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Dear Abby picked up the first hint. Now divorce lawyers confirm it: Internet romance is killing off marriages. Men and women, unhappy with their spouses, reach across cyberspace for company and compassion. Friendly words lead to steamy e-mail and covert phone calls. At some point, the online lover leaves town to visit a sick friend wink, wink and a more traditional affair takes root. She stayed home with their two .
At night, she would tuck them into bed and head for the computer. Her husband was a good man, Brown said. People thought we had an absolutely perfect marriage. What they lacked was communication. While her husband "would rather push problems under the rug," she said, people in chat rooms would talk and listen long into the night.
The workplace still ranks No. But computers may have supplanted bars and gyms as incubators for new love. Internet divorce cases started showing up two or three years ago, said Jennifer Harrington, a family practice lawyer in Clearwater. People don't set out to have an affair, lawyers said. But the very anonymity of online communication makes it powerfully seductive. Double chins and dirty T-shirts don't matter. A neighbor or friend will never spot you stepping out with a stranger. One push of a command button eliminates creeps. You can be vulnerable without fear, and that fosters quick emotional attachment.
But on the Internet, you can speak your heart right away. If you are rejected, so what? You just get a new screen name. With her husband's blessing, she also began talking to the world while he worked past midnight. It sounded like a great way to pass time," Palm Harbor resident Karl Scheblein recalled. The Internet also slaked Brown's thirst for adult conversation after staying home with Valdosta woman want affair chat room all day.
There were a lot of people out there willing to do that. One listener was a Maryland man whose marriage was falling apart. He and Brown progressed from chat rooms, where several people talk at once, to one-on-one conversations, to telephone calls. When he came to Crystal River on a business trip, she met him for coffee while her girls were in school. A few months later, she flew to Atlanta, where their relationship turned physical. Then she said she had a friend in Gainesville Georgia and a friend in Chattanooga, and she could just pop up and see them.
Brown's romantic leap into "real life" or "3-D," as some aficionados call it, both excited and frightened her, she said. Scheblein ly had had a vasectomy. She didn't believe in abortion. So the truth came out. You know everything there is about me. You are comparing that to someone you've seen one side of. There are negatives out there, you just haven't seen them yet. Brown said Scheblein wanted her to put the baby up for adoption.
Instead, she filed for divorce, moved to Maryland and remarried. Scheblein retained primary custody of their daughters. Brown said she loves her new husband and young son. But she is beset with guilt and misses her daughters, whom she sees during summers and holidays.
Jill, 41, taught school in St. Petersburg; Keith, 38, processed medical claims in Georgia. Both said they had reached the tail-end of failing marriages three or four years ago when they met in Compuserve's "Human Sexuality" forum, a wide-ranging discussion of relationships. It's like sitting up with an old friend," Jill said. That cuts down on a lot of taboos and barriers. The more you talk, the more you hear from people who feel the same way. Keith, a cyber-pioneer, said he started talking online inusing an Apple IIe and baud modem. By the time he met Jill, he said, he was spending a couple of hours every night on the computer.
His wife, feeling ignored, would ask him to watch television. I was interested in the computer," he said. Like golf or poker or whatever.
Both Keith and Jill had dated other online friends before they met face-to-face. By then, they said, they were separated from their spouses. After a few months of half-way meetings in Valdosta, Jill moved to Atlanta with her three children and married Keith. Their Compuserve cyber-buddies mailed them gifts for an online wedding shower and seven flew to Atlanta for the wedding.
Now, however, the Joneses spend little time on the Net. Long-distance relationships need not blossom into traditional infidelity to finish off a shaky marriage. Just sharing intimacies with others can do it. Tampa lawyer Lesley Friedsam had a client who took out a restraining order against his wife, saying she tried to run him over with a car after he took away the computer and canceled America Online. Nancy Weil, a former reporter for the St. Petersburg Times in Dade City, remembered how late-night cyberchat crystalized her awareness that her year, childless marriage was dying.
Her friends at work were often her husband's friends as well, making frank discussion uncomfortable. On the Internet, "they are hearing only your side, being supportive. It's a lot like going to a therapist.
In latea few months after she first went online, she awoke to find her husband sitting in his study, very upset. One particularly friendly correspondent was a newspaper columnist in Minnesota, Weil said. Reading their messages, her husband accused her of having an affair. After her separation, Weil began dating people she met on the Internet. The following summer, an online friend from Washington suggested she might be compatible with a Massachusetts man who frequents forums.
He happened to be online that moment, so Weil messaged him. For hours that night, they exchanged messages, then switched to the telephone. When she flew to Boston to meet him three weeks later, Weil said, "We had talked about every important issue to us. What we could tolerate, what we couldn't tolerate. We were crazy about us before we met and none of it was physical. A year later, she moved to Massachusetts, where they are engaged to be wed next month.
Though most online relationships involve a man at one end and a woman at the other, lawyers and veterans of the Net have noticed a gender distinction: When it comes to finishing off marriages, the computer seems to transform women more than men. As a group, Jones said, men are more interested in explicit sexual exchanges known as "hot chat" or "lust in space.
In marriages where the husband works and the wife stays at home, the man always had opportunities for extramarital dalliances, said Keith Jones. Computers, for the first time, offer stay-at-home wives an outlet. Men come in and they are complaining about their wives being on the Internet. The question prompted a flood of confused, agonized and elated responses from women who felt they had found that special someone.
Our spouses have both cheated on us," wrote another, who said she had a daughter, a year marriage and a lover she meets almost daily. I have never felt so loved and needed. He has brought out emotions in me that I thought had died. I am very torn up about what to do. I keep thinking it is all a dream and I will wake up.
I keep asking myself how can something so wrong feel so right???? Subscribe Manage my subscription Activate my subscription Log in Log out. Regions Tampa St. Letters to the Editor Submit a Letter. Investigations Narratives Pulitzer Winners. Connect with us. About us. Obituaries Homes Jobs Classifieds. Careers Advertise Legal Contact. Log in. Manage my subscription Activate my subscription Log out. Valdosta woman want affair chat room romance brings threat to marriages.Valdosta woman want affair chat room
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