“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.
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.
“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 develop this intimacy and fantasy relationship.
The cool thing about fantasy relationships is they don’t require any work.” Therapy is similar for online or traditional affairs, with couples working on issues of trust, betrayal and forgiveness.
“On the Internet, you can be whoever you want to be. You don’t have to be this constrained person you think you should be.” Fantasy also is a huge factor in online affairs, and fantasy always trumps reality.
“Your primary partner will never be able to compare with the fantasy partner,” Hertlein says.
“It starts in the home, which is very different than most affairs.
It starts right under your roof,” says Elaine Ducharme, Ph D, a psychologist in Glastonbury, Conn., who specializes in cybersex addictions.
While TV viewing has remained fairly constant, time spent surfing the Web has increased more than 120 percent over the last five years.
With the burgeoning use of the Internet, many practitioners are seeing more couples because of online affairs and are addressing new issues in therapy, psychologists say.
“That is starting to even out in part because of the equality of opportunity that the Internet brings to everybody,” she says.