Cyber Affairs


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A presentation I gave for my Family and Couples Therapy class at Argosy University, Seattle.

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  • Physiological Needs These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person's search for satisfaction. Safety Needs When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe. Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belongingness can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging. Needs for Esteem When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless. Needs for Self-Actualization When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person's need to be and do that which the person was "born to do." "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write." These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.
  • Cyber Affairs

    1. 2. Defining Cyber-Sex <ul><li>What is cyber-sex? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Occurs when people use computerized content (text, sounds or images obtained from software or the internet) for sexual stimulation.” (Maheu, Subotnick, Cooper & Glass, 2001) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Various forms of cyber-sex activities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chat rooms </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Online pornography </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Email </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Video streaming </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive video-based websites </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Private, two-way video cameras </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is having it (info from survey launched by MSNBC of 38,000 respondents) (Maheu, Subotnick, Cooper & Glass, 2001)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Almost 80% identified themselves as heterosexual, 7% as gay or lesbian, 7 % as bisexual” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ People who engage in online sexual behavior have cyber-sex about eleven hours per week.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ 50 % of women and 60% of men thought cyber-sex breaks marital vows.” </li></ul></ul></ul>“ Birds do it, bees do it, and now people with computers do it .” - Gloria G. Brame
    2. 3. The Danger Zone <ul><li>Understanding how infidelity can result from cyber-sex (Maheu et al., 2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intent : is it to have a secretive erotic connect? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Choice : you may not be responsible for your attractions, but you are responsible for your actions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Betrayal : betrayal of their sacred promise, their vow of exclusivity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secrecy & deception : keeping your cyber-sex relations from your partner. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sexuality : lovers online speak to each other in erotic ways, often with the intent of sexually stimulating each other. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emotional closeness : virtual love turns into romantic love (wanting to call them, waiting for the person to “sign in” online, sending them presents through the mail, etc.) </li></ul></ul>“ The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.” -Andy Warhol
    3. 4. Signs of Betrayal from the Virtual World <ul><li>Uncovering your partners cyber-affair (Maheu et al., 2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preoccupation and distance - your partner is distant and starts to daydream when you are talking with them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change in sleep schedule - remaining awake late in the nite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insistence upon more privacy - computer is shut off upon entering the room </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moodiness - less tolerant, irritable, easily distracted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lying - things just don’t add up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overreacting - partner fly’s off the handle when you question their Internet activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Signs of sexual activity without you - wearing “easy access clothing” when in computer room, making masturbation simple to hide </li></ul></ul>“ Nobody in his right mind would call me a nymphomania. I only have cyber-sex with witty men.” - Unknown
    4. 5. When Cyber-Sexual Impulses Go Haywire: ~An very important side note~ <ul><li>Cyber-sexual compulsivity (Maheu et al., 2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Psychologist Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. states, “The sexual addict is a person in pain who typically believes he or she is bad and unworthy, someone who feels unlovable, whose wants will never be satisfied, and who thinks that sex is his or her most important need… the sexual addictive cycle includes preoccupation, sexual compulsivity, and eventually despair.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Mae West </li></ul></ul>
    5. 6. Emotional Reactions from Being Cyber-Cheated on <ul><li>Dr. Kimberly Young (2001) states the following as being typical emotional reactions of clients when they discovered their spouses’ online sexual habits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disbelief </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ I can’t believe she actually did it. She said she would find someone else if I didn’t get out of the Navy and get a job that kept me around. She said she gets too lonely, and I knew she wouldn’t go out and cheat on me, but I never thought of the Internet.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shame </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ I’m crushed. I feel this terrible sense of shame, because my wife not only had an affair, but it was with a stranger, using a computer. I feel there is something very wrong when a person has an affair, but strangely I feel a sense of disgrace that my wife was masturbating with someone she didn’t even know, and using the Internet to do it.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jealousy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ The pipes burst in our building at work soon after we opened. So we got the day off. I hurried home to Karen, thinking we could have a great day together. When I came home, the house seemed quiet. I knew she was probably at work on her computer, but when she didn’t answer, I charged up the stairs and flung the door open. I was shocked. She didn’t’ answer because she was in some kind of daydream. She was at the keyboard, and at the end of a powerful orgasm. I was speechless. She didn’t hear me at first. Then she turned and saw me. Having seen how enthralled she was at the computer stirred up terrible feelings of jealousy. Why was this other person so attracted to my lover?” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 7. Repercussions on Family and Friends <ul><li>Who is affected & how (Maheu et al., 2001)? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Children </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In therapy, often express worries about the future of their family and wonder if they are to blame for the situations. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If child locates affair through emails or saved documents on hard drive, experience a dilemma of wanting to help, but not knowing how to best intervene. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grandparents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Many worry about the effects on their grandchildren. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some are alarmed because it sounds so bizarre. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some reactions are minimal in that there was no intercourse involved and it was on the Internet. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 8. What to Do Now? <ul><li>The “Stay or Go” decision (Carnes, Delmonico, Griffin, & Moriarity, 2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This involves trying to cope with many emotions, dealing with the shock of betrayal, the inability to concentrate at work, the doubts about staying in the marriage, and the reactions from family and friends. