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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Being Faithful

Faithfulness in the modern relationship has come to mean something possibly quite different from that which it meant for our grandparents. A case in point is an internet relationship with an individual whom you have never met in person, but with whom you exchange intimacies. Is that being unfaithful?

More importantly, who decides? On what do we base our modern morality? What is valid? Again, who decides?

Internet pornography is another case in point. I did a radio program about the subject, from the point of view about how it impacts modern marriages. Listen to the audio show here (scroll down the to the Sexuality Section).

USA Today recently published an article about the subject.

We used to know what infidelity was: sex with someone other than your mate.

But the 21st century seems to have blurred those clear-cut lines. Is having lunch every day with an opposite-sex work friend a breach of marital trust? What about a flirtation online? If there's no sex, is it really cheating?

Such questions arise as societal and psychological pressures challenge deep-rooted ideas about the nature of infidelity. "We are as a society finally coming to grips with what it means to be faithful," says Douglas Snyder, a psychologist at Texas A&M University-College Station. "It doesn't just mean to have sex with someone else."

Many psychologists and family experts say that infidelity today is not just about sex but about trust, betrayal and marital disloyalty, even if adultery is not part of the picture. They add that marriages are more vulnerable than they were decades ago: In tough economic times, couples work harder to make ends meet, which often leaves little time or energy to nurture the relationship. Movies and TV seem to glamorize affairs and make marriage appear dull. And the Internet offers a new frontier, with the pseudo-intimacy of cyber-relationships, as well as greater access to pornography.

Added to all this: Research suggests those who have affairs aren't necessarily unhappy with their partners.

"People are getting this incredible message that if you're not hot and having a certain kind of Hollywood-style sex, something is wrong with you," says clinical psychologist Sue Johnson of Ottawa, Canada. read more
Photo: Arch with Pilaster, Libya

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