facebook white boardYou've seen marriages go down on Facebook, right? -- it starts with two old friends playfully flirting, followed by much more intense and serious flirting. You no longer feel comfortable clicking "Like" or joining in on those conversations that seem to be getting a little too intimate for Facebook, especially between married folks. You're starting to think Get a private Wall, will you? And then comes the predictable Facebook silence when the real, offline affair begins.

We all hold our breath for what comes next but sure enough -- then comes the public Relationship Status change from Married to Single, followed by a new "It's Complicated" status.

Haven't seen this happen? Well, odds are you probably will since Facebook is now cited in 1 in 5 divorces in the United States.

Don't let the innocent-seeming "social networking" site fool you. Sure, most of us are on there sharing fun bits of our lives and photos of our families; however, for men and women who feel lonely in their marriages, Facebook can serve a whole other purpose.

Steven Kimmons, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist of Loyola University Medical Center says:

We’re coming across it more and more. One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact.

Think about it. There are husbands and wives nose deep in work life and/or meeting their kids' ongoing needs, along with the other gazillion aspects of modern parenting that distract us from our spouses. Then you find yourself bantering playfully back and forth with an old friend at odd hours. He finds you funny. He is interested in what you have to say. It's feels good, and, in fact, you haven't felt this way in years. And let's face it, in many cases, it's easier to just follow the lead of a relationship that feels good rather than turn back and face the relationship hasn't been feeling so good lately.

An affair is not always the intention, but it can quickly become the outcome, if you're not honest about your motivations. And if you want to stay married, it might be a better idea to tap your sleeping husband awake and tell him so than to tap a conversation into a private message with that "old friend."

Have you seen marriages go down or affairs begin via Facebook?



Image via Mari Smith/Flickr