Justifications of Internet Infidelity in Romanian Women with Extra-Dyadic Affairs: A Qualitative Study Proposal

  • Diana Roman (Filimon)
Keywords: social networking; sex therapists; marriage


The rapid development of Internet and social networking services in the last decade have
augmented the possibilities to engage in activities online that can be classified as infidelity, and
introduced new challenges into the practice of couple and sex therapists. Thus, the rise in popularity of
the Internet has led to an ever-increasing number of spouses meeting others, outside of their marriage
Many of these relationships start off innocently and end after a short period of time. However, an
alarming number develop into emotional and/or physical extramarital affairs (Glass, 2000). This
phenomenon is referred to as Internet infidelity. We define Internet infidelity as using the Internet to
take sexual energy of any sort–thoughts, feelings, and behaviors–outside of a committed sexual
relationship in such a way that it damages the relationship. It is further exacerbated when one spouse
pretends that this drain of energy will affect neither their partner nor the relationship, as long as it
remains undiscovered. Although lustful thoughts and feelings outside of a marriage are not inherently
harmful or wrong, acting on these feelings and/or hiding them devitalizes the relationship, compromises
integrity, and co-opts the other partner’s choices (Shaw, 1997). Due to the higher statistics of male
Internet infidelity, the focus of previous studies has been on investigating the justifications for Internet
infidelity in this gender group. On the other hand, since Internet marital infidelity is a complex issue
(Maheu & Subotnik, 2001), a multifaceted phenomenon that includes both an emotional, a sexual (Abdi
et al., 2012, Henline, Howard & Lamke, 2007) and a communicative component (Tafoya & Spitzberg,
2007), it really affects every country’s culture, people, and even families. To this end, this study aims
at analyzing the justifications behind Internet infidelity in women with extra-marital relationships in
the form of a qualitative study. This study is conducted through a qualitative research approach and by
using the content analysis method. Participants include women referred to the counseling centers in the
city of Galaţi. Purposive sampling will be used and continued until data saturation. Semi-structured
interviews will be employed as the primary method of data collection. The data will be analyzed via
qualitative content analysis and constant comparative analysis methods. After the examination and
division of the basic concepts, a certain number of initial codes will be extracted from interviews. The
categories will be created based on the codes following several reviews and summarizations on the
basis of similarities. By the nature, these conceptual and abstract themes will be named in several
categories. According to the literature review, these ones can vary from intrapersonal factors, marital conflicts, and sexual justifications, to anonymity, access, convenience, affordability, escape reasons (Young & Cooper, 2007). An important focus in this study will be on the factors affecting female
Internet infidelity and its dimensions. These factors may also include intrapersonal factors, marital
conflicts, sexual or communicative justifications. Our findings can help psychologists, family
counselors, and planners in the field of the social sciences identify the efficient scopes and purposes.