Imagine you're a 30-something, mother of four, married for almost 10 years and you wake up one day and discover that your spouse has been e-mailing his high school honey on MySpace and that's really why he left the house and wants a divorce. Think it's not likely? Think again. That's exactly the situation that Divorce360 community member, who goes by "Tuff," recently found herself facing.
She confirmed her spouse's cheating using his e-mail, discovering his girlfriend's name and cell phone number to boot. "..He called and we talked for a bit. He started talking about Myspace, and I told him that I had a confession and told him that I had broke into his e-mails and had gotten her information. I was expecting the usual ranting and raving and name calling, but he didn't. He said he was sorry, and then from that point on told me everything about her and how she was his high school sweetheart and they had just recently met up again, thanks to Myspace."
"Does he think the grass is really greener?" 5babemom wrote in response to Tuff's blog entry. According to Divorce360 experts, the answer is yes, he does. How realistic that is, well, that's a different story, according to the experts. "All that glitters isn't gold. The grass is always greener. Why have such quotes stood the test of time? And what do they mean? Obviously that many things look appealing at first, but then turn out not to be," said Dr. Mark Goulston
, author of "The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship."
The Internet has multiplied opportunities to start a romance with someone online. Chat rooms, interactive web sites, blogging and forums like MySpace and Facebook have given people the chance to hook up with people of all kinds, whether they're professional contacts, family members or old high school honeys they used to date. The Internet hookup has become so commonplace, it’s now considered the best option to meet a potential mate.
“I suppose it’s as good as a bar,” said Alice Aspen March
, Los Angeles-based author of "The Attention Factor." “The only difference is at a bar you actually see and talk to a person in the flesh. When you go on the Internet, you are getting a connection with a person in the machine. And it’s really a fantasy to have an affair on a machine. It is not real.”
Tuff is not the only person to find out her spouse was cheating with a high school honey he met on a social networking Web site. It's becoming more and more common, Divorce360 experts say. "Why the attraction to high school honeys? Perhaps the single greatest reason is a tendency to idealize past relationships and fantasize about them rather than confronting problems in a current relationship," Goulston said.Dr. Tina Tessina
, Ph.D., author of "Money, Sex and Kids," a book that helps couples get through the main causes of marital strife, thinks social networking prompts more romance when reconnecting with someone from your past. "MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites are great for reconnecting with old friends and loves. This is one more instance demonstrating the power of connection. Connecting with total strangers through social sites doesn't often pan out, because the face-to-face meeting often has no chemistry. But, connecting with someone who shares your history can be very powerful," she said.
Tessina said reconnecting with an old love on social networking sites can tempt partners. "Feeling tempted and fantasizing can cause you to act in such a way that your partner feels suspicious and threatened. The most basic and common sign of temptation is a romantic charge that you feel and cannot deny, and whenever you connect with this special someone, somehow your day or evening brightens. At this point, you could diffuse the attraction by taking one simple action: discuss it with your spouse. If you felt the ease or freedom to discuss it, you might discover what is driving the attraction. It may be a quality that your spouse once had that now lies fallow, or one that you and your spouse could foster, if only you knew what it was," Tessina said.
The biggest problem married couples face, Goulston said, is they don't know how to talk about difficult topics, which can make a partner look for other opportunities outside marriage because they don't know how to do the work couples need to do to stay together. "It is inevitable that some or all of these foundations become shaken in most relationships, and we don't know how to have those dicey conversations to rebuild them. It is difficult to tell a partner that something he has done for 15 years, which he thought turned you on, has really turned you off or talk to her about how her gossiping has made you lose respect for her. So people look elsewhere, hoping the foundations will remain strong without any maintenance. However, in most cases, the same thing happens over again."