Researchers have found that online infidelity is on the increase due to social networking sites, specifically Facebook.
They have claimed that treating infidelity among couples may change due to the unique aspect of social networking sites.
Using data from Facebookcheating.com, they found that although the stages of coping with online infidelity are unique, the infidelity itself creates similar emotional experiences for the partner who was cheated on.
Jaclyn Cravens, a doctoral candidate in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program and lead author of the study, said that this is very important, as there is a line of thought that if the infidelity was discovered online, or confined to online activity, then it shouldn't be as painful.
During her master's program clinical work, Cravens discovered many of her clients' relationship issues stemmed from online infidelity thanks to an increasing number of people using social media sites, especially Facebook.
She said that Facebook already has changed the dynamics of relationships.
Cravens found that many of her clients had discovered instances of their partner exchanging suggestive messages with a third party on the social networking site, even though the two were supposedly in a monogamous relationship.
Cravens found that outside of issues like porn addiction, there hadn't yet been much research to back treatment for these kinds of relationship problems confined to the Internet.
She said that the emotional impact for the party who has discovered online acts of infidelity is no less severe than acts committed in-person.
Cravens asserted that people have ability to be more vulnerable online, which facilitates a greater emotional response and this can be just as devastating if not more devastating than an offline response.
The research has been published in 'Contemporary Family Therapy.'