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Facebook adultery trend rising as people find long, lost flings

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Social media, especially Facebook, can open up an entirely new world of communication and connection for users. As many have discovered, though, it has a dark side.

One of the ways that dark side manifests itself is the fact that divorce attorneys are reporting that more and more married couples are splitting up because of affairs that begin on Facebook.

For one man, a seemingly strong marriage of more than two decades came crashing down when he got a phone call from an unidentified stranger.

"She said, 'I hate to have to tell you this, but I think that my husband and your wife are having an affair.'" he said. The man says his wife's affair began with a seemingly innocent reconnection over the internet with an old high school boyfriend.

He's not sure if his wife's walk down memory lane began on Facebook or on another networking site, classmates.com, but regardless of where it started, social media provided her with the escape.

"I learned that she was unhappy and had been unhappy for a number of years," he said. "There'd be no way that they would have bumped into each other locally."

Maryland and D.C. divorce attorney Regina Demeo says at least 20 percent of her cases involve illicit relationships that began on Facebook. The stats don't lie - attorneys estimate that 80 percent of their cases now involve evidence that they are pulling off of Facebook pages for use in court.

"Any marriage is up for grabs on Facebook," Demeo said. "I think they start to have these fantasies about what it would have been like if (they) stayed with their high school sweetheart."

Officials with Facebook and classmates.com declined to comment for this story.

The trend is so rampant that a website - facebookcheating.com - exists for the victims of such adultery to go to for support. Despite his experience, the husband who's wife left him for a Facebook fling doesn't have any resentment towards social media.

"I personally don't think they are evil or harmful at all," he said.

Alexandria private investigator Mike Russell, who agrees with the notion that this trend is rising, agrees with that sentiment, saying that Facebook doesn't commit adultery, people do.

"I don't think the design of Facebook was for people to commit adultery, but it is making it very easy for people to hook up," Russell said.

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