She’s cheating on Facebook

Is Facebook flirting harmless? Let's help a confused husband in Worcester decide.
Meredith - Can a Facebook fling be unhealthy for a marriage? I recently caught my wife in a lie. I know she had been on Facebook for the past several months and had re-connected with some old high school and college friends. That part did not bother me, but when I asked her who she was talking to, she was not completely upfront and said she barely talks to people on Facebook. She has been distant lately, so I actually joined Facebook and looked her up. What I found out was very hard to take. She had been IM-ing and posting on Facebook late at night and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning with a few guys from her past, one in particular that she had a relationship with. Some of the posts were very flirty and sexual in nature. I think this is highly inappropriate for a married woman, but she seems to think its all in good fun and no big deal, just joking around she said, nothing to worry about. She was also upset that I checked up on her, but I had a bad feeling from the onset about who she was talking to. Then I later found out that she had met one of these guys at a bar one night when out with her friends. Although she denies it, it seems pretty obvious she is cheating. Even if she isn't, it seems very disrespectful for a married woman to chat late at night with flirty IMs with old friends. This to me is inappropriate behavior and if the tables were turned, I don't think she would want me doing this to her. Any thoughts? -- Confused by Facebook flings, Worcester

A: Confused, Do I think your wife’s Facebook flings are wrong? Um … yeah. If you want validation from me, you’ve got it. Here’s the thing, though. Facebook is addictive, especially for those with an attention-seeking itch to scratch. Back in the day, you might wonder what happened to an ex and fantasize about a run-in … but now, you can find that ex in an instant and flirt in the safety of your own home. It seems harmless. Like a computer game. That said, it’s still cheating -- even if it’s just emotionally. And to be honest, I’m troubled by the fact that your wife met up with one of these guys in person and lied to you about it. My advice is for the two of you to stop debating the appropriateness of her flirting and your spying. So many couples get stuck in that debate -- who did more harm (the cheat or the spy). Use these discussions to address the real problem (her need for outside attention) and decide whether that need can be addressed, what boundaries should be set, and how your trust can be restored. You can help by discussing as opposed to accusing. Use your nice guy voice. Readers, do you agree? Share your thoughts for Confused here. Read a story about Facebook affairs here. Read Friday’s letter (which is quite juicy) here. Send your own letter here. -- Meredith