Signs Your Spouse Is Having a Cyber Affair

Man watching laptop screen

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There is much debate as to whether an online relationship with someone outside your marriage constitutes an affair or cheating behavior. What one should focus on are the characteristics of this type of relationship that make it damaging to your marriage.

Cyber affairs are kept secret and have an emotional and/or sexual undertone. With so much of our time spent online, it's no wonder these types of relationships are more and more common.


According to the American Psychological Association's website: "Several studies suggest that even when there is no in-person contact, online affairs can be just as devastating as the real-world variety, triggering feelings of insecurity, anger, and jealousy."

There are several reasons people start such affairs: escaping from reality, enjoying a fantasy, getting a self-esteem boost, avoiding relationship distress, and others. These affairs also happen easily, as the internet provides accessibility, affordability, and anonymity.

Are you concerned and suspicious that your spouse is having an online affair? A number one clue would be that you notice excessive time spent on the computer and similar devices. But there are other, not so obvious signs.

Common Signs

Below are some common signs of an online affair:

  1. Your spouse shows a lack of concern about your marital relationship. There is a lot of distancing, disconnection, and avoidance of intimacy. 
  2. Your spouse is not interested in doing things with you or in celebrating birthdays or holidays.
  3. You notice that there has been a major change in your spouse's sleep pattern by them staying up later or getting up earlier than normal.
  4. When you and your spouse are sexually intimate with one another, your mate shows very little enthusiasm when having sex with you.
  5. Your spouse has lots of excuses, rationalizations, and expresses denial for obvious changes in his/her behavior.
  6. When confronted about being distant, the lack of sex, about too much spent time on the computer, and other concerns, your spouse blames you or gets very defensive.
  7. Your spouse seems different and moodier.
  8. You easily catch your spouse telling lies.
  9. Your spouse starts to ignore their parental, household, or job-related responsibilities.
  10. You notice that your spouse has changed the passwords on the computer.
  11. Your spouse moves the computer to a more isolated location in your home.
  12. Your spouse demands privacy and is defensive about time spent on the computer.
  13. Your spouse refuses to talk about their computer usage.
  14. Your spouse will not let you use their computer.
  15. You notice your spouse starting to purchase additional equipment for the computer. 
  16. Your spouse becomes secretive in other ways.

More Considerations

Cyber affairs can be a symptom of other problems in your marriage. Lack of communication, financial problems, relocation, and sexual dissatisfaction in the marriage, professional dissatisfaction, and other unresolved problems can be triggers for this behavior. Ask your spouse for honest communication to resolve the hurt and to rebuild trust.

Your spouse may have an addiction. Don't let your spouse's attachment to pornography or cybersex negatively impact your own self-image.

Don't accept any blame or guilt for your spouse's decision to have a cyber affair. You do still want to look at your behavior to see if you are contributing to your partner wanting to check out. For example, are you emasculating him, being hypercritical, not showing appreciation, constantly refusing to have sex?

Your spouse must be willing to cut off this affair immediately if it is happening.

Helpful Tips

  • You must be willing to confront your spouse if you think a cyber affair is going on.
  • You should be willing to get help if you both can't resolve these yourselves. ​Seek help from a licensed marriage therapist.
  • You both need the ability to communicate and fight fairly about the impact technology is having on your marriage.
  • You will both require time to heal, forgive, rebuild trust, and move forward.
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Article Sources
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  1. American Psychological Association. Are internet affairs different? By Brendan L. Smith. March 2011;42(3):48.

  2. Hertlein KM. Problems created by technology within our couple and family relationships. J Marital Fam Ther. 2008;34(4):429-430. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2008.00085.x

  3. Laier C, Pawlikowski M, Pekal J, Schulte FP, Brand M. Cybersex addiction: Experienced sexual arousal when watching pornography and not real-life sexual contacts makes the difference. J Behav Addict. 2013;2(2):100-107. doi:10.1556/JBA.2.2013.002

  4. Goldberg PD, Peterson BD, Rosen KH, Sara ML. Cybersex: the impact of a contemporary problem on the practices of marriage and family therapists. J Marital Fam Ther. 2008;34(4):469-480. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2008.00089.x