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Facebook is a breeding ground for accidental affairs

Published: Monday, July 18 2011 11:45 a.m. MDT

Years ago, finding a long-lost love took the kind of effort a married individual would rarely exert. Today, reconnecting with an old flame is a click away, even if it begins with the harmless intention of catching up with an old friend.

Empty-nest syndrome, midlife crisis and even healthier, extended lifespans have been blamed for divorces amongst baby boomers, but divorce attorneys are reporting that technology may be playing a more significant role in the demise of marriages.

Lawyers are using Facebook as a source for evidence in an increasing number of divorce cases, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Of lawyers surveyed, 81 percent noted this increase.

"Accidental affairs" are suspected to be the growing result of these online connections, Nancy Kalish, psychology professor at California State University told Bloomberg.

Kalish has found most Facebook cheaters did not set out to have an affair, and even sustained happy marriages before they strayed. But "our brains often romanticize the past, in ways not entirely within our conscious control," according to Bloomberg. "Recollecting people, places and experiences can affect our neurochemistry."

One in five list Facebook has a cause for their divorce, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. But, as with anything there are safeguards that can be put in place to prevent "accidental affairs."

It starts with addressing the motives behind joining social networks in the first place, PR News Channel reported. Users should also look at who they are talking to and make their intentions clear to their contacts. It is also suggested to keep computers in an open area, limit time on Facebook and even look at the option of sharing passwords with spouses.

Despite these precautionary pieces of advice, a minister in New Jersey told his congregation to delete their account, after 20 couples in his fold were "led astray through the site," according to the Daily Mail. For some, it's boredom, followed by the excitement of reconnecting with a long-lost love that leads to the "accident affair," which creates the allure of living a fantasy life. "There is nothing more seductive that the 'one that got away' fantasy that's always better than someone who is up to her eyeball in bills," marriage counselor Terry Real told ABC News.

Despite the medium, unfaithfulness is just that, according to Real. Facebook is not to blame for people straying. "Before it was email, then before that it was the phone," Real said. "The problem is not Facebook, it is the loss of love in your marriage."

EMAIL: awhatcott@desnews.com

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