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Facebook, a gateway for affairs

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PHOENIX -

How many friends do you have on Facebook? And how many are acquaintances from high school or college? Maybe you've recently started keeping in touch with an old love.

Ever think about rekindling that flame? It's happening more often than you think, and now relationships that form on social media sites like Facebook are leading to more extramarital affairs.

Relationships are complicated. The status of which can change with the click of a mouse or in some cases a post on Facebook.

Lisa Krietenstein met Adam Brice when the two were just 18, drag racing their El Caminos down the streets of Prescott Valley. But their love story is much more complicated than that.

"Back in March of 2012 I searched Adam on Facebook," says Lisa. "And he was there so I set up a separate Facebook account, friended him and everything, we started talking back and forth."

Lisa started a separate Facebook account under her maiden name -- because she was married.

"I was nervous that my ex was going to find out but I figured Adam was worth it."

"As far the percentage of people that are having affairs with people from their past that is increasing and I attribute a lot of that to these reconnections through social media like Facebook," says Dr. Brian Case, a marriage and family therapist.

Dr. Case says what he's seeing today is an increase in patients who wouldn't normally seek out an affair under normal circumstances.

It's more socially acceptable to flirt via post or instant message and far too easy to get carried away, says Dr. Case. And it seems Facebook affairs are a growing trend.

According to a recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, one in five adults, many of whom are married, use Facebook for flirting.

Another survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers indicates that two-thirds of lawyers said Facebook was the "primary source" of evidence in divorce proceedings.

"It's undermining the trust of the relationship to be playing on the edge. A lot of us think we are invulnerable. I can play on the edge and I won't cross that line but a lot of my clients played on the edge knowing that they would not cross that line and then they crossed it."

In a matter of months, even weeks, the virtual rendezvous that took place on Facebook can turn into a more personal one-on-one encounter. The emotional affair becomes a physical one

"My heart would skip a beat and I would of course have to go into another room to read the email, answer the message whatever," says Lisa.

Lisa, who says her marriage was already over when she reconnected with Adam, made sure her husband of 8 years, who she describes as controlling, didn't find out about her relationship with her ex.

"I would have never had enough guts to actually go to his parents' house or something, to try to find him and in the 11 years I never once ran into him in the store or anything, even with Prescott Valley being such a small place. Never once ran into him."

Lisa left her husband on June 30th of last year. On July 2nd she reunited with Adam in person for the first time. And gave her heart back to the man she says she reconnected with on Facebook.

Dr. Case isn't blaming Facebook for the affairs. The people involved are responsible. He says if you want to affair proof your relationship in this Facebook era, keep your page unlocked so your spouse has access. Eliminate or share passwords. If you feel someone you've friended is crossing the line, unfriend them, and if you feel a friend request from an old flame could lead to more, don't accept it.

Signs that there's trouble -- your spouse or partner closes the computer when you walk into the room or turns the screen so you can't see it. Their Facebook page is password protected and they won't let you read their posts or messages.

We connected with Facebook for a comment. They said: "It's ludicrous to suggest that Facebook leads to divorce or affairs and we would suggest that anyone who purports to have conducted surveys about the topic also ask respondents about other popular communication channels, such as text messaging, chat sites and email."

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