendship on Facebook between two people who intend to chat, not cheat, can quickly evolve into MORE and engulf a person who never intended to stray in the first place.
In actuality, most INFIDELITY doesn’t occur because it’s planned but because people stop giving the relationship the vital attention it needs and start looking outside to get their connection needs met. They then find themselves in situations where their emotions completely overwhelm (and even surprise) them.
Please add your comments, suggestions or questions below.
This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers, America’s leading love and intimacy expert.
Do you suspect your partner is cheating?
Here are two more videos from backstage after the show that may help.
How to Confront Your Cheating Partner
Signs Your Partner May Be Cheating on You
Please add your thoughts, comments, suggestions or questions below.
MORE HELPFUL LINKS ON THIS TOPIC:
Monday 3-12-12 4pm & 6pm Sheri talks with Maggie Mckay at KFWB News about how easily chatting can turn into cheating, especially in our cyber age. They also discuss ways to protect and affair-proof your relationship and make it strong.
Watch Dr. Sheri on FOX News discussing Chatting or Cheating
Saturday 3-10-12 5pm FOX News – Sheri talks with Phil Shuman about her new book, ‘Chatting and Cheating’, what to become aware of in this new age of infidelity and what you need to do to SAVE your relationship if a friendship has crossed the line into something more.
Want to know more? Click here.
Why Your Relationship Needs a Social Media PreNup
After Infidelity - Can a Marriage Be Saved?
Chatting or Cheating: When Does it Start?
Dr. Sheri on CBS's "The Couch"
Cheating on the Web
Why Powerful Men Cheat
The Difference Between Chatting and Cheating
5 Reasons Why Men Cheat
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