1. Protect Your Status
The first step Dr. Richardson-Quamina recommends in preventing an online affair is to protect your relationship status. We all remember the pivotal scene in 2010’s “The Social Network” when Jesse Eisenberg’s character realizes that the one thing that will make his online platform completely ready for use: relationship status. When you put your relationship status out there for everyone to see, you’re being honest with others about your availability (and surprisingly, this doesn’t always happen). When you’re upfront about your relationship status, you have options on what you choose to do when you receive an inappropriate “Like”or “Poke” (back when Facebook had those) direct message. Dr. Richardson-Quamina stresses that everyone’s reaction will be unique to themselves but some reactions include: deciding to unfriend the person, unfollow the person, cut the connection, or reach out and set a boundary with that person. A question to ask yourself in determining your response is, “Will this cause a problem in my relationship if I continue to communicate with this person?”
2. Follow the Golden Rule
Of online usage, in this instance. Dr. Richardson-Quamina suggests that for an individual trying to determine at what point his or her online behavior becomes questionable to remember “Don’t do anything [online] that you cannot do in front of your partner. This simple and easy to remember mantra can be the guiding principle one follows for all online interaction, especially when it comes to social media. Be honest with yourself, and your partner, about the myriad of ways in which communication comes across through social media and online. E-Mails, direct messages (DM), webcams, etc. all play a role in how you’re communicating with others outside of your relationship. And you should be communication about this with your partner, which leads to Dr. Richardson-Quamina’s final tip…
3. Talk the talk
The difficult talk. Communication is so important in relationships, it cannot be stressed enough. Often, the issues occurring within the relationship are a result of miscommunication and misunderstood expectations. Dr. Richardson-Quamina suggests taking the time to sit down with your partner and have the difficult conversation of what your expectations are and learn what your partner expects from you. She even mentions creating an contract of all online behavior, as a way to set boundaries regarding acceptable communication online. Perhaps your partner doesn’t think communicating with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is an issue, but this is something that would drive you insane. Until you make your expectations know, your partner can’t know them. While it’s difficult to start, having this type of talk will ensure smoother communication and boundaries in the end.
For more information on Dr. Richardson-Quamina’s tips, you can visit her website at Therapy Tribe.