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Are Pregnant Women Ripe for Online Affairs?

Babble’s new special issue delves into the depths of infidelity, both in the real world and in the new online frontier.  Cheating used to require bodily contact. Now we have easy multi-platform access to old flames and endless, discreet-ish forums for flirtation.

Are there things that make pregnant women even more likely to get tangled in the web of online infidelity?

I think there might be.

Pregnancy is a time when women often feel isolated from their partners. This disconnection can lead women to drift into fantasies, whether about past relationships, or future possibilities.

Real life sex is sometimes complicated in pregnancy, with one or the other partner often feeling less aroused than usual. At the same time, sexual fantasies can be at an all time high, especially in the unconscious. Intense sexual dreams are common in pregnant women, probably due to combination of hormones and psychological factors. These dreams frequently involve another partner, a past lover, or a complete stranger. This phenomenon has been well known in pregnancy, but what happens when a woman wakes up from a wild dream about her ex to one-click access on whatever mobile device is surely sitting on her nightstand?  If there are any embers at all,  a rapidly fired-off “OMG I had the craziest dream last night” might be all the spark the situation needs.

An affair, whether online or off,  quite often has less to do with a pure attraction between the people involved, and more to do with the holes in their lives that need filling.  Pregnancy is a time of transition, and often, a time of insecurity. Women who are feeling weird about their bodies and identities are more receptive than usual to things that make them feel sexy and confident.  And the online aspect can be extra-appealing to a woman who’d rather not show her body in person.

And then there’s the postpartum period. Self-esteem can really plummet, and women can feel desperate for some kind of validation and sense of self. An online flirtation, charged with energy and free from the muck of babies and responsibility, can be a lot more appealing than yet another conversation about whether the baby ate or pooped enough—or who’s going to take care of the next inevitable childcare chore.

A survey says 69% of Babble readers consider flirty emails cheating.  Do you?

photo: Mahalie/Flickr

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