In my practice, I see a trend that alarms me. Increasingly, I meet women who are living out their fantasies on the Internet. “It’s just a game,” said one of my clients. “I don’t know the men and they don’t know me, so how can it be wrong?” Women who think an Internet Affair is safe and innocent couldn’t be more wrong. Like quicksand, it keeps sucking you in deeper and deeper even when you are seriously trying to get out.
It progresses quickly from curiosity to flirtation, to emotional involvement, and eventually to contact. Even if you resist actually meeting a man, once you start sharing on an emotional level, this fantasy person has captured part of your heart and soon will seem better and more interesting than your husband.
Why Fantasies Can Hurt You
Whether acted out on the Net or in real life, such fantasies can be harmful for a number of important reasons —aside from the difficulties of divorce. The most obvious is that even an emotional affair can cause irreparable damage to an imperfect but workable relationship. Nothing hurts like betrayal. And while a marriage can recover from an affair, the road to such recovery can be steep and painful.
Yet another danger of “I can do better” fantasies is that they are usually just that —fantasies. They are usually based on delusions and can lead to even deeper disappointment than what you are now facing. After all, anyone can put on a good front for a short period of time —or in cyberspace.
But the handsome, charming, exciting —or gentle, understanding, and tender —man you believe will rescue you from your relational doldrums is likely to look quite different once you really get to know him. If he is single and knows you are married. Research shows that he is most likely narcissistic, alcoholic, or has problems with commitment. If he is married as well, then you are getting involved with a married man who cheats on his wife. Is that really the kind of person you believe will help you discover something better?
Fantasies About “Perfect” People
In The Many Loves of Marriage, artist and author Thomas Kinkade points out another important problem with fantasizing about the perfect person or the perfect relationship. He said:
“People get a divorce, link up with someone new, and suddenly they’re doing all the fun romantic stuff. This includes moonlight walks and bicycle rides and exotic getaways. They could have done all of those things with the spouse they just left. But they didn’t. As a result, they endure the trauma and humiliation of a wrenching divorce. This causes a shattering change in their lives, great financial loss, and bitter, deeply wounded children… all for the sake of “new romantic experiences.”
And then Kinkade asks a very pertinent question: “And how long do you think that relationship will last?”
As men and women have discovered through the ages, infidelity and delusion form a very shaky foundation for happiness. No matter how painful your marriage is now and how unhappy you are in it, your chances of finding lasting happiness in the form of “someone better” are slim indeed. Doesn’t it make more sense to invest your time, and emotions into making your current marriage better?
Have You Gone too Far?
The idea of “I can do better than this” often begins with seemingly innocent questions. Some of them are, “What if I were single?” or “What if I had married someone else?” These questions are reinforced by the idealistic —and unrealistic —depiction of love in romantic movies, television, and novels. It’s easy to become attached to the illusion of finding someone other than your husband who can meet all your wants, needs, and desires.
Remember that every time you think about being with someone other than your husband, you are undermining your marriage and breaking your vows. God’s word is clear that feeding fantasies about having sex with anyone other than your spouse is sin. That may sound severe, but every sin that we eventually act out in our bodies begins in our minds. And the easiest place to stop it is in the mind as well.
The first step in ending an affair, is never allowing it to start. If there is someone you are seriously attracted to we urge you to do what you must to put him out of your thoughts. In most cases, this will involve avoiding all contact with the person.
One woman found herself very attracted to a man at her church. They had never met, but he was the kind of man women notice, and seeing him stirred her romantic imagination. She changed where she sat in church so he wasn’t in her line of vision and avoided places where she might bump into him. Eventually he moved away and she was thankful she had succeeded in never having a conversation with the handsome gentleman.
The Emotional Affair
If you have allowed conversations with another man (whether in person, on the phone, or on the Internet) to move to a personal level, you may be on the brink of or already involved in an emotional affair. Dennis Rainey, award-winning author and founder of FamilyLife ministries, gives the following severe warning signs that you are too involved:
- You’ve got a need you feel your mate isn’t meeting. It’s the need for attention, approval, affection —and that other person begins meeting your need.
- You find it easier to unwind with someone other than your spouse. This is done by dissecting the day’s difficulties over lunch, coffee, or during a ride home.
- You begin to talk about problems you are having with your spouse.
- You rationalize the relationship by saying that surely it must be God’s will to talk so openly and honestly with a fellow Christian. As a result, you become defensive about the relationship and protective of it.
- You look forward to being with this person more than with your own mate.
- Additionally, you wonder what you’d do if you didn’t have this friend to talk to.
- You hide the relationship from your mate.
Another quick test is to ask yourself if you would like your husband to know about or to listen to the conversations you are having. If your answer is no to either question, chances are that you have gone too far in your fantasies.
What should you do if that’s the case? We urge you to break off your connection with that individual immediately, no matter how fulfilling your conversations have become. This means no more e-mails, no more meeting for lunch or coffee, and no more private conversations. Period! Fill the void by choosing a girlfriend or a mentor who is in a healthy marriage and ask if you can vent with her for a few months while your marriage gets back on track.
If you are involved sexually with someone other than your husband, it’s even more crucial that you make a commitment right now to end the affair immediately. Do it today.
