Facebook Linked To One In Five Divorces in the United States

February 28, 2011 |

If you’re single, Facebook and other social networking sites can help you meet that special someone. However, for those in even the healthiest of marriages, improper use can quickly devolve into a marital disaster.

A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that Facebook is cited in one in five divorces in the United States. Also, more than 80 percent of divorce lawyers reported a rising number of people are using social media to engage in extramarital affairs.

“We’re coming across it more and more,” said licensed clinical psychologist Steven Kimmons, Ph.D., of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. “One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact.”

Though already-strained marriages are most vulnerable, a couple doesn’t have to be experiencing marital difficulties in order for an online relationship to blossom from mere talk into a full-fledged affair, Kimmons said. In most instances, people enter into online relationships with the most innocent of intentions.

“I don’t think these people typically set out to have affairs,” said Kimmons, whose practice includes couples therapy and marriage counseling. “A lot of it is curiosity. They see an old friend or someone they dated and decide to say ‘hello’ and catch up on where that person is and how they’re doing.”

It all boils down to the amount of contact two people in any type of relationships –
including online – have with each other, Kimmons said. The more contact they have, the more likely they are to begin developing feelings for each other.

“If I’m talking to one person five times a week versus another person one time a week, you don’t need a fancy psychological study to conclude that I’m more likely to fall in love with the person I talk to five times a week because I have more contact with that person,” Kimmons said.

Stories of people whose marriages were destroyed by affairs that began on social networking sites abound on the Internet. It’s enough to make some people swear off online technology for life. Though there are no hard-and-fast rules to follow, there are some safeguards couples can apply to decrease the chance of online relationships getting out of control. For starters, do a self-assessment of why you’re using online sites.

“Look at the population of the people who are your online friends,” Kimmons said. “Is it a good mixture of men and women? Do you spend more time talking to females versus males or do you favor a certain type of friend over another? That can tell you something about how you’re using social networks. You may not even be aware that you’re heading down a road that can get quickly get pretty dangerous, pretty fast to your marriage.”

Another safeguard is to spell out from the beginning with your online contacts what your expectations are of social networking relationships. Also, it’s a good idea to not engage in intimate conversation with someone who is not your spouse.

“From the start tell your online friend that you’re not looking for anything more than establishing old contacts with people to find out how they’re doing,” Kimmons said.

In some instances, couples could share passwords with each other and place the computer in a common area in the house or apartment.

“It’s not that people are going to read what you’re writing but they’ll see what you’re doing,” he said. “Then it’s not a secret.”

Couples can also set parameters around how much time and when they are online each day.

“If you’re doing this at 2 o’clock in the morning with no one watching because you don’t want anyone else to know about it, that should be a signal to you that this is something approaching a boundary line or you’re at least moving in that direction,” Kimmons said.

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32 Responses to Facebook Linked To One In Five Divorces in the United States

  1. Abu Nader December 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    I thought single bars, and marriage were the reason for divorce !!? FB like any other social medium is there, and those who use it for other reasons do not make FB the bad guy

  2. stephanie December 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Michelle, you are absolutely right. If a person wants to cheat, they are going to cheat. They do not need to do it through facebook. The only thing FB has done, is make it easier for people to meet each other online and there is a huge pool of people to choose from. If a marriage is going to fail, it was in trouble long before fb. If you are happy in your relationship then you will not even think about an online relationship.

    Online relationships can become very intense very quickly. I had a friend who went from liking a status to texting at least 50 times per day. She ended up marrying the guy she met on line but she was single.

    All I can say is don’t blame fb…if you or your partner is going cheat, they will find a way to do it, fb or no fb,

  3. Helen July 30, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    Yep – happened to me too. Fourteen years together, a 10-year-old child and my husband met a 25-year-old German tourist and skyped her continually. He’s 40.

  4. heart July 21, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    Internet should be used for knowledge and communicate good information related to earth and science and about a power that is staying with us. We should be strong hearted to face all kinds of problems in life. About woman, she can make as well as brake. Yes. it is true. When she cross the border of discipline she make all the guys go behind her. She is divine as well as devil. She has two forms. But, without her, how can anyone make this world survive..the earth would be like a desert if a woman is not there, so a woman should be a woman. She should not be like “mirage” which deceive the people.

  5. Complicated July 21, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    Yes it is true, the peoples from Facebook have personal problems created by this social network. In fact, it is not the Facebook the one who create couple problems, are the person itself.

    There are some person who discuss their personal life with friends which in my opinion its “cheating”, instead of talking with their family.

    You know the words:”Every woman is a slut….”? Well it is almost true…. actually the correct words are: “Every woman act like a slut”

  6. Lili April 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    This is awesome. This thought process works well in office relationships, too. I work with all males, and sometimes I feel that they get a little too… comfortable with me. To keep things clean, I make sure to mention “my husband and I …” or “my husband said” in conversations daily so that they are reminded of how precious he is to me, and that I am part of a unit, not just a “lonely” girl in the world.

    Props to you, Matt, for being a real man that can handle monogamy responsibly!

  7. m March 31, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    So, atlast the institution of marriage has become a matter of “comedy” for all :) sad indeed!!! but here i am with full throated laughter.

