For many, flirting by those already in a romantic / committed relationship isn’t seen as a problem, and even less so when it comes to doing it over the Internet. This is borne out by a new survey which found that seven out of ten Brits don’t believe there’s anything wrong in flirting with people online.
Ironically, the research was carried out by a web site encouraging online flirting. Of the 2,600 who took part, all of whom said they had a spouse or full-time partner, about the same number of men and women answered the question “Would you consider flirting online as cheating?” with a resounding “No!”
Many see this as harmless entertainment, but I’m not convinced.
Several years ago the phenomenon of online flirting was being studied, and Nathan Tabor wrote a great article titled Adultery is killing the American family which touches on how Internet usage can affect a relationship.
And do you remember the recent report of a Second Life affair which split a couple up?
Harmless fun or something more sinister?
I realise that there are such things as “open” relationships, and that flirting and eyeing other people up even when romantically involved with someone is often thought acceptable, but I’m a little concerned that 70% of Brits think absolutely nothing of doing it.
There’s something insidious about doing it online, too, because of the increased perception of anonymity.
Relationships really need all the help they can get, and I’m not at all convinced this developing trend will encourage healthy couples.
What do you think?
Photo by believekevin
If you believe everything the media says, you’d be forgiven for thinking that marriage is on the way out, with commitment a dirty word.
However, research from the Healthy Marriage Resource Centre amongst 18-30 year-olds suggests that four in five do still want to get married and stay married.
At one level that’s encouraging because it means that a large number of people want to commit to a long-term relationship. However, the Centre suggests that there’s often a wide reality gap between the perception of marriage and the reality.
“Once married, conflicts may arise over money, parenting, and other important issues,” said project director Mary Myrick.
“We want to get people talking about the complexity of healthy marriages and provide tools and tips for making relationships work during challenging times,” says Myrick. “We are targeting young adults because they are the group most likely to be considering marriage for the first time and are most likely to access an online resource like TwoOfUs.org.”
Though it’s so easy to get married, it’s most definitely worth investing time in some form of pre-marriage course or counselling.
Though there’s some evidence to suggest that people in a good marriage can have better health, financial stability and life expectancy, no-one wants to be trapped in a bad marriage that was ill-conceived.
Taking time to sit down, ideally with a more experienced couple, and discuss aspirations and expectations, may seem unromantic in the excitement of planning a wedding and new life together, but I believe it’s vital. I certainly value the course I attended with my wife before we married.
Any marriage counsellor will tell you that one of the most common problems observed when couples come for help is poor communication skills. People get into trouble in their marriages because they have not developed their ability to listen and communicate.
Barriers to Communication
These are a few of the things that prevent people from communicating effectively:
- Not knowing how to communicate properly
- Not taking the time to think through what you want to say
- Not taking the time to anticipate what your partner might be thinking and feeling
- Fear of revealing too much of yourself
- Fear of your partner’s anger
- Not wanting to hurt your partner’s feelings Empathy and Acceptance
People marry because they want to spend the rest of their lives with their partner. They have every hope of growing together and creating a relationship that makes them feel emotionally healthy. Two factors that are necessary for this to happen are empathy and acceptance on the part of both partners. Empathy is the capacity to put oneself in another’s shoes and understand how they view their reality, how they feel about things. Demonstrating empathy and acceptance is critical to maintaining a strong relationship. Let’s look next at some communication skills that enable you to create a climate of empathy, acceptance, and understanding. First we will explore a skill called Active Listening.
The Daily O’Collegian has posted an interesting article questioning a new bill introduced into the Oklahoma legislature that recommends couples who are to be married go through premarital counselling, enter a so-called ‘covenant marriage’, and then be unable to divorce based on grounds of incompatibilty.
It doesn’t exclude other grounds for divorce, such as abuse, and presumably actual adultery, but it does suggest that couples who have undergone this counselling are somehow immune from problems later on in their marriages.
Dr Neill has written Seven questions to consider in choosing your ideal marriage partner which include:
- Can you accept each other as you are, warts and all?
- Do you like each other?
- Are your values compatible?
- Are you compatible in the way you express (and discuss) your feelings?
A useful starting point when considering a long-term relationship.