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5 Warning Signs Of Online Infidelity
Look for these red flags to help protect your marriage.

If your spouse is showing some of the warning signs, it may be nothing, but you should talk about it.

Throughout history itís been easy to recognize infidelity, even if you personally havenít experienced it. If youíve ever been to the movies or watched a soap opera, you have some idea of what it looks like: the surreptitious glances, the hurried meetings in unoccupied hallways, the quick stripping of the clothes, the sweaty bodies, the quick throwing-on of the clothes followed by the, "Who, me?" look.

Yes, you may think you know what cheating looks like, but the fact is that infidelity has changed in the last two decades. It involves all kinds of communication, interactions and hooking up that neither Shakespeare nor D.H. Lawrence could have ever dreamed up, and itís harder than ever to figure out whether your mate has broken your marital vows.

So forget the advice about looking for lipstick on his collar. Here are some tips for figuring out whether your spouse is staying true in the electronic age.

1. Private phone calls. Does he go off into another room to answer his cell phone? Of course, if your husband or wife works for the CIA, then privacy might be necessary. But if thereís no special person outside of your relationship, then thereís no special reason why all conversations shouldnít be public. You may not care to hear discussions about how the neighbor just bought a new leaf blower, but if it were an innocent conversation, your spouse wouldnít be running into the next room to take it.

2. Erased history. Do they frequently erase text messages or the call list on their cell phone? The, "Oops, Iíd love to show you who called, but I just erased the inbox" excuse runs thin after a while. Itís just not human nature to meticulously erase lists of calls, and often doing so may be a sign that thereís someone sending those texts besides work or family.

3. Private access. Have they recently changed their password or e-mail, or otherwise denied you access. About a decade ago, I counseled a 75-year-old man whose wife threatened divorce because she discovered his emotional affair after she intercepted a birthday card from another woman. Before telephones or computers, the unfaithful spouse would frequently communicate through the postal service. Now, however, things have changed and many affairs are conducted via e-mail correspondence. Couples with nothing to hide should not be hiding e-mail accounts from each other.

4. Powering down. Do they frequently shut down the computer when you come into the room? Chat rooms offer a wonderful way to establish intimacy, which is great if you want to share feelings about having a loved one at war or how to cope with chronic illness. But when chatting is used to establish intimate connections between two people who have an emotional or sexual connection, its wrong. Anything that your spouse is willing to chat about should be something that you should be able to see.

5. Late night logons. Is your spouse on the computer late at night and then their "history" is erased the next day? Some affairs donít ever have to include meeting a person face-to-face (although more often than not, rendezvous do happen eventually). If your spouse is going on sites to "meet" people, or pornographic sites that involve live chat, then thereís a good likelihood that the connections being made can unravel your marriage.

Being discreet or meticulous about your electronic life doesnít prove that someoneís having an affair, but if you see any warning signs, you should bring it to your partnerís attention right away. If there is an affair going on, the sooner you know the better. But if there isnít, then this would be a good time to talk about who should be allowed to electronically intrude into your relationship, and what you should do together to preserve your marriage.

Scott Haltzman, MD is a clinical assistant professor at Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. Dr. Haltzman is also the author of "The Secrets of Happy Families: Eight keys to building a lifetime of connection and contentment," "The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife's Heart Forever," and "The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to get more out of your relationship by doing less." You can get more information at his website, www.drscott.com.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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