Facebook Infidelity: When Poking Becomes Problematic

Abstract

Recent research has focused on the Internet and relationships; however, little attention has been given to the specific role of social networking sites in relationship betrayal. Exploring the processes related to discovery of Facebook infidelity behaviors adds another layer to understanding Internet infidelity and highlights the behaviors unique to Facebook infidelity. Stories about cheating (N = 90), taken from the website FacebookCheating.com were analyzed using grounded theory methodology to create a process model of discovery. Researchers sought to answer four questions: (1) What is the experience of nonparticipating partners when their partners have engaged in infidelity behaviors on Facebook? (2) What are the basic social processes that occur when discovering the infidelity behaviors? And, (3) What are the basic psychological processes that occur? (4) What similarities or differences exist between the current research on offline and online infidelity and the process model from the current study? The categories are arranged in a process model, which depicts these processes as well as the emotional experience of the nonparticipating partner. The model highlights important phases through which the nonparticipating partner cycled following the discovery of the infidelity. These include appraising the boundary damage, acting on the appraisal, and making a decision about the relationship. Suggestions for clinical intervention based on this process are provided. Future research implications are also discussed.

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Correspondence to Jaclyn D. Cravens.

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Cravens, J.D., Leckie, K.R. & Whiting, J.B. Facebook Infidelity: When Poking Becomes Problematic. Contemp Fam Ther 35, 74–90 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-012-9231-5

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Keywords

  • Facebook
  • Infidelity
  • Social networking
  • Grounded theory
  • Process
  • Discovery