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Infidelity gets people talking faster than almost any other topic. A couple who’s been married for ten years and still divorces due to unfaithfulness strikes a chord in us all (a moment of silence for Ben and Jen, please).

What happened? How did things go wrong? Who’s to blame?

Could it happen to us?

Sure it could.

According to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, in 41% of marriages, one or both partners admitted to emotional or physical affairs. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and our choices always lead us to a specific outcome. The shock of infidelity sends us reeling, but the truth is, most people don’t meet a stranger and hop into bed with them. No, infidelity is more often the sum of a series of tiny decisions that culminate in an affair.

Speaking of which, what constitutes an affair?

Affairs don’t automatically equal sexual relationships. Emotional affairs are just as damaging (some would even say more so) as physical affairs. In this brave, new world in which almost every person has more than one social media account (not to mention more than one way to keep those accounts hidden), it’s a wonder the percentage isn’t higher.

Is there hope?

Of course there’s hope. But in this case, where there’s hope, there’s work.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Are you and your partner transparent when it comes to social media?
  2. Do you have any secret accounts?
  3. When an old flame or friend contacts you, do you share that information with your partner?
  4. Do you experience a mild (or not so mild) sense of panic when your partner grabs your phone?

If any of your answers give you pause, it might be time to rethink your online habits.

Easy Fixes to Try:

  1. Talk. To each other.
  2. Ask non-accusing questions. “I feel like a distance has grown between us, and I want to fix it,” is better than, “Why have you been so distant lately?”
  3. Answer questions honestly. Doing so will help to create a trusting environment conducive to open sharing.
  4. Don’t hide information from your partner.

However, if one or both of you is resistant to sharing, consider tackling secrecy issues with the help of a counselor.

Remember:

Nothing in the digital age is ever really done in secret (Hello, Ashley Madison!). You’re fooling yourself if you think you won’t eventually get caught. Rekindling an old friendship can be fine as long as boundaries remain in place and you’re open with your partner about the relationship.

If you feel tempted to hide your behavior, chances are good you’re headed down a dangerous road. Don’t let a bunch of tiny texts, emails, and instant messages lead you straight into infidelity  — emotional or otherwise. Choose open and honest communication instead.