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  • 10 minutes

I-SPY: Internet infidelity and its impact on couple relationships

Updated Friday, 11th October 2019
Is it ever okay for someone in a relationship to flirt with other people or look for sexual excitement online? Explore internet infidelity in our gripping 5-part video drama. 

Recent research conducted by The Open University’s academics Andreas Vossler and Naomi Moller from the OU’s School of Psychology shows that relationship boundaries can be blurred online. This means that people in a relationship may be uncertain what online behaviours count as cheating. Their partners also may see things differently than they do. In addition to a lack of certainty about what online infidelity is, this and other research also suggests that it may be easier to cross relationship boundaries – be unfaithful – online. Together these two factors mean that the time we all spend online may make us vulnerable in our relationships.

One thing that can help is being clear for ourselves and in our relationships about where our online boundaries are. The infidelity drama ‘I-SPY’ explores the issue of Internet-related infidelity over 5 films through the experience of one couple who struggle to hold their relationship together after engaging in online activities. The aim with these films is to encourage awareness and debate about what online behaviours count as ‘crossing the line’ in a relationship. 


Below are the links to the five I-Spy episodes. At the end of each episode you will find two questions – one related to the unfolding drama and the other about relationship issues more generally. We invite you to think about these questions and – if you are in a relationship - maybe to discuss these with your partner.

Infidelity is cited as a key cause of relationship breakdown and we know that some of the people who view these films will have personal experience of this topic. If you are experiencing emotional difficulty as a result, a good source of both information and relationship counselling is Relate. You can also talk to your GP who can refer you to free NHS talking therapy (counselling).

Watch the five I-Spy episodes: 

The first episode of I-Spy broadcasts on Monday 28th November 2016 at 7pm on The Open University Facebook page, use the hashtag #ISPY to join in the conversation. Shortly after the episodes will be shown on OpenLearn with extra academic content surrounding the episodes. 

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