“The excuses are, ‘I didn’t have sex with this person.I didn’t go out and see anybody or catch any diseases,’” she says. 4) by Hertlein and a colleague reviewed eight studies of Internet affairs and documented many negative effects from online romances, including less interest in sex in the committed relationship and neglect of work and time with children.The growth in steamy chat room conversations and cybersex also has triggered a rethinking of the meaning of infidelity.
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“You can’t usually get rid of your computer in the house.
Every time you walk by, you’re asking yourself if he or she is using it for an affair.” While most relationships are hampered by such workday realities as household chores and paying the bills, online relationships exist in an electronic nether world where strangers can construct their own identities, Hertlein says.
“But the other partner often feels such an emotional betrayal that they are going through the same feelings as if their partner was having a real affair.” Online affairs can contribute to divorce and child custody fights as the involved partner becomes more enmeshed in the online relationship. Almost two-thirds of the participants in one study reported they had met and had sex with their Internet partners; only 44 percent of them reported using condoms.
Several studies have focused on the “AAA engine” that drives online affairs, namely accessibility, affordability and anonymity.
They can be easy to conceal, as long as the cheating partner deletes the Web browser history and any incriminating e-mails.
“It’s really difficult to track what your partner is doing,” Hertlein says.“The Internet is opening up these new ways of exploring your sexuality and that includes infidelity,” she says.Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV — about 13 hours a week.“That is starting to even out in part because of the equality of opportunity that the Internet brings to everybody,” she says.While men traditionally have been the more unfaithful sex, gender roles are reversing in some cases as more women experience cybersex.Several studies suggest that even when there is no in-person contact, online affairs can be just as devastating as the real-world variety, triggering feelings of insecurity, anger and jealousy.