Everyone has been there: a Facebook user is minding his or her own business when a former flame pops up on the screen, either on a mutual friend's page or as a suggested friend. Curiosity sets in, and the user clicks on their ex's page, only to see what they have been up to, of course. Suddenly a friend request or message is sent, and communication is re-established. While this may feel - and often is - very innocent, it can quickly develop into something more. This is just one of the increasingly many ways that social media is contributing to infidelity, distrust and divorce throughout the country.

According to experts, behaviors such as texting or tweeting are not, on their own, responsible for the dissolution of a marriage. However, as opportunity for infidelity increases through social media, so does the likelihood that people will take advantage of those new opportunities.

Marriage therapist Tara Fritsch says that as times have changed, so have attitudes about how to best approach the opposite sex. "Twenty years ago, if you really thought a co-worker was interesting, and later on that evening you thought of them and wanted to say 'Hey, how you doing?'," she said, "then you would have to ask yourself, 'Is it really appropriate to call them at home? What if their spouse answers? What am I thinking about?'" But today, as texts and emails become the most common method of communication, those hesitations are gone, leading to greater rates of infidelity and divorce.

Further, says expert Bob Rosenwein, people communicating online fall for one another in about a week, which is about twice as fast as those communicating face-to-face. "When you don't have nonverbal communication," he said, "the likelihood of being able to disclose at a deeper level is greater, because there's less inhibition. So it's going to feel like a more intimate relationship."

Source: NPR, "Can Social Media Break Up a Marriage?", Jennifer Ludden, 2 November 2010