Will your internet usage doom your relationship?

By David Joel Miller

Is the internet destroying your relationships?

Internet addiction

Internet addiction
Photo courtesy of Flickr (mandiberg)

Relationships seem to be in danger of extinction. Is it possible that the internet, or more precisely the way you are using the internet, is dooming your relationships?

Treatment for internet related mental and emotional problems is in its infancy but these issues are already bringing people to the counseling rooms and coming up in family and couples counseling.

The nature of relationships, romantic and friendship relationships, continues to change. More couples are choosing to live together without being married. More than half of all marriages now end in divorce. Many people come to counseling reporting “trust” issues and difficulty making and keeping friendships and romantic relationships.

In writing this post I have been extra mindful to avoid describing a particular client or couple I have seen personally. All these issues have been described in research articles and have occurred repeatedly in one form of other. Any examples are fictionalized or composite examples.

Here are three ways your internet usage may be impacting your real world relationships.

Internet addiction.

There does not need to be a drug for an addiction to develop. Anything that alters brain chemistry in a highly rewarding way can result in a process or lifestyle addiction. People get addicted to the rush of risk taking and to the turn of a card. They can also become addicted to the excitement of the online game or the virtual world.

If you or someone in your life is spending way more time online and less and less on real interactions with fellow humans than you may be developing an internet addiction.

We see this in online gamers, social media addicts and related activities.

Online addiction is not simply a preference or a hobby that someone enjoys. It becomes a reinforcing activity that people will continue to engage in despite negative consequences.

If you continue your online presence despite difficulties getting to work on time, if you neglect you partner or family to spend more time online you may be developing an online addiction.

Do you minimize your time online to others? Do you hide your usage, get up late at night or stay up after others are in bed? Do you sneak internet usage at work? Then you too may be developing an internet addiction.

Internet usage may distort reality.

Those things online are not real, not in the way we normally understand real. Some people and places exist only in fiction. We used to read books to find out about the lives of people who we wished existed or wished did not exist.

Today with virtual reality people come to life on the screen that never existed. People online can do and be things that could never happen in reality.

This is a particular problem with online pornography. It may be animation or it could be people paid to act out particular fantasies. What is not real is the belief that may form that this is the way many people are acting in the real world.

The internet has created options for people to behave in ways that would have been more difficult in the real world.

Internet sites and chat rooms have opened up an easier route to affairs for people who otherwise might have avoided affair behaviors. The relative anonymity may increase the chances that people will behave in ways that they might otherwise not have chosen.

It has also become possible to order illegal or illicit drugs online that in the past might have exposed people to more risk of arrest.

If you or someone close to you appears to have or be developing a problem with their internet usage consider getting professional counseling. There are counselors and therapists that can help.

In future posts here on counselorfresno.com we will talk about the topics of internet and virtual affairs, real life affairs, the cost of marriage counseling and why you may need marriage counseling even after that relationship is over.

If you are facing a problem, live in the Fresno California are and would like to discuss how counseling might be able to help you – feel free to call the office and set up an appointment. The office number is 559-412-7007. You can also email me at davidmillerlmft@hotmail.com or use the contact me form at the top of the page.

Besides the posts here on counselorfresno.com you will find over a thousand other posts on the topics of mental healthsubstance use disorderslife coaching and life hacks on our sister blog counselorssoapbox.com

For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is here at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/

If you are outside the Fresno area, consider checking with a counselor in your area.

There is also a list of books, especially self-help books on the resources page. Work continues on my book which is expected to be released later this year. Stay tuned for more on my books progress.

Here is wishing you all the happy, recovered life you deserve.