Digital Fantasyland and Infidelity

You go online and create an entire new physical, emotional and financial identity for yourself – a virtual world that you control and manage. You can be handsome, slim, articulate, and more. This requires hours of your time – emotionally and physically. Is this Internet virtual infidelity an addiction? I say YES.

The Wall Street Journal published a fascinating yet troubling article on August 10, 2007 titled, “Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?” The article described a married couple in their late 50’s – they met in an online chat room and have now been married for seven months.  Both had been divorced prior to their marriage.  Now the husband has become addicted to a digital fantasyland called Second Life.  This second life is all carried on within cyberspace – you create your physical, financial and emotional self and live in a virtual world with others who have done the same.  The husband is spending hours a day on this site, forgetting to eat and sleep – he is addicted.  He also has a “virtual wife,” controlled by a woman in Canada, in addition to his wife in real life. 

Is this a video game, an addiction, infidelity?  From my perspective it is all of these.  The husband has lost his clarity and presence in his current marriage and life.  His wife is enabling him to continue by not taking a strong stand against his actions.  Infidelity is more than sexually betraying your spouse, but even in this virtual world using the strict definition of infidelity, he does have sex with his virtual wife.  They go on dates, handle financial transactions, take trips, etc.  The boundary between the “real world” and his virtual world is getting very fuzzy.  And why is the wife continuing to put up with his behavior? 

What I found so fascinating was the 8 million plus subscribers.  Many of these subscribers look at this as a video game like many others on the market.  I have said this before – BEWARE if your spouse is spending hours on the computer and quickly changes the screen when you walk into the room.  All married couples experience times when they are closer than other times.  When there seem to be more stresses on the relationship, pause, talk with eachother, and spend more quality time together to get back on track.  If your partner is not willing to do this, you have a problem that may require outside intervention.

In my mind, when starting a serious relationship and certainly before marrying, you should consider the following:

1.  Read each other’s credit report

2.  Review medical examinations to verify there are no sexual diseases to be transmitted knowingly or unknowingly

3.  Review each other’s financial statements

4.  Interview family members on each side of the family as far back as there are living relatives

5.  Have physical chemistry…lust to love to lust to love throughout your life

6.  Take a money personality test – go to www.financialpsychology.com

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