Social Networking Your Way Out of Love

Sadly, people can always find new ways to betray each other, and social networking online has probably made it easier. A spouse may have “reconnected” with an old love or found a new one, thanks to the ease and popularity of the Internet.

What is it about that first love or college romance that lingers in our mind? Why do we wonder about what might have been and what could have been? The truth is that idle speculation about old relationships probably always went on, even in our parents’ lives.

Without a practical way to follow up on that speculation, those idle thoughts remained just that: inactive and irrelevant. Now, with a couple of key strokes, we can find out what our former loves look like, how their lives have turned out…and contact them.

Online Flirting

Is it fun to satisfy that curiosity? Sure. Can it be dangerous to your relationship health and well-being? Absolutely. Make no mistake. There can be a real tie that binds to your first real love and strong memories of “the way we were.”

Psychologists tell us that the attraction to past lovers is more than romantic feelings. This attraction is tied into our hopes and dreams from when we were younger and we were with that special person. If we have not attained our goals or accomplished a certain level of happiness, we may be seduced into going back and starting over with the “right” person.

A little online flirting is innocent, right?

What can be dangerous is this: if you and your old love are “not that happy” in your current relationships at the time you reconnect, then there can be unintended consequences. Curiosity can escalate to regular Tweets, midnight emails, direct messages, and ultimately, secret meetings. This scenario plays out so often that we attorneys consider it a trend.

New Loves Found

Even if someone is not consciously looking to cheat, all of the opportunities online to at least “look around” are tempting. Daily we are barraged with banner ads for dating/mating services and told of Attractive Singles in Our Age Range.

Because so much relationship scouting can be done secretly online, without ever leaving your desk or laptop, even those only mildly interested in straying are looking…and therefore finding. And sometimes people are not even looking at relationship sites but rather connect online with someone who has the same hobby or interest or belief system.

Before either of them realizes it, they have reached a level of intimacy that is almost a betrayal of their existing spouse.

Online Discoveries

Seemingly cruelest of all is to discover online that your beloved is leaving you. That is happening more frequently as a husband or wife, or one of their friends, comes across an unmistakably compromising picture of a spouse with “someone else.”

Being tagged in a photo can be the beginning of the end of a marriage. Even more blindsiding is to find that your spouse has changed their relationship status to “separated” before you even suspected that your relationship status was in doubt. I’ve seen it happen.

Social networking is here to stay. There is no going back, and the benefits of new technologies outweigh the relationship risks. But the risks are real. It is a mistake to ignore certain signs—not just about lipstick stains and unexplained credit card bills—but about where your partner’s heart and attention seem to be.

If he or she is spending too much time online, you may need to call a lawyer.

Photo by Daniel Iversen


About Gemma Allen

Gemma Allen is a partner in Ladden & Allen, Chartered, and has practiced family law for most of her career. Ms. Allen has written more than 50 articles and lectured on topics that include divorce, child support, maintenance, mediation, cohabitation, women and money, and reconciliation. She co-authored The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In, or Moving On! and helps you navigate modern relationships in “Relationship Gems.”