General
06 Nov 2017

New website helps those affected by growing challenge of online affairs

Recent British research suggests that many people who have experienced infidelity think that the internet, social media and digital technologies, all make infidelity more likely. A new website has been launched offering research-informed advice as well as signposting to help anyone concerned that their relationship may be at risk due to online affairs.
Online Affairs, Information for people in relationships, features explanations on key topics for concerned browsers such as, ‘What is online infidelity exactly?’, ‘How do I recognise the signs?’ and ‘Where can I get support?’

The website is the result of a collaboration between researchers from The Open University (OU), Oxford University’s Internet Institute and five UK couple counselling and support organizations: Tavistock Relationships, Relate, Asian Family Counselling, Marriage Care and One Plus One.
Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr Andreas Vossler, of the OU explains why the ESRC-funded website was created: “There is a lack of up-to-date, research-based information online - information that is from credible sources and which is not couched in emotional terms or which does not condemn those who engage in Internet infidelity.”

Dr David Hewison, Head of Research and Ethics at Tavistock Relationships said: “We know that the rapid changes in digital communications technologies are having an impact on relationships – sometimes in a good way and other times in a way that is more difficult for couples. One particular issue is couples being uncertain about the limits of ‘faithfulness’ when interacting with others online via mobile phone or laptop and it is because of this that we decided to take part in this project.”

Relate counsellor, Dee Holmes said: “We see the impact of infidelity in the counselling room every day and were pleased to be involved in this important project to support people impacted by online affairs. Technology makes it easier than ever to cheat on your partner but also easier to get caught. You don’t even need to leave your own home to have an affair these days and if it did start with somebody you already knew offline the chances are you’ll use emails or instant messaging to stay in touch. This means with a click of the button a partner may stumble across every intimate detail, making the discovery feel even more painful.

“People have different opinions as to what counts as cheating, particularly when it comes to online activities such as watching porn or going on chat rooms. That’s why it’s good to discuss with your partner what your boundaries are, rather than finding out the hard way when one of you has already crossed a line. This website is a useful resource for anyone who is either tempted to stray or concerned their partner is cheating online. ”

As well as providing information and support for the public, the new website also provides resources for professionals such as counsellors and psychotherapists on how to work with online affairs.
ENDS

Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries contact: Christine Drabwell, Deputy Head, Media Relations on 01908 858673
Christine.drabwell@open.ac.uk

Relate, Tavistock Relationships, Marriage Care and Asian Family Counselling are all couple and family counselling organizations. OnePlusOne is a relationship organization that provides online resources for couples and families.
Tavistock Relationships: https://tavistockrelationships.org/
Relate: https://www.relate.org.uk/
Marriage Care: https://www.marriagecare.org.uk/
Asian Family Counselling: http://www.asianfamilycounselling.org/
OnePlusOne: http://www.oneplusone.space/ See also: http://www.oneplusone.space/couple-connection/

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