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most often, the unfaithful spouse is the one to make the decision to stay or to go. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When a cyber-affair is discovered, it is suggested that both partners need to be knowledgeable about the decision-making process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Take a step back </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Examine all relevant issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Highly suggested that you wait for the initial reaction to pass, and thus allow for thinking to occur with a clear head </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 9. Some Family Interventions Tips (Young, 2001) <ul><li>When denial is a problem (aka, you’ve probably got a sexual addiction on your hands, that is in the Precontemplative stage of change) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEEK OUT PROFESSOINAL HELP FIRST </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 1: Gather everyone together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 2: Develop a list of consequences due to the addiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 3: Share your lists with one another </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 4: Develop a plan for the intervention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 5: Rehearse the intervention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 6: Communicate with warmth and caring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 7: Be prepared to treat the family </li></ul></ul>
    9. 10. The Cyber Deal Breaker's: Deciding “To Go”, most likely, forever [ NOTE: These are Anna’s Hypotheses!] <ul><ul><ul><li>Was the couple destine for divorce already? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Abuse (physical and/or verbal) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t have the same interests- opinions/values clash </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spending time with them is no longer fun for you </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Communication is impossible </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You are doing all the giving and not getting </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No longer feel happy (no more laughing) or good about yourself </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>They can’t fulfill your needs </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>So, perhaps it was a “true cyber-love” after all? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Love at first [mouse] click” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>An addiction you unfortunately may not be able to control </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Just can’t remain in a monogamous relationship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>That darn primitive part of our brain- AKA the amygdala! </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>vasopressin (the monogamy chemical)and oxytocin (the attachment /bonding chemical) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>*I am in no way condoning this behavior, I think couple’s should communicate their feelings… however, the unfortunate reality is not everyone does* </li></ul></ul>
    10. 11. Deciding “To Stay” and Go Through Therapy <ul><li>Taking the first step (Carnes, Delmonico, Griffin, & Moriarity, 2001): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No More Cyber-Sex! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Acknowledge your limitations (can’t control usage) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Accept that you need help with this problem and that support may come from sources such as therapy, medication, spiritual growth, behavioral changes and personal exploration/growth. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce access- keep computer in an open area, NOT private </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce anonymity- have your email address say your real name </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce objectification- Remind self that who you talk to on the internet is a real human with feelings, the Internet is not a video game </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Make yourself accountable- allow others to freely monitor your Internet behavior and access </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Develop healthy online habits- get an online sponsor; visit online support groups ( </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interference with the first step: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rationalizations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ It’s not real” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Cyber-sex doesn’t hurt me” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ I can stop anytime I want; I just need to turn off the computer” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ It’s just a game- it’s a virtual reality” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 12. On the path to long-term change… (Young, 2001) <ul><ul><li>Compartmentalization : you discover that you have been keeping your experiences a secret, and thus learned how to lead a double life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compulsive and addictive sexual online behaviors reveal that there was a major barrier between the ego and the inner self and that you were feeling a great deal of pressure and stress </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What you may experience after the discovery of what your Cyber Affair has done… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Shock : emotional numbness, extraordinary disorientation, and efforts to control the damage. Remember: take one day at a time </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Grief : deep sadness over the losses incurred because of your cyber-affair behaviors </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Repair : explain the extent of your sexual online behaviors and ask for forgiveness from your heart </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Growth : have profound empathy and compassion for oneself and for others you may have hurt </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    12. 13. Relapsing and The Recovery Zone (Carnes et al., 2001) <ul><li>It’s ok to relapse, remember, it’s not the end of the world- rather, a part of the process. </li></ul><ul><li>The Recovery Zone </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moving towards the center of yourself; break down the barrier you built </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Once barrier is broken, your creativity and passion can flow throughout your life. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life can become a reflection of the beauty of your inner life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You experience continual growth and expansion of the self </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You are living in “The Zone” of the convergence on your soul </li></ul></ul>
    13. 14. If time allows… an interesting video from a MFT who specializes in Internet Cyber Affairs Salvaging Your Relationship - Dr. Sheri Meyers
    14. 15. An Explanation of How Cyber-Affairs Can Be Dealt with in Family and/or Couples Therapy <ul><li>A handout </li></ul>
    15. 16. Any questions? :)
    16. 17. References <ul><li>Carnes, P, Delmonico, D.L., Griffin, E., & Moriarity, J. M. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(2001). In the shadows of the net: Breaking free of compulsive online sexual behavior. Minnesota, Stanton Publication Services. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Young, K.S. (2001). Tangled in the web: Understanding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>cybersex from fantasy to addiction. 1st Books Library . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Maheu, M. M., Subotnik, R. B., Cooper, A., & Glass, S. </li></ul><ul><li>(2001). Infidelity on the Internet: Virtual relationship and real betrayal. Illinois, Sourcebooks. </li></ul>