Q: My wife has been chatting with men online. The chats were flirtatious. I don't believe she physically engaged any of them, but I figure that may have been next if I hadn't discovered this. I am thinking about leaving her. Am I overreacting? -- George, 56
Dr. Susan: No and yes. You're absolutely correct that your wife's secret behavior was threatening your marriage. But no, you don't need to leave her for having been an online flirt, IF she is willing to give up that behavior and devote more attention to improving your relationship. A lot of people do stuff online that they wouldn't follow through in person. It's too easy and too tempting to chat and press SEND if they don't have a solid sense of commitment and loyalty to their mates. Your wife may have been bored and looking for an easy thrill. Sit her down and let her know that you feel extremely betrayed, that her online flirting is a form of infidelity, and that you would like to strengthen your marriage and not let it continue to decay. It would be best if she opened up completely and admitted she'd done something wrong. Listen carefully to her and pay attention to any complaints. But don't accept excuses. Her online flirting is harmful to your marriage.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.