This article comes for the book titled, The Walk-Out Woman: When Your Heart is Empty and Your Dreams Are Lost, written by Dr Steve Stephens and Alice Gray, published by Multnomah.It was difficult to stop the article where we did because there’s so much more insightful information and practical help that was provided in this chapter (as well as the entire book). But if we continued you may not be as inspired to get the book yourself, which we HIGHLY recommend.
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8 responses to “FOR WOMEN: Fantasies on the Internet”
(USA) I wish I could track back time. I wish I knew a year ago what I know now. I could have dealt with things differently. Internet fantasy should never be underestimated. It can ruin your life, it will hurt you and your love ones and it can lead to sin. The power of sin should never be underestimated as well.
A year ago, I let my guard down, I let my heart out rule my mind, I had my heart in my hands and most of all I opened a chance for sin to come in. I thought that, it was just a fantasy, it was an innocent old time friendship and maybe… maybe, I could help by comforting him. I thought, I could get out easily and would never let it affect me at all. I thought I was strong enough to deal with it later. Big mistake! I have sinned before God and I have I violated my commitment.
Is it worth it? My answer is, No. It cost me my peace of mind, my happiness, my health, my relationship with my family and most of all, I feel like I had Christ crucified again. At one point, I didn’t know who I was anymore.
If you are in this site to look for help or look for an answer, you are in the right direction. And if you are involved in an affair of an emotional infidelity, it’s time to stop and let it go. There’s nothing good that’s going to come out from it. The pain, the lies, betrayal of trust, the guilt and ruin relationship is overwhelming. You need to get out now, stop the communication and start rebuilding what was broken. You can do it by His grace. Yes, the power of sin is strong but His power and love is greater to help us overcome it.
I’m just so grateful that God is so loving and so patient to deal with my stubbornness.
You see, at first, I tried to correct things by my own efforts but it didn’t lead me anywhere. It is not easy. Then one morning, I begged God to take over because I couldn’t do it anymore. It’s only when I did my complete surrender and gave my complete dependence to His power that things felt easier. I still have a long way to go toward my complete recovery and toward the complete restoration of my marriage and myself respect but I know that God’s love will carry me through. And You!
(USA) My wife is in an emotional affair with an ex-boyfriend which started on Face Book. Over the past two months it has escalated into telephone conversations and email all through the day and night. We were happy and normal until she got a Facebook account. Then after 2 months she told me she wanted a divorce out of the blue. There was no indication we were having problems then I found out it was another man that she has dated 2 previous times before we got married. I have intercepted emails between the two of them and she is planning on going to see him and opening up a bank account together. They are telling each other they love one another and using little pet names for each other. But, she has told him her divorce is in progress when it is not. She is leading him on with this fantasy. She is even sending him pictures of men and women wedding bands. I think she is too deep into this fantasy. What can I do?
I’m so sorry the internet has just about ruined my marriage as my wife is again getting involved with another man on the Internet and she tells me no but I know better! The first one turned out to be a scammer! This one is unhappily married with 2 kids. I know eventually she will meet up with him and leave me! I told her because she is so selfish. Good luck! I would bet money on it she will be back!
(USA) Wow! My buddy loves his wife so much. It’s sad she started playing online games and now she totally ignores him. I don’t know what to say to him. He’s sad, he hurts; she flirts with guys. They have only been married 2 years. What is his best option?
(S. AFRICA) Dear Mark, My heart aches for you. I hate these chat sites especially “face book”. My story is exactly like yours. My husband also started chatting on face book to an ex-girlfriend he had also taken out twice (40 years ago). This also escalated into Sms’s, phone calls and secret e-mailing. At first I was not concerned as she lives in New Zealand and we live in S.Africa. I was deeply hurt (after 35 years of marriage) as to this emotional affair. I warned my husband that he could reach the point of no return which is just what has happened.
In September, 2008 he moved out of the house and engaged even further in his affair. It was only one month later that I received his request for a divorce. I later found out that she had flown to S. Africa and they had spent a three week holiday together. This has totally crushed me and despite my willingness to forgive him and have him back he does not want it.
He has since flown to New Zealand to holiday there with her and my heart is broken in a thousand pieces.
We are in the process of a divorce. (something I do not believe in and have never wanted). My husband is insisting he wants a divorce and plans to marry her and immagrate to New Zealand. His latest statement was “you will never see or hear from me again”. The tears still flow as I write this.
As to what you can do, I really dont know. My divorce is still not through and I am still praying. My prayers will also include you Mark. I have realised that only God can change hearts. Hearts that are open to the Holy Spirit. Pray for your wife and pray for yourself for God to show you what to do. It will not be easy. Satan is out in these last days and his aim is to destroy families the basis of Gods church. Be strong but loving.
I am so sorry. We are all in this together. I will pray for you.
(USA) Get the book “Love Life” by Dr. Wheat. Read the last chapter, “How to Save Your Marriage Alone.” Basically, keep loving your husband even though he is acting the way he is. Love is the ONLY answer in God’s plan for marriage. God HATES divorce. Delay, delay, delay anyway you can. When you see him, show him the stable wife that you are, the stable life that he is leaving behind. Treat him in a loving way, even though he does not deserve it. Treat him the same way that Christ loves us. Even if the divorce does happen, you will have NO regrets for obeying the Lord.
(USA) Thank you Hosea for the uncompromised word of God. Obey God and leave all the consequences to him.