Social Media, Emotional Affairs


I’m older than dirt. I recently received a notice for my 40th high school reunion. I never imagined I would be 40, much less attend my 40th high school reunion. While the John H. Reagan class of ’72 is arguably the best class ever, it’s apparent that times have changed. Now instead of snail mail post cards reminding us of upcoming events, my class is hooking up via Facebook. I’ll admit — it’s a better way to communicate, but in my line of work I just hope things stay safe. High school Facebook pages are ripe pickings for the beginning of an emotional affair.

It’s funny the memories those names in our Facebook page evoke. I thought about Dean and Albert remembering the good times, but in my mind they are not men in their 50s; rather, I remember them as they looked in their late teens. I can remember girlfriends past, and can you believe it — they haven’t changed a bit either.

What struck me as I thought about Facebook was a large percentage of people currently in my Affair Recovery online groups began their emotional affairs, which later turned physical, through social media. As I scrolled through a list of former classmates on our page (I hate to admit I this), I found myself intrigued. All of those what-if questions began flowing through my mind and I began wondering how my old flames were doing. While nothing happened, I gained new appreciation and compassion for those falling into the social media affair trap. Healing after an affair is more and more dealing with social media romances.

For instance one woman from our Hope for Healing group innocently made contact with one of her old flames prior to her high school reunion. His heartfelt confessions of the mistake he’d made by not marrying her were a healing salve on the wound she had carried since they broke up those many years ago. It didn’t hurt when he also told her she was just as beautiful today as she had been 30 years ago. Her marriage was stale from too much emphasis on raising kids and too little time renewing their relationship. She soon discovered the life she experienced from the revitalized relationship with her ex-flame far exceeded what she experienced in the relationship with her husband. There is nothing like the euphoria one receives from falling in love.

What makes us vulnerable, as we interact with those from our past, are the attachment bonds created in those relationships. Those relational bonds from the past rarely, if ever, fade. Even worse, as time goes by, we forget why that relationship went by the wayside. All we can remember is how we once felt when we were with them. We fail to realize how easily those old flames can reignite once contact is reestablished. Again — ripe pickings for an online emotional affair.

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At times when talking to people in my office who have fallen for an old flame I want to scream, “Don’t you remember why the two of you broke up?” “If it was as wonderful as you paint it why in the world didn’t you two stay together?” The next thing you know is they’re dealing with infidelity and recovering from an affair. But in their mind they’ve been given a second chance to correct the worst mistake ever made. They are now willing to sacrifice all that’s been built for the past 30 years to recapture the hope they once had at 18.

Today I feel a bit more compassion for those recovering from an affair who’ve fallen for illusions of the past. I can well understand after reviewing the Class of ’72 Facebook page how easily it could happen. Even though I no longer know them and they certainly don’t know me, those fantasies from times gone by are oh so sweet. On the other hand I doubt anything will happen because after my wife proofs this post I’m sure she’s going to stick to me like glue if we attend my reunion.

For those of you attending class reunions this year, a simple word to the wise (for what it’s worth) — don’t assume nothing will happen. Dealing with infidelity is not fun. Guard you heart and guard your marriage. You’re only as weak as your strongest link. You’ll never fall when you think you’re weak; you’ll only fall if you think you’re strong.

From your experience, how was social media involved?

About Affair Recovery
Affair Recovery specializes in helping people heal after infidelity. After recovering from his own affair 25 years ago and helping 2,000+ other couples do the same, founder Rick Reynolds and his team have developed research-validated, groundbreaking online and in-person programs for redeeming the losses created by infidelity, betrayal, and sexual addiction. Take the free Affair Analyzer online assessment, to learn more, visit

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