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?
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.
Editor’s note: I’m happy to have been asked by Nicole Cantanese @ Refinery 29.com to offer my opinion on social media. This article originally appeared on their site.
Ah, social media. You’ve got followers, friends, and even strangers liking what you did today. With every new notification, you get a little shot of dopamine (that’s the feel-good chemical that fires off in pleasure-seeking situations, as in jumping off a plane or, well, doing drugs). So, you want to keep pressing refresh to get another dose. And then, you realize that what’s happening in your real life isn’t nearly as exciting. “Social media—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook—can create a false sense of connection with people,” says Sheri Meyers, PsyD, a therapist in Los Angeles (and author of Chatting or Cheating) “And, it’s immediate and 24/7, so there isn’t as much of a need to reach out to those that are close to us.”
Eventually, real life pays the price — because when it’s not as satisfying as the cyber version, it can lead to feeling down about what you have going on (or don’t have going on). “The life we possess virtually can seem more exciting or interesting than what’s happening in real life and real time,” Meyers says. “Online, you’re constantly on the receiving end of a sense of approval, which feels really good. What isn’t healthy is when you turn more and more to your cyber friends for approval, satisfaction, and that dopamine hit. Then, you stop trying to connect and relate with the people closest to you.”
Remember when we mentioned the dopamine-narcotics connection? Turns out that you can actually get hooked on social media, too. “Internet addiction is real,” says Meyers. “The same brain chemicals that get activated from drugs or any pleasure-seeking behavior apply here, too.” When those happy chemicals plummet, you have to keep going back to the “drug” — i.e., picking up your iPhone to check the latest tweet — to get the boost again. And, it’s not doing any favors for your relationship, either: “Once you are spending time away from your partner and in social media, and you start getting your needs met there, then you are no longer seeking out that attention from your loved one,” she warns. “In the end, you will only feel lonelier.”
Social media aims to bring us closer, but too much of a good thing can be problematic. Rationally, we all know that comparing ourselves to others isn’t healthy, but with an endless stream of humblebrags and not-so-humble brags, it’s difficult not to do so. But, says Meyers, that’s a distorted view of reality, because people tend to broadcast the good stuff, not the bad. “When you begin to compare yourself with others, which is a natural human tendency, that creates a weak foundation to stand upon,” she says. “And when you think, ‘Look who liked my photo!’ or ‘Look how many friends or followers I have!’ you’re on shallow ground.” Eventually, you’ll possibly feel less-than, or you may develop a falsely boosted ego — neither of which are ideal.
Of course, social media isn’t all bad; constantly reaching for your iPhone does have its upsides. “In a way, it can be positive, since social media gives us a distraction from pain in our life,” says Meyers. “It could be a way to get our mind off of it, but you still need to cope with it.” And, if used to help others, a tweet can be a good thing indeed.
Beyond that, it’s important to set boundaries and rules. “Just like you are allowed a certain amount of chocolate, you can’t eat as much as you want,” says Meyers. “You need to feed your real life as much as your online social life.” So, maybe you put the iPad down while eating dinner, or take a weekend off from social media apps. It’s all part of shifting your focus. Instead of thinking ‘I’m so great! I have 20 new followers,’ be thankful for legitimate moments of happiness, not what’s found on your news feed. Get out into the real world, create a true memory without needing to broadcast it — and before you know it, you’ll be #lovingyourlife.
by Nicole Cantanese. Originally posted on Refinery 29
MORE ON THIS TOPIC: Here’s an interview I did with ABC on Internet Addiction
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:
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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