Elizabeth woke with a start and checked the clock. It was ten minutes to midnight, and Bob was gone again.
Her stomach clenching, she sat up. The covers were thrown back where Bob slept, and the empty space next to her seemed to signify the emptiness that had entered their once happy marriage.
She threw her legs over the side of the bed. She knew where he was.
This time, she approached his study as stealthily as she could. The door was ajar, and she could see him hunched in front of the monitor, typing furiously.
She tried to be silent, but when she pushed the door farther open, a hinge squeaked. Bob turned with a start, his eyes widening, his face suddenly slack. Quickly he turned back to the computer and pushed the power button.
The computer wheezed in agony as it was prematurely shut down.
Elizabeth stared at him for a moment, long enough to make sure he knew he wasn’t fooling her, and then turned away without saying anything.
Bob's online affair was so obvious, but he wouldn't admit it. In fact, he wouldn't talk about anything -- significant -- at all...
The clues in Real Time
Once upon a time the clues that warned of an affair were clearly defined and easy to spot.
If your mate suddenly changed his behavior in some significant way -- if he began to smell differently, spent excessive amounts of time somewhere else (or lied about where he was spending it), had the classic lipstick on his collar that wasn’t yours, carried condoms in spite of the fact your “tubes were tied”, or your friends were acting strangely around you, and so on, you could be pretty sure there was something going on.
And that something was probably an affair in “Real Time” – our time -- the time we used to live in. These obvious symptoms of a relationship in Real Time have been discussed at length elsewhere, and will generally appear if your significant other is actually "seeing" somebody else.
But if the relationship is going on in the secret world of Cyberspace, he will probably not be “seeing” that person, only talking to them.
And that can be far more dangerous.
The dark world of cyberspace
In the ambiguous, secret world of cyberspace, an affair can blossom before the parties realize it.
Conversations with somebody of the opposite sex can start out innocently but grow deeper and more intimate as time progresses, leading to a relationship that can be more involved than "real time" relationships, where communication is often hindered by time and circumstance.
The online affair can begin in forums or chat rooms, and can lead to a transference of the heart that is far more complete than something that begins around the water cooler at Work.
Many times the spouse or “significant other” find themselves involved in something they really don't want. They secretly wish they could be "found out" so they can stop...before the relationship passes a point of no return.
Clues are not facts
There are several clues to an online affair that are as distinctive a “Real Time” one, and Elizabeth has just discovered two of them: your mate spends a lot of clandestine time on the computer late at night, and suddenly shuts it down when you approach (or quickly "exits" out of what he is doing).
Other warning signs may include setting up several email accounts, being defensive when confronted, putting a password on a profile, clearing history lists, etc.
But they also might be clues to something else, such as visiting pornographic sites he doesn't want you to see. (And that's another issue).
So the clues are not proof. You can't really use them in a confrontation.
You have to know exactly what is happening on your mate's PC, and you have to use that knowledge when you confront him.
How do you get it?
The secret software spy
You probably are already aware that there are easy-to-use, inexpensive PC spyware programs on the market today that can unobtrusively:
1) Give a report of all keystrokes, including online conversations and passwords.
2) A list of websites visited.
3) A snapshot of chats and instant messenger conversations.
4) Monitor and record emails.
5) Run in the background and can be purchased anonymously.
And above all, the spyware enables you to view all of your mate's activity on your own PC or will send the information to you at your email address.
The technology is there, but the real question is:
Do you want to use it?
Is snooping wrong?
Many people don't feel right about using spyware on another's PC. They feel they are "snooping", and snooping is fundamentally wrong.
But the real question is, can you live without knowing the truth? And secondarily, in knowing the truth, if it is used in the right way, could you in fact help the person you still love – possibly by helping him "get out" of the situation he has fallen into and fundamentally doesn't want?
Or, if the affair really has gone too far, and your relationship with him is heading for divorce, can you afford to not have the information you will need to take to divorce court?
You can't afford NOT to know
Is your mate having an affair, or is he just trying to hide an addiction to something like pornography or gambling?
In order to find out, there is only one way -- and that is to snoop.
There are no excuses for NOT doing it because:
1) PC Spyware is so easy to install and use that your child could do it.
2) You’ll be able to buy it anonymously and install it secretly so that your mate can’t detect it
3) You can unobtrusively monitor your mate's PC without him ever knowing it.
The question really is: will you do it?
Is your mate having an affair, or is he just trying to hide an addiction to something like pornography or online gambling? There is only one way to know, and that is to use PC surveillance spyware to get the truth.
You can't live forever in a limbo of suspicion and distrust. You know you must take action -- and spyware is the best, and in fact, the only way to do it.
To find out, there is only one way -- and that is to snoop, but in snooping, you have to be willing to face -- and prepare yourself for -- the facts. But in facing the facts you will gain something you don't have now...
The ultimate peace of mind that comes in knowing the truth.
John Young is a writer with a scientific and information technology background. As a software engineer and programmer, he has had several years experience with internet and information systems and software. He is recommending an excellent internet surveilance program, PC Pandora