Today, the prevalence of online affairs is obvious, and this epidemic is causing the breakup of countless marriages. So how do you know if your spouse is violating your marital vows by carrying out an online affair?
Let's look at typical indicators I personally discovered while investigating affairs. If your marriage is in trouble, these clues will help you be the judge. Caution: These clues are not confirmation of an affair; rather, they're just feasible indicators for you take into account.
1. Your spouse or partner spends excess time online. Who doesn't use a computer today? They are excellent for paying bills, staying in touch with family and friends, finding street locations, and for a host of other productive endeavors. We feel we cannot live without them and shudder when a lighting storm threatens our usage. Just look at kids and their instant messaging. They will go without dinner just to keep in touch with their circle of friends. Try to pull them away; it's no easy task. But does your spouse share your kid's magnetism to the computer? Discover why this need is so powerful -- before it's too late.
2. Passwords, instant message "buddy lists," Internet e-mail accounts and e-mails are concealed and even protected from you. Do you find your spouse needing his "own space" at the computer? Is there a real reluctance when you ask to know his passwords? The act of hiding information is deceptive by nature. Those of us who have worked in "corporate America" understand the need to protect company secrets. But what legitimate "family secrets" are we hiding?
3. Your spouse uses the computer after you have gone to bed or in the middle of the night. Have you been awakened by the absence of your spouse at night and then found her or him at the computer? If this behavior becomes a pattern, you certainly need to be concerned. While work demands a sense of commitment and loyalty, repeatedly working late after you have fallen asleep is a little odd.
4. Your partner abruptly shuts off the Internet and/or computer when you approach. Such a move demonstrates panic. The rationalization is "when all other contingency plans fail, just shut the thing off and don't get caught." Many spouses have reported witnessing this just prior to hiring us. We consider it a significant indicator of deviant behavior.
5. The computer and monitor are always positioned away from your sight. The study of body language has become useful to many investigators, especially those of us who administer lie-detection examinations. An obvious sign of deception is to block your view of the computer. When threatened with exposure, your spouse may need the time to clear a screen, turn off the monitor, or change to another Internet page.
6. Your partner clears all Internet history after chat sessions or usage or installs software to automatically rid this information. There are times when a computer becomes filled with unwanted files, and deleting them is prudent maintenance for any computer user. But what I am referring to as a sign of cheating is the repeated and purposeful clearing of information. Do you find this a little suspicious? I do.
7. Your partner exhibits a compulsive need to be online and seems defensive when confronted about stopping. "When are you coming to bed?" "What's taking so long?" "Can't you do that later?" Have you asked these types of questions? Teenagers often become "obsessed" with instant messaging. If you have kids who use the computer, you know. They have trouble walking away from the PC. However, this same desire or need displayed by your spouse is cause for alarm. And you need to know why your partner feels so defensive about his or her computer usage.
8. Your spouse shares personal information, photos or events with strangers in e-mails, chat rooms or while instant messaging. Some information should be reserved to the marital home. I've even witnessed spouses who send nude pictures of themselves over the Internet!
9. Your partner frequents "personals" chat rooms. If chatting is fine, why not include one's spouse? If your spouse doesn't include you, what is he or she chatting about?
Bill Mitchell, Seven-Day Detective, is an internationally renowned author who is recognized for his practical, solution-based investigative strategies to marriages facing infidelity. As a recognized expert on infidelity and child custody, Bill Mitchell appears regularly as a guest expert on TV and national talk shows including "Dr. Phil," "Today Show" and "The Early Show." He has been interviewed by numerous publications including the Chicago Tribune, Esquire, Ladies Home Journal Online and PI Magazine.