  8. m March 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Rumours of Lord Krishna (hindu god) flirting with countless Gopikaas (female fans, girl friends) have made most of all the hindus copy him. :) so everything have started from india. the world is spoiled too. countless hearts broken for being copycats. but for some FUN.

  9. m March 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Rumours of Lord Krishna (hindu god) flirting with countless Gopikaas (female fans, girl friends) have made most of all the hindus copy him. :) so everything have started from india. the world is spoiled too. countless hearts broken for being copycats. but for some FUN. do not fall into the pit of darkess. Angles please come down on earth.

  10. m March 28, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    i totally agree with you. good point…no cheating please…be honest. NOW OR NEVER. …TO BE OR NOT TO BE. come back!!!!! :)

  11. m March 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Wife to husband, “permission not granted, be my slave forever, you are destined, you get that honey :)

  12. m March 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    It is not “science Blog” it is “Minds blog”. Exploring minds of humans :)

  13. m March 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    This funny face is the most naughtiest. :)

  14. m March 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    my goodness!!!!! what the hell is going on here? :)

  15. m March 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    dedicated couple. very rare Shower of blessings from the Almighty I guess. Wife is not a knife for some. :)

  16. m March 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    i wrote about this face :) message sent wrongly to someone else. I want to adopt this face for life.

  17. m March 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    “coma” the ultimate bliss. :)

  18. m March 26, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    habit of chatting online makes people the worst and addicted and its difficult to come out of this circle..it makes you crave for more and more and make you the most depressed. Most of them come for fun and exploit your emotions and you dont know even who is a male and who is a female….very funny…at the same time very sad indeed!!!! beware!!!! it would make you go out of right path and may lead you to wrong path anytime….so cultivate any other good habit like reading or watching world affairs or spending time with kids or going to a park or to a nearby picnic spot with family members and being with good hearted people and above all being spirtual make us realise and find out the “inner peace” we have within us and ultimately give us the most soughted life full of comfort.

  19. m March 26, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    I agree with you….prevention is the best policy…we should be like kind of Banyan tree…strongest ever to grow more and more, hold the burden and still….stand still having the root so strong…we should not be like the plantain tree which would fall down and perish away anytime. :) Will power is the must.

  20. m March 26, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    i like this face above a lot with mouth wide open…how to make such face? i am curious….never before seen..funny people…i dont want to be serious. whoever made these funny faces should be encouraged to make further funny faces…go ahead!!!!

  21. Mike March 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    Very good point… so… what are you up to tonight? ;)

  22. personne March 19, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    “Improper” use? Is this a science blog? Really?

    Here’s another thing that can keep marriages together: a coma.

  23. Debbie Williams March 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    I can attest to the fact that this article is true. I am divorced due to my ex husband falling “in love” with a woman he met on Facebook. I firmly believe it is better to turn in towards your marriage no matter how much work has to be done, than to turn out away from your marriage to another person with different baggage to deal with.

  24. john woods March 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    This article is very true. People don’t realize that the existence of facebook is more harm than good, from ruining healthy marriages, to excessive advertising, to identity theft, to young girls being abused, to ruining careers, to recruiting drug carriers, to ruining computers by running flash plugins that cause computers to overheat, etc. The list goes further than this.

    Facebook is a fad that should die out shortly, and it should be banned from homes as it is now banned from schools and corporate networks. Facebook does not even have a way to prevent pop up chat from locations that require it, forcing administrators to block facebook completely.

  25. WaitingRoom March 2, 2011 at 12:29 am #

    Great article. The timing is quite interesting since WaitingRoom (http://waitingroom.caraso.com) just launched and our goal is to nudge people to make sure they’re in the right relationship. It is truly unfortunate that the divorce rate is so high and hopefully WaitingRoom can help.

  26. Stan March 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm #


    I don’t think anyone is immune to the having an affair. Like the article says between the lines most people would never think of it if they were not presented with the opportunity. It does start out innocently for most people that have affairs that had their roots online. I know a few people that have had problems that started with online relationships, this is actually not new, chat rooms have been around a lot longer.

    Prevention is always best, if that is talking openly to your spouse about what happens online or setting limits or ending online contact all together it depends on the couple. Prevention is always best.

  27. Michael March 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    You could try asking for permission to have an affair as well. Some marriages can handle such freedom. But chaperoned affairs are probably not as exciting for some. :)

  28. Chiggers March 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm #


  29. Matt March 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I try to include mention of my wife regularly so that everyone knows we are a pair. My Facebook pict is even a picture of the family. Also for the statements above, If you are even enjoying thinking about the possibility of an affair, than something is not right. You have already gone too far. Refocus that back on your wife.

  30. Michelle March 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    This article misses the point. Whatever avenue people use; online or in-person, the susceptibility of a partner in a relationship to cheat depends entirely on that person. Superficial boundaries implemented to protect against possibilities of infidelity don’t address the real issues in a relationship that put someone in a position of indiscretion. Trust protects against infidelity, and if it isn’t there, then a greater issue has to be discussed in the relationship and addressed either through “couples work” or splitting up, not cheating.

  31. Joyce March 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    @Micheal…unless the opportunity presented itself. Here, finished it for you.

  32. Michael March 1, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Also, you don’t have to react on or have sex with everyone you have feelings for